We all want to build BIG MUSCLE’s, but this doesn’t happen in a day or two.
According to an extensive research an individual (beginner) can only build up to 20-25 pounds of muscles in a year. It follows up with a basic calculation of building 1.5-2 pounds of muscle every month.
The mentioned time frame for muscle gain differs based on various factors (we shall discuss this as we move forward):
- Training Age (current fitness level).
- Rest and recovery.
Understanding the factors for muscle building is very important to ensure proper muscle growth. But, it becomes important to understand what causes muscle growth in the first place?
How do Muscles grow?
Skeletal muscles comprises of a majority of the muscle groups present in our body. (1) These muscles contain muscle fibres that contract, which helps in the movement of our body. The demand of the body for more muscles,for better performance, stimulates the growth of muscles. One of the common ways of increasing muscle mass is by resistance training or heavy weight exercise.
Exercising with heavy weights leads to muscle tension and tear, which further leads to muscle injury. When muscles get injured our body activates the satellite cells (it helps in regeneration of muscle fibres) present near the muscles.(2) In order to repair muscle fibres, the satellite cells fuse together and also form new muscles. This increases the muscle fibre content in the body.
Apart from this, exercises also release certain hormones like the Growth hormone and the Testosterone. These hormones play an important role in building muscles quickly. The release of these hormones, of course vary depending on the intensity of the exercise and various health conditions. These hormones help in increasing the muscle protein synthesis in the body, which further increases muscle mass.
Factors that influences how fast can you grow muscles:-
As mentioned before, there are factors that influences how quickly can you gain muscles
1. The Training Age
The training age is the time duration for how long you have been lifting weights.
Individuals working with weights for the first time, experience the highest amount of muscle gains, often referred as newbie gains. Growth of muscle is found to be more significant in individuals new to body building as compared to bodybuilders that have been lifting weights for 2, 3 or 4 years.
Genetically, every individual has a limit to how much muscle it can gain, even by exercising. Thus, as you exercise more regularly, year after year, the growth of muscle decreases and your body reaches closer to a plateau state of muscle growth.
For an instance, a beginner bodybuilder can experience an increase of 20-25 pounds of muscles in their first year. The same bodybuilder might only be able to gain 10-12 pounds of muscles in the subsequent year. The growth of muscles, start decreasing in the following years, even if the weight lifting strength of the individual increases.
Even a slight gain in muscle can give visible results; you must keep this in mind as you start exercising. Also, understand that you can roughly gain around 2-2.5 pounds of muscle mass in a month, in the first year of weight lifting. Thus, if you are gaining more than this, it might be due to the increase in fats.
2. Varying Genetics
Your genes too play an important role in how quickly you gain muscles. There are individuals that require 4 hours of training daily to see visible muscle increase after a month. You may also find individuals that can gain a lot of muscles simply by spending an hour in the gym.
If you were not lucky enough to get those premium genes, you must not get dishearten. Remember, a majority of the bodybuilders have average genes, so they spend some extra hours in the gym, lifting weights.
You can simply optimize your training routine, have proper nutrition and regulate rest and recovery period accordingly, to gain more muscles. Keeping a check on these factors shall ensure you gain muscles as quickly as possible.
There are supplements that help you to gain more muscles. Although these do not affect the muscle mass directly, they play a significant role in the growth of muscles.
Bodybuilders are often found to use supplements like testosterone to enhance muscle growth. Study suggests,having optimal levels of testosterone are essential for proper muscle growth.(3) Further, research shows that supplements like testosterone enhance the muscle growth factors in an individual. (4)
Body builders often claim gaining more muscles in a month. It can be because, either they have good genes or because they are taking these supplements.
Although, supplements help you to increase muscle mass by enhancing the hormone secretion. It is recommended to opt for natural hormone boosters to see long lasting results. You must follow a step by step process, for gradual increase in muscles, this is the right way!!!
4. Proper training
Exercise or training is the most important aspect for building muscles. At MuscleMaxim, we recommend to focus on the compound exercises. These exercises hit all your major muscles groups at the same time, enhance overall muscle growth. (5) The best compound movement exercise includes squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, overhead presses, etc. Then you can focus on doing the isolation exercises, if you want to increase muscles in a particular area.
While training, in order to get desired results, you have to ensure you train with right intensity. Workout in volumes, if you are able to do only 10 sets of weight lifting make sure you lift heavy!!!
For beginners, it is recommended to divide the exercise routine into upper body and lower body splits. Try alternating it throughout the week and keep a rest day after one upper and lower body split day. This shall workout all your muscles, create the muscle growth stimuli, give time for the muscle to recover and prepare for the next workout session.
Resistance training with weights can be done in two ways.
- Increasing the number of sets, while working with light weights.
- Increasing the intensity with really heavy weights, even if you have to decrease the number of reps.
Once you activate the muscle growth stimulus with exercise or training, you need to power it with proper nutrition. Keep in mind, nutrition is essential to see the effects of the training as quickly as possible. If you do not eat enough, your body shall lack the calories, proteins and carbohydrates that it needs to grow muscles. Thus, it becomes important you keep a check on your nutrition.
Calories– Count your regular calorie intake, as because you want to gain muscles, you will have to increase it by 250-500calories. This is very essential for proper muscle growth with exercise.
Keep in mind your body can only gain a limited amount of muscles every month i.e. 1.5-2pounds of muscle per month. Thus, keep a check on your increased calorie intake as well; increasing it too much i.e. 1000 or 1500cals might lead to increase in fats.
For enhanced muscle growth it is recommended to have at least 4 meals per day. Each of your meal should consist of essential macronutrients i.e. proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Proteins– Around 30% of your meal should comprise of proteins such as chicken, whole eggs, fish, etc. Itis an essential ingredient needed for enhanced muscle protein synthesis.
Carbohydrates– 50% of your meal should include complex or good carbohydrates; this can include oatmeal, rice, potato, vegetables for fibre and fresh fruits, etc. This provides the body with energy throughout the day. Carbs to protein ratio of 2:1 should be maintained.
Fats– Fats too are important for proper muscle growth. Thus, you must add healthy fats to your diet. You can add oil, avocado, nuts and seeds to your diet for healthy fat content.
Supplementation– You can add Creatine Monohydrate supplements to your diet. Of course we recommend natural muscle building methods, but creatine monohydrate supplement is found to be very effective for muscle building. It is recommended after proper research. (6)
You can also add a good-quality protein powder as your pre- or post-workout drink. A good blend of whey and casein is considered effective for proper muscle growth and enhance the results of training.
6. Rest and recovery
Adequate rest is very essential for proper muscle growth after high intensity resistance or heavy weight training. Rest is important to prevent any kind of muscle injury, so take a day off after every upper split and lower split day.
It shall give your body the time to recover. Keep in mind, muscles do not grow when you exercise, but they grow when you are at complete rest.
Keep alternating the splits; this prevents too much strain on particular muscles. Thus, gives proper time for the muscles to recover and grow.
Muscle building is a time consuming process and it takes several weeks to see visible results. As you can only gain a certain amount of muscles every month, your focus should be on doing it the right way.
If you focus on training with proper intensity, take proper nutrition and give enough time for your body to rest, you are going to get bulked up within a few months. While exercising with weights, make sure you focus on the right form. This is essential to prevent muscle imbalances or muscle injury.
If you still find it difficult to build muscles, it is recommended to consult the gym trainer or a physician for proper guidance.