Three of the most common questions that I’ve received during my experiences spent interacting with people looking to get fit are:
- How much muscle can I build?
- How long does it take to build muscle?
- How long does it take to lose weight?
As you can see, 2 out of 3 of these questions are focused on time. Unfortunately, focusing too much on a time frame breeds the faulty mindset of achieving a quick, easy result. Often, these same people become discouraged and are disappointed when they are unable to meet their unrealistic expectations.
Although these questions are often taken the wrong way, when used correctly they can be useful in setting realistic and attainable fitness goals.
These Questions Are More Important Than You Think…
Firstly, having facts on the actual rate of muscle growth and its limitations are extremely valuable when you’re being pitched a fitness scam that claims that you can build muscle and lose weight in X amount of time.
And more importantly, being informed about these questions will allow you to set realistic goals and expectations for your development. Unfortunately, most people have the misconception that they can build muscle at much faster rate than they are humanly capable of.
How Much Muscle Can I Build?
There has been much discussion over the rate and limits of muscle growth. Through literature and general observation, the amount of muscle you can expect to gain is the following.
Please be aware that this number is strictly the amount of muscle and not weight (which also includes fat, glycogen, water, etc.) that can be gained.
Also note that these numbers are averages. There are always exceptional cases in which individuals may either exceed or never come close to reaching these amounts, and there are a handful of factors that influence what these numbers will be for you specifically.
But for the majority of people, this is the maximum amount of muscle you can expect to gain in your life.
How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle?
So, that’s how much you can gain in total. The question now is, how long does it take to build it and how fast can it be done?
Again, this is the amount of muscle and not total weight that the average natural man and woman can expect to gain per week.
And these are the numbers you can expect to achieve under ideal conditions which include an appropriate diet, proper amounts of rest and recovery, and a solid workout routine.
Please note that this is just a generalized answer based on averages. The actual rate at which you gain muscle depends on you.
For example, someone with amazing genetics will be able to build muscle faster than someone with crappy genetics. And adding steroids to the equation will skew the numbers even more.
But not to be mistaken, there are more natural supplements out there such as creatine that will aid you in building muscle.
As you can see ladies, the rate at which you gain muscle is only approximately half that of a man’s. So doing everything you can to avoid weight training because you want to avoid getting “bulky” is silly and isn’t a valid reason.
I’ve designed a simple yet effective weight training routine that women can use to get stronger.
How Long Does it Take to Lose Weight?
- Ideal Weight Loss Goal: 5% to 10% of body weight, or between 0.5 to 1 kg (1-2 lbs) per week
This equates to a caloric deficit of 500-1000 kcal per day.
This is a healthy, sustainable and realistic rate of weight loss based on various sources of literature. The result of restricting your dietary intake beyond this amount may cause you to lose an excess of lean muscle mass. This consequently leads to a slowing of your metabolic rate which means that you’ll need to burn more calories to maintain a deficit and continue losing weight.
Although this may seem like a broad range, the preferred rate will vary based on how much weight you actually have to lose. Confused? Take a look at this chart.
- The more weight that needs to be lost, the faster you’ll lose it but the longer it will take due to the larger quantity that has to be lost.
- The less weight that needs to be lost, the slower you’ll lose it but the sooner it will happen due to the smaller quantity that has to be lost.
This means that in an environment where energy expenditure and caloric intake is similar, it will clearly take the person with 50 lbs to lose a lot longer than the person with only 5 lbs to lose. And the more weight that you have to lose, the faster your body is capable of losing it.
So if you’re really concerned about time frames, you can do a few simple calculations to estimate how long it will realistically take you to achieve your target weight.
Do You Deserve to Be Strong?
So now that you have a general sense of how long it takes to build muscle and lose weight, you can now set realistic fitness goals.
However, there’s one remaining point to drive home: these numbers are based on ideal conditions.
This means that you are using an effective diet and workout routine that is specifically designed to help you attain your goal. It assumes that you maintain discipline throughout your program, put in the required effort and build strong habits to keep you on the right path.
And it also assumes that you’re putting 100% of your efforts into taking action rather than wasting time and energy worrying on how long it will take.
You know why you don’t have muscle? Or why you can’t perform your sport on par with a world class athlete?
You just haven’t deserved it yet.
It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or because you’re not working hard, but because you don’t deserve it yet!
Anybody that tells you that you deserve something or are entitled to something is lying to you. You’re not entitled to shit!
You’re entitled to getting on the journey, trying, and facing challenges along the way as you grow stronger.
Nobody wants to hear this. They want that guarantee… that guaranteed master plan that comes without effort.
Even if you do get that, you’re now stuck with a whole myriad of problems. Think of the people who win the lottery. At the end of 5 years, they’re more broke and more destitute than before they won the money. So the million dollars that they received was their biggest curse.
If you gained the muscle and strength that you think you’re entitled to, it would be the biggest curse because you wouldn’t appreciate it or value the journey that you took to get there.
Understand that it’s going to take a lot of effort and a lot of time. And the longer it takes, the greater the reward.