It’s one of those questions I see come up again and again: how can you build muscle fast? You are in for a surprise.
The Fast Way To Muscle Mass
You gotta be strong right now, because I have a very, very uncomfortable revelation for you.
Whatever you read about super fast muscle gain and whatever those guys selling the “build 20 lbs of muscle in six weeks” promise, it won’t work.
It is physiologically impossible to budge your muscles into this much growth in such short time.
The Mind-Muscle Connection
The most important reason why is that for about the first six months of working out, beginners don’t get stronger through building more muscle mass, they get stronger through their brains learning to use the existing muscle better.
It’s like learning to ride a bike: when you first get on, you are all wobbly and find it next to impossible to stay upright, let alone ride in a straight line. Then your brain learns to get all the muscles correctly into action and a while later you drive like a pro.
Now imagine what happens when you do push-ups or biceps curls for the first time. Here too the required movements and flows of action are entirely new to the brain. After just nine or ten push-ups you start feeling the “OMG, this is hard.” Four to six weeks weeks later you probably already have gotten to the point where you can do twenty, yet your muscles will have hardly grown at all.
But My Friend Gained 40 Lbs In Three Months!
That is an argument I have seen often, and it always come down to the same thing: someone steps on a scale in week 1 and then again in week 16, looking at an astonishing difference of 20 or more pounds in body weight. The scale is correct, make no mistake. But what isn’t correct is the assumption that the gained weight is muscle mass.
The guys who usually fall for this are those who are into the bulking and cutting system or the GOMAD approach. Both have you eat / drink tons and tons of calories, which will end up on your body as fat. That of course makes your arms look bigger and because of what we said above you also are getting stronger, but the two really are unrelated. You didn’t gain muscle fast, you gained fat fast.
Think about it: If it was really possible to gain 20 lbs of muscle in three months, that would be 80 in a year or 320 in four years. Not even Ronnie Coleman has that much muscle, so stop using the scale to measure your gains. It is much more reliable to track your progress through strength gains.
Teens And Fast Gains
Something similar goes for teen bodybuilders and trainees who make claims like “I started one year ago and since then gained 30 lbs of muscle.”
My answer to that statement usually is a return question: how much have you grown in that year? Because when you start working out at age 14, 15 and up you are still growing (and can keep doing so until 21).
That means your bones are getting longer, more skin is covering your body, your organs are getting larger etc. You get heavier simply because there is more of you.
The addition of teen bodybuilder + growing + GOMAD results in some of the most outrageous claims about fast muscle gain out there.
So What Can You Expect?
First of all let us cover what you should do: choose a workout plan appropriate for your level of experience, get your nutrition under control and stay consistent in your workout efforts. These steps I explained in detail right here.
If you do all that, then your muscle gains in a year will be somewhere between 5 to 20 lbs, depending on your genetic makeup. If you have a lot of fast-twitch muscle fibers (the mesomorph body type), you will find yourself at the upper end of that range, if you are more the ectomorph body type, the gains will be smaller.
What? No More Than 20 Lbs?
You of course don’t have to take my word for it, but let me put it like this: if there really was a workout program that made it possible to gain 20 lbs of muscle in three months, or just 20 lbs in a year, we’d all be doing it.