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Muscle-Up

How Fast Can You Actually Gain Muscle?

So often you see in magazines and newspapers, the latest actor transforming their body in a matter of weeks into a muscular superhero.  Think Henry Cavill for Superman, Hugh Jackman for Wolverine, Chris Hemsworth for Thor, 300 Spartans, Michael B Jordan and Chadwick Boseman for Black Panther and Chris Pratt for Guardians of The Galaxy.

Often the transformations are pretty significant with the actors packing on muscle and leaning out to look great on camera.  Of course, they’ve got access to round the clock chefs, coaches, trainers and experts to help crack the whip and ensure their training, diets and supplementation are optimised.  However, that doesn’t mean you can’t apply some of the same techniques to your training for faster results.

It’s also worth noting that adding some muscle, not only is a good feeling, but it can increase motivation and the reality is more trained muscles make it easier to reap the benefits of weight training.  Note: I am not specifically mentioned size of muscle.  The size you want to increase your muscles to is down to your personal preference and goals, the key thing here is gaining quality muscle and how fast it is to progress.

Ironically, the first 3-6 months of strict form training is the best period for increasing muscle.  However, it’s also the period where many people give up.  I’m convinced this is largely to do with three things.

  1. Lack of practical knowledge on both training, nutrition and personal strengths / weaknesses
  2. A lack of appreciation for the level of intensity required
  3. Unrealistic expectations (a true killer of motivation)

So, how do you avoid this by packing on some foundation muscle fast?  Firstly, let’s look at how fast you can actually build muscle (without any steroids or human growth hormone).

The reality is there are a lot of variables and people are probably kidding themselves if they think genetics have nothing to do with it.  However, that’s ok, because if you get your expectations in check, you’re going to be ok.

According to a McMaster University study, if a typical, healthy adult male training correctly over 10 – 12 weeks with the right nutrition and recovery can increase muscle mass by 3kg or quarter of a kilo per week.   That’s a reasonable amount of muscle by any standard and if you’re effectively burning fat, you are already going to be starting to see the benefits.  Research seems to suggest that this drops after that.  However, even if it’s only 1.5 to 2kg every 3 months thereafter it’s still 7 – 9kg per year.

Sadly this doesn’t always happen as most people including myself when I first started training, don’t focus on the right things to maximise their improvement and strength / muscle.  In my case, I actually wasted months where I saw little improvement and even some backwards progress.  It wasn’t until I stopped for a while and restarted with the right reading / knowledge that I then started to see benefits.  With an average of 4-5 hourly sessions a week I increased my lean muscle from 67kg to 87kg over 2 years and people noticed.  That’s not breaking any records, but an average of 8-10kg per year is achievable.

Note: When I read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book Total Recall I noted he mentioned muscle growth seemed to come naturally for him as he trained.  I can’t say I have ever felt that way and would never have described increasing strength and muscle as natural for me regardless of my training or diet.  That 20kg was hard earned!!

So the point is, with some knowledge and hard work applied with persistence pretty much anyone who is willing can increase muscle without any illegal substances.

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