How Much Muscle Can You Actually Build in One Month?
It’s common to see advertisements that set unreasonable expectations for muscle growth (like the old Cell-Tech label that promised “7 lbs. in 7 days!”). The truth is, just like fat loss, muscle gain is a slow process.
In fact, the maximal rate of muscle gain when sticking to a perfect bodybuilding diet and spot-on exercise programming is approximately 1/2 to 1 pound per week. In order to gain muscle at that rate, you will have to lift heavy enough to stimulate the muscles to grow.
Additionally, protein intake and surplus calories must be adequate to support the growth of lean tissue.
The most recent research has found that consuming about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day is safe for generally healthy adults to consume long-term , and that this amount of protein, in conjunction with an overall calorie surplus, will maximally promote muscle growth.
For example, a 150-pound adult could consume 150 grams of protein on a daily basis to safely build lean muscle mass. It’s important, though, for anyone seeking to build muscle to also operate at a calorie surplus of 500 to 1000 calories over their daily caloric needs.
Testing Your Metabolism
While there are many predictive equations that allow you to estimate your resting metabolic rate, the best course of action is to have your metabolism tested using a hand-held device (such as a Med-Gem) or a testing unit that measures gas exchange to determine your resting metabolism, and then adjust upward for your activity level in order to estimate your daily caloric needs.
Metabolic rate tests can often be performed at high-end fitness facilities or university-level research laboratories. Alternatively, if you have been maintaining your current weight for some time and know your usual calorie intake, simply add an additional 500 to 1000 calories per day.
But remember, the source of those calories is key to ensure muscle gain and avoid excessive fat gain—make sure you’re hitting your protein.
If you do everything right, you can expect to add 1/2 to 1 pound of muscle per week or 2 to 4 pounds of muscle per month, especially if you’re new to training.
For more information on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me! Meal plans and workout plans for muscle development can be designed on an individual basis through NOVA Sports Nutrition. Get a jump start on transforming your body composition today! Inquire for details.