So how long does it take to build muscle? Well, I remember back when I first started working out. I was maybe 15 or 16 years old, and I’d heard that girls liked guys with some muscle. So, being the testosterone-filled highschool student that I was, I decided to get a membership to my local gym.
I sat down with a personal trainer, and he opened up some program meant to forecast my results. It was supposed to show me what I’d look like after six months on his “program,” and holy shit was I impressed. According to his math, I could literally look like the fucking hulk after just six months.
No, that isn’t an exaggeration. I was 5’6″ and weighed about 115 pounds. By his estimate, I would somehow turn into a 6’3″ behemoth weighing 235 pounds within six months. Needless to say, he sold me on some ripoff program that cost $299 (if I remember correctly), and I walked away happy.
Turns out that building muscle is a hell of a lot harder than that, because six months later, I realized I’d been scammed. I literally hadn’t put on a single pound. I didn’t look any different, I didn’t feel any different, and I wasn’t any stronger. So if you want to avoid this hellish six months of wasted work, I suggest you read on.
First off, never blindly accept someone’s advice (not even mine). Second off, NEVER blindly accept someone’s advice, ESPECIALLY if they’re trying to sell you a program. I’ve been involved in the fitness industry one way or another for about a decade, and let me tell you something—they THRIVE off of lies and bullshit.
Open up any fitness magazine and you’ll see some giant, menacing dude curling 150 pounds, recommending some GNC whey protein or something. How did he build that much muscle? Was it the ten years of training he put in, to be a professional athlete and fitness model? Was it the thousands of dollars worth of steroids, and years of research?
Of course not, no! See it says here—you just take this GNC Wheybolic and you’ll transform into Arnold-fucking-Schwarzenegger within a matter of months! Can you believe it? And it’s all for the low, low payment of just $70 a month for the next three months! What a bargain.
Give me a break. Building muscle is going to take a hell of a lot more time and effort than most people think, but the worst part is that when you first get into bodybuilding, you don’t know this. So rather than setting you straight and giving you the facts, liars and marketers feed you bull crap and get you to waste your money.
So, the question still remains…how long does it take to build muscle? Interestingly enough, there’s no straightforward answer. I’ve seen people train for months and put on zero pounds (such as myself when I first started). Then, I’ve seen people train for a few months and put on 30 pounds of lean mass. So what gives?
How long does it take to build muscle, then? Well the truth is it depends on a number of factors:
How fast you can build muscle depends on a huge number of variables, which is why there isn’t any simple answer.
The more variables you can stack in your favor however, the better off you’ll be in the long run, and the faster you’ll build muscle. Let me tell you a little story to illustrate this point…
When I was preparing for my last fitness photoshoot, I managed to gain a whopping 30 pounds of lean muscle in just a few months. For most people, this isn’t possible—but it isn’t for the reason that you think. See, the reason why most people build muscle at a snail’s pace, is because they don’t know what they’re doing.
This was me at first. It took me FOREVER to build muscle, because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I didn’t have a good workout routine, I didn’t understand proper nutrition, and I didn’t take any fundamental supplements for building muscle. In short, I was lost at sea and I had a bunch of scammers selling me false promises.
When I did know what I was doing, though, I was able to pack on muscle FAST. When I prepared for that photoshoot, I did everything right:
If I hadn’t done those things, there’s no way in hell I would’ve been able to pack on 30 pounds of muscle within 3 months. It just wouldn’t have been possible. So what’s the lesson here, then? How does this apply to you? It’s simple—if you follow the advice outlined below, and do your research, you can expect to gain muscle pretty damn fast.
Nobody really knows how long it takes to build muscle, because it’s different for everyone. That being said, if you’re willing to put in the work, you can easily expect some newbie gains of 10 pounds a month (on average). Here’s a few things that you should do if you want to build muscle fast.
First off, you need to find a good workout routine that suits your goals. Ask yourself—do you want to gain as much muscle as possible? Do you want to focus on gaining strength, so that you can throw around weights like they’re nothing? Do you want to look physically aesthetic, so that you can pull girls?
These are all very important questions that you need to ask yourself, because without the proper goal in mind, you won’t get to where you want. I personally work out to look great and feel great, that’s really it. I don’t need to be able to bench press 600 pounds, because I’m not a competitive athlete (anymore at least).
Some people may have a different goal, and that’s fine. What’s important is that you find a workout routine that suits YOUR needs. There’s tons of free workout plans on the internet, and I’ve already written a couple such as the Daniel Craig Workout and the Chris Pratt Workout.
“So can I just eat whatever the hell I want and gain muscle?” NO! Of course not. If you’re serious about building muscle fast, you need to have the proper nutrition. Think of it like this—your body is a complex machine that has needs, and if you can’t meet those needs, it won’t run to the best of its ability.
One of those many needs, is proper nutrition. There are many diets out there, but only one of them is right for you. So start researching! Some people run best when they eat every few hours and others run best when they do intermittent fasting. Some prefer a paleo diet, and others prefer lots of carbohydrates. It all depends.
A good place to start is to simply figure out your caloric needs. There’s a lot of calorie calculators out there, but in my experience the best is Scooby’s Calculator. Punch in your information, and it will give you a certain number of calories to eat every day. Follow this number to a T.
Aim to get one gram of protein per pound of body weight—this rule holds whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle. If you’re a little bit on the chubby side, get more of your calories from fat than from carbohydrates. If you’re a hardgainer struggling to build muscle, double down on those carbs.
Simply finding a good workout routine, tracking your calories, and getting enough sleep will be responsible for most of your success in the gym. How long does it take to build muscle? Well, it depends entirely on how well you can follow these three things. Of course there’s a few other tricks you can use, but I’ll cover those later.
When people start working out for the first time, they typically find themselves sleeping more than they did before. No shit! When you’re at the gym, you’re breaking your body down, and it’s going to need a lot of that precious sleep in order to rebuild itself back up. Aim to get 9 hours a night. Sleep must become a priority.
“B-b-but Arnold only slept six hours a night, and he became a world famous bodybuilder!” is a very common objection. Yes, Arnold did only sleep six hours a night—but he has god-tier genetics, and was on enough steroids to kill a horse. If you really can’t sleep nine hours a night, it’s time to design a better lifestyle.
If you’re REALLY looking to put on muscle fast, you can always get on steroids. I DO NOT recommend this if you’re just starting out at the gym however, because you will likely have no fucking idea what you’re doing. Steroids have a lot of negative side effects, and if you’re not careful you can end up in the ER.
If you absolutely need to take some performance enhancing substances, then read my guide to SARMs. Selective androgenic receptor modulators, or SARMs for short, are basically like steroids without any of the side effects. As with anything, you’ll need to use them properly, but when done so they can be a very powerful tool.
Don’t abuse them—SARMs are the real deal. If you’re just some kid who’s never touched a dumbbell in his life, then don’t even bother with this stuff. Just stick to proper nutrition, a good workout routine, and nine hours of sleep a night. You’ll be fine. For my elite athletes, though—consider learning more about SARMs.
All in all, asking how long does it take to build muscle is a little bit of a loaded question. How long it takes to build muscle will depend entirely on you as a human being. If you aren’t following a good routine and don’t sleep enough, you won’t build that much muscle no matter how good your genetics are.
If you follow all the advice laid out in this article, though? Expect to pack on some serious mass. Like I said, when I was preparing for my “Body of an Alpha” photoshoot, I was able to pack on 30 pounds of muscle (maybe a little bit more) in just a few months.
For those of you who are willing to pay a little bit extra, I lay down all of the nitty gritty, dirty details in my “Body of an Alpha” package. It comes with three free eBooks, plus access to a special Facebook mentorship group. I also cover everything from nutrition to supplements to working out to recovery. It’s my bodybuilding bible.
To my long time readers—I hope that you guys enjoyed the article. This is more of a basic guide to building muscle, but if you want more in depth information be sure to explore the blog. If you have any questions be sure to leave them down below, and as always, I’ll see you next time!
Jon Anthony is a dating coach, fitness expert, and self-improvement guru. He dropped out of college to start Masculine Development in 2015, and has since been self-employed, helping men across the world achieve their best lives. You can best reach him on social media, or via email for questions.