Hey Angels and Alphas,
How much lean muscle tissue can you really gain, whether you’re male or female? Fitness is all about positive transformations, and if you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you’ve no doubt seen plenty of 30-day transformation stories. If you see enough of them, you may start thinking going from lean to muscular is a quick and easy process. But, in real life, muscle growth is a much slower process.
So, how much lean muscle can you really expect to put on in a single month?
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF FACTORS THAT AFFECT MUSCLE GAIN
Whether you fall on the low or high end of this overall muscle gain spectrum depends largely on a variety of factors. Unfortunately, many of these different variables are largely outside your control, such as your gender, age, muscle fiber type, as well as how long you’ve been training. Let’s talk about each.
#1 YOUR GENDER
Men naturally have higher levels of testosterone than women, which makes increasing muscle mass an easier and faster task for men. When women grow muscle, they rely on insulin-like human growth factor to do the majority of the job, so they definitely don’t have the same muscle bulk for that reason.
That said, testosterone levels can vary within the sexes as well. Some women will have higher levels of testosterone than other women and, as a result, may gain muscle easier. Similarly, some men may have lower natural levels of testosterone than other men so their potential for gaining muscle will be limited.
#2 YOUR AGE
According to a variety of experts, the ideal age range for gaining muscle is 18–25 years old. After the age of 25, testosterone levels begin to drop off a bit — more specifically in men. This makes muscle gain just a tad more difficult, though by no means impossible. It’s just not as easy to gain as much, which is not to say you’re not still gaining plenty of muscle, but the rate at which you can gain it is usually the highest in the ranges of 18-25 years old.
Then, you experience a sharper drop in natural hormones around the age of 40. This is a time when gaining muscle becomes an even greater challenge. But as long as you keep up with your training and keep your nutrition locked in, you can still gain a decent amount of muscle after that 40-year mark.
#3 YOUR MUSCLE FIBER TYPE
Things get a little bit more interesting when you start looking at the muscle fibers themselves.
You have probably heard about terms such as “fast-twitch” and “slow-twitch” muscle fibers. And simply put, fast-twitch muscle fibers (also known as type II) are perfect for performing tasks that require explosive strength, speed and power (e.g., sprinting, jumping, and Olympic lifts), while your slow-twitch muscle fibers (also known as type I) are great for activities that require a lot of endurance (e.g., distance running). Every person has a mix of different muscle fiber types, however some of us lean more heavily toward one or the other.
But what does this mean for gaining muscle? It means that fast-twitch fibers have greater potential for mass growth. If you have a greater percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibers, you may be able to build more muscle in general, as well as build muscle more quickly than those with more slow-twitch muscle fibers.
If you have more type I muscle fibers, you are less likely to have an easier time growing muscle. The difference will largely be in the quality of the size and shape.
#4 HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN IN TRAINING
In general, if you are newer to exercise, you will see increases in lean muscle mass more quickly than seasoned advertisers. When you start exercising, it won’t take much for your body to create new adaptations for physical and performance-based changes to appear. However, as you gain more experience, it will take more and more time to see improvements.
The only exception to this rule is a former athlete or even advanced lifter who returns to training after a long period of deconditioning. When you’ve gained muscle in the past and you lose it, it will be much easier to gain it back.
The reason? You’ve already built the neuromuscular connections necessary (or pathways between the nervous system and the muscles themselves) so you’ll enable your body to recognize when it’s being asked to create more muscle mass. Rather than working from the beginning and learning those pathways, your body will already recognize so you can naturally progress with more ease.