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How Much Muscle Can You Build Naturally?

Today I am sharing an article about buidling muscle natrally. It has all aspects of using workout for weight loss.

Many people make many claims as to how much muscle you can build naturally. Who’s right?

I get asked fairly often how much muscle you can really build naturally. That is, how can we determine our genetic potential in terms of building muscle? How big can we really get without taking drugs?

If you poke around on the Net, you’ll find a ton of conflicting opinions. Some people feel that genetics can prevent you from ever looking good, while others believe that you can accomplish anything if you work hard enough at it.

Who’s right?

Neither, really. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Muscle Building and Genetic Potential

The first thing you should know is there really isn’t any way to know for sure what your genetic potential is when it comes to building muscle. While you’ll never be able to gain 250 lbs of lean mass naturally, it’s impossible to say with complete accuracy how big you’ll actually be able to get.

That said, worrying about such matters before you have 5+ years of proper lifting and eating under your belt is pretty pointless in my opinion. If you’re new to lifting, don’t even give a second thought to whether you’ll be able to build enough muscle, build it quickly enough, have the right proportions, etc. This can lead to unrealistic expectations and an early mental defeat.

The ultimate reality is that you are going to train hard, eat right, and let your body develop as it will.

While we don’t all have the genetics to be top-tier bodybuilders, any of us can build a strong, muscular, healthy body that we’re proud of, and that’s what it’s all about in the end.

So, with that out of the way, let’s address the actual issue of this post: how much muscle can you build naturally?

How Much Muscle You Can Build Naturally?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any studies that I know of that definitively answer this question. Which is why there are so many opinions and broscience theories out there.

There are, however, some guidelines developed by a few of the top coaches and minds in the fitness world: Lyle McDonald, Alan Aragon, and Martin Berkhan.

These guys have collectively worked with hundreds of elite bodybuilders and athletes, and are speaking from not just an incredibly in-depth understanding of the body, but a wealth of real-world practice and results.

Let’s look at what they have to say, and then I’ll share my thoughts and experiences.

Lye McDonald’s Answer

Lyle keeps his model very simple. (And as a note, this applies to men–Lyle says that women should expect about half these numbers.)

YEAR OF PROPER TRAINING
POTENTIAL MUSCLE GAINS
1 20-25 pounds
2 10-12 pounds
3 5-6 pounds
4+ 2-3 pounds

According to Lyle, both age and starting condition will affect this. Older guys will gain less than younger, and underweight guys can gain a bit more than this. And some people can just build more or less muscle due to other factors like hormones, genetics, and lifestyle.

As you can see, Lye says that you’re looking at 40-50 lbs of muscle you can gain in your first 4-5 years, and the gains are negligible from there on out.

Also notice that it’s years of proper training, not just training. Lyle said that someone that has been lifting improperly for several years has the potential to make “year one” gains when he starts training properly. (And I’ll get to what proper training is in a minute.)

Alan Aragon’s Answer

Alan’s model addresses the issue a bit differently, but the numbers come out to be about the same.

CATEGORY RATE OF MUSCLE GROWTH
Beginner 1-1.5% of total body weight per month
Intermediate .5-1% of total body weight per month
Advanced .25-.5% of total body weight per month

According to Alan’s formula, a 150 lb beginner could gain about 1.5-2.25 lbs of muscle per month, or 18-27 lbs in year one.

Once he hits year two, he’s an intermediate lifter weighing in at 170 lbs (let’s say), and could gain .85-1.7 lbs of muscle per month, or 10-20 lbs in year two.

By year three, he’s an advanced lifter at, let’s say, 190 lbs, and is capable of gaining 5-10 pounds of muscle that year. His potential gains diminish from this point on.

Martin Berkhan’s Answer

Martin developed his formula after observing and coaching scores of professional bodybuilding competitors, and it’s very simple:

Height in centimeters – 100 = Upper weight limit in kilograms in contest shape (4-5% body fat)

Here’s how this pans out for a few heights and poundages:

HEIGHT WEIGHT AT 5% BODY FAT WEIGHT AT 10% BODY FAT TOTAL MUSCLE MASS
 5’8″  160 lbs  170 lbs  153 lbs
 5’10″  171 lbs  180 lbs  162 lbs
 6′  182 lbs  192 lbs  173 lbs

To calculate numbers for other heights, multiply the inches by 2.54 to get centimeters. Then subtract 100 for your maximum weight in kilograms at 5% body fat. Multiply this number by 2.2 to get pounds.

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