How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?

If you’re starting a nutrition and workout program, you’re probably wondering “how long does it take to build muscle?” Understandably, you want to know when your hard work will pay off.

Some advertisers claim you can gain 20 pounds of muscle in a month. But you should know that’s not realistic.

In this article, I’ll show you how much muscle you can build in a week, a month, and a year. So you’ll have reasonable expectations and goals for your muscle gain journey.

How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle

How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?

First, it’s important to understand that muscle gain varies a lot between individuals. How fast you build muscle depends on your body type, gender, experience level, and more.

With that said, you can expect to gain 0.3 to 0.7 lbs of muscle per week according to multiple studies1,2,3. Or about 2 pounds of muscle per month on average.

That may seem like much less than you’d hoped. But let’s put it in perspective.

how long does it take to build muscle chart

Based on an average of 0.5 lbs/week of muscle gain.

As an example, picture an 8 oz steak. Now realize that your body can create that much muscle in just 7 days. All from a few hours of training and some spare calories. It’s actually quite impressive.

Even more impressive is that you could gain 6 lbs of muscle in 12 weeks. To put that into perspective, picture a dozen of those steaks packed on your body.

When you extrapolate that over several months, you could gain upwards of 25 pounds of muscle in a year!

Still not impressed? Maybe it will help to have a visual.

Obviously, this transformation took more than 1 year. And, in this case, I also lost body fat.

Therefore, this is intended to be an example of what 25 pounds of added muscle can look like. Not necessarily what you should expect in one year.

4 Actions to Maximize Muscle Building

Of course, you must follow a diet and exercise plan in order to gain muscle. And you need to take specific actions to build muscle at the maximum rate of 2 lbs per month.

1. Eat More Calories Than You Burn

As I always say, calories are the most important factor for body transformation. And you have to be in a calorie surplus to maximize muscle gain.

A calorie surplus is simply eating more calories than you burn. But it’s not always easy to figure out what that number is.

For that reason, I have a Bulking Calorie Calculator that helps you find your personal calorie surplus. Click the link below to try it.

Find Your Calorie Surplus

2. Lift Weights At Least 4 Times Per Week

Intense resistance training is almost as important as a calorie surplus. Because without it, your body has no reason to build new muscle.

From a physiological standpoint, muscle is very expensive. So your body won’t build muscle unless it has a good reason.

Therefore, you have to subject your body to new stimulus in order for muscles to adapt and grow. And training once or twice a week isn’t enough.

In order to maximize muscle growth, you should hit the gym at least 4 days per week. But you could go up to 5 or 6 days if you’re an experienced lifter.

The Plateau Busting Progressive Overload Workout

3. Take a Creatine Supplement

When it comes to supplements, most of them don’t live up to their hype. But creatine is an exception because it’s one of the most studied supplements around.

One particular analysis of studies from 1967 to 2001 showed that creatine effectively doubled the rate of muscle gain compared to a placebo1. So it’s likely the best supplement to maximize muscle building.

7 Things You Should Know Before Taking Creatine

4. Get At Least 8 Hours of Sleep

Lastly, it’s important to realize that muscles grow outside the gym. While your body is resting, it’s also busy repairing microscopic muscle damage. And that’s what builds new muscle.

When you don’t get enough rest, you’re actually slowing that process down. So it’s best to get at least 8 hours of sleep when your goal is to maximize muscle gain.

In addition to sleep, try to reduce stress and relax more. That way you lower catabolic hormones and raise anabolic hormones that repair and build.


When you combine all 4 of these actions, you’ll increase your chances of gaining 2 lbs of muscle per month. Over the course of a few months, that can result in a dramatic body transformation.

To learn more about muscle gain, check out my related content:

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