What Is A Natural Amount Of Muscle I Can Build In 1 Year?

Written by:

Obi Obadike

Obi Obadike

Celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Expert, CFT, SFN, M.S. Founder & CEO – Ethical Inc.
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What is a natural amount of muscle I can build in 1 year? There are limits to how much muscle you can build in one year or a lifetime. What does natural mean? It means building your body without steroids, growth hormone or any type of illegal performance enhancement drug.

 I’ve written about this specific topic on so many other fitness platforms that I always seem to have people thanking me for touching on this subject. Because they want to know what is reasonable for them so they can try to achieve it.

What is a natural amount of muscle I can build in 1 year?

The amount of muscle men and women can gain in year is predicated on how long you have been lifting. If you are a newbie lifter which is someone who has less than 1 year experience in lifting, then your muscle gains will be extremely high. Because you haven’t developed or tapped into your muscle fiber yet.

A newbie lifter can potentially gain up to 10 to 15 pounds of muscle in one year. Someone who has been lifting for 10 years or more their muscle gains are minimal. They would be lucky if they can put on muscle. Why? Because they are at or near their genetic potential.

Lyle Mcdonald, who is one of the most credible evidence-based fitness researchers in the fitness industry. He came up with a potential rate of muscle gain model based off his research that many fitness writers including me have referenced in articles. And this is really on point because some of my newbie clients have experienced this same rate of muscle growth.

What is a natural amount of muscle I can build in 1 year?

Lyle Mcdonald’s Natural Lean Muscle Gain Model

  • 1 year of Proper Training- 20-25 pounds of muscle in year- 2lbs of muscle per month.
  • 2nd year of Proper Training- 10-12 pounds of muscle in a year- 1lb of muscle per month.
  • 3rd year of Proper Training- 5-6 pounds of muscle in a year- 0.5lbs of muscle per month.
  • Over 4 years of Proper Training- 2-3 pounds of muscle in a year.

This model is based off Mcdonald’s evidence-based experience and research over the years.

Another model is based off a good friend of mine who is one of the most knowledgeable evidence-based nutritionists in the fitness industry as his name is Alan Aragon.

Alan Aragon’s Natural Muscle Mass Gain Model

Beginner- 1-1.5% of total body weight per month

Intermediate- 0.5-1% of total body weight per month

Advanced- 0.25- 0.5% of total body weight per month

So, Alan’s model takes a % off how much you weigh currently to determine how much muscle you can potentially gain per year. I had a client named Maurice Jackson who had never really lifted weights before. And in 90 days he gained 6lbs of pounds muscle and dropped 7% of body fat under my tutelage. He was able to gain this muscle in such a quick timeframe partly because he had never lifted weights before.

 So, his gains were extremely high compared to someone who has lifted weights for 5 years or more. He was lifting weights about 4 days a week; he was only on a 2000 calories per day diet and he wasn’t taking any supplements at all.

All his nutrients and vitamins came from food, but his diet was balanced with proteins, carbs, and fats. And he did cardio for 20 minutes day for about 3 to 4 days a week. He was a great case study for me, and he validated Mcdonald’s and Aragon’s model that the least lifting experience you have the higher muscle gains. The more lifting experience you have the lower the muscle gains.

Lyle Mcdonald says that the most muscle someone can gain in a lifetime naturally is about 40 to 50lbs of muscle based off his research and experience. And that sounds about right if I apply that to my personal training experience.

When I first started lifting weights at 17 years old, I weighed about 167lbs and now I weigh about 215lbs to 216lbs at 46 years old. And that is about 48lbs of muscle lifetime which is not that far from what Mcdonald’s believes someone can do over a lifetime. If you are natural fitness enthusiast or weight-lifter there are limits to muscle growth.

 For me personally I can’t gain any more muscle because I am at my genetical potential, and I’ve been lifting weights for 29 years. So, I am considered a super advanced trainee which means any muscle gains I can potentially gain is minimal to 0.

“Your biggest muscle gains you will make if you are a newbie will always be your first year”- Celebrity Fitness & Nutrition Expert Obi Obadike

Tips for Beginner Lifters That Want To Gain Muscle

  • Focus on consuming one gram of protein per pound per day
  • Lift weights at least 4 days a week targeting every body part for 3 to 4 sets. And for at least 3 to 4 exercises per body part of your training program.
  • Make sure you consume enough calories that will allow you to gain muscle. Your calories must be slightly above the maintenance phase. And that means consuming enough calories beyond maintaining your body weight.
  • And that can range from 18 to 20 calories per pound depending on what your basil metabolic rate is and how much you weigh.
  • Every macronutrient matters when you are trying to build muscle. So, your carbs, proteins and fats should be balanced. A good starting macro ratio is 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fats.

The Bottom Line:  Your biggest muscle gains that you can gain naturally will be your first year. And that stipulation is based off if you have never lifted before or your experience is less than one year.

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  2. Lyle Mcdonald, Creator of Body Composition-

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