Setting Realistic Expectations for Gaining Muscle in the Gym

Building up muscle on your body takes a lot of hard work and dedication and most men who join a gym do not realize exactly what this hard work should be. If you have never worked out on a regular basis and decide to join a gym in order to gain more muscle, it should be expected that you know what you are in for.

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If you are young and trying to gain muscle for the first time then you will have the advantage of the rather unpredictable growth spurts that younger men or women seem to show when training with weights. However, if you are an adult and doing this for the first time, you need to know that you will be extremely fortunate if you gain 10 pounds of muscle a year.

If all the odds are stacked in your favor and you are born with good genes that gave you a mesomorphic body type, which puts on muscle quickly, then you need to know that the chances of putting on a lot of muscle in your first year of training with weights is very good.

We are talking here about muscle gain, please note that we are talking specifically about lean muscle here and NOT weight gain or fat gain because there is a very big difference. It is easy to gain lots of weight fast, just eat fast food every meal, which adds fat not muscle.

Unfortunately just watching the scale alone is not good enough to determine how much muscle you have gained because you need to know plus/minus how much body fat you have. The most accurate way to read your muscle gains is to use a skin fold caliper along with your results on the scale.

After your first year of weight training things start to change in your workouts for two reasons. The first is that you now know what you are doing and you now know exactly how to increase or decrease the intensity of your workouts and how to get muscle pain from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness).

The second is because of the law of diminishing returns which will show you that the longer you train the less muscle you will put on each year. A professional weightlifter who has been training for ten years will consider himself very lucky to put on a pound or two of muscle each year.

If you have been training more than five years and everything you do is perfect from your nutrition to your workouts then you will be very fortunate to be able to pick up seven pounds of muscle in a year. If you have been training less than five years, then you will get maybe 10 pounds of muscle a year. Just remember it is important to keep your expectations within possibility when setting your muscle gain goals.


Author Grant Donovan is a health and fitness enthusiast and the founder of His mission is to empower men to get the most out of their lives by staying active and eating healthy.

Also Read:

5 Reasons Women Should Lift Weights

The Re-Feed Diet for Bodybuilders

Dwight Howard’s Superman Workout

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