There are an infinite number of factors that influence an individual’s ability to gain muscle mass.
Chief among those factors are how you train, how hard you train, how you diet, your unique genetic potential (what your parents gave you to work with).
It is not possible to give a guarantee on how much anyone can or will gain.
What can be guaranteed is that a trainer following solid mass gain strategy, a trainer who follows a complete program with intensity and discipline, will gain significantly more muscle then he would following the typical training approach.
So, Really, How Much Can I Gain?
It has been my experience that beginning trainers will typically gain at the rate of 1-2 lbs. of muscle (lean mass) per week when following a complete program (See the Guide’s Muscle Building Program Reviews for the top complete programs).
Some will be able to gain at a faster rate (I was closer to 3 lbs. a week when I first started training with a well-designed program) and others will gain at a slightly slower rate.
This isn’t to suggest that anyone can continuously gain 1-2 lbs. of muscle per week for as long as they want and be ready for the IFBB in a few years.
The easiest pound of muscle to gain is the first one.
From there it gets progressively harder as you close in on your genetic potential. If you continue training you may someday reach an advanced level where 5-10 lbs. per year will be an acceptable gain.
But, rest assured, very few trainers ever get to the place where they can even sniff their genetic potential.
But I Heard It Is Impossible To Gain More Than 10-15 lbs. Of Muscle Per Year???
Yeah, I’ve heard that too.
There is science that points to the conclusion that the maximum “dry muscle tissue” the average body can build is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 lbs. a month.
However, dry muscle isn’t typically what people are referring to when they quote muscle gains. Most people judge their muscle gains with a simple, common-sense formula:
After Bodyweight – Before Bodyweight – Fat Gains = Muscle Gain
So if you weighed 160 lbs. at the beginning of your 12-week program and 180 lbs. after, and you had no measurable fat gains, most would say you had a 20 lb. muscle gain.
Technically, that would be incorrect.
The muscle gains the scale show you will not just come from what the lab-coats consider “muscle tissue”. It will come from the increased water and glycogen stores that support the new tissue you build.
It may be impossible to gain 20 lbs. of dry muscle tissue in 3 months, but it certainly isn’t impossible to gain 20 or more pounds of “lean mass”.
But the lean mass gains are all good stuff. It’s what we are all after: getting bigger and stronger.
You can call it “muscle gains” like the masses, or you can call it “lean mass” to keep the technical freaks happy.
But know this, beginner and intermediate trainers who train hard and train intelligently towards mass gain on solid programs, programs like the highest-rated muscle building programs, can and often do receive gains of 20 or 30 pounds over a 10-12 week period.
Vince Delmonte Says He Gained 41 Lbs. in 6 Months? Is That Possible?
I think it is very possible. If you trip around the web though, you’re bound to run into some who don’t think his gains could possibly be true.
I think there are some reasons for the controversy — check out Did Vince Delmonte Really Gain 41 Pounds In 6 Months? and decide for yourself.
Couple more articles you may like…
Calculating and Using Lean Body Mass (LBM)
Estimate your body’s fat and muscle composition. Monitor your LBM to know if you are gaining muscle or fat.
6 Things To Look For In A Mass Gain Personal Trainer
Not every trainer makes a great mass gain personal trainer, see what you should look for if you are targeting muscle mass gain.