How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?

I’m sorry to say it.

The answer of course is it depends.

I hate that answer and always try and avoid it.

But unfortunately, this is one situation where it really does depend.

However!

We can breakdown: “It depends”.

Into two components.

The first is one you can do something about.

In this article, I will help you understand what you can do to speed up the rate of muscle gain as much as possible.

So get your notes ready.

Muscle Development – What You Can Do About It?

The single most impacting factor to speed up your muscle development. Will be to understand how inflamed your body is. Click To Tweet

In order for the body to build muscle, it has to be in the anabolic state.

It will also need to direct surplus energy to the hypertrophic response (muscle building response).

If your body is chronically inflamed.

You will have less energy available.

This is a very important point that is not widely discussed.

An Interesting Example

To highlight the above statement and delve a bit further I will point you to a study that was conducted named:

Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training.

The study was done to test the results of different strength training approaches and measure outcomes.

The important thing that I want to note here is that at the end of the study when it came time to measure.

The size changes ranged from -2 to +59% (-0.4 to +13.6 cm) and

I first started to investigate this area.

When I noticed how my bodies response would differ month to month.

Some months I would go into my workouts feeling energized.

I would know 10 seconds into my set whether or not I was going to beat my previous time.

I could just feel it.

After my wife and I had our beautiful daughter Gabriella.

Things changed.

Our diets went from good to bad.

Sleep was drastically affected.

Time available to exercise became harder to find.

Something was up and I couldn’t find any answers online.

Why was this happening? What was the underlying mechanism or variables causing this?

When I heard Dr.Doug McGuff talk about cytokines with Dave Asprey a few years ago.

It piqued my interest and compelled me to dive deeper, into inflammation.

Turbo Charge Your Muscular Development

Inflammation is the bodies way of dealing with stress.

Not only emotional stress but also environmental and physical stressors.

The degree to which you can lower these stressors on the body.

Will result in more available energy diverted to other bodily processes.

Such as muscle remodeling.

If your body is chronically inflamed.

Then it is, in effect, in a constant state of mild sickness.

Do you really believe, that your body will be able to optimally produce?

An adaptive response to exercise if it is mildly sick (chronically inflamed), constantly?

Are You Preventing Optimal Gains in Rapid Muscular Development?

You may be thinking, if I was chronically inflamed I’m sure I would know.

You may not be chronically inflamed at all.

Which would be quite rare. I will tell you the foolproof way of finding out shortly.

But remember one thing.

The cause of many diseases if not most.

Is either directly caused by acute or chronic inflammation.

Or correlated with acute/chronic inflammation.

Psoriasis, acne, any skin disorder you can think of is an inflammatory response.

The list of other autoimmune disorders and conditions is endless.

If you are overweight chances are you are also inflamed.

The unfortunate fact is.

Most people experience chronic inflammation and have been doing so for so long.

That they no longer remember how it feels to thrive rather than stay alive.

We think that our current normal is normal. The bar keeps on getting set lower, the more a population deteriorates.

The sad thing is.

Most people will never push themselves to the discipline required to experience how it feels to thrive.

Slowly and progressively their levels of inflammation will bounce up and down.

Gradually following a downward trend towards death.

What is the Role of Diet in Building Muscle?

Protein, protein and more protein.

Yeah, we get it.

We’ve heard it a dozen times before everywhere online.

The supplement producers made sure of that.

But why aren’t we talking about the inflammatory effects of certain foods on the body?

Sure we all agree we need protein or rather amino acids. To build muscle.

Even if the original quantities taught. Seems to be grossly overstated.

But if our body is chronically inflamed.

Then eating more protein ain’t gonna help.

What you need are more alkalizing foods, not more acidic foods.

Anti Muscle Foods & Inflammatory Foods

In short, all modern day processed foods are inflammatory, think:

  • Sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Processed Fats
  • Oils heated to high temperatures
  • Too much Omega 6 fatty acids vs Omega 3 fatty acids

Muscle Building Foods

Studies have shown high amounts of Omega 3 supplementation can reduce inflammation.

Try eating more foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as grass-fed beef and lamb.

Wild oily fish like mackerel and sardines.

The web is packed with information on how you can combat inflammation through diet.

My intention with this article is to provoke thought and get you thinking outside of the box and questioning more.

Warp Speed Muscle Development by Understanding & Managing Stress.

Guess what a workout is?

A stress on the system.

But it represents good stress if not taken to the point of stupidity. Click To Tweet

After this mild stress. The body adapts and becomes stronger.

The result is an increase in your physiological headroom. (i.e stronger in every sense of the word down to the individual cells)

So remember, manage your stressors.

Types of Stress

Environmental

Pollutants, chemicals in the products you place on your skin or breathe.

Chemicals in the drugs you take.

Chemicals in the water.

Chemicals in the plastics like BPA’s.

The list goes on and on.

Please do your research and educate yourself.

Start being aware of all the various chemicals going into your system.

Emotional

You absolutely must learn how to manage your emotional response to stress.

If someone pushes in front of you on the subway or cuts in front of you on the freeway.

You have two options.

Get angry or stay calm.

That’s as simple as it gets.

Practice makes perfect.

There has been some interesting research on the effects of psychological stress on recovery ability and strength performance.

Physical

Do not train every day, it will not bring results quicker.

You can read more about frequency and other training variables in my guide.

Blood Testing to Increase the Speed of Muscle Development.

Blood testing for inflammatory markers seems to be a good idea.

There are many labs online and probably close to your location.

For testing chronic inflammation you will want to start by testing these:

High-sensitivity C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP)

Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF-α)

IL-6

Ferritin

Fibrinogen

Check this website to learn more.

Muscle Development – What You Can’t Do About It?

Genetics.

At birth, you were given a genetic makeup.

There is nothing you can do to change it so learn to deal with it.

You can achieve spectacular results in physique development.

You can achieve it relatively fast, with very little time investment. You can read this article to learn more.

If you learn how to train properly first.

Your body can undergo a complete transformation in as little as 6 months.

If you first learn how to master intensity and ‘hack’ exercise.

But if you compare your physique to that of someone with amazing bone structure.

Long muscle bellies.

Ideal metabolism.

All round genetics geared towards building muscle.

A.K.A. A genetic thoroughbred.

Your physique will look meager.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Not in terms of physique nor strength.

Only compare yourself to yourself and constantly ensure that you are making progress in YOUR numbers workout to workout.

What is the Best Way to Build Muscle?

So you are confident that you are making healthy choices in terms of the way you eat.

You are eliminating as many chemicals and emotional stressors from your environment as possible.

Now you want to learn how to train like a Jedi.

You want to learn how to train as effectively as possible.

You want to maximize efficiency.

You want to deliver the maximum possible stimulus with the smallest possible dosage.

Now you’re talking my language.

The art of mastering exercise is primarily the art of mastering intensity of effort.

Intensity lives in an inverse relationship to duration.

That’s a fact.

The harder you train the less time you can do it for.

x and y axis chart depicting the inverse relationship between intensity and duration

So if you can learn how to master the final 20%- 30% of the intensity continuum.

You can master how to attain maximal stimulus in minimum time.

How Fast Can You Build Muscle? The Problem with Averages

You will see many figures online like the below image attempting to give you an idea of the average muscle gains you can expect to see in a week, month and a year etc.

Whilst it is true that the rate of muscle gain will diminish in time and will not be as great as your initial gains.

It does not necessarily have to be true that your muscular gains will dwindle down to meager increments.

This may be true for the vast majority of trainee’s.

Most trainee’s really have no idea what they are doing.

They are blindly following others who also have no idea what they are doing.

If you want to read further into muscle building read this article and if you want to understand more about how you can do it in less time read here.

The blind leading the blind.

If you master the most important variable of all ‘intensity’.

Then implement proper protocols to monitor recovery.

There is no reason why you can not progress quickly toward your full potential.

The Problem with Averages.

Many of the purported muscular gains are based on averages.

The problem with averages is that these are hugely impacted.

By the highest, most impressive responders and the worst, lowest, responders.

If you were now to chuck in a high responder it would markedly affect the bell curve and now show a completely different average.

Forget averages and focus on manipulating variables that you have control over.

Meticulously and systematically collect data from your workouts to meet continuous improvements.

A Freakish Example of Extraordinary Fast Muscle Development

image of casey viator a body builder before and after a body transformation.

Take for example the infamous Colorado experiment.

In this experiment Casey Viator.

Former Mr.America and an absolute hulk.

Started at an impressive 166.87 pounds.

His percentage of body fat, as measured by the “potassium whole body counter,” was 13.8 percent.

He was 21 years old and stood at a height of 5 feet 8 inches.

After the 1st week, Casey had gained 27.25 pounds of muscle.

At the completion of the experiment Casey had gained a total of 63.21 pounds of muscle and lost 17.93 pounds of fat.

This may seem unbelievable but I trust Ellington Darden, you can read more here.

Now, remember Casey was a genetic freak, or as I like to say, a genetic thoroughbred.

He had 1 in a million genetics, as do most bodybuilders in the magazines.

Casey was also coming from an injury at work that took most of his little finger off.

He almost died after receiving a highly inflammatory anti-tetanus injection.

He lost a considerable amount of muscle mass whilst bed bound.

So in effect, he was reclaiming mostly lost muscle mass.

He was not taking steroids as Arthur Jones would never allow it.

He was a perfectionist and a very vocal anti-steroid proponent.

Setting the Right Expectations

Setting realistic expectations is essential.

You do not want to be basing your goals on the results of genetic thoroughbreds.

Neither do you want to base your goals on the results of ‘hard gainers’.

The best way to be objective and set realistic goals.

Is to start planning and recording your workouts and all the variables in between.

This means choosing a programme and sticking with it for a period of time.

Not programme hopping.

Recording workout progress and the variables that affect your workout performance.

Like food, sleep and stress is a must.

Once you have an ‘accurate’ record then you have a place to start.

Then start introducing changes one by one.

Monitor the effects on your strength and muscle development.

You may be quite surprised to find that the rate at which you build muscle will start to accelerate.

Planning and recording your workouts as I have mentioned above can be daunting and complicated.

But it need not be.

How do Muscles Grow?

In case you don’t already know.

Here is an overview of how muscles grow and how the body responds to exercise stress.

I won’t get into the minute here because there is no need.

It is far more beneficial to understand the fundamental concept.

You can dig into the minute later.

Step 1:

You need to apply a stimulus to the muscles that they will respond to.

This stimulus comes in the way of a high-intensity training stress.

That momentarily weakens the capability of your muscles to a level much much lower than when you commenced the training stress.

Step 2:

Back off and allow your muscles to repair and your body to divert energy to this complicated process.

Step 3:

Continue backing off.

Whilst your body completes the initial phase of recovering and returning back to homeostasis.

Your body will begin the super-compensatory effect of increasing your reserves.

So that next time it encounters such a demanding, potentially life-threatening event. (Think evolution and saber tooth tiger chasing you down).

It will have greater abilities to deal with the demand imposed on the body/muscles.

That’s it. That’s the bird’s eye, forest from the trees perspective that you need to remember.

Do Women Build Muscle at the Same Rate as Men?

The rate at which women build muscle will, of course, be less than that of men.

Women have lower quantities of androgenic (male characteristics) hormones.

Women will build muscle at their own speed. The same rules apply to both men and women for training.

The physiology is the same, just the quantities and ratios of hormones are different.

Steroids

Don’t use them not worth it.

Even if you can get your hands on pharmaceutical grade nonblack market grade steroids.

Still not worth it. The long term effects are not well understood.

The majority of the gains seem to disappear on cessation of using them. Click To Tweet

As seen by retired natural bodybuilders.

Does Cardio Help to Build Muscle?

Cardio will not help you to increase the rate at which you will build muscle.

Off-course if a sedentary person started performing ‘cardio’ they would build some muscle, it’s still resistance exercise.

The muscles are working, be it predominantly aerobically.

The heart is not running on the treadmill by itself.

The legs are running meaning the heart is working.

Just because cardio can build muscle.

It does not stand to reason that will it help you build muscle any faster than resistance training alone.

Click To Tweet

Homework:

  1. Consider running some blood tests and get an idea of where you are with inflammation levels.
  2. Introduce one anti-inflammatory variable per month. I recommend: Golden Milk this month and Replace the deodorant you’re using with a chemical-free natural one.
  3. Last but not least start recording your workout performance based on guidelines set out here.