That’s a question I have been asked at least 8,973,172,984 times in my career, and I never felt comfortable answering it for various reasons, some of which would be obvious to some, not so obvious to others… Here, once and for all, is my attempt at answering that question…

33 Comments
  1. alex 9 years ago

    most discouraging video i have ever seen man !!
    I have put on that weight in less then one year and its all natural.. and no fat.. of course im hitting a plateau now but i will shurelly have time untill your 5 year deadline to put on much more..
    So i deffinitly think youre completelly wrong !!

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      Alex, don't take this the wrong way, but do you really think you are qualified to state I'm "completely wrong!!"? That's great you have put on that much weight in one year. Bone density increases with training, may or may not be adding bodyfat, increased glycogen storage increases, connective tissue, etc, etc. Actual contractile tissue, is another matter: go to the super market and pick up a 30lb pack of lean muscle tissue. Did you do a DEXA scan? I have known some big muscular strong all natural guys (and gals!!!!) but they are – as vid explains – heading toward the right side of that bell curve. That may apply to you also, I don't know.
      Averages don't apply well to individuals, and no one should alter their training around the numbers I gave per se. But, it is a very common question I get, I'm sure you all have seen on every forum (usually asked by newbies who don't realize training is a journey vs a destination) who want exact numbers and time frames.
      So, I did my best to give what I believe are pretty good approximate numbers and in my experience and research (which exceeds that of 99.999% of the population) that's what I have come up with.
      Good luck with your training.

    • oded 9 years ago

      Alex hi If you listen a gain to Will you will hear him commenting that there are some who placed on the right assimtot (of gauss carve) that can a chives the goal in the shortest time with uniek gins You might be one of them So relax and have a good life Oded

  2. emot 9 years ago

    Alex, didn't you hear the man say there's lots of variables.

  3. Brad 9 years ago

    I totally agree with you Will, I understand that genetics brings a huge role on how big you can get. I always feel like I am having a hard time gaining muscle mass. All those fitness programs out there are always promoting themselves by saying you can get 'xx amount of muscle in xx time'. But 99% of the time you won't get it.
    Genetics will determine whether you can ever get the body you want (of course the higher your goals is the harder). Sucks that lately I been watching your videos and it tells how big a deal genetics are because it also tells me that I can never get BIG! Its true because I see many people with better genes around me even though they eat worst and train worst than me.
    That said, even though I can't get that big is it possible for most average or below average dude to reach a pretty decent body size and be ripped? Can almost EVERYBODY (even those on the left side of the curve) regardless of genetics get a 6 pack? (with good training and nutrition and everything of course).

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      Brad, it's easier to have 6 pack abs then it is to gain loads of LBM. That's an issue of bodyfat, which you have quite a bit of control over. How does one define "decent body size"? That's really something only you can define. As mentioned in the vid, most people can add solid muscle to their frame with constant training and good nutrition. The addition of say 20lbs of LBM and the reduction of say 20lbs of fat (as just examples) will have a radical effect on the way you look, and unless you have the worst genetics around (which is a small % of the population as indicated) you can make VAST improvements in your physique, that I can assure you of.

      • Brad 9 years ago

        It's true that everyone can make big changes in their physique. I have gone from being obese about 30% bodyfat to around 10% bodyfat now (but only a vague 4 pack still). My arms have gone from 12 inches to 14 inches but seem to be stucked there for a year already. Fluctuating a little up and down from cut and bulk cycles.
        I do see vast improvements in the way I look though after I cut. However, I just seem to be stuck around this size for sometime. But I guess after 2 years of training its not so easy to get bigger that fast anymore.
        People always say to get about an inch of arm size, you need around 10+ lbs of muscle. Is this true? If this is so, then I would only be able to reach around 15 inch arms if a normal average dude like me could only put on like 30lbs of muscle. Of course there is no definite, can be more or less but around this figure.

  4. jeffn 9 years ago

    Will, can you put that 30 lb. of muscle estimate in to a percentage of body weight? For example if a person is 200 lbs before starting training that 30 lbs is 15% of their weight, if they are 120 lbs then 30 lbs is 25%. I imagine one of the assumptions is an average male around 170-200 lbs?

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      I considered doing it as a function of % of bodyweight, but I find that actual number surprisingly consistent across different starting weights (assuming full grown adults) and "average" heights. I do think height is more a potential factor and the farther ones gets above or below average height, the less applicable that number of 30lbs on average.

  5. fairlane 9 years ago

    Cool video Will. Wondering how age fits into the equation, being just another one of the bazillion variables. 3-5 yrs to put on 30 lbs of LBM, my first reaction was, 'OK, but at what age?", how much or how fast can a 20yr old develop, 30, or 40yr old? I'm thinking its all relative, all those cursed variables. CURSE YOU VARIABLES, CURSE YOU!!! ^_^

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      Age has to be one important variable, but I couldn't tell you where it is, and it will be somewhat individual. I guess I'm maing the assumption it's people starting serious weight training 30 and under, but that's a WAG on my end really. There's no magic age cut off, but we all know age is a factor to gaining muscle and strength. I'm stronger at 45 then I was at 35, but not as strong as I was when I was 25, etc. Any attempt to give a real number as to exactly how/where age effects the numbers would be total speculation.

  6. makster 9 years ago

    Great info Will. I have to agree with your findings here. There may be others that get more or less because of the variables you mentioned. As fairlane mentioned I think age would be a big variable on that figure. It seems to me gaining that much "muscle" in less time would be very difficult and not happen in many individuals.

  7. Brad 9 years ago

    Let's say you put on about 30 pounds of muscle in the 3-5 years. What about after that? Will you still be able to grow?

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      Unknown. Your genetics, training, nutrition, outside influences, etc, will dictate that.

  8. Rave 9 years ago

    Hi Will, great vid! I agree there are many variables in weight training/muscle building. I my case I started at around 150 lbs (body weight) and about two years later (at the age of 54), I am now 182 lbs. Of course it's not all muscle, but either way I'm pleased. You're so right, it's a journey!!!

  9. Carl Juneau 9 years ago

    Hi Will,
    Great video! You're right on the money with the 30 lbs estimate. That's accurate based on my experience too.
    I hit the like Facebook button.
    Best,
    CJ

  10. Joe 9 years ago

    Bold, very bold statement that. It shows your authority / knowledge in this field. Assuming that the process of gaining those 30lbs muscle mass (training , supllementing) also takes care of loosing fat, then it helps an average guy (like me 🙂 ) to just make it in to shape without gaining over all weight, as I am already in correct weight in BMI. While talking about BMI, is it okay to go overweight according to BMI in order to pack the muscles?(I calculated for Arnold he fell under overweight according to BMI. 🙂 )

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      The BMI is essentially worthless for those who carry more muscle then the non exercising population. What matters is your actual bodyfat %, which you can track via Accumeasure type calipers. See my vid on that.

  11. Kevin 9 years ago

    I think Will gave a reasonable answer to a hard question. There are so many factors that are unknown when trying to answer that question. I have found that with in the factors that we control training is the most abused and has the highest impact on growth. What I mean by abused is the idea many people have that more training is better than less when it comes to gaining muscle. I my opinion that is completely wrong or upside down. Less is more when building muscle, less training time and frequency that is. The only MORE should be the intensity which means increased weight, or increased reps with the same weight or a reduction in time while completing the same workout. In my twenties it trained way to often and gains were very slow, overtraining all the time. I can now lift once a week with better results. That one workout is all about stimulating an adaptive response in less than 1hr and then resting and growing. Intensity can't go up if you don't recover fully, and it not a constant factor. Recovery veries from workout to workout and person to person. Not good for selling the latest work out fad or product. That's it I'm just repeating stuff Will has most likely said at some point.
    Kevin

  12. chris 9 years ago

    I see most websites/books I have read say to aim for 1lb gain per week. Meaning that in this time period (3years) they would expect 156lbs growth. Granted a lot of this will be fat etc. But you cant say that only 1 fifth of that is muscle gain.
    I for one have been eating tonnes and am gaining over 1lb per week, I plan on bulking at this rate for 6 months so I guess after watching your video Im wondering if im just going to get fat, how much of this 1lb per week will be muscle then?!

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      Any web page or book that tells you you will gain 156lbs lbs of LBM in 3 years without drugs has no clue what they are talking about. Gaining muscle does not happen in a linear fashion, and will stall at some point for everyone, and yes, some fat also gets added (see my comments above also) and as mentioned in the vid, many will fall on either side of the line due to variables you have control over, and variables you have no control over. Good luck with your training! 😀

  13. Patrick 9 years ago

    Hi. Thanks for the informative video. I happen to luck out in genetics and other variables and put on 60 lbs over 4 years. That being said the Info you give seems to be consistent with what I have seen and have told others. Thanks for all your hard work and your website. I’ve been training for 12 years now.

  14. Darren 9 years ago

    Hi Will.
    I would like to put another question you of the same ilk. Given the same variables as this example and all things being equal – how much fat can a person lose (naturally) per week without losing mass?
    Regards Darren.

  15. Vincent 9 years ago

    Hi Will,
    is this average the same for both men and women?

    • Author
      Will Brink 6 years ago

      The numbers are specific to men. Women will generally gain no where near those numbers naturally/minus any chemical assistance.

  16. Andreas 9 years ago

    Hi Will, can you please tell me at the age of 39 what should my expatiations be regard to muscle gain? Is there any hope at this age? Thanks!

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      There are way too many variables involved for me to be able to tell you what your expectations should be. Anyone at any age can add strength and muscle to their frame with smart training, goof nutrition, etc. If you want to save a lot if time and $$$, you might want to consider my Bodybuilding Revealed Program which covers A-Z, the essential info for people to obtain their goals. 😉

  17. Steve 9 years ago

    Great info man.

  18. James Hendrixson 7 years ago

    So serious question, I am 5’8 150 lbs and strength train a lot, about 3000 calls a day and am trying to get bigger over any amount of time, question is when I get to about 175 if I continue to lift heavier and heavier will I still not get any bigger?

  19. SpinShanghai 6 years ago

    I would guess also its in the right ballpark Will (I reckon the 30lbs is slightly high and the 3-5 years slightly too short in my experience) but whats the closest study you can find that demonstrates this? (There’s none around that come close right?)
    Cheers mate
    Jon

  20. Mojo 6 years ago

    30 lbs sounds about right-i always presumed around 40ish.Still 30 lbs of lbm is a HUGE,significant amount of muscle gain-a lot of people don’t understand that especially those reading the popular magazines.
    Possibly in years to come and advancement in nutrition maybe people will be able to pack on more mass.I wonder how much mass genetic freaks can pack on naturally?

  21. Deepika Chowdhury 4 years ago

    Awesome!! Thanks :). My only question was…how does the no. and duration vary gender wise?

    • Author
      Will Brink 4 years ago

      It really applies to men as they are the only ones who ask that Q. For women, harder to say as it will range more. You could probably cut the number in half and be fairly accurate, but I also have less numbers to work with to come up with an average or “typical” number as far fewer women were/are focused on gaining LBM specifically.

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