Muscle growth – how fast does it really go?
They can still be found in magazines and on the Internet: Articles with headlines like “Six-pack in 14 days” or “Guaranteed more visible muscles in a week”. Even with forbidden measures, this is hardly possible. So let’s take a closer look at how muscle growth really works.
Muscle growth is individual
Like any other fitness component, muscle growth takes time. Good training concepts and a good diet are essential. How quickly visible changes then occur varies from person to person. Even if two athletes train and eat exactly the same, the results can be quite different.
These factors influence muscle growth
The two most important factors that influence muscle growth are genotype and phenotype. The genotype describes the genetic code of an individual. The phenotype describes the physical characteristics of an individual. In addition, gender is a subfactor. Men produce significantly more testosterone. The sex hormone is vital for muscle building. All these factors can be healthily influenced to a limited extent. This is only possible with sub-sub-factors. These includes:
- The age at the beginning of the training
- Physical activity in childhood
- Your training load
- The frequency of your training
- Recovery after training
- The protein and carbohydrate supply
- Your daily calorie intake
- Drinking behavior
- Hormonal influences
The different body types
Some people have a very natural predisposition to build muscles quickly. These include the genetically predetermined physique types called mesomorphic and endomorphic. Endomorphic types tend to be obese, but they can soon build considerable muscle mass. Mesomorphic types look muscular even if they have not done any sport for a long time. Most challenging to develop muscles are the physique types called pyknic, leptosome, and ectomorph. Important here:
- Genetics determines the upper limit for the achievable muscle mass per person.
- How much and how fast the muscle grows is therefore largely influenced by things that we can only change to a limited extent.
The role of the muscle fibers
Muscle fiber composition plays a different role. People with a high proportion of fast-reacting muscle fibers have an advantage. For a long time, scientists assumed that the ratio was genetically predetermined. But today, we know that the composition of the muscle fibers can be slightly altered by training or electrostimulation. But the best marathon runner will never become an excellent sprinter.
How fast do my muscles grow?
So how fast are my muscles growing? According to research, a young man with good genes and lots of fast-twitching muscle fibers can grow two pounds of muscle mass in a month. Even with the best training, people with not-so-good genes manage about half a pound a month.
This happens during training
Sufficiently intensive strength training leads to physiological adjustments. In the initial phase, we speak of neuronal adaptability. You are gradually better and better able to recruit motor units in the muscle. A motor unit is a nerve that causes muscle fiber to contract. The more efficiently the motor units work, the more power you can generate. But this has nothing to do with the increase in muscle mass. If you continue to train continuously and strategically, new muscle tissue will be formed. Depending on your genetic makeup, it takes three to six months to achieve clearly visible and tangible results.
The best training to let the muscles grow
What should the training look like to build muscles? A pure hypertrophy training looks like this:
“3 to 6 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions at 70 to 85 percent of maximum strength with set breaks of 30 to 90 seconds.”
Beginners should not start hypertrophy training right away. You must have a good command of the exercises, even when fatigue sets in. Training with free weights is more effective than on machines. But free weights are also more demanding in terms of coordination. Therefore, it is advisable to work with a partner or trainer who can help and correct if necessary.
Further effective training methods
Hypertrophy training is not the only practical training concept. Both German Volume Training and ladder training have proven very successful. It is also crucial that you regularly check out your one-repetition maximum from time to time. Preferably every four up to six weeks for adjusting your weights. How to do that is described here.
How to trick genetics a little
If you belong to those with less than optimal genes, you should train as variably as possible. With circuit training and HIIT, you can positively influence your muscle fiber composition. A further tip: Do exercises that involve several muscle groups. These include squats, bench presses, deadlifts, lunges, and rows. You can vary all these exercises over time to regularly set new stimuli. This includes, for example, performing them on an unstable surface. And, of course, you have to make sure you eat a balanced diet rich in protein.