How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?
How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?
Use this chart as a tool to help you determine how quickly you can build muscle mass as a beginner, and as an experienced lifter. Data is based upon Dr. Casey Butt's analysis of how fast a natural bodybuilder can gain muscle mass..

Understand that the numbers used to formulate this chart aren't perfect. They merely service as a quality guideline. With that said, if you are training properly and eating right, this chart will serve you very well.

Related: 11 Feats of Strength Every Lifter Should Accomplish

The typical lifter can expect to build the following amount of muscle mass per year:
  • Year 1 - 16 pounds
  • Year 2 - 8 pounds
  • Year 3 - 4 pounds
  • Year 4 - 2 pounds
  • Year 5 - 1 pound
For the sake of example, we'll use 35 pounds of muscle mass as the total goal for those seeking to reach their natural potential. Again, this serves as a reasonable guideline rather than a limit. Few will add this much mass; many will come close.

If you have no idea how much muscle mass you have left before you reach your natural potential, use the following article I wrote to help you:

Determining Natural Bodybuilding and Arm Size Potential

Understand that skinny guys who are underweight have the potential to gain more muscle mass. They currently lack a normal amount of mass, so this reality has to be taken into consideration when looking at this chart.

How Long Does It Take to Build Muscle?

Month Muscle Gain Pounds From Natural Potential Total Muscle Gained
 1  2.000  35  0
 2  1.833  33.2  1.8
 3  1.667  31.5  3.5
 4  1.500  30  5
 5  1.333  28.7  6.3
 6  1.278  27.4  7.6
 7  1.222  26.2  8.8
 8  1.167  25  10
 9  1.111  23.9  11.1
 10  1.083  22.8  12.2
 11  1.056  21.8  13.2
 12  1.028  20.7  14.3
 13  1.000  19.7  15.3
 14  0.917  18.8  16.2
 15  0.833  18.0  17
 16  0.750  17.2  17.8
 17  0.666  16.6  18.2
 18  0.639  15.9  19.1
 19  0.611  15.3  19.7
 20  0.584  14.7  20.3
 21  0.556  14.2  20.8
 22  0.542  13.6  21.4
 23  0.528  13.1  21.9
 24  0.514  12.6  22.4
 25  0.500  12.1  22.9
 26  0.458  11.6  23.4
 27  0.417  11.2  23.8
 28  0.375  10.8  24.2
 29  0.333  10.5  24.5
 30  0.319  10.2  24.8
 31  0.306  9.9  25.1
 32  0.292  9.6  25.4
 33  0.278  9.3  25.7
 34  0.271  9.0  26
 35  0.264  8.8  26.2
So how long does it take to build muscle? If you are training right and eating properly, here are some general guidelines.
  • First Pound - It should take you only a couple weeks to build your first pound of muscle.
  • 5 Pounds - It will take you about three months to build your first 5 pounds of muscle. That's not a long time at all, and will have a noticeable impact on your physique.
  • 10 Pounds - After 7 months in the gym you will have built a approximately 10 total pounds of mass. Your body is starting to dramatically change and people can really notice the differences.
  • 20 Pounds - The bad news? The next 10 pounds of muscle takes a lot longer to build. The good news? After 22 months you will have built about 20 total pounds of mass and will look like a superhero.
  • 30 Pounds - To reach this level you will need a lot of good genetics, and about four to five years of training.