Beginners - Just do something!!
Beginners are often concerned with what method they should use to build muscle. The good news is that regardless of method a beginner almost always builds muscle easily during their first months of training.
There are even studies showing that novice runners build muscle without lifting weights. All this is part of your body acclimatizing to the new requirements set on it to be able to carry out more intense activity. Studies measuring the cross-sectional area of muscle have shown increases from about 3% to 6% depending on the muscle studied. The first 2-3 months saw the most rapid rate of increase before the rate started plateauing. Studies show that beginners can expect to put on between 0.5-1 kg of muscle per month if they do everything right.
For more experienced lifters, there are actually not that many good studies on how fast they can put on muscle. Therefore the following numbers or more based on practical experience rather than on any studies, so do not place too much value in the numbers: Intermediate lifters can expect to build 4-5 kg muscle per year, advanced lifters around 2-3 kg per year, and elite lifters may build a kilogram or so per year.
These numbers apply to men! For women there is even less data, but given the hormonal and physiological differences women could probably expect to build and muscle at around half the rate of men, generally speaking.
1: Wernbom M. The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans. Sports Med. 2007;37(3):225-64.
2: Kerksick CM. Impact of differing protein sources and a creatine containing nutritional formula after 12 weeks of resistance training. Impact of differing protein sources and a creatine containing nutritional formula after 12 weeks of resistance training.
3: Nindl BC. Regional body composition changes in women after 6 months of periodized physical training. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 Jun;88(6):2251-9.
4: Chromiak JA. Effect of a 10-week strength training program and recovery drink on body composition. Nutrition. 2004 May;20(5):420-7.
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