T Nation

Adding Muscle Weight

I’m pretty sure that the answer to my question is, “it depends”, but I thought I would throw it out because somebody asked me this today. If a woman in her late 40’s, early 50’s does a full-body workout with weights twice a week and after 10 weeks has essentially doubled the weight she lifts on all her body parts, how long would it take to add one pound of muscle? I’m quite sure there is no general formula for this question–it all depends on amount of weight, body composition, cardio work, diet, etc., but I thought I’d throw it out and see if perhaps there is some sort of “general expectation” formula–the same as when they establish acceptable weight for people of certain ages and heights. Any ideas, or is it not worth questioning? I ask because someone said that they read somewhere that for every pound of muscle developed in the body, one burns 70 calories per hour. So, for those people who want to lose fat by burning calories, building muscle would be a good thing, but they would want to know how long it might take to get to that point.

uuuuummmmmmmmmmm…it depends???

I don’t have an answer to your original question, but I do have some bad news. I don’t remember where I saw that comment about 1 lb of muscle burning 70 calories per hour. It is more like 70 calories per day. I’ve got about 170 lbs of lean body mass, which is what these people are referring to as just muscle. That would mean I’m burning 17070 cal/hr24hr/day or 285600 calories a day. Not likely. Sure you burn more calories, but not that many. Read John Berardi’s Massive Eating part 1 for daily caloried requirements based on lean body mass. One lb helps but will not make a huge difference…On to your original question. There is really no way to tell how much of an increase in strength will lead to an increase in lean body mass. Strength is mediated by changes in motor unit recruitment (neural mechansims) and changes in muscle size (hypertrophy). To what extent an increase in strength is caused by either of these factors is difficult to tell unless you are keeping detailed tabs on your body composition.

I also recall reading in a non-bodybuilding men’s magazine that one large can of tuna contains all of the protein necessary to build one pound of muscle. No further information was given. By that logic, one could gain 10 pounds a week by simply eating 10 cans of tuna, and we all know that this just isn’t so. Take everything you read with a grain of salt, and look for references. When they are listed, look them up.

When a person starts “cold” in the gym, I can usually add about 30% to their 8RM from week 2 to week 10 (ie. After 2 weeks teaching form, we check the 8RM. Then, after 8 more weeks, their 8RM is about 30% higher). I see no lean mass gains in this time, but I will see a drop in body fat and an improvement in physique shape. I can see about another 25% increase in 8RM over the next 10 weeks, but this still leads to minimal LBM gain, but a much better physique {overall look}. Keep in mind that as they gain strength, they’re burning more calories in the gym. More work is being done. That’s the most I’ve done with females. I’ve never really given a gal LBM gains - maybe a couple of pounds.