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How Much Muscle Gain is Realistic? 55 Years Old, Put on 19 Pounds

So I started 531 BBB again back at the end of August after my last BJJ tournament of the season. The weight cut kind of precluded lifting for a bit. I was 146 lb before the tournament.

Now I am 165 lb. My face isn’t as hollow but my skin fold tests are pretty similar and I am still using the same notches on my belt. Can I have gained somewhere up to 19 lbs of muscle? That seems huge.

(55 years old, DL 353, SQ 282, BP 185, OP 130, lift 4 days per week)

No. You were cutting weight/water. Unless you are taking some form of AAS, at your age anything over 1lb per month is most likely water from increased glycogen stores and fat.

My cut was over 4 months and I drank lots of water. I was hydrated and properly fed at 146lbs. However I think you are still correct. I must have been mostly water. It’s a bit of a relief because my tournament weight of choice is featherweight.

It would be cool to have a resource to accurately assess body composition. The need to be strong but lean for Jits is a tough balance. When I went to Featherweight I had to guess at lean body mass and hope that I hadn’t underestimated.

There are plenty of bathroom scales that measure bodyfat. I use one sold on Amazon under the brandname ‘EatSmart’ and it seems to give results that are at least consistent and seem to be realistic compared to other tests I’ve had done in the past.

Understand that by just going from a lower calorie/carb diet to one in a surplus can dramaticallly increase glycogen stores which increases the amount of water held in your muscle. Couple that with a few extra pounds of muscle and now more water/glycogen.

As to the bodyfat part, use the search function and look up an old article from CT titled “the truth about bulking”. May help explain better than I can in a condensed post.

Look up dexascan and/or POD body measurements in your area. They are not too expensive. The dexascan is more costly but more accurate.

Did you mean this article? That was a very interesting read

A couple of us played with the math awhile ago and I think we came up with about 3.3 - 3.5 total pounds gained for one pound of muscle.

That accounts for the amount of glycogen and water that will be stored in the new pound of muscle. So you might’ve gained 5 - 6 lbs of muscle assuming you haven’t added any fat.

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For a quick reference, the Navy body fat calculators available online for free provide a decent BF estimate based on height, weight, neck, and waist.


Scales that measure body fat are using electric currents. Hydration, excess muscle, movement on the scale - all can throw readings off. They’re not particularly accurate. Calipers suck too.

The best tool for measuring your body fat percentage is the mirror. It won’t give you a specific number, which people seem to obsess over all the time, but from visible abs to striations, there are tons of indicators to let you know you’ve dropped or gained body fat.

I really wouldn’t worry about a number. When you’ve lost a significant amount of body fat, the mirror will show it.

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Also the only 100% accurate way to measure bodyfat % without margin for error is autopsy and I’m not about to volunteer for that one.

It’s important for my self esteem and ego! I have to reach single digit body fat!

(I’m not sure if I’ve ever reached single digit body fat)

I owned one or two of the expensive Japanese scales (Tanita I think was one brand) that are supposed to be good and I found them to be very inconsistent, for the reasons you mention.

The newer scales, such as the one I have, measure water content and correct for hydration. I’ve found it to be pretty consistent and very useful. Plus, it is one of the more reasonably priced units out there.

Consistency and repeatability are the important characteristics. You can make a measurement once a month and it will help you understand what actually happens with your body. It certainly keeps you from fooling yourself about gaining “all muscle” when a lot of it is actually fat.