T Nation

Only Gain a Half Pound of Muscle a Month


Well I'm glad the head trainer at my gym told me this. I was talking to the head trainer today, and I mentioned that I had recently benched 300 lbs, and he asks what led to my progress, and I mention I'm bulking. The following is basically word for word what he said:

Him: "Well I'm not sure that's a good idea. It takes a long time to gain muscle, and fat isn't contractile"
Me: "You don't think bulking is a good idea for gaining muscle?"
Him: "Well there's no point really, it takes years to accumulate any muscle unless you have awesome genetics"
Me: "That's the point of a bulking cycle, you're taking in excess calories and even though you accumulate fat you also gain muscle"
Him: "It's almost impossible to build muscle though, how much weight did you say you were going to try and gain?"
Me: "20 more lbs. by March 1. So that's 3 months, about a pound and a half per week. Obviously it won't all be muscle, but I'd be happy with about 10-12 lbs. more"
Him: "You'll never do it, trust me, I'm a physiologist. If you gain 20 you'll be lucky to gain 2 lbs of muscle in that time. When people gain weight it's almost entirely fat. People just can't build muscle that fast unless they're on juice. It takes months to build a pound or two. Besides ,gaining strength isn't about muscle. It's about training your nervous system. You get stronger because your nervous system can handle the load"
Me: "ok...well..I gotta go workout now. Good talk"

WTF? This isn't some scrawny guy either, he's pretty built, squats all the time...I mean wtf? I feel like someone stuck their cock in my ear after that conversation. Can anyone figure out what in the bloody blue fuck he was talking about? I get that the nervous system contributes to strength gains as well...but to imply that's what most strength gains come from...and that you can't gain more than 1 lbs. of muscle per month....wtf?

[edit: since there seems to be confusion, he wasn't saying I would only gain 2 lbs. per month in 3 months, he was saying that realistically a person can only gain about 2lbs. of muscle TOTAL in 3 months


I've never heard that low of a number before, but I've often heard people say you can only gain 2 or so lbs of LBM per month. I think it's just some number that probably came from a made-up study and has been quoted so many times it's believed as truth.

Also, while I wouldn't say it makes up the majority of strength gains, you can gain a lot of strength from increases in neuro-muscular efficiency. Ex. Olympic Lifters. Some of them aren't the physically impressive, but can clean and press 2x bw. They just have incredibly efficient nervous systems.


To hell with that guy. Just get all swole and laugh in his face when you are.


Booooooo shit. Thats all have I to say. Perhaps, I would have reacted as "Like wow! OMG! You are like soooo right! Wow!"


It looks like the trainer at your gym has memorised this article by Christian Thibaudeau.
The Truth About Bulking: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_truth_about_bulking
Check out the section called How Much Muscle Can We Really Build?

That article is from four years ago but CT seems to have changed his opinion on this now somewhat.


"2 or so lbs of LBS per month"... so that equals abot 1/2 lb a week. What's news about that?


What annoys me is the fact people like that put a limitation on it. Real stupid mentality.


The question is was he strong and or really big himself ?


He's probably right in assuming that 20lbs gained in three months will most likely lead to significant fat gain though. Not 18lbs maybe, but 12-15 wouldn't be unrealistic. Unless of course you anticipate tremendous strength gains? Because a 20lb gain of BW necessitates enormous strength gains in order to be justified.



This whole conversation is moot unless the current level of development of the person in question is known.

A complete newb that is young and underweight will put on more muscle weight in a month than Jay Cutler will in his best month this year (5000 calories and all the AAS included). Top Olympia competitors are happy with 5lbs of stage weight per year. If a complete newb only gained 5lbs of LBM in a year, he's failed miserably.

Who gives a shit what other people say? Do your own thing and write your own rules.


That's the thing, he is. He actually dwarfs all but one other trainer there (the one who had his arm ripped off & sewed back on). He's very thick in the upper body, though I've never seen him directly train his shoulders or do anything that would hit his traps, they're about the thickest I've seen in person. I don't know if he's really made or tried for any size or strength gains in the 2 years I've been there. Maybe he's tried and he's stuck so he's frustrated? I wanted to get on with my workout so I didn't point out the last time I bulked I went from 178 to 213 in 5 months, and that about 70-75% of that was muscle. I may just ask him next time I see him how he thinks people gain muscle..


In a trained individual 2 lbs a month would be fucking mind blowing. I doubt those using assistance could pull that off. Maybe it is possible, but definitely not long term or constant.


dude, from what i have read, what you are doing is working for you - you have just benched 300lbs. thats not beginner gains, screw that guy.


I saw a vid where Dorian Yates was talking about how much muscle you're realistically gonna gain if you've been working out for a while and know the basics of what you're doing.

He said after your first year, 1LB a month is probably what is most likely unless you really know your body, have good genetics and really go all out on everything and get everything spot on.

He then went on to talk about how one year, he went into the O after fucking his prep up... the next year he went into it 20lbs [rough figure] heavier and everyone was raving about how the hell it was possible to see such a massive improvement. He put it down to getting back what he lost in the prep, and that only a couple of pounds was probably NEW muscle.

Half a pound a month for someone not close to their potential yet? I dont think so.

What bonez said.


Very dependent on alot of factors, like genetics, food intake and training. but there is a reason you dont see many 200+ lbs ripped guys around. Gaining muscle takes time, and requires one to do alot of things right simultaenously.


Would the new muscle be functional muscle?


He's not saying 2 lbs. per month...he's saying 2 lbs. of muscle TOTAL in 3 months


Yeh its stupid to put limits on how much you can gain. Also just for reference, i think that the study that showed 2lbs of muscle was 'dry weight' or just the contractile tissue so in actuality the 2lbs would probably be more like 8lbs. I may be completely wrong though


Sounds about right. Why don't you prove him and me wrong if you feel so confident? Pics and at least a 7 site skin fold done by the same trainer.


Its not stupid to put limits. Its stupid to craete UNREALISTIC limits or unrealistic ceilings.

Especially stupid to listen to someone other than yourself or someone who knows you very well, those opinions are inherently stupid because they are based on no relevant information.