T Nation

Realistic Goal for Lean Mass Gain


I am about to begin a serious push to put on weight. While I've worked out seriously years before, this time I'm really getting my nutrition in order. Before, I also didn't really set a good motivating goal and just kinda followed my workout plan and waited to see what would happen. While I realize that all bodies respond differently to training, I'd like help with determining a reachable goal.

My problem is that I'm still a relative neophyte and I don't know what a realistic goal to set should be.

I'm 6', 146lbs, and I won't get my body fat tested until this weekend, but I expect it to be 10-12%. Obviously my goal is to gain lean muscle mass.


Truth About Bulking by Christian Thibaudeau:

Your Welcome,


Hey JLone, thanks for the quick reply.

I'm a little confused by what you're trying to point out in the article... but I did find this:

"This caloric intake should allow you to gain around two to three pounds per month. If you aren't gaining that amount, slowly increase your caloric intake until you reach that rate of growth (add 250kcals at a time).

If you're gaining more than three pounds per month, you might be adding fat. If you're gaining a lot more than three pounds (like 5-7 per month), reduce the caloric intake."

Sooooo... 2-3 lbs per month should be a good goal for me?

While I'm not "bulking", this is definitely an interesting article since I've been running across a LOT of material lately that just says "eat eat eat then get un-fat later."


I was trying to point out the entire article.

It specifically says what to shoot for in weight gain each month to gain muscle.
It also says not to "bulk" as the term has become to be known.
It also has a chart to show you how many calories to eat based on lean/desired mass.

Go with 2 pounds per month. Personally I don't measure scale weight every week though I have read from some big guys around here that they do so that is your call. Check the mirror, scale, PRs, etc. all should let you know you are moving in the right direction when eating optimally.

Good luck,


Thanks so much, this is exactly the info I was looking for! Physiologically realistic gains so I don't set myself up to be discouraged.


other more experienced posters have said that a linear 1-2 or 3 lb gain doesn't always happen every month, sometimes you gain more, sometimes you don't gain. I've seen it happen with my own measurements. but as mentioned above, as long as you are beating your previous efforts and setting new PR's along with increasing weight and measures, you're heading in the right direction.


This, trying to force your body into some set linear progression that isn't going to happen naturally is going to be more discouraging than anything.

OP & the dude giving advice are focused on the absolute wrong shit.


What are your goals, aside from just putting on weight? No disrespect for the other posters, but you should put on a lot more weight than trying for 2-3lbs/month. At 6' and under 150lbs you have so much potential to gain mass. If you're looking for strength, you can't go wrong with just "eat eat eat".

So what exactly are your goals?

Also, one thing to mention from Shelby about putting on good weight is to use a carb cycle routine.


Aren't you a tad to thin, to be worrying about "staying lean." that should be the last thing on your mind at 146lbs. That is pencil thin. if your going to worry about adding fat, then your always going to be a very skinny dude. I can understand, if you were 240lbs worrying about bodyfat, but at 146lbs, that should be the farthest thing in your mind.


hopefully OP doesn't become focused on that and possibly limit his growth by undereating.


If you are referring to me as the "dude giving advice" I posted an article written by Christian Thibaudeau. Then when asked follow up questions paraphrased directly from the article.

Why don't you tell me how my focus was off?


Dude is 6' and 150lbs, and I highly doubt his 12% is a realistic guestimate.

Encouraging him to focus on "gaining 2lbs a month" at this point is an exercise in futility. He is bogging himself down in too much detail at this point. And you feeding him numbers to shoot for is only going to make it worse.

He needs to focus on gaining. Notice where I ended that sentence. He has a vast amount of room to fuck up and learn how much & what he can eat. He has the 'luxury' of being 'thin' to start, rather than starting off overweight and fat.

So rather than spend the next 24 months seeing how he responds to an extra 500 cals verse an extra 1,200, or how he does when he eats X, Y or Z, he is now going to be focused on staying in a 2-3lbs weight gain range, and starve himself when his body decides it is ready to pack on 10lbs in 15 days, and then stagnate for another 20 before it packs on another 5lbs in 10 days, because he is going to panic thinking it is all fat.

What you are saying isn't bad, it just has a shit focus for someone so thin. You start to go in the right direction in your second or third post, whichever one it was, but this kid is still lost in the weeds.

He is so small (unless he has the most narrow structure of anyone @ 6' on earth) that he just needs to focus on gaining, not on gaining Xlbs per X time frame.


OP, this advice is gold. you'd be very stupid to ignore it.

to go into more detail using myself as an example, between July and August I gained 8 lb, but also 7mm on my ab skinfold. between August and September, only 1.5 lb gain and +2mm ab skinfold. between September and October (I had finally recovered enough from injuries to be able to squat, pull and row heavy again, and made some diet changes)... 8-9 lb gain and about +3mm ab skinfold.

if I followed that set 2-3 or 5-7 lb weight gain, I don't think I'd be setting PR's every session and finally be too big across my shoulders and chest/lats to wear a medium tee. I'd probably be stagnating while huddling in the corner with a bag of broccoli, trying to stave off fat gain.

you are LUCKY to start off skinny, and not chubby or fat. milk it for all it's worth and go for the gold. read the sticky "how the biggest got big" and go for it.


I understand what you are saying and I agree with the idea for some people.
I usually talk to a couple different kinds of people when it comes to eating and lifting.

Type A, wants to know how much to lift each week and how much to eat. These people do well using a periodization chart and writing their meals out in advance. They need data like a pat on the back to let them know everything is ok.

Type B, will use a more lax approach to lifting and eating. They will "Eat Big" as a diet plan and have a harder time keeping a log book.

I don't know anything about this kid except he is tall, skinny and made a thread to address his fear doing something wrong. These three facts or mostly the latter made me assume he is more type A and would therefore benefit form "too much detail" rather then telling him to eat and lift. Anyone who has lifted knows progression is not linear but using benchmarks like 1-3 pounds per month doesn't hinder the outcome. IMO


People have different perspectives and can be biased when they write, even experienced ones like CT. CT started off at the opposite end (former fat boy), so it's obvious his advice will differ than those who started off skinny.

Telling someone who needs to add mass fast to "slowly" increase calories if not gaining precisely 2lbs a month is really bad advise. How the heck can the average Joe precisely increase their daily calories by 250cals anyway? I fart that amount lol

OP, like others have said, don't sweat it too much other than to make sure you are over-feeding over a long period of time.


Perhaps that point of view thing is true. As a person who has no problem gaining weight the 2 pounds per month benchmark seems reasonable.

On your second point I never said increase "slowly" so I don't know why that is in quotes. I said look at the chart on the article. Chances are a skinny 6 foot tall guy isn't eating close to the proper amount of food. The "250cals" thing is also fictitious. We don't know how many calories he currently eats so based on the chart in the article he may need to add 1500 calories per day to meet his goals.

Also, no one has used the word "precisely" to describe weight gain. In my second post a said shoot for 2 pounds. I also mentioned it as being a benchmark. In my experiance you shoot meet or exceed benchmarks not hit them precisely. Don't imagine sh*t in your head then project it on my posts.


^ I meant that post in general, wasn't singling you out.

Your post did remind me (as did that article) of other people's advice, and I see it a lot on the internet, where people say to "slowly" increase, and add just "250cals" at a time...the quotes were from the article and from where I hear a lot of people giving advice on bulking.


It seems like a lot of people are getting confused by what I mean when I say "goal" and why I am measuring bodyfat. My goal of 2-3 lbs of lean mass is what I'd like to hit each month, and I will use my BMI to determine how much of the total weight I gain is actually lean mass. If I gain 5-7 lbs in a month, I'm not going to stop training and starve myself to keep from gaining too much weight.

Other than that, there's a lot of good info for me in here, so thanks for the contributions.

I do feel like I need to post a "before" picture now though... I don't really think I'm THAT emaciated. Ohmigod, do I have body image issues already? I'm starting a cutting phase right now. (KIDDING!)


Alright good.

I still feel like you are going to drive yourself nuts with analytics, but hey, some people like it that way.


Hey, I'm a scientist... I have to take data CONSTANTLY. It works out for me though, because I have so many metrics to show where I'm progressing.

For example, when I used to lift a couple years ago there would be months where the scale didn't move, but I had added 30 lbs to my squat that month so I could at least tell in what ways my body had changed.