Lot of advertisements of supplements and other fitness products tell that you can grow a lot of lean muscle mass in one month. I understand that it really depends on diet and exercises, but what are sane boundaries?

How much muscle mass can be developed - without the use of steroids - assuming different stages and intensities of training?

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    ...depends on diet, exercise, sleep, AND "supplements" ahem – G__ Sep 16 '13 at 23:02
  • How will an answer to this affect your fitness? – user4644 Sep 16 '13 at 23:03
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    @Kate It will affect my goal setting to be more realistic I think. – Mateusz Sep 17 '13 at 6:18
  • Question is confusing, please provide more information on what you want from the answer/s. – Prabhanjan Naib Sep 17 '13 at 6:37
  • I heavily edited your question, feel free to revert the changes or edit it again if you dislike the edit. I tried to let the core of the question stand out more clearly, removed a lot of fluff and some assumptions. – Baarn Sep 17 '13 at 12:11

As I understand this question, you want to be able to know how to set your goals.

What is reasonable for you is not related at all to what other people are achieving. Your goals should be based on your own motivation and capacity for growth.

Start with "How much muscle mass did you gain last month on your program?"

If you did as well as you could, following your program diligently and meeting your calorie/nutrition/sleep targets, then a reasonable goal for next month would be about 60-80% of this month's gains.

If instead you slacked off this past month, then it's possible to break the rule I just gave, but it requires you changing your habits and getting back on your program, and eating and sleeping properly. You should be able to match or exceed this months gains if this month was a particularly undisciplined month.

  • That is resonable answer, where anyone can get advice for goal setting. Percents are telling me enough, and as I can see you cannot gain forever with this formula. There is border which one cannot cross, and gaining 20% or 40% less than in previous month seems really ok. – Mateusz Sep 19 '13 at 21:12

Muscle gains are going to be highly variable from person to person, depending on their starting point, personal genetics and training history. Someone that has never trained at all is typically going to gain muscle slower than someone that used to be an athlete and is merely out of shape.

Also, it's hard to define what you mean by mass. Do you mean simply body weight? Overall size? Strength? Each of these can be affected by working out, but the type of workout done will emphasize one of the aspects more than others.

The ads can be fairly accurate, but they generally go strictly by the scale. If you are very intense and religious about your workouts, pay strict attention to diet and recovery, it is feasible to gain 10 lbs in one month. Whether or not that is all muscle mass, however, is where the claims start to get sketchy. Simply because you gained 10 lbs over the course of a month is no guarantee that it is all muscle mass, but the adverts will claim that it is.

Best thing to do is form a picture of what you want to look like, and plan out how you are going to get there. Have a 6 month, 1 year and 5 year goal plan, and reassess/adapt every 6 months or so. Let the mirror and the scale be your guide. Supplements such as protein powders, creatine may or may not help depending on your diet and other personal fitness habits.

  • For the downvote, can you explain your reasoning? – JohnP Sep 17 '13 at 17:01
  • I didn't downvote, but I think it might have to do with "let the mirror and the scale be your guide" instead of "let the spreadsheet and the caliper be your guide", because mirrors can be very misleading and subjective (whereas estimates of your last 1RM are objective and can assess your progress) and the scale does not reflect body composition (you can loose fat but gain muscle and weight more at the end of the day, you know all these things much better than me). I hate it too, when a passing bird drops an excrement in the form of a -1 and flies away silently. – Mephisto Sep 17 '13 at 19:44
  • or maybe it has to do with "The ads can be fairly accurate", that gives a wrong impression of what you are trying to say if one doesn't read the whole text but stops there. Gaining 10 lbs in a month by means of cheeseburgers is within the scope of the ads and, based on what you say at the end of the same paragraph, I think you agree, but it is not 100% clear for some casual reader that doesn't pay much attention. – Mephisto Sep 17 '13 at 19:51
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    @Mephisto - Calipers are highly dependent on the method (# of sites used) and the skill of the person conducting the test. Bodyfat scales have a large error rate, but are consistent within that error rate. For the general public, mirror and scale are entirely sufficient. Also, increasing 1 rep max is a measure of strength, and may or may not be related to gaining size/weight (You can increase strength without a concurrent increase in size). – JohnP Sep 17 '13 at 20:20
  • the system is supposed to analyse such issues and automatically undo the attack within 24 hours (see this similar situation in other SE site). You may call the attention of the moderators too if you think that such attack is happening. – Mephisto Sep 18 '13 at 19:01

Gaining lean mass is not an overnight process nor is it one or two monthS process. You will lose lean mass if you don't use it.

Now for the question how much can you gain? 1 kg should be a good number for a month, till you reach your limit beyond which you wouldn't gain lean mass without affecting your health in the long run.

  • You can gain whatever weight you want by taking steroids. (Sarcasm, if you din't understand. The risk involved with this method is so high, you should probably be scared off why is it still there in the world)
  • Working out
  • Taking lot of rest.

But do you really need to gain so much weight so quickly by taking steroids and risking your health? I HIGHLY DOUBT IT

  • I don't want to gain so quickly but I want to make sane goals, without taking steroids. – Mateusz Sep 17 '13 at 6:19
  • Why has my comment been erased? Since the user so happily states "you can gain whatever you want by taking steroids" and there are probably a lot of teenagers eager to gain muscle reading this, I alerted about the risks associated with steroids: shrinking your balls, irreversible tissue growing under your nipples, irreversibly developing structural anomalies in your heart, lowering your endogenous testosterone production and making you dependent. Is anybody going to say that these facts are wrong or misleading, or perhaps irrelevant? – Mephisto Sep 18 '13 at 19:06
  • Why downvoting on this? – Prabhanjan Naib Sep 19 '13 at 9:48
  • @KirkHammett Great! I have changed my -1 for a +1. Now the question about steroids is clear. In the latter version of your answer, it wasn't clear at all. The tone of your voice is lost every time you write, and there was not the slightest figure of speech indicating any sort of sarcasm. It was just like a simple statement in favour of steroid use, although now it is evident that it was not your intention. – Mephisto Sep 19 '13 at 20:02
  • i have also added +1 for improved answer, but sarcasm is hard to tell apart from beeing serious on internet. – Mateusz Sep 20 '13 at 21:00

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