What is a normal amount of weight gain to expect in strength training?
February 27, 2009 12:23 PM   Subscribe

[ExcerciseFilter] What's a good target for weight gain in strength training? Not to say body building, but general fitness-level training. I can't seem to find a clear resource for equating weight training to muscle mass.

After many years of a sedentary life, I took on strength training 8 months ago. It's been a blast, and I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner. It looks like I've been gaining around 1lb/5 weeks or 15 sessions. Does this seem appropriate? I did not have any significant weight to lose when I started and my fat % measurements appear to be holding steady (16% avg).

I guess I became concerned because I hadn't been paying attention to my scale for a long while and now I've noticed I'm about 4-5 pounds bigger than I was pre-strength. I'd like to attribute this to the excercise if I can, otherwise the only other angle I see is too much protein.

Did I just tell the internet I had weight issues?
posted by cavalier to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: And I realize that some folks workout to gain mass and they would view my "modest" (165->170) gains over 6 months as paltry or worse... but I've been pretty consistent with my weight for years upon years now so seeing a new weight is a suprise!
posted by cavalier at 12:26 PM on February 27, 2009

If your body fat percentage is where you want it to be, then don't worry about weight gain - or be happy about the gain, since it's clearly proportionately lean mass. The scale is the least helpful tool when trying to change your physique.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:27 PM on February 27, 2009

Best answer: If your fat % is holding steady, measured reliably, and you're gaining weight, then it's either muscle or water (or poop). If you don't have noticeable puffiness around the eyes or ankles, it probably isn't water (IANAD). You would know if it were poop. Therefore, you're gaining muscle.

People will vary in their gains according to genetics, metabolism, diet, training reigmen, supplments, etc. but in general ANY gain of muscle mass is good. Because you've only been going for 8 months, you are in the relatively easy "beginner's gains" period, and you can't expect this rate of return for a long time - but as you get stronger, the volume of work you have to do for maintenance and improvement decreases as the intensity must increase.

Good work.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:31 PM on February 27, 2009

Absolutely, good work. I'm seconding Gadget here - it's prolly muscle mass. Revel in it! Go buy some new gear!
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2009

Sounds like you're right on target. Everyone will experience different levels of weight gain, depending on their starting point and general make-up. I gained about 40 lbs. in 3 years of training, but I started as a stick-thin 140lb., 6' weakling. Now I'm at a (happy) plateau, and am not interested in doing the extra eating that would be required to continue gaining muscle.

The advice of others here is good: ignore the scale. I recommend taking full-body pics of yourself occasionally -- you'll get a much better perspective on your muscle growth and muscle/fat ratio than looking in the mirror OR at the scale.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:56 PM on February 27, 2009

Best answer: Sounds about right. The average male can't put on more than 0.25-0.5 pounds of dry muscle mass per week. Dry muscle mass is REAL muscle mass, actual, quantifiable muscle tissue. When people talk about putting on 10 pounds of muscle in three weeks or something silly like that, they've put on 10 pounds of [i]weight[/i] but only a small percentage of it is actual muscle tissue. Generally they still look bigger and better because they were underweight in the first place.
posted by schroedinger at 1:55 PM on February 27, 2009

Response by poster: Well gosh, thanks y'all! I'm gonna go sell tickets... to the gun show. My wife wishes I was kidding.
posted by cavalier at 6:59 PM on February 27, 2009

Not really in the scope of your question, but cutting a little (fat) weight will also make you 'look' better - ie., being more cut will show off more of the muscles that you gained.

When I was first trying to gain mass, I gained it fairly quickly but then it plateaued and then I started losing weight. It took quite a bit of work to start gaining weight again. (I've always been a fat-free physique.)

What is your goal for your fitness? Looks or feeling?

Revel in your new looks, but being able to hit 'milestones' is good for feeling great.

How many pushups can you do? Pullups/Chinups, crunches/sit-ups(with 2x10lb barbells held next to your head)? Canada health says 50 pushups, situps is "quite good" - but it's easy to do much more. 20 pull/chin-ups is pretty good, too. Then the fun begins with trying to better than yourself.

Beating my own records always makes me feel better; body-weight resistance training is more 'endurance' than raw strength (and I'm ok with that) but it's an arguably better 'fitness' readout that how much mass you can bech/squat/whatever once.

Don't forget your cardio exercise. Go run or skate or play raquetball. What use is it to have a cut bulky bod without the endurance to use it? =)
posted by porpoise at 8:34 PM on February 27, 2009

« Older How do I find a historian to hire full time?   |   Help me find a great world map. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.