Muscle Mass
December 15, 2003 4:18 PM   Subscribe

What would be an average increase in muscle mass (lbs or kilos) in a woman going from weak and sedentary to seriously buff and strong over a period of about a year? And for a man?
posted by suleikacasilda to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One question I'd ask first is, was this person previously - at any point in their life - athletic? Arnold S. can gain or lose 30 pounds in a *month*, if necessary for a movie part. That's one extreme.

But for the average Joe or Jane, twelve pounds (one pound per month) of *muscle* gain in a year is about right. This does not take into account the loss of fat and the higher metabolism that usually go with getting buff.
posted by notsnot at 4:39 PM on December 15, 2003

it's all about definition

same-mass muscle and fat weight very differently

please tell us more -- height, and weight before you started your regimen, and what kind of workouts you did?
posted by matteo at 4:51 PM on December 15, 2003

That question was asked on an exercise forum on and their answer was basically "you can't come up with an answer." Everyone's exercise routine-and bodily makeup-is different. How much weight training versus cardio? What kind of diet? How often the workouts?

But I'll take notsnot's answer, since I am three months along in that very project.
posted by konolia at 5:03 PM on December 15, 2003

same-mass muscle and fat weight very differently

Mass is mass (essentially). You mean "same volume."

Muscle growth depends on SO many factors that this question might be impossible to answer. Significant factors include age, nutrition, exertion (both level and type of), size and bone mass.

Muscle mass as a figure isn't really telling of anything, anyway-- a tall-but-slight person might well have more muscle tissue by weight than a short-but-developed person, but measured by lifting, endurance, etc., the short person would be stronger.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:11 PM on December 15, 2003

er.. what konolia said.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:12 PM on December 15, 2003

It really depends a lot. You don't say what your starting composition is but if you're working out hard then you will get spectacular gains in the first little while. Most people I've known who've just started didn't lose much weight at first. The arm, chest and thigh diameter would go up though wile their waist would decrease. I don't have any concrete numbers though and they'd be meaningless anyway.

Arnold Schwarzanegger can gain or lose 30 pounds in a month because:

a) he can spend most of a day doing a split routine
b) he's genetically atypical
c) steroids and other drugs
posted by substrate at 5:17 PM on December 15, 2003

On another note I've got a friend who can't put on an ounce of weight. The peak he's been at is about 140 pounds, maybe 145. His body fat drops though and he'll get amazingly strong for his size but he wants bulging muscles but he'll never get them.
posted by substrate at 5:19 PM on December 15, 2003

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies. It's hard for me to make a guess at this, and I imagine that women's results are utterly different from men's in this area, and far less studied. I was looking at a filet steak yesterday and trying to imagine how many of those steaks could grow on a body my size.

I know (by clothes and measurements) that I am thinner than I was at my current weight a few years ago, and that's because I work out now and I have more muscle. But how much more? Three pounds maybe? Perhaps six? And as I get even stronger, how much then?

So in order to have at least a rough guess at it, I wondered if there were some ballpark figures around somewhere. If I knew, for example, the upper limit of muscle weight gain on a 5'6'' woman over a year or two, then I could make a guess as to what percentage of that I might want to achieve.
posted by suleikacasilda at 5:37 PM on December 15, 2003

"You mean "same volume.""

yes, of course. you're right. same volume

broken English I speak
posted by matteo at 5:42 PM on December 15, 2003

suleikacasilda (god that's hard to type), are you looking to gain bulk (as in, even when you were heavier, you had skinny legs), or just get toned? Depending on what you want to do, there's a number of different ways to fine-tune your regimen. If you're jsut looking to be in shape - fitness for the sake fo fitness - you can split your cardio and your weightlifting. Want to get ripped? Lower weight, higher reps (though I think it kinda pointless, except to completely exhaust your muscles, to do more than 15 reps in a set of *anything*). Looking to bulk up a bit? heavier weight, lower reps - don't start this until you have the form of the lift down perfectly - and start loading up on protein.

I used to train wrestlers, and have heard a lot of different theories. The best thing to do is find what works and waht feels good to you, and not worry about quantitative stuff as a number of pounds of muscle.
posted by notsnot at 5:49 PM on December 15, 2003

this cat pulled some interesting weight loss muscle building in about a year
posted by specialk420 at 7:19 PM on December 15, 2003

I'm 5' 6" and small-boned. I weighed about 140. Over a year, I lost somewhere between 15 and 20 pounds and 1 dress size. This was going from no exercise to doing aerobics and weight training with dumbbells 4-5 times a week. I developed visible but not especially large muscles, e.g., I had visible biceps where no biceps had been before. Don't know if that helps you at all . . . .
posted by JanetLand at 7:20 PM on December 15, 2003


notsnot, do you know an exercise for the quick twitch muscle reflex? As a goalie, who plays a lot, I have to go post to post, in an instant. Is there an exercise you know to develop that in the leg muscles?
posted by alicesshoe at 7:40 PM on December 15, 2003

I have found ExRx to be an excellent resource for answering these kinds of questions. You sometimes have to dig, but generally the information is there in strong detail.
posted by rudyfink at 10:27 PM on December 15, 2003

Aliceshoe, I'm not sure what you mean - pushing the body from one side of the goal to the other? There's a couple impossible-to-isolate (effectively) muscles in the leg, but I'd recommend isolating the gluteal (ass) muscles by doing stiff-legged dead lifts (use a weight belt).
Also, the stronger your trunk the better. Try using the situp board (with your head below your waist), but with a bit of an "extra" - have someone standing at your feet throw a ball as you return to the prone position. Catch the ball, and throw the ball back to them as you sit back up. Switch between doing this vertically, and to each side (catching the side-balls with one hand), and graduate to heavier and heavier balls. If you're in the middle of a season, do *not* overdo this - if you're unused to this exercise, it's easy to exert yourself to the point that your abs and obliques hurt for a week or more.
posted by notsnot at 11:05 PM on December 15, 2003

You could also try body-fat-percentage checks. That may indicate how much fat is changing over to muscle mass. Professional rock climbers and ballet dancers- amazing muscle mass and often less than 3% body fat.
posted by gen at 1:42 AM on December 16, 2003


notsnot's exercises are good.

For twitch muscles in the legs, bouncing is good. Try skipping rope to start. Then jump squats. Then long jumps in succession. There are a lot of good resources for this online.

Jump squats: one leg in front, bent 90deg. One behind for balance. Jump, switch legs. Do sets of 5 until you can do them no problem. Be careful it's easy to twist an ankle if you're new.

LJ: Start out standing with both feet in the same place. Do a standing long jump as far as you can. rest 10s. x3
Do the same thing, except instead of stopping at one jump, do 3 in succession. don't stop the motion when you're on the ground. rest 10s. x3.
Do 5 jumps...

This will hurt immensely when you start. start slowly.

Also, as a (hockey?) goalie, you need side to side strength. I've heard good things about this
posted by sauril at 12:16 PM on December 16, 2003

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