Let’s imagine you are new to bodybuilding and working to set goals for yourself for the coming years. You wish to map out the path you will be taking in the next 2, 3, or 4 years as far as bodybuilding gains. How many pounds of muscle can you gain per year? This can depend upon your age, body type, as well as training experience. Let’s check out the factors which can influence growth so you can create a better estimation of your potential gains over the next few years.
The younger you are, the better your chances for muscle gains. Your body’s natural testosterone levels will peak around age 18. If you are in your late teens or early twenties, and new to bodybuilding, you can expect to gain 10 to 12 pounds of muscle in the first year, and more if you use anabolic assistance. As you progress into your late twenties and early twenties, you’ll discover you have to work much harder to see the same level of gains.
There are three somatypes of the human body. Ectomorphs tend to be skinny and not carry much fat or muscle. Mesomorphs tend to carry good muscle with a tad more body fat. Most of today’s champion bodybuilders are mesomorphs. Finally, endomorphs tend to carry a great deal of body fat, along with their fair share of muscle. Ectomorphs can gain 5 to 8 pounds of muscle per year, and they’ll wear it well. Mesomorphs can gain more muscle, in the 6 to 12 pound range, and it will display very well on their muscular frames. Endomorphs can gain more muscle than either group – 8 to 15 pounds – but also tend to pile on an equal amount of body fat in the process.
The longer you have been training, the harder it will be to add appreciable muscle mass. Your body will be most responsive to training in that first year of training. Your gains will be the highest in your first year. When you’ve been training for 5 or 10 years, the gains will come slowly and only after a great deal of consistent training.
These numbers reflect a ‘perfect’ environment. This entails proper nutrition (enough calories to fuel your workouts and several hundred additional calories available each day for growth), as well as adequate protein intake (300 to 400 grams daily). This program also assumes you are training with adequate intensity. This calls for several days per week of heavy, compound movements with some isolation movements following it to help polish the muscle group. Finally, there is an assumption that you’re giving your body adequate rest and recovery time. If you’re working 12 hours a day at a manual job, playing three hours of basketball each day, or partying every night and only sleeping 4 or 5 hours per night, you’re not going to make these gains. However, if you have the discipline to buckle down and eat, sleep, and train correctly, the gains detailed above are absolutely possible.