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How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle?

Building muscle mass takes consistent, specific work in the gym, decent nutrition, and healthy sleep habits. It’s a simple equation, really, if you’ve got the right strategies in place.

As far as I’m concerned, strength training, muscle-supporting nutrition, and quality sleep are lifelong necessities. If you’re revamping your entire routine to build muscle mass, though, you probably want to know how long it takes.

Here, I’ll break down how long it takes to build muscle mass—and what factors impact the fate of your gains.

The Muscle-Building Timeline

If you have the right strategies in place, you can see legitimate performance improvements in the gym in just eight weeks. In three to six months, you’ll see noticeable muscle gains.

In those first weeks, your nervous system adapts. From there, your muscles themselves start to truly increase in strength and size.

Read More: Are Abs Really Made In The Kitchen?

However, if you want to build noticeable muscle in just three months or so, consistency and effort are absolutely crucial. You can’t haphazardly hit the gym, stay up late watching Netflix, and ignore what you’re eating. 

In fact, I consider consistent training and sleep, as well as proper nutrition, the three pillars of achieving sizable muscle gains—and fast.

How To Optimize Your Muscle-Building Timeline

Wondering how to best make your training, nutrition, and sleep work for your end game of building muscle? Let’s break down what you’ll need to do in each of these buckets to see major muscle gains in a few months.

Training Frequency And Building Muscle

New to resistance training? You may be able to get away with training each muscle group once per week in those first months in the gym.

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As you become more experienced, though, you’ll require less recovery and need to increase training frequency. At that point, you’ll want to train each muscle group at least twice per week.

Nutrition—Namely Protein—and Building Muscle

As far as diet goes, focus on consuming sufficient protein every day. This helps you recover from exercise and supports overall muscle growth.

1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (or about 0.8 grams per pound of body weight) per day is enough to support muscle growth in most people. However, if you’re looking to maximize muscle growth, shoot for closer to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight (one gram per pound) instead.

Read More: 9 Easy Ways To Increase Your Protein Intake

Though consuming less protein won’t break you, you can certainly expect better long-term results if you get optimal protein in every day

Sleep And Building Muscle

When it comes to optimizing body aesthetics, sleep can play just as big of a role as diet and exercise. In fact, getting poor sleep every night can impair muscle growth and recovery and make it more difficult to lose body fat.

To optimize sleep for fast gains, shoot for at least seven hours per night. Though eight to nine hours would be optimal for growth and recovery, I know spending that time in bed just isn’t always realistic.

The Bottom Line On building Muscle

The rate at which you build muscle depends on a number of factors. However, you should start to see results within about three months or so of getting serious about packing on mass.

References & Further Reading

  1. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein supplementation augments the adaptive response of skeletal muscle to resistance-type exercise training: a meta-analysis.
  2. Medical Hypotheses: Sleep and muscle recovery: endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis.
  3. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation.
  4. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine.
  5. Annals of Internal Medicine: Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity.
  6. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Massive overfeeding and energy balance in men: the Guru Walla model.

Known as ‘The Muscle Ph.D.,’ Dr. Jacob Wilson has a knack for transforming challenging, complex concepts into understandable lessons that can support your body composition and health goals. A skeletal muscle physiologist and sports nutrition expert, Wilson is a leader in muscle sports nutrition. As the CEO of The Applied Science & Performance Institute and researches supplementation, nutrition, and their impact on muscle size, strength, and power.