This is the question I asked myself over and over again as a high school student. How long does it take to gain 20 pounds of muscle?
If you don’t know anything about my story, I was 6’1” and 135lbs. I was as scrawny as they come. The football guys would laugh at how skinny my wrists were. Girls would turn me down on dates because I was “way too skinny.”
Unfortunately for me, my redemption would not come until my mid-twenties. What changed? I personally gained 20+ pounds of muscle in 1 year. Did I take steroids? Absolutely not!
What I learned was that working out in the gym was completely useless UNLESS you were also eating correctly.
In this article, we are going to learn how long it will take to gain 20 pounds of muscle. We also are going to learn how you can do it if you follow a plan. Check out our tips on going from thin to muscular.
Before we get into this article, I urge you to download our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). With FREE workout plans and over 100 built-in exercises, you won’t have any issues with the working out portion of building muscle.
How long does it take to gain 20 pounds of muscle?
Well, that depends. Everybody is different, but there are some simple rules that we can follow if we want to build muscle. You are going to need a combination of weight training and eating enough food.
Learn how to calculate your maintenance calories before you do anything else. We need to be comfortable with counting calories. Once you have your maintenance calories, you now have the power to control your muscle gain.
Eat at 500 calories PER DAY over maintenance + Weight training 3-4 days per week = Muscle gain.
So how long does it take to gain 20 pounds of muscle? That depends. But a good base level is that if you are just starting out, you should be able to gain a half pound of muscle per week.
Let’s say at the bare minimum, you are gaining a half pound of muscle per week. That means that you could potentially gain 20 pounds of muscle in 40 weeks, or about 9-10 months.
For me, it took about a year for this to happen, but I was inconsistent. Be consistent, and you will achieve faster results.
Weight training to gain muscle
First of all, are we doing weight training 3-4 days per week? During my journey from skinny to muscular, I personally only did weight training 3 days per week. I was sick of the weak workout plans that I could find online, so I created my own.
For those interested, the workout plan is called “3 Day Overload” within our app. If you don’t feel like downloading the app, that’s fine. I wrote an article that covers the 5 workouts for skinny people to gain muscle.
Weight training is the absolute minimum effort that you are going to need in order to put on the muscle you want. If you are not doing weight training at least 3 days per week, you will not gain muscle.
It is also important to note that as you get stronger, you are going to want to increase your weights. This will ensure that you keep building muscle as you progress.
Eating right to build muscle
We already know that weight training is the bare minimum effort needed to build muscle. What about eating enough food to build those muscles?
This right here is what plagued me for years. I wasn’t eating enough food, which meant I wasn’t building any muscle. I was spending hours in the gym each week, yet I wasn’t seeing any changes.
You probably can imagine how disheartening that was. As we spoke about earlier, it is all about the foods that you eat. You really do need to learn how to calculate your maintenance calories so that you can eat enough food.
I had the typical college kid diet. Eat some sandwiches here and there. Scarf down a whole pizza over the weekend, you get the picture.
When I got serious about building muscle, I had to take a whole new perspective on how much I was eating. I did a 2 week audit, and found out I was only eating about 2,200 calories per day.
I found out later that I needed to eat around 3,500 calories per day in order to build muscle.
Something to keep in mind is that every single person is different. Some people require 5,000 calories per day to build muscle, while others might only need 1,500.
Main Point: How long does it take to gain 20 pounds of muscle
If you followed the formula towards the beginning of this article, you know that it is possible to gain a half pound of muscle per week.
While that might not seem like a lot, it sure is going to add up with any consistency. If you keep at it for a whole entire year, you have the ability to put on at least 26 pounds of muscle.
I have heard stories of beginners putting on more muscle in one year, so the possibilities are endless.
It is also important to temper expectations. As I mentioned, every person is different, so you may experience varied results. As you build more muscle, your rate of muscle growth slows. It is important to keep at it when you feel like you are slowing down.
If you use a combination of weight training and eating enough, you are creating an environment for muscle to grow.
A lot of people don’t have access to gyms, so you might want to check out our list of home gym equipment essentials to buy on Amazon.
Can you put on 20 pounds of muscle in a year? Let us know about your experiences!