If you have asked yourself, why does muscle building take so long, you are in the right place. Building muscle is a process, and there are no shortcuts to making it happen.
You will encounter many “experts” who claim that there are shortcuts to fitness. Unfortunately, they are probably just trying to sell you a dream. You are here today to learn some of the hard truths.
Why does muscle building take so long? Because your body needs time to repair the never-ending cycle of micro tears that your muscles experience during exercise.
That is the most simple explanation, but we have a lot more that we can talk about when it comes to building muscle, so let’s get into it.
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Muscle tear and repair
As I mentioned briefly in the introduction, when you exercise, your muscles experience thousands or millions of micro tears. Your body then fights to repair that muscle rapidly, not knowing when it will be challenged next. Muscle building itself is commonly referred to as muscle hypertrophy.
These micro tears are so small, you would need a microscope to see them. And when we think about that context, it’s fairly easy to see why it would take so long to build muscle.
Have you ever heard of progressive overload? It is the concept that you need to continually increase either the weight you are lifting, or the intensity of each workout. This is how you continue to improve and build muscle.
If you keep lifting the same weight every time you workout, your muscles will stop tearing as much. Don’t get me wrong, it could still happen. But using progressive overload to your advantage is your best way to build muscle quickly.
All in all, there is no shortcut to the repair process. That is unless you do steroids, which I HIGHLY caution against.
The last thing I will say about muscle repair is that genetics sometimes play an important role. Some people are able to repair muscle faster, while some might take longer. We all know that one person that goes to the gym for 2 weeks and is somehow in better shape than us.
Don’t let that deter you from your goals. Embrace the process.
Muscle building and nutrition
We have covered muscle tear and repair, and up until this point, it seems fairly straight forward. But now we must dial in the nutrition aspect of it. This is what I struggled with the most. I spent 7+ years working out at the gym without much change.
It wasn’t until I realized that I was not eating enough calories, that I was able to build 20+ pounds of muscle in one year. This is why I highly recommend learning how to calculate your maintenance calories.
After you workout, and your muscles tear, you are going to need to deliver calories to those muscles in order to repair them quicker, and give them the nutrients that they need.
The solution to this is eating at a caloric surplus. It is not possible to build muscle in a caloric deficit. And this is a fact.
When your body is in a state of caloric surplus, it wants to put those extra calories somewhere. If you are working out and trying to build muscle, those extra calories will go to your muscles.
If you are not working out, those extra calories will go to fat storage.
The concept is very simple, yet so many people don’t understand why they are putting on weight. The problem is that every single person on this earth is different in how many calories are required to gain weight or lose weight.
One person might need to eat 4,000 calories per day in order to gain weight, while another person might gain weight while eating 1,700 calories per day. That is why it is very important to calculate YOUR maintenance calories. There is no benchmark for this other than what your body is capable of.
Consistency over time
When it comes to building muscle, a lot of people are turned off by the fact that it takes a long time. In our society, we are used to information on demand. But we lose sight of the fact that certain things take a long time to build. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?
There seems to be an obsession with shortcuts when it comes to everything. Not with getting in shape. If there was an easy way, everybody in the world would be in shape, and it wouldn’t be an achievement.
The solution here is to commit to the process. And revisit your goals once a month. If you are a skinny teenager and you want to look like Arnold Schwarzeneggar in one year, that goal might be a little bit too ambitious.
Try to make your goals measurable, attainable, and realistic. If your body is in a state of caloric surplus, and you are working out 3-4 days per week, It is possible to gain a half pound of muscle per week.
With any consistency, that means you can realistically gain 26 pounds of muscle in one year! That is a lot, and if you are like I was, I couldn’t even imagine putting on that much muscle in one year. But I did!
In fact, I built 20+ pounds of muscle for about 3 and a half years until I decided that I went a little bit too far when I hit 205lbs. Now, I am at a happy 190lbs and I have the muscle definition that I like to see.
When you commit to the act of working out, over an extended period of time, it is going to be easy to hit your goals. Learn how to make exercise a habit.
Main Point: Why does muscle building take so long?
The reason that muscle building takes so long is that it is a constant process of muscle tearing and repairing. Those tear and repair cycles are microscopic, but combined over time, you can build some serious muscle.
Remember, that if you want to build muscle, your body has to be in a constant state of caloric surplus. You need to be active in keeping up with how many calories you are consuming.
It is an art to dial in the perfect amount of calories your body needs in order to build muscle, but not fat. In its simplest form, you should be eating about 500 calories over maintenance daily in order to build muscle. But as I said before, everybody is different, so this might require many different iterations, so be vigilant.
Now, you will need to be consistent over time with exercise to see any meaningful results. The hardest obstacle to overcome is mental. If you can show up consistently, 3-4 days per week, for a year straight, you are guaranteed to see results.
If you want to build muscle, pull all of these truths together in order to make it easier to digest. Keep your body in a constant state of muscle building perfection. Keep going to the gym. Make your dreams come true!
What are your thoughts on this article? Why does muscle building take so long? I am looking forward to hearing from you.