How Long Can You Keep Building Muscle?


There are two theories about how lengthy you’ll be able to preserve constructing muscle.

The primary concept states which you can preserve constructing muscle principally ceaselessly. 

Though progress will likely be quickest in the course of the first six-to-twelve months or so after you begin lifting weights (your “beginner positive factors” part), in case you eat and prepare correctly, you’ll be able to preserve “sculpting your statue” till previous age and accidents make heavy weightlifting inconceivable. 

In different phrases, though your price of muscle and power acquire could also be sluggish, you’ll preserve getting larger and stronger for years and even many years in case you preserve at it.  

The second concept states that there’s a tough ceiling as to how a lot muscle you’ll be able to acquire and that no quantity of coaching, consuming, or supplementing will increase that ceiling. 

In case you’re consuming and coaching correctly, you’ll acquire virtually all the muscle accessible to you inside a couple of years after you begin lifting weights. After you hit this ceiling, you cease gaining muscle, and the perfect you’ll be able to hope for is to carry on to what you’ve acquired. 

Who’s proper? 

Is there a tough genetic ceiling for muscle acquire that you simply’ll butt up towards?

Or, is constructing muscle extra like mastering your golf swing—a top quality you’ll be able to preserve burnishing for years on finish, albeit with diminishing returns?

The Reality About How Lengthy You Can Hold Constructing Muscle

Right here’s what most everybody agrees about muscle acquire:

Most males who’re consuming and coaching correctly can acquire about 20-to-25 kilos of muscle within the six-to-twelve months after they begin lifting weights (their newbie gains part), and ladies can acquire about half this quantity. 

After this level, progress slows down significantly, however you’ll be able to preserve gaining muscle at an honest clip. A great rule of thumb is which you can most likely acquire about half the quantity of muscle you gained throughout your first yr of weightlifting in your second yr, and half that once more in your third yr. 

For instance, in case you acquire 20 kilos of muscle in your first yr of weightlifting, you’ll be able to most likely acquire one other 10 kilos in your second yr, and one other 5 kilos in your third yr (for a complete of 35 kilos). 

Opinions diverge on what occurs after this level, although.

Some individuals declare that after your first three-to-five years of weightlifting, you’re performed gaining muscle. Don’t count on to see any noticeable modifications within the mirror or on the dimensions and, since muscle acquire is the first driver of power positive factors, don’t count on to see your lifts go up, both. 

Others declare that after you attain this level, you’ll be able to preserve gaining muscle and power slowly however indefinitely. In case you have the endurance, know-how, and #dedication, your positive factors will compound over time and add as much as vital will increase in measurement and power.

In keeping with these sorts, though you would possibly solely be capable of acquire one-to-two kilos of muscle per yr, after 10 years, you’ll have gained one other 10-to-20 kilos of muscle! 

The reality? 

These individuals are principally flawed, however there could also be a tiny kernel of reality of their considering. 

They’re principally flawed as a result of after your first four-to-five years of correct consuming and coaching, you’ll have achieved virtually your entire pure genetic potential for muscle acquire. 

As Dr. Eric Helms, a researcher, pure bodybuilding coach, and member of Legion’s Scientific Advisory Board, places it, “. . . one factor is universally true—no one can get larger and stronger ceaselessly and everybody has a genetic restrict. Typically, the nearer we’re to our restrict; the slower

progress will likely be and the extra intention might want to go into coaching with a purpose to make additional progress.”

In different phrases, your price of muscle acquire doesn’t simply decelerate after which stay fixed (gaining, say, one pound of muscle yearly to infinity). As a substitute, you acquire smaller and smaller quantities of muscle every subsequent yr as you creep towards your genetic restrict for muscle acquire.

Now, there’s some debate amongst scientists as as to if this can be a literal or sensible restrict. 

That’s, does muscle acquire ever utterly cease, or does it develop into so sluggish that it’s inconceivable to measure, see, or be virtually related? 

Some canny health consultants, comparable to Menno Henselmans and Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, have rightly pointed out that there isn’t any scientific proof for a real genetic restrict for pure muscle acquire. In different phrases, we will’t say for sure that there’s a “natty max” or what it is perhaps. 

As a substitute, this concept comes from the final statement that each one (truly) pure bodybuilders and athletes ultimately attain a degree at which progress turns into so sluggish it would as properly be nonexistent. For instance, many veteran powerlifters can preserve including a couple of kilos to their one-rep maxes till their late thirties or forties, which is a sign they’re gaining some (very small) quantity of muscle. 

Your absolute potential for muscle acquire could also be what’s known as an asymptote—a degree that you simply’re regularly transferring towards however by no means fairly attain. Right here’s what this would possibly appear to be in graph type: 


So, circling again to the unique query, how lengthy can you retain constructing muscle? 

You’ll be able to construct muscle pretty shortly throughout your first two-to-three years of weightlifting, and also you’ll most likely preserve gaining a noticeable quantity of muscle over the subsequent yr or two. After your first four-to-five years of lifting weights, although, your price of muscle acquire will develop into vanishingly small. 

That mentioned, understanding that muscle acquire remains to be potential at this level will be encouraging. 

Personally, though I inherently get pleasure from lifting weights and the well being advantages that comply with, it’s additionally good to know that I’d be capable of get a bit bit larger and stronger, even when the enhancements are virtually irrelevant and visually elusive. 

Why Does Muscle Acquire Ever Cease? 

Let’s say for a second that muscle acquire by no means actually stops—that it continues at a snail’s tempo indefinitely. Why don’t pure bodybuilders look larger and stronger at age 60 than they do at age 30? 

The 2 most certainly explanations are age and accidents. 

Though you’ll be able to slow down the unfavorable results of growing older by staying lively, consuming healthily, and getting sufficient sleep, you’ll be able to’t cease them solely. As you grow old, your testosterone ranges, power, and talent to coach onerous and get well shortly will wane.

And as this happens, it would develop into more and more tough to coach onerous sufficient to stimulate muscle growth

Maybe the one greatest approach to scotch your potential to achieve muscle and power is to injure your self badly sufficient which you can’t comply with a correct strength training program. In case your knees cry uncle whereas squatting, in case your shoulders quail whereas bench urgent, and your low-back buckles when deadlifting, you’re going to have a tricky time gaining and even sustaining muscle mass. 

In different phrases, the explanation we will’t preserve gaining muscle ceaselessly might be as a result of we ultimately faucet out our potential to finish the sort of exercises which can be crucial to take action. 

Further proof for this concept comes from the truth that most powerlifters and bodybuilders reach their prime of their early to late thirties, after which the perfect they’ll do is attempt to preserve their power and muscle. They might not have truly reached their genetic restrict, however their our bodies can’t deal with the coaching that may be essential to get them any nearer.

What About Folks Who Hold Gaining Muscle After 5+ Years of Weightlifting? 

There are circumstances the place individuals who’ve been weightlifting for 5, ten, or extra years handle to instantly acquire a considerable amount of muscle mass.

When this occurs, there are two potential explanations: 

First, they spent a lot of their earlier years training and eating improperly. Not coaching onerous sufficient, not doing sufficient units, not doing the appropriate workouts, not consuming sufficient energy or protein, not sleeping sufficient, and so forth. Once they appropriate these errors, they’ve the potential to make newbie-ish positive factors regardless of having been coaching for years.

Additionally keep in mind that most individuals—even probably the most educated and dedicated natural bodybuilders—aren’t doing every little thing “proper” 24/7, one year per yr. As a substitute, their food regimen and coaching plans get interrupted by holidays, journeys, diseases, accidents, private {and professional} vagaries, waning motivation, and so forth. Thus, many individuals can proceed gaining muscle and power for a decade or extra however at a slower price than they could obtain underneath excellent circumstances. 

I’m a major instance of this. 

I began lifting weights once I was about sixteen, however I gained little or no muscle or power my first few years as I used to be placing most of my power into competing in triathlons (which additionally meant I used to be deliberately staying fairly skinny). I didn’t actually expertise “beginner positive factors” till my ~4th yr of lifting weights, once I dialed again my endurance coaching, ate extra, and adopted a correct power coaching plan. 

The second clarification for individuals who instantly acquire a considerable amount of muscle after years of coaching is *drumroll* . . . they acquired on medicine. 

This may occasionally sound harsh, but it surely’s true in response to the scientific literature

It doesn’t matter what anybody says, you’ll be able to’t preserve gaining a significant quantity of muscle and power indefinitely with out taking steroids. 

Keep in mind this when individuals say their physique took “ten years of #dedication to construct.” Extra like four-to-five years of correct weight-reduction plan and coaching, adopted by one other half-decade of steroid use.


Though chances are you’ll technically be capable of preserve gaining muscle and power till your mid-to-late thirties, virtually, you’ll have stopped gaining a noticeable quantity of muscle and power lengthy earlier than this level in case you’re consuming and coaching correctly. 

So, wipe the stardust out of your eyes and settle for which you can’t preserve getting larger and stronger ceaselessly, however don’t undertake the defeatist perspective that your exercises are “pointless” as a result of you’ll be able to’t add one other inch to your biceps. 

For one factor, sustaining a terrific physique remains to be a worthwhile venture that takes constant effort. Second, keep in mind that progress is progress, and also you might be able to wring a couple of extra PRs out of your physique earlier than you’re performed. 

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