how long does it take to build muscle

Most people get into the iron game because they want to build muscle and add strength to their frame.

But what most people underestimate is how much time is required to build that dense muscle.

When you see fitness “influencers” who go from a zero to a hero seemingly overnight be aware that steroids and photoshop go a long way.

How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle?

Building a lean and muscular body will not happen overnight.

Based on your starting point, your genetics, and how consistent you are it will take about 1-5 years of the correct and consistent training, nutrition, and recovery to develop your base physique.

how long does it take to build muscle

Your base physique is simply the body you discover after dedicating time to the iron.  Your strong and weak points will be revealed.

This is where genetics comes in.  The genetic tools that you naturally have will play a big part in how fast you see results.

Some lifters have better genetics to build muscle.  They will develop muscle faster.

Some lifters have better genetics for building strength.  They will develop strength faster.

And some athletes have better genetics for building athletic traits like speed and jumping ability.  They will become better athletes faster.

But regardless of what your genetics are, you have 100 percent control over how far you will push yourself.  It may take you longer, but taking the scenic route with no tolls will still get you to your destination.

18 Months

In 2013, I trained Ishmael Reed (in the above picture) who started his true fitness journey at age 39.  Ish started the process as a skinny fat guy who was completely out of shape.

After he got past the beginner stage, he became one of my training partners.  In 18 months he went from a skinny fat guy to a lean, muscular guy who placed 2nd in his class (Masters, ages 40-44) at the 2015 Mr. Natural Philadelphia.

With all this being said, you will not bat 1000 at the plate.  There will be days when you miss meals, have stale workouts, and get only 5 hours of sleep.

But you have to continue to consistently train hard, eat correctly, and get the proper recovery.

If you have been lifting for 5 years in the iron game and you do not even look like you lift or have any respectable numbers in the gym, you have done it wrong.

At this point it would be time for a lifter to stop what they are doing and reevaluate their game plan.  It would be absolutely insane to keep doing the same thing that leads them on the path to fitness oblivion.

Mental Muscle

Another part of developing muscle is building mental muscle.

Building physical muscle is great, but building mental muscle is what truly separates the contenders from the pretenders.

There are a lot of lifters in the iron game who have the look but lack mental toughness.  I’ve witnessed these types of soft lifters quit during hard workouts and especially on leg day.

There are no overnight success stories in terms of building muscle. It takes time. Click To Tweet

When you have an accountable training program, you will be forced to consistently dig deep to complete your workouts.

Embrace the challenge of hard workouts because routinely completing them will improve your mental toughness.


Building muscle is a process.

It is not an instant process, but if you consistently train hard, eat right, and recover, you will build the muscular body and tough mindset that you want.

I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer

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