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How Long Until You See Muscle Gains? A.k.a, Looking “Toned”

The question my clients usually ask is “How long does it take until you see muscle gains?”.

Muscle Gains A.k.a, Looking “Toned” or “Getting Jacked”!

When you start working out, muscle gains never seem to come quick enough! Frustration frequently sets in when you don’t feel like you are getting the results for the amount of work you are putting into your strength training program. The question my clients usually ask is “How long does it take until you see muscle gains?”.

The answer to these questions involve many variables. Muscle gains like any other fundamental part of a fitness program take time, proper nutrition and specific training techniques. Other factors can include genetics, body type, body fat percentage, health conditions, injuries, natural strength and medication. The reality is no two people are alike, therefore no two people will have the same reaction to a strength training and nutrition program.

Circumstances that Determine Increased Muscle Gains

To understand how long it takes to start seeing muscle gains (mass) it’s essential to understand your genetic factors and the distinct qualities that result from both your genotype and surroundings.

Some of these qualities, of course, are determined by sex and genetic make-up. Other environmental factors are related to training load, duration, frequency and recovery time, muscle memory (past physical activity), macronutrient intake, calorie ingestion, water intake, hormones, rest and pharmaceuticals.

Overall, you can not change the obvious, which would be genetics and gender, ageing or the hormonal changes that come with menopause and andropause unless you use either pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals.

Three Main Categories of Body Types

You are also affected by your body type; there are three main categories of body types which are Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and Endomorph. Knowing your body type helps you to plan your resistance training and diet regiment successfully because you have the ability to adjust macro and micronutrient intake to maximize your fitness plan and health goals.

Ectomorphs tend to have little body fat, muscle and bone mass. They are usually able to overeat, while gaining little, to no extra weight and they need a significant amount of calories to gain weight. Workouts should be short & intense focusing on big muscle groups. Ectomorphs can be at a disadvantage due to their lean body structure; they struggle to increase their size.  Hard work, dedication, patience and time will be required to achieve their desired physique.

Mesomorphs have a medium sized bone structure with an athletic body type. Typically mesomorphs have a considerable amount of lean mass because they are testosterone and growth hormone dominant. These elevated hormone levels mean there is a predisposition for muscle gain and the preservation of lower body fat. The disadvantage this body type is they can gain fat more easily than ectomorphs, so they need to watch their calorie intake. Mesomorphs should use a combination of weight training and cardio during workout routines to keep calories in check. Their training should be geared towards bodybuilding routines, as they respond best to weight training, and gains are usually seen very quickly, even for beginners. Mesomorphs do best on a mixed balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, with a macronutrient split of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, and 30% fat.

Endomorphs have a large bone structure with increased body and fat mass. The endomorph body is solid and soft and gains fat very quickly, and this extra fat is difficult to lose. They are shorter stature with thick arms & legs. They have natural strength, especially in their lower body. They are usually insulin dominant, leading to a higher predisposition for energy storage which means there is a smaller tolerance to carbohydrates.  Endomorphs feel they are predestined to be overweight; however, this isn’t the case!  For example, Cory Holly is a master bodybuilding and Hammer Thrower champion;  he is also an Endomorph. He states that you need to make a conscious effort to get moving; you have to make exercise a part of your daily routine and work hard. If your metabolism is slow, you need to eat foods that increase your metabolism. Simply put you need to bust your butt exercising and eat the right for your body type.

While the rate at which a person builds muscle mass is unpredictable due to body typing, the right diet and proper training regimen still means everyone can add strength and mass.

Ways to Effectively Increase Strength and Muscle Mass

Strength training results in specific physiological adaptations. During the initial phase of a strength-training program, noticeable gains are made due to something called neural adaptability, which is an increase in the recruitment of motor units. As the nervous system becomes more efficient and recruiting more motor units, more strength will be created.  Many people think this initial surge means they should see more size immediately.  However, muscle gains or size will only come once you work out continuously to increase muscle thickness. The average time to see these changes can range anywhere from 3 to 6 months.

What Type of Program is Most Effective for Muscle Growth?

Many people have accepted the benefits and importance of a healthy lifestyle. That being said, programming for strength training can be difficult and confusing at best. Anyone new to resistance training should hire a certified personal trainer to make a safe, effective program.  If you are more advanced, then it may be good to take courses in program design to get the best results for you work out routine.

The Infofit fitness professional will develop a program based on your personal physical fitness profile. Once you have a solid base, a hypertrophy program will give you the best results. Hypertrophy programs are typically 3 – 6 sets of 8 – 12 reps (70-80% 1RM) with 30 – 90 seconds rests between sets. These programs are done as split routines, 4 – 6 days a week,  coupled with a cardio program to help cut fat and therefore better show muscle development. Also, hire a nutritionist or naturopath to develop a balanced nutrition plan focused on lean proteins, vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Muscle is Built While Resting

Finally the most often overlooked part of creating muscle gains is getting the appropriate amount of rest! Maintenance of muscle strength and mass is produced when your body has enough rest! It is essential to provide your muscle approximately 48 hours between workouts which is why you need to have proper split routines developed by a certified personal trainer. Many people aren’t aware of the fact that muscle isn’t built during the lifting phase, it is developed during your recovery time. When you are working out, you are creating microscopic muscle tears which are repaired during rest which produces the increase in size. Working out on rest days will only develop injuries, lead to overtraining and won’t allow your body time to increase in size.

Patience as always is a virtue and this holds true when trying to create a new lifestyle that comes with a healthier look and a stronger body!

Cathie Glennon – BCRPA-SFL

References:

  1. https://www.livestrong.com/article/217729-how-long-to-notice-muscle-gain/
  2. https://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/6538/how-quickly-does-muscle-grow
  3. http://thescienceofeating.com/food-combining-how-it-works/workouts-for-all-areas/the-3-body-types-explained/