How quickly and how much muscle can one gain “naturally”?
In order to gain muscle, one must first break down the muscle they have then the body will create stronger muscle to replace the muscle that was broken down. “This rate at which this happens is called protein turnover and for human muscle (regardless of gender) this takes about 180 days or 6 months. That is right. To completely change how a muscle is put together takes at least 6 months. Studies on very strong people (this is important) show that about the maximum anyone can gain runs at theoretical limit of about an ounce (25g) per day (about 24 lbs/year), over their whole body.”
(http://jqhome.net/taiso/hypertrophyStrategies.html) While this statement may be true it is not common. Most individuals will put on less than this due to the learning curve involved with not only training, but nutrition and supplementation as well. I suggest one journal EVERYTHING to assure they gain quality weight and not just weight.
Gaining muscle will require the individual to place a stress on the muscle it is unaccustomed to. This can be done in a variety of ways. Taking weekly measurements and pictures on a regular basis will allow the competitor to see what works for them. Incorporating modalities such as drop sets, partial reps, cheat reps, forced reps, and progressive overload are typically used at various times of ones training. Rep range should be between 6-12 reps with 9-15 sets based on the size of the muscle group. If you have tried these modalities and have not seen the gains you want, try German Volume Training (goal is to perform 10 sets of 10 reps for lower and anywhere from 10 sets of 6 to 10 reps for upper). Try to increase weight by 5% weekly. Escalation Density Training (EDT). The goal is to increase the per session number of reps done in a given amount of time and weekly increasing the load The idea is to keep the time you train constant. You increase either the number of reps or amount of weight in a session. The best way is to figure your 6RM for an exercise. Start with sets (depends on you) of three rep for the first workout, then 4 reps then 5 reps. Increase the weight by 5% and start the cycle over again with the same number of sets and 3 reps per set. In addition, allowing 48-72 hours rest will assure one is working the muscles appropriately.
Let us turn to nutrition. A lb of muscle can burn up to 4x’s the amount of calories as a lb of fat. If one is trying to gain muscle one must eat to gain muscle. Lifting alone will not get the job done. To start I suggest one take their body weight and multiply it by 16 to get a starting range for calories to eat (180 x 16=2880). I recommend macronutrient split of 35% protein, 50% carbs and 15% fats. If one is already eating this amount of kcal I suggest you begin to add 500 kcal to the daily total. Measure yourself and then add 500 again after a week or two. This will assure you put on minimal body fat with maximally lean mass. Tracking your food intake and taking weekly measurements will help you decide what macronutrients you should add to what meal. At first I suggest you add to your post workout meal, then breakfast, followed by lunch and then snacks.