There are a few very helpful models to find out how much muscle you can actually build.
A rough overview – what is really possible?
A man can on average build up a maximum of about 20 kg of muscle mass (in addition to what you already have without any training). If you are taller than the average, you are slightly taller. If you are rather smaller, you will be slightly lower. On average, a woman can build up a maximum of 10 kg of muscle mass (in addition to what you already have without any training).
The models by Lyle Mcdonald and Alan Aragon also assume that you haven’t built up a significant amount of muscle yet. If you have already gained a few kilograms of muscle, e.g. through strength training or high-intensity sports such as sprinting, rowing or a physically very strenuous job, you must of course remove them.
Four different models
Here we present you 4 different models from internationally known experts. With their help you can realistically estimate your own progress and the maximum feasibility.
The Lyle Mcdonald Model
The genetic maximum of trained muscle mass according to this model is approximately 20-22 kg. A beginner achieves a maximum of 11 kg muscle gain in the first year with good training. In the second year of training the muscle growth rate is approx. 5 kg, in the 3rd year 2.5 kg and in the 4th year is practically over.
After 4-5 years of continuous intelligent, disciplined training you can reach your genetic limit. The emphasis here is on “intelligent” and “continuous” training. With a 5-split without leg training and complete focus on biceps and chest muscles you won’t be able to reach your maximum potential! Especially with frequent breaks of several weeks during which your progress will recede.
So if you start with 60 kg lean mass (weight – body fat), you can expect to weigh between 78 kg and 81 kg after 4+ years. With 10 % body fat this would amount to approx. 86 kg to 89 kg.
The Alan Aragon Model
According to Alan Aragon’s model, a beginner with about 70 kg will be able to gain between 0.7 and 1 kg muscle mass per month (8.4 – 12 kg per year). After one year of intelligent, hard and progressive training, he is an advanced athlete with about 80 kg. Now he will only be able to gain 0.4 – 0.8 kg of pure muscle mass per month (4.8 – 9.6 kg per year). As a professional he will hardly make any progress.
Accordingly, he would stand at 85 kg to 90 kg with a KFA of 10%, i.e. with a lean mass of approx. 78 kg to 81 kg. Practically the same result as Lyle Mcdonald’s model.
The Casey Butt model (only for men)
Bodybuilder Casey Butt has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the top “natural bodybuilders” and developed an online calculator based on this to determine your maximum muscular potential. You need to measure your height, wrist and ankle circumference. He has even written a whole book about his research, which you can find in full detailed post here. If you want to know your own possible maximum circumferences:
In English – A calculator to determine your estimated maximum possible scopes:
Maximum Muscular Potential (Note: 1 inch = 2.54 cm)
The Martin Berkhan model (only for men)
Martin Berkhan (from Leangains.com) uses a very simple model. Nevertheless it is amazingly accurate.
“Size in cm – 100 = upper limit in kg in competition form (approx. 5 % KFA)”
You can find very impressive examples of the maximum feasible here: Maximum Muscular Potential of Drug-Free Athletes All these athletes have taken many years to get there.
Will I reach exactly the calculated amount of muscle mass?
The calculated values from the above formulas are the maximum possible (for almost all athletes). How far you get depends on your genetics, but only after living conditions, nutrition, regeneration and training are optimally aligned.
Your (genetic) relationship can provide clues. Is your kinship rather very stable and muscular or have very narrow joints and not muscular at all?
What about you personally? Were you already very strong when you touched a dumbbell for the first time? Were you able to pull your double body weight off the floor immediately?
In the first case, your chances of getting closer to the upper limit or even exceeding it are much better.
You want to achieve more?
If you have even greater ambitions, this may seem “too little” to you. But from the point of view of the average citizen, who doesn’t know as much about fitness, weight training and bodybuilding as you do, you will be extremely muscular.
If you have been involved with weight training, fitness and muscle building for a long time, your expectations will often rise. Be aware of this – don’t set yourself unattainable goals.
The bodies of gigantic bodybuilders, for example, can only be reached with many “aids” and appropriate genetics.
To become better – either in strength sports (or another sport parallel to it) is always possible. Use these given limits more as orientation, instead of as hard guidelines.