Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Moderators: melkor

I do a full body workout with weights 3x a week for about 30-40 minutes, I have been doing this for about 2 months now and I just changed up my routine a bit. Up until last week I had not been measuring my body fat percentage so I am using that measurement as my starting point, my question is, how much on average lean muscle mass can a woman gain in one week?
22 Replies (last)
none, muscle mass gain is a slow and steady process. whenever you change a workout your body will have to adjust, but you muscle fibers and cells need time to breakdown and rebuild. the changes that are taking place in your body in a weeks time are not measurable unless you get an MRI.
 Isn't the max for drug-free male athletes 28.03 grams of new muscle mass a day? I've misplaced the reference now, but it was a paper by someone from the UCLA sports medicine department discussing the biochemical limit for muscle growth due to protein synthesis capacity in the body. If that's wrong I'd love to find out - it would mean I could add more than about 15-20 pounds of muscle in a year without resorting to chemical assistance.

 Females would have to have a lower rate than that - not enough testosterone :) And as far as I know women primarily add muscle through IGF-1 and growth hormone which are significantly less effective than testosterone-fuelled muscle growth. Well, women do have some testosterone produced through the adrenal glands, but it's nowhere near a male level.

 'Course, the biocemichal limit can't be all there is to it. Otherwise you wouldn't have anecdotal evidence like what Arthur Jones did for Casey Viator in about a month:

Viator‚??s body weight increased from 166.87 to 212.15 pounds, for an overall gain of 45.28 pounds. Body-composition analysis revealed that Viator had actually built 63.21 pounds of muscle, since he had lost 17.93 pounds of fat.
Jones was always careful to point out that Viator was rebuilding previously existing level of muscular size‚??but even so, such a rate of increase was nothing short of remarkable.

Jones swore Viator wasn't on steroids - so this indicates to me that at least some people under some circumstances can transcend what sports medicine says ought to be possible, but so far the how and the why of it seems more like guesswork than science.

 Though for most people, it looks to me as if you add a quarter pound of muscle in a week you're doing good.

Thanks for your input...I want to set some muscle gaining goals for myself but I really don't know what is a reasonable goal for a reasonable time period, and if I could break my goal down into weekly increments than I can use those as my progress guides, plus I do better reaching mini goals (weekly or every other week) than larger goals such as a monthly goal.

I looked around online and all I found was ads for losing huge amounts of fat in a short amount of time and nothing valuable or safe to give me an idea of what I should be using as goals. 

Well, for starting strength you should be able to add about  2.5%-5% weight to the bar each workout - advanced trainees up there around Bodyscience's level would probably have to go with 1%-2.5% increases if I've understood Poliquin and others correctly.

 A handy mini-goal for you would be to squeeze out one more rep or add 2.5% more weight to the bar than you did last week - you can't sustain that increase forever or there'd be a lot more people benching 1000 pounds, but striving to beat your last workout is a good way to keep gains coming for a good long time.

 (Edited to clarify:Bodyscience can speak for himself about what he does - but he's a handy example of an athlete working near the limits of what's humanly possible.)

That's some good info, but your information has sparked a question...I should be increasing the weights for every workout? I was not aware of this. I guess that is why I did not have much of a change during the last 8 weeks. 

I also have another question, if I am not sore after a workout (using weights) did I actually make any progress? 

Thanks so much for your help! 

 Increase weights OR reps.

 You should be able to handle an increased volume of work after recovery is complete, and you can increase volume by either adding weight or adding reps. One way of doing it is to start with a weight you can only move 8 times, and stick with it until you can move that one 12 times - work your way up from 8 to 12 reps. Then add weight to the bar so you can only move it 8 times, and repeat.

 For leg movements, 5x5 is popular too - and it wouldn't be if it didn't work. 5x5 - 5 sets of a weight that's so heavy you can only squat it 5 times. I don't do that one myself at the moment as I'm still working on muscular endurance rather than max strength, but to get really strong, you will have to learn to squat properly I'm told.
I heard teen males who rest, eat, train, and supplement correctly can add up to 30-40 lbs their first year of weight training with no more then a 4-5 % increase in bodyfat, but it tapers off WAY more then that after that. I've added about 9 lbs so far, 4 lbs of fat.

hey oshelly,

thanks for this thread, it's quite informative.  i just wanted to respond to your question about muscle soreness:  i only do strength training w/my upper body.  it's never sore for some reason, even though i lift pretty heavy, but i'm really seeing results in terms of how i look.

however, i never do weight lifting for my legs bec my cardio's so intense.  my legs are ALWAYS sore.  so, at least for me, there's no necessary correlation between soreness and muscle gain.

Thanks, all of your information has been quite helpful.

Melkor I will try your suggestions. I like the idea of 8 reps and working up to 12 reps and then adding more weight when 12 reps gets easy.

Caloriecountme thanks for the reassurance, I am glad to hear that you are getting results w/o being sore all the time!

im new to this but ive been lifting for a little over a year i did it nice and slow til about 3 weeks ago i hadnt been using alot of weight and doing low reps now i do heavy weight and high reps. Ive been using cellmass supliments the last two weeks and i was wandering how long it should take to see a diffrence. i do have a good 50lbs of fat that im tring to lose as well but im still eating my protien so what is the best thing to do to lose fat and gain a ton of muscles. IM 5'9" and weight 268 i drink like 2 gallons of water a day and now am going to the gym 5 days a week fro 1.5-2.5  hours a day when im not in the gym sweating my ass off im playing ball and going to college. i just need a little insight.

caloriecountingme - you really should add lower body weight lifting to your routine.  It well help balance you out and can help your cardio as well.  You have the largest muscles in your legs, and you are missing out on a lot of fat burning potential if you don't work them.  Also, doing a lot of cardio can cause your body to feed on its muscles.  If you don't lift for lower body those muscles could actually be shrinking and getting weaker (hence why they are sore all the time).  Its just as important to weight lift for lower body regardless of your cardio routine.


Jon - I don't know a ton about those pills but patience is key for muscle gain.  It takes a long time and its hard work.  Just keep pounding the iron and eating your protein and you will do fine.

 Try scaling back on the time you spend in the gym - workouts longer than an hour are rarely as productive as we like to think.

 After an hour or so lifting weights you should be more or less worn down anyway, and if you keep lifting past that point, that's when cortisol production in your body skyrockets and you risk negating the gains you should have made from your session.

 I've been told that a rough rule of thumb is that for every 15 minutes you stay in the gym past the hour you're compromosing your gains by about 20% due to increased cortisol, unless you start mucking about with supplementation - or you can have some protein in the form of a shake prior to working out if your body can take it.

 Mine can't, eating too close to lifting leaves me feeling like crap and compromises the intensity of the workout. So instead I generally set the timer for 1 hour and when the buzzer rings it's time to stop - sometimes this has me rushing between lifts like the energizer bunny to get through the work in the allotted hour. Weights-as-cardio is rough on the system though, so which is better for you, you'll have to experiment and see.

Caveat: women who lift can go a bit longer in the gym than men before the cortisol thing happens, and it doesn't apply to cardio exercises either IIRC. And there's individual variations as well, so you should experiment a bit to find out how exactly you can best optimise your own training.

 You need to become the leading world expert on yourself, and keeping notes helps you do that :)

hey agana,

i appreciate the advice, i really do.  but to be honest, i hear all this talk about how your body feeds on its muscle when you do too much cardio (and there's no doubt that i do cardio in excess), but that's not been my experience.  i don't do leg strength training, but my legs are DEFINITELY much bigger, esp since i upped the resistance on the cardio machine (i don't think my legs are sore bec they're weak; i think the muscles are just overused, that's all).  and i have gained a lot of muscle in my shoulders, arms, chest, etc. 

what i have NOT experienced is fat loss.  it's frustrating, bec i actually don't mind if i lose some muscle. i know it's not the best thing, but it wouldn't bother me at all.  my fat just lives on.  the longest i weight train for is 40-45 minutes, i don't even know if i could do longer than that physically.

hey melkor thanks for the advice ive tried taking it to heart but since i do take the cellmass supplements in liquid form i dont feel lke ive reached a state anywhere near exhaustion i am also drinking protien shakes before and after a workout but i dont feel that im getting any bigger. Do you think by doing an hour of cardio after a workout that i might see a diffrence faster.
Quote  |  Reply
A woman can gain about 0.5-1 lb of muscle per month on average. So in a week probably 0.125-0.25 lb max.
Quote  |  Reply
A woman can gain about 0.5-1 lb of muscle per month on average. So in a week probably 0.125-0.25 lb max.
 So, a max of 453g/30= about 15 grams of muscle weight added a day?

 Hmm, that seems to correlate well with the male limit on drug-free growth, so I'm inclined to accept that as a reasonable average. You're always going to have biological anomalies like Viator or his female equivalent of course.

 Still, seems like that could be a useful upper bound for calculating averages.

 Lessee, what else have we got? Oh, right - well, Cal, resistance training makes for faster muscular developement than growth hormone-mediated lactate-based growth, but it does work.

 Thing is, you say you've cranked up the resistance on the machines. Key word there is resistance - as long as your muscles push against external resistance there will be muscular developement along classical hypertrophy mechanisms up until your body's adapted to the external load. You don't need weight to get external resistance or load on your muscles, it's just more efficient to do it that way.

 For long term fat loss resistance training works better than any other mode of exercise - cardio only burns fat while you do it. If you do your cardio as HIIT you can keep your metabolism burning fat for up to 5 hours after the workout.

 If you lift weights properly you can keep your body burning fat for up to 38 hours afterwards, or about 7 times longer than even the best cardio protocol can. So for fat loss, decreasing cardio and increasing weight training is your best bet, assuming you've got limited workout time.

  Jon, if you're past the initial 3-6 months of beginner's metabolism you will have a h*ll of a time trying to add muscle while losing weight. In that case the best you can hope for is to keep your muscle while you drop fat. If you're not past the initial stage yet, you can increase fat loss by using periodization in your training - change how intense your workouts are from week to week.

 But apart from that, consistency counts for more than anything else. Being consistent with your workouts and eating like a bodybuilder (6 small meals a day) will do more for you than any muscle shake or supplement ever will.

ok here is a question that I was asked the other day. What is the best exersizes for gaining a ton of inches on your arms? I hadnt a clue what to tell the person becuase i dont specialize on arms i do a little of everything. If you have any responses i would love to hear them.


 Arms? Chinups.

 Chinups, pullups and wide-grip pullups are all great arm-building exercises - they're also great allround upper-body exercises, so some trainers recommend you combine a post-fatigue (or pre-fatigue) isolation movement like concentration curls or preacher curls with the chins.

 Oddly enough, heavy, deep squats will also build arms. The hormone response to really seriously heavy leg training will add muscle to your entire body, even the bits you don't work doing squats.

wow no one has been on here in forever

22 Replies (last)