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How much muscle mass can be built up in a month?

Bicep curls, pull-ups and exercises on various fitness machines all have one thing in common – they build muscle mass. There are more than enough reasons to go to the gym. A well-trained body not only looks good, it also aids health and performance in all phases of life. For some, building up muscle mass does not happen quickly enough, so the question often arises as to what expectations are realistic.

If a muscle is put under more pressure than usual, it adapts to the new situation over time. Muscle hypertrophy occurs in response to the increased strain. As a result, more proteins are stored in the muscle fibres and the quantity of sarcomeres increases. Sarcomeres are the molecular functional units of the muscle without which muscle contraction would not be possible. If their number increases, the volume of muscle fibres rises, which increases their cross-section, and the entire muscle gains mass.

However, as soon as the strain on the muscle decreases, the body soon reduces the unused muscle mass once again. This dynamic process of building up and losing muscle mass serves as an efficient use of resources. On the one hand, this allows the muscles to adapt to the requirements. On the other, it prevents energy from being lost to unused capacity.

How quickly a person builds up muscle depends on a number of different factors. First of all, physical activity is the most important stimulus for growth. Muscle hypertrophy only occurs if muscle is exercised regularly. Besides training, nutrition plays a key role. Optimal muscle growth can only be achieved with sufficient energy and protein intake. A negative energy balance is counterproductive, as the body breaks down muscle during periods of deficit and thus mobilises energy reserves. Likewise, an adequate supply of proteins is also a key factor. Whereas an untrained adult needs about 0.8 g of protein per kilo of body weight per day, the daily requirement can more than double with regular training. Apart from training and nutrition, genes also determine how quickly muscles can be built up.

Under normal conditions, muscle gain can range from a few hundred grammes to about one kilo per month. However, due to large individual differences, success can vary significantly even under comparable conditions. As a rule, high growth rates can be achieved at the beginning, while the momentum decreases over time. The more advanced the muscle build-up, the more complex further growth becomes.

Those who train regularly want to see progress. On the one hand, the physical performance and the increase in strength can be measured. However, this does not allow us to draw unrestricted conclusions about muscle mass. Even weight is an inaccurate parameter as it does not say anything about whether fat mass and muscle mass are lost or gained. Weight gain through regular training does not automatically indicate muscle gain. With the wrong diet and an overall positive energy balance, the increased weight could be due to an increase in fatty tissue. Furthermore, weight is subject to measurable fluctuations depending on hydration status.

A simple and reliable method for measuring muscle mass is the bioelectric impedance analysis with the  seca mBCA . It analyses the body composition in just a few seconds and precisely measures fat and muscle mass as well as body water. Conclusions can be drawn from this information about training and nutritional state. The build-up of muscle mass can be monitored in a targeted manner by means of regular follow-up examinations.

However, the scope of application of the seca mBCA goes beyond merely documenting training successes. Making training progress visible not only increases motivation but also provides important information for evaluating and optimising training and nutrition, making the seca mBCA a useful tool for supporting targeted muscle building.

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