How Long It Takes To Gain 10 Pounds Of Muscle

How Long Does It Take To Gain 10 Pounds Of Muscle As A Skinny Beginner?

Are you in the early stages of your weight gain journey? If so, then you may want to keep reading! Because today, I’ll be explaining how long it takes to gain 10 pounds of muscle as a skinny beginner.

The average beginner can take 6-18 months to gain 10lbs of muscle. The time required to add 10lbs of lean mass will be influenced by factors such as; current body composition, training level, training program effectiveness, and diet. Skinny beginners will gain muscle faster than experienced lifters.

There was one thing that frustrated me more than anything when I first began my journey to pack on 10lbs:

The number of programs out there that claimed to guarantee 10lbs of muscle in crazy short periods.

This post examines (with scientific evidence and case examples) how long it REALLY takes to gain your first 10lbs of lean mass.

Let’s jump straight in.

It took me 6 months to gain 10 pounds of muscle.
It took me 6 months to go from 125lbs (11% body fat) to 140lbs (13% body fat)

The Average Beginner Takes 1 Year To Gain 10 Pounds Of Muscle

The average beginner can take up to a year or more to gain 10lbs of muscle. Whilst some people may require 6-12 months to gain 10lbs of lean mass, others require 12-18 months. Therefore one year represents the median duration required to gain 10lbs of muscle.

Speaking from personal experience- it took me 4 months to gain 10lbs of total weight.

But some of this weight was from fat. It took another 2 months- 6 months total- to gain 10lbs of pure muscle weight.

But don’t just take my word for it.

I also compiled the responses from these Quora and Reddit threads to find out how long it took others to gain 10lbs of muscle.

What did I find?

It takes the average beginner 1 year to gain 10lbs of muscle.

86% of the Quora/Reddit users say it takes 6-18 months to gain 10lbs of muscle.

Of this 86%, 50% said that it took them half a year to reach their goal, whilst the other 50% said it took them 1 year to 1 and a half years.

So whilst the timeframe to gain 10 pounds of muscle seems to vary considerably between individuals, my findings suggest that it takes the majority of people 1 year on average to build 10 pounds of lean muscle.

Reasons Why Some People Find It Harder To Gain 10 Pounds Of Muscle

Common reasons why some people find it harder to gain 10lbs of muscle include; variations in training program effectiveness, ability to maintain diet discipline, training level, and genetics. Untrained beginners who follow an effective weight gain program can gain muscle the fastest.

From my research, I also compiled the most commonly cited reasons why there’s such a huge variation in the time required to gain 10 pounds of muscle:

  1. Ineffective workout program. The best workout plan to gain 10lbs has the perfect mix of compound movements, training days, and rest days. Number of sets, reps, weight, and progressive overload should also be accounted for.
  1. Inconsistent diet plan. It is essential to maintain a consistednt bulking diet to gain 10lbs of muscle mass. Those who are not consistent will take longer to build muscle.
  1. Not taking enough rest days. Muscle grows on rest days. So it’s imperative you give your body enough time to recover. Those who frequently overtrain will take much longer to gain 10 pounds of muscle.
  1. Not getting enough sleep. The muscle growth and repair process typically reaches peak levels during deep sleep. If you’re not getting your daily 7-9 hours, then it may take you longer to gain 10lbs.
  1. Trained individuals require more time to build muscle. Newbies can gain 10lbs of lean mass much quicker than asomeone with more training history, like a veteran bodybuilder. Likewise, a skinny dude will pack on mass faster than someone who is of average body weight.
  1. Unfavourable individual genetics. Type II fast twitch muscle fibres are more responsive to growth compared to type I slow twitch fibres. Hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone are also key drivers of hypertrophy. Both factors have a heavy genetic influence.

Can You Gain 10 Pounds Of Lean Muscle In A Month?

Generally speaking, it is unfeasible for the average person to gain 10lbs of lean muscle in one month. Although it is possible to gain 10lbs of the total weight in a month, inclusive of muscle and fat, gaining 10lbs through muscle mass alone is almost impossible.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain Training Natural Per Year???

Skip to 5:00- Greg proposes it takes the average person 1 year to gain 10lbs of muscle. But naturally skinny people can do it faster.


Whilst you may have come across numerous workout plans that claim to help you pack on 10lbs of muscle in 4 weeks, they are nothing more than clever marketing ploys to get us to buy into their product.

4 years ago I started to work full time on my weight gain journey as a beginner. I researched the heck out of the process and optimized my workout program and diet plan in every minute way possible. I also got advice from personal trainers, nutritionists, and ex-skinny guys who succeeded in gaining weight.

And you know what?

It still took me 6 months to gain 10lbs of lean muscle.

But don’t just take my word for it.

What does the scientific literature say?

Looking to pack on weight quickly? You might be interested in my other post which explains how it’s possible to gain 10lbs (5kg) in 2-3 days!

The Lyle MacDonald Model For How Long It Takes To Gain 10 Pounds Of Muscle

The Lyle MacDonald model for the maximum rate of muscle gains suggests it can take beginner 6+ months to gain 10lbs of muscle. This is based on the maximum potential muscle gain of 20-25lbs in the first year of undertaking a weight training program.

You can take a look at the Lyle McDonald model for muscle gain below:

Lyle is a physiologist, owner of, author, and a well-known thought leader in the field of muscle gain.

His model proposes that a newbie can gain a potential maximum of 20-25 pounds of lean muscle in their first year of training (assuming a good workout and nutrition plan).

This equates to approximately 2 pounds of muscle gain per month (or half a month to gain 1lb of muscle).

Furthermore, your muscle-gain journey is also affected by the law of diminishing returns.

Simply put- the longer you’ve been training the slower you build muscle.

This has been confirmed in a 2016 study that showed that experienced lifters saw a reduced rate of muscle gain of 2lbs in 2 months (or 1 month to gain 1lb of muscle).

It’s for this very reason why bodybuilders will work for years just to squeeze out those additional few pounds of muscle gains.

Taking this information together, you might begin to understand how absurdly ambitious it is to try and build 10lbs of muscle in the space of 1 month!

If you do decide to proceed to undertake this impossible bulking feat, you should be aware that you risk putting on a lot of weight through body fat and water retention.

You can check out my other article to learn how it can be possible to gain 10lbs of muscle in 3 to 5 months.

Signs You Are Gaining 10lbs Weight Through Muscle And Not Fat:

  1. Weight gain without visual fat gain. If you’re gaining weight with minimal signs of fat gain, then you’re on track. I use a cheap body fat caliper like this Sequioa Fitness (you can find the cheapest price here) to make sure I’m not storing excessive fat.
  1. Muscuar strength increases. If you’re getting stronger, especially on the big lifts (bench press, squat, deadlift, etc), then this is a good sign you are gaining weight through muscle and not fat.
  1. Grip strength increases. Grip strength increases as you get stronger on most weight training movements. I use a cheap dynamometer like this GripX digital (you can see the reviews here) to track my grip strength.
  1. Increased limb diameter. If you’re arms/legs/chest are getting thicker and wider, then this is a good sign that you’re building muscle.
  1. Positive peer feedback. 10lbs of muscle is highly noticeable on most people. And your friends will likely notice your muscle gains before you do.
  1. Clothes begin to feel tight. Your t-shirts should begin to feel tighter around the sleeve and chest regions if you’re gaining weight through muscle.

You may also be interested in my other article for more signs that you are gaining muscle (males and females).

Why Does It Take So Long To Build Muscle?

Building muscle takes a long time because food needs to be consumed and digested over extended periods. This allows the body to convert calories and protein into muscle. Additionally, consistent weight training over the long term is also required to provide a sufficient stimulus for muscle growth.

To give you a better idea, you can take a look at the simplified hypertrophy process below:

Why does it take so long to build muscle and gain 10lbs?
  1. Intense resistance training induces microtears in your muscle.
  2. Body initiates a post-workout repair response.
  3. Muscle grows back larger and stronger.

For the body to repair your muscle into a stronger state, requires energy and resources.

And this comes mainly from calories and protein.

This is a slow process since it takes time for your body to digest your food and extract the calories/protein it requires.

But the issue is further compounded by the fact that your body can only absorb around 25g of protein per meal.

You should also be aware that the body needs to have rest days for the repair response to build muscle.

This means you can’t just train 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, and hope to speed up the process.

In other words, your body has its upper limit to how responsive it is to training and therefore also has a natural cap on the maximum rate of muscle gain.

This is sometimes referred to as your natural muscular potential.

The hormonal response to weight training is also a relatively slow process.

It can take weeks to months of heavy training to maximize your body’s production of testosterone and growth hormone (the two drivers of muscle growth).

These factors combined mean the muscle-building process cannot just happen overnight.

It takes months of consistent training and eating to see significantly noticeable changes in your physique.

You can check out my other article to find out how noticeable 10 pounds of muscle gain actually is.

How To Gain 10lbs Of Muscle Faster As A Skinny Guy

With all this information taken to mind, here’s how you can ensure the fastest time to gain 10 pounds of muscle as a skinny person:

How a skinny beginner can gain 10lbs of muscle faster.
  1. Consume sufficient daily calories. Aim to eat 5-15% more than your maintenance calories to give your body enough fuel to build muscle. You should also reduce the amount of cardio you’re doing to facillitate a caloric surplus.
  1. Maintain a high daily protein intake. Eat 1-1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight. Additionally, your calories and protein should be spread over 4-6 meals per day to give your body a cosntant supply of nutrients.
  1. Choose a good protein powder to help you reach nutriton targets. I use the MyProtein Impact Whey (you can find the full nutrition details here). Each serving costs 30 cents and contains 21g of protein and 100 calories.
  1. Do heavy compound lifting. Go heavy on big exercises like the bench press, shoulder press, row, squat, and deadlift. This is the easiest way to ensure a suffciient training stimulus to the whole body.
  1. Use an effective training split. Choose a program that works the entire body. The ideal training frequency is 2 times per muscle group per week. This hits the sweetspot for muscular hypertrophy.
  1. Plan your sucess over a long-term. You should know by now that the process to gaining 10 pounds of muscle won’t come quick. Accepting this can help motivate you, keep you diciplined, and maintain your dedication

You might also be interested in my other article for full details on the essential steps to gaining your first 10 pounds of lean muscle.

Looking To Build 10lbs Of Muscle At Home?

It’s completely possible for a beginner to gain 10lbs of lean mass at home without having to go to the gym.

If you’re interested, here’s the setup I used and recommend.


I’ve explained how long it takes to gain 10 pounds of muscle.

For the average beginner, it can take up to a year, and sometimes even longer, to pack on 10lbs of lean mass.

If you’re someone like me, who is naturally very skinny, then the process can be as quick as 6 months assuming you follow good hypertrophy practices like lifting heavy weights and eating enough food.

But one thing’s for sure- don’t expect to gain 10lbs in anything less than 3 months!

What timeframe are you setting yourself to gain 10lbs of muscle?

Let me know in the comments!

You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!

Thanks for reading guys!

Peace Out,


(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)

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