Is Gaining 10lbs Of Muscle A Lot? (before and after pics)

Is gaining 10lbs of muscle a lot

If you’re considering packing a substantial amount of mass onto a skinny frame, then you may be wondering what (if any) changes you will see to your body. I’ll explain whether or not gaining 10lbs (5kg) of muscle is considered to be a lot.

10 pounds of extra muscle weight is not a lot for men but it is substantial for women. The average male can gain around 40lbs, and the average female can gain around 20lbs, of lean mass in their lifetime of lifting weights. This is noticeable in both genders.

You can keep reading to find out what 10lbs of gained muscle looks like, how hard it is achieve, and how long you can expect to see results!

Visible differences from 10lbs of gained muscle.
What 10lbs of muscle gain look like on a 5 foot 6 inches male.

Key Takeaways

  • 10lbs (5kg) of gained muscle is not a lot for men but substantial for women.
  • It’s generally noticeable in most people and both genders.
  • Expect to see a visibly bigger and toned body after gaining 10lbs of muscle.
  • It takes around 3-6 months to build 10lbs of of pure lean mass.
  • Lift heavy weights and go on a bulking diet to ensure success.

10lbs Of Muscle Gain Before And After Photos

Gaining 10lbs of muscle may look different depending on your gender, natural frame, and current body composition.

Here are before and after photos showing what 10lbs of lean muscle looks like on a man:

What 10 pounds (5kg) of muscle gain looks like on a man before and after.
A progress photo from my personal 10lb muscle gain transformation as a skinny male beginner.

Here are before and after photos showing what 10lbs of lean muscle looks like on a woman:

What 10 pounds (5kg) of muscle gain looks like on a woman before and after.
Image source: this is a progress photo from The Great Khahn on Reddit who was a female beginner.

You can see that 10lbs of added muscle is visually noticeable in both men and women.

Most of the aesthetic improvements can be seen in the upper body, where you’ll probably develop an overall more toned and athletic-looking physique.

How Hard It Is to Gain 10lbs Of Muscle

Generally speaking, a beginner will not find it hard to put on 10 pounds (5kg) of muscle if they follow a good training and nutrition plan. The process will take up to 12-24 months. But trained individuals will find it much harder to gain an additional 10lbs of lean mass.

How I Gained 10+ lbs of Muscle in 3 Months..
Even skinny guys with a fast metabolism can gain 10lbs of muscle hassle-free by following a good program. Check out Jack Woodruff’s 10lbs skinny to muscular transformation!

Generally speaking, beginners will find it the easiest to build 10lbs (5kg) of muscle, compared to persons with previous training history.

That’s because the untrained muscles in beginners are particularly responsive to novel training stimuli.

As such, a novice can find their muscles growing at a rapid rate in the first 6-12 months or more of following a good workout plan (a phenomenon known as “Newbie Gains”).

Training ExperienceMenWomen

In comparison, a trained athlete will have a much harder time putting on 10lbs of lean mass since their muscles have already adapted.

Furthermore, you can also expect men to be able to put on 10lbs of muscle more easily compared to women.

That’s because men naturally have more muscle mass and produce higher levels of anabolic (muscle-building) hormones such as testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor.

You should also note that most people find it easier to gain muscle by lifting free weights (dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells), compared to bodyweight calisthenic workouts.

Taken together- both male and female beginners can realistically expect to put on 10lbs (5kg) of muscle mass by following a good training program.

But men will generally be able to do it much easier than women.

Why Gaining 10lbs Of Muscle Is Not A Lot

We all have a maximum lifetime potential for how much muscle can be gained. And your gender influences how much 10 pounds of gained muscle is considered to be:

GenderMaximum Lifetime Muscle Gains (approx). 10lbs Of Muscle As A Percentage Of Maximum Lifetime Muscle Gains

The average male can realistically expect to gain a maximum of ~40lbs muscle mass in his entire lifting lifetime. In comparison, the average female can expect to put on ~20lbs.

So generally speaking, to put on 10lbs of muscle is not if you are a man. In fact, it’s realistically possible to gain much more than this.

But it’s a considerable amount if you’re a woman. 10lbs represents ~50% of the total muscle gain you expect to achieve in your entire lifting lifetime.

It should also be noted that success in building 10 pounds of muscle relies heavily on consistent resistance training and following a good nutrition plan.

Noticeable Differences After Gaining 10lbs Of Muscle

10 pounds of added muscle looks highly noticeable in the average beginner. In terms of aesthetic differences, the upper body will likely broaden, become more toned, and clothes may fit higher. Functionally, the individual will notice significant strength improvements.

Noticeable differences you can expect to see after gaining 10lbs of muscle:

  • Bigger arms with noticeable tone.
  • Increased shoulder definition.
  • Broader chest and back.
  • First signs of visible six-pack abdominals.
  • More shapely legs and glutes.
  • Approximately 2-fold increase in strength.

It’s important to note that these are improvements that you can generally expect to see.

The visibility of muscle tone and definition is largely predicated on maintaining a low body fat percentage as you build muscle.

Additionally, most people will see the least visible differences in the lower body.

That’s because your legs are the largest muscle group in your body.

As a result, 10lbs of muscle gain here is not that visually stark, compared to the smaller muscles in the arms for example.

How Much Muscle Gain Is Noticeable

Most people will find that the first 1-3 pounds of muscle gain are noticeable.

Not all of your peers will see the positive differences that a few pounds of added muscle have on your body, but you’ll notice it when you look at yourself in the mirror.

After you’ve gained 10lbs, however, you’ll look much bigger and generally more athletic. At this point, you’re by no means “jacked”. But other people should notice the improvements to your physique.

It’s also important to realize that 10lbs of gained muscle may look different depending on your natural frame and body composition (see next).

Why Muscle Gain Looks Different On Everyone

Generally speaking, 10 pounds (5kg) of added muscle will look slightly different on different people. That’s because height, frame size, bone structure, and current body composition affect the visual appearance of muscle. Short and skinny males will notice 10lbs of gained muscle the most.

Here’s how each factor affects the final appearance of 10lbs of added muscle:

  • Tall people notice muscle gain less than short people. Taller people have a larger surface area on their body and this effectively “dilutes” the visual impact of gained muscle. Therefore added muscle mass looks slightly less pronounced on tall people compared to short people.
  • Mesomorphs notice muscle gain less than ectomorphs. People with a naturally wider frame also have a larger body surface area. And this means mesomorphs (those with a natural V-taper physique) will notice muscle gain less than ectomorphs (those with a natural pencil-like physique).
  • Thick-boned people notice added muscle the least. People with thick bones generally have larger limb diameters and a higher surface area. These people won’t notice visual muscle gains as much as people with thinner bones and a smaller limb surface area.
  • Lean individuals will notice added muscle the most. People who currently have a low body fat percentage will see greater muscle definition compared to those who have a higher amount of body fat.

Together, these factors come together to determine how visibly noticeable 10lbs of muscle will be on your own physique.

How Long It Takes To Gain 10lbs Of Muscle

The average person takes around 6 months to gain 10 pounds (5kg) of muscle. But the exact time required will be determined by gender, genetics, and effectiveness of the bulking program. Males who are disciplined in following an effective program will build muscle the fastest.

Why gaining 10lbs of muscle is not a lot and very realistic.

The Lyle-McDonald model is a widely accepted rate of muscle gain. This model proposes that a maximum of 1-2lbs of muscle can be gained per month as an untrained beginner.

Therefore it takes most people a minimum of half a year to put on 10lbs of lean mass

The rate of muscle gain also decreases with training experience. In other words, it follows the law of diminishing returns.

As such, gaining 10 pounds (5kg) of muscle may not be considered a lot for beginners, but it is for a trained athlete (e.g. someone who has been bodybuilding for many years).

In support of this, 86% of Quora and Reddit users agreed that it took them between 6-18 months to build their first 10lbs of muscle.

Reddit and Quora say it takes on average 6-12 months to build 10 pounds (5kg) of muscle.

These were predominantly male responses. Since females have almost 50% less muscle mass compared to men, it can also be inferred that they would take around 24 months to gain 10lbs of lean mass.

If you’re interested in more details, you can check out my timeline of expected results.

Difference Between 10lbs Of Muscle Vs Total Weight Gain

It’s important to know the difference between 10lbs of gained muscle weight vs total body weight.

The former refers to weight you put on through lean mass (excluding fat), whilst the latter includes lean and fat mass.

If you’re looking to put on 10lbs of total body weight fast (including muscle and fat), then you can achieve this in around 60 days.

Best Way To Realistically Gain 10lbs Of Muscle Fast

Gaining 10 pounds (5kg) of muscle is generally a realistic goal for most people. It requires a combination of eating surplus calories, a high protein intake, and intense resistance training. It should be noted, however, that men will build muscle faster than women.

How To Pack On 10lbs Of Muscle As A Hardgainer (STEP-BY-STEP PLAN)

Your diet should put you in a 10-20% calorie surplus. And protein intake should be approximately 1g per lb of body weight per day.

This is called a “bulking diet”.

When combined with an intense resistance training routine, you can maximize muscle gains. This should focus on progressive overloading on the compound lifts (e.g. bench press, shoulder press, rows, squats, and deadlifts).

This is how it’s possible for high outliers to gain 10lbs of muscle faster than the average person.


Gaining 10lbs of muscle is generally not a lot for men but it is for women.

Regardless of your gender, it is a realistic goal and you can expect to see visibly increased tone and muscle size.

Most male beginners take around 6 months to put on 10lbs of lean mass, whilst female beginners will require up to 24 months.

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 (with printables) I used to go from skinny to ripped!


I'm Kal (B.S, M.S)- a health & fitness writer and owner of Kalibre Fitness. I love to nerd out on weight training and nutrition. My primary interests are in muscle hypertrophy mechanisms and strength development. You can connect with me in the "Contact Us" section below!

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