What Is The Bodybuilding Natural Limit?

Day in and day out, in the gym, constantly hitting the weights and following a regular schedule. We are after only one thing – building muscle.

Folks spend years at the gym training long and hard. Building serious muscle, no doubt, is a long-term commitment.

It raises a tangential question at the same time – what is the bodybuilding natural limit? Here’s what you can expect to see as a natural bodybuilder:

  • First Month: 1-2 pounds per month.
  • First Year: 15-30 pounds in the first year.
  • Second Year: 10-15 pounds in the second year.
  • Third Year: 5 pounds of muscle growth in the third year and diminishing returns forward.

That certainly seems interesting. It seems weird the longer you bodybuild the less muscle you get. But, it’s quite more complicated than that- especially considering some of that muscle growth in your third year of bodybuilding can be the most important muscle.

Keep reading and we will cover these difficult topics.

The Concept of Natural Bodybuilding

Natural bodybuilding is the type of bodybuilding done 100% naturally. You eat, sleep, train, and put it on repeat.

It is supposed to be free of any kind of chemicals such as insulin, growth hormone injections, ‘roids, or any other similar substances that enhance your bodybuilding.

Natural bodybuilding yields much more organic results. The muscle gained stays on for longer, it takes less maintenance and gives off a much neater look.

Natural bodybuilding can be thought of as a movement within the bodybuilding community. Natural bodybuilders avoid all kinds of performance-enhancing drugs and rely on their diet, sleep, training and genetics alone to build muscle.

Now when it comes to building muscle, what are the upper limits of it? How much muscle can one gain? Let us take a look at it.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain?

Before we get into this topic it is important for you to understand that when it comes to bodybuilding, not everyone is the same. No matter how non-equality that might sound, it is the way things are.

The muscle you gain is dependent on several wide and encompassing factors including, but not limited to your training experience, gender, age, diet, and even genetics including many others. Still, even if you had the best of all those factors listed above, there is a natural as to how much lean muscle you can gain. 

The maximum amount of muscle you can gain is ultimately controlled by your genetic potential. After training over the years, you will at some point, hit that maximum limit.

On average, 200 lbs or about 90 kg is the maximum amount of muscle that most men can gain through sustained training over the years.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain in A Month?

The truth about this question is that it can be hard to calculate how much muscle you can gain in a month period or for any time period for that matter. The reason is the plethora of factors that affect muscle gain in any individual person. 

However, most healthy individuals can gain anywhere between 1 to 2 lbs of lean muscle mass per month.

Again, the amount of muscle you gain in any specific period of time will be dependent on multiple factors. The amount of 1 to 2 lbs should not be taken too strictly.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain in The First Year?

Predicting a yearly change than a monthly change is much easier. This is because over a longer period of time most bodybuilders tend to behave in a ‘more similar’ manner. The cycles of eating and exercise are more similar. 

Muscle growth is not always constant. At times, during muscular hypertrophy, the muscle growth is quite high, whereas when the muscles are undergoing muscular atrophy, the muscle growth is slow. The human growth hormone plays a dominant role in the growth of muscles. 

It is also to be noted that the first year is the most profitable period in terms of gaining muscle. The body gains the most muscle in the first year.

Especially if you have no prior training experience and are just starting out with the gym, you will find significant gains in the first few weeks itself.

In the end, we can safely say that during the first year of training, it is possible to gain up to 15 lbs of lean muscle mass, some people even report getting 30 lbs of lean muscle mass when they are a complete beginner! Remember that gaining weight and gaining muscle are two different things.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain In The Second Year?

Muscle growth shows a tendency to decrease with gain in muscle. What that means is, with time, as you gain muscle the amount of extra muscle you can gain decreases. If you remember in the beginning we talked about a natural limit, the 200lb/90 kg limit, as that limit is approached, marginal or yearly returns are reduced.

Simply means you are most likely to gain less lean muscle than you did in the first year. Research on the topic is limited but what we do have suggests an amount of 10 lbs in the second year. 

How Much Muscle Can You Gain in The Third Year?

The third-year sees even less direct muscle progress. For most men, gaining on a monthly basis in the third month is basically non-existent. Results are detectable over bi-monthly periods and most workout training goes into maintaining the already gained mass. 

Still, all hope is not lost, over the course of the third year, progress can be seen. On average, men tend to gain somewhere around 5 lbs of lean muscle mass. We know it is quite less as compared to the previous years but this is how muscle growth behaves in our bodies.

Although, don’t be discouraged- most people say this is the “muscle growth” that “matters”. This muscle is super noticeable when you start putting it on.


Muscle growth has always been a hot topic for bodybuilders and gym-goers.

Most people are surprised to learn that their bodies impose a genetic limit on how much mass they can gain.

Let’s recap on how much muscle growth you can get by year:

  • First Month: 1-2 pounds per month.
  • First Year: 15-30 pounds in the first year.
  • Second Year: 10-15 pounds in the second year.
  • Third Year: 5 pounds of muscle growth in the third year and diminishing returns forward.

Still, the goal of bodybuilding is not getting infinitely big but to craft into an aesthetically pleasing body what you have. Most builders push for their genetic maximum and try to maintain it.

Bodybuilding is a sport where you work harder and get even worse muscle growth, but that’s why bodybuilders are so admired. After those first two years it is very difficult to put on muscle, but that muscle is some of the most meaningful- the muscle that really ‘pops’    

Leave a Reply