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How long would it take me to gain 3 lbs of muscle?

I'm going to start hitting the gym in order to trade 3 lbs of body fat for 3 lbs of muscle. According to my scale I'm currently sitting at 20.8% BF and have 27 lbs of fat on me. Swapping out 3 lbs would leave me at like 18.5% with nice tone, which I think is my ideal goal. So suppose I lift three times a week... how long do you suppose it would it take a female in her early 30s to reach that goal? For reference, I have never been muscular.
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Replies

  • TitaniaEcks
    TitaniaEcks Posts: 351 Member
    AJ_G wrote: »
    If you're trying to recomp at maintenance, it would take a painfully long time. You'd be better doing a slow bulk and gaining 5 to 10 lbs, then cutting that weight back down slowly. It would be much more efficient that way.

    Well, haha, that will literally never happen, so let's proceed with the knowledge that I intend to stay at this weight and will deal with the drudgery that entails.
  • StealthHealth
    StealthHealth Posts: 2,417 Member
    edited June 2016
    I knid of agree with @AJ_G that you would be better concentrating on muscle gain or fat loss (my experience of re-comp is that I achieve neither over even quite long time frames) but would argue that you're better cutting then bulking.

    That would seem unpalatable for OP so I would guesstimate >12 weeks (0.25 lb per week?) for re-comp.

    What may be in your favor though is that you are new to the gym. Anecdotally, people seem to do much better at re-comp when gym newbies.

    Additional note: the %BF numbers that you are working from - they come from a %BF scale? If so, they are very inaccurate and susceptible to large fluctuations based on water retention, so treat with caution.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,059 Member
    1lb a month would be good going but it will vary enormously from person from person but as a beginner you will add muscle as the fastest rate you ever will do.

    What routine are you doing? It all starts with your training.

    The charts from Alan Aragon & Lyle McDonald embedded in the article below are for men, so halve the numbers as a woman.

    http://www.builtlean.com/2011/10/13/how-fast-can-you-build-muscle-5-factors-that-affect-muscle-growth/

  • EvgeniZyntx
    EvgeniZyntx Posts: 24,373 Member
    To gain 3 lbs of muscle you are looking at a possible period of 3-6 months of progressive lifting (initially you are actually just focusing on neuromuscular adaptation) and do it with a small slow bulk and like it has been stated - 5-10 lb gain followed by a cut.

    If you want to do it at the same weight with the "drudgery" it's going to take 6-12 months.
  • TitaniaEcks
    TitaniaEcks Posts: 351 Member
    To answer all of you, I don't have any routine planned out yet and will be consulting a trainer. My BF% on my scale doesn't wary widely from weigh-in to weigh-in and has stayed in the upper decimals of 20% for a while now. And 3 or even 6 months doesn't sound that bad at all... I was expecting worse...
  • EvgeniZyntx
    EvgeniZyntx Posts: 24,373 Member
    To answer all of you, I don't have any routine planned out yet and will be consulting a trainer. My BF% on my scale doesn't wary widely from weigh-in to weigh-in and has stayed in the upper decimals of 20% for a while now. And 3 or even 6 months doesn't sound that bad at all... I was expecting worse...

    Add to that the time to ramp up and learn how to lift.
  • SparklySarah412
    SparklySarah412 Posts: 74 Member
    AJ_G wrote: »
    If you're trying to recomp at maintenance, it would take a painfully long time. You'd be better doing a slow bulk and gaining 5 to 10 lbs, then cutting that weight back down slowly. It would be much more efficient that way.

    This would be my advice too. When I first started lifting last year I spent 6 agonising months trying to recomp with very little to show for it in the end. Although I did get stronger and certainly gained some definition in my arms and shoulders, I felt like I was just treading water in terms of losing that last bit of extra fat I was carrying around my middle.

    I decided to try a bulk and cut approach instead at the start of the year and I'm loving the results, it's so much more satisfying doing it this way. Yes, you do put weight on initially but you end up looking better quicker than if you just plodded along in recomp for the same amount of time.
  • rempejeff
    rempejeff Posts: 46 Member
    You can gain it you just have to make sure you eat right as well. And don't give up.
  • rybo
    rybo Posts: 5,431 Member
    Although I'm in the minority, I much prefer a recomp than bulk/cut cycling. As to how long is going to take, that's tricky to predict.
  • robininfl
    robininfl Posts: 1,137 Member
    It's well-nigh impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I agree with the majority here, gain the muscle, if your body is like mine, that will add your 3lb muscle and 1lb fat, then work on losing that 1lb of fat. Or lose weight first to make room for the muscle you want to add. It's hard hard to grow muscle without, well, growing. Especially if you are already lean.
  • Hornsby
    Hornsby Posts: 10,325 Member
    Will this be your first time lifting? Or have you already been lifting?

    I'm a fan of recomps. It sounds like you are already generally happy with the way you look and aren't in a rush, which to me sounds like a good time to recomp if you aren't in a rush. That's where I was at and have been recomping rather successfully for three years. That being said, yea, it'll be slow.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,059 Member
    edited June 2016
    robininfl wrote: »
    It's well-nigh impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I agree with the majority here, gain the muscle, if your body is like mine, that will add your 3lb muscle and 1lb fat, then work on losing that 1lb of fat. Or lose weight first to make room for the muscle you want to add. It's hard hard to grow muscle without, well, growing. Especially if you are already lean.
    @robininfl
    Sorry but the bold is completely wrong. Recomposition is a totally normal reaction to stimulus, faster in people new to training but still happens even in trained individuals.
    It's still worked for me in my 50's after decades of training.

    The cult of bulk/cut is getting ridiculous!
    It used to be the sole preserve of body builders and now people seem to think human physiology has changed and everyone under the sun has to do it even with very modest goals and no time imperative. Potty!
  • AJ_G
    AJ_G Posts: 4,159 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    robininfl wrote: »
    It's well-nigh impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I agree with the majority here, gain the muscle, if your body is like mine, that will add your 3lb muscle and 1lb fat, then work on losing that 1lb of fat. Or lose weight first to make room for the muscle you want to add. It's hard hard to grow muscle without, well, growing. Especially if you are already lean.

    The cult of bulk/cut is getting ridiculous!

    I like how you think it's a cult lol. It's scientifically factual. There is an energy cost associated with building muscle mass and your body will build muscle much more readily when surplus energy is available. If you think that's cultish, then I worry for you lol.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,273 Member
    edited June 2016
    AJ_G wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    robininfl wrote: »
    It's well-nigh impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I agree with the majority here, gain the muscle, if your body is like mine, that will add your 3lb muscle and 1lb fat, then work on losing that 1lb of fat. Or lose weight first to make room for the muscle you want to add. It's hard hard to grow muscle without, well, growing. Especially if you are already lean.

    The cult of bulk/cut is getting ridiculous!

    I like how you think it's a cult lol. It's scientifically factual. There is an energy cost associated with building muscle mass and your body will build muscle much more readily when surplus energy is available. If you think that's cultish, then I worry for you lol.

    There are plenty of studies showing the recomp effect. I've yet to see a study indicating thathat recomp is impossible or close to it.
  • LaMartian
    LaMartian Posts: 476 Member
    It also depends on how long you've been lifting. If you haven't been lifting for months / years, you can gain that much in a month. If you've been lifting nonstop for 3 years, it could take six months or more.
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,059 Member
    AJ_G wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    robininfl wrote: »
    It's well-nigh impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I agree with the majority here, gain the muscle, if your body is like mine, that will add your 3lb muscle and 1lb fat, then work on losing that 1lb of fat. Or lose weight first to make room for the muscle you want to add. It's hard hard to grow muscle without, well, growing. Especially if you are already lean.

    The cult of bulk/cut is getting ridiculous!

    I like how you think it's a cult lol. It's scientifically factual. There is an energy cost associated with building muscle mass and your body will build muscle much more readily when surplus energy is available. If you think that's cultish, then I worry for you lol.

    Thanks, I understand the science very well.
    I also understand that it's totally ridiculous for everyone to do bulk / cut cycles. Just as it would be wrong to suggest recomp is suitable for everyone. Individual goals and capabilities should determine strategy not herd mentality.

    Have a stab at estimating how much difference in percentage terms being in the typical slow bulk mode of half a pound a week weight gain will make. That's just 10 - 11 calories an hour extra by the way. Whoopeee!
  • rileyes
    rileyes Posts: 1,393 Member
    I like the idea of choosing a compound lifting program to build a strong base. That can take several months for me. I get best visual results from lifting heavy sets/reps. I eat at maintenance or slightly above to nourish the muscles to help them grow.
  • AJ_G
    AJ_G Posts: 4,159 Member
    jemhh wrote: »
    AJ_G wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    robininfl wrote: »
    It's well-nigh impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. I agree with the majority here, gain the muscle, if your body is like mine, that will add your 3lb muscle and 1lb fat, then work on losing that 1lb of fat. Or lose weight first to make room for the muscle you want to add. It's hard hard to grow muscle without, well, growing. Especially if you are already lean.

    The cult of bulk/cut is getting ridiculous!

    I like how you think it's a cult lol. It's scientifically factual. There is an energy cost associated with building muscle mass and your body will build muscle much more readily when surplus energy is available. If you think that's cultish, then I worry for you lol.

    There are plenty of studies showing the recomp effect. I've yet to see a study indicating thathat recomp is impossible or close to it.

    Where in any of my posts did I say that recomping is impossible or close to it? All I said was that it's painfully slow relative to the traditional bulk/cut, which it absolutely is. Yes recomping can be effective given enough time, and yes it is a good option for those who are afraid to put on weight during a bulk, but it's also the absolute slowest way to gain muscle, that's all I'm saying.
  • singingflutelady
    singingflutelady Posts: 8,739 Member
    LaMartian wrote: »
    It also depends on how long you've been lifting. If you haven't been lifting for months / years, you can gain that much in a month. If you've been lifting nonstop for 3 years, it could take six months or more.

    A women isn't going to gain 3 lbs of muscle in a month