There are various models to estimate the potential amount of muscles that an individual can put in a given period of time. The numbers change with regard to the years of training, or rather, the level of  experience of the individual. All models assume that the individual follows adequate training and adequate diet.

I used the word “potential” because the amount and speed with which an individual can put on muscle depends a lot on his genetics. There are those who in 1 or 2 years can get a nice muscular body, and those who will have to take even 4 or 5 years before getting the physique of his dreams. As we often say in this environment, the best way to guarantee maximum muscle growth is to choose your parents well.

In this article we will go to see the models of the following authors:

Lyle McDonald
Alan Aragon
Martin Berkhan

Lyle McDonald’s model

The model used by Lyle McDonald to predict muscle growth is based on absolute values, so it does not take into account the height and weight of the individual.

The gains in muscle mass are related to the years of training. The values ​​are shown below in the table:

Years of appropriate training Potential annual muscle growth
1 20-25lbs (~9-12kg)
2 10-12lbs (~4-5kg)
3 5-6lbs (~2,5kg)
4+ 2-3lbs (~1kg)

As Lyle McDonald himself specifies, these are approximate average values, assuming adequate training and diet for the individual.

This means that if an individual has been training for 4 years incorrectly, once he starts to train properly, he can achieve great gains in terms of muscle growth.

I further emphasize that these are average values, they can vary a lot between different individuals due to different genetics.

Alan Aragon’s model

Unlike Lyle McDonald, Alan Aragon’s model uses values ​​related to the weight of the subject. This always assuming adequate training and diet. The values ​​are shown below in the table:

Experience level Estimated muscle growth
Beginner + 1-1.5% of one’s body weight per month
Intermediate + 0.5-1% of one’s body weight per month
Advanced + 0.25% -0.5% of one’s body weight per month

Instead of years of training, Alan Aragon divides the subjects into categories. Normally beginner subjects are those who trained from 0 to 1 year, intermediate those who trained for 3-4 years, advanced those who trained for 4 years or more.

Martin Berkhan’s model

Martin Berkhan’s model, instead of estimating the amount of muscle that can be put per year, estimates the maximum amount of muscle attainable relative to his height. The data were derived from his observations of high-level natural bodybuilding athletes. The formula below indicates the maximum weight attained at bf% competition levels, or about 4-5%: Height in cm – 100 = maximum weight in kg at competition bf levels. Some example values ​​are shown below in the table:

Height (cm) Weight at 5% of BF (kg) Weight at 10% BF (kg)
170 70 75
180 80 84
190 90 94

Martin Berkhan’s model is based on the observations of high-level bodybuilding athletes, this presupposes good genetics, and 10+ years of gym experience.


These values ​​are all estimates, and as such they must be taken as a reference only and not as absolute truth. The difference between individuals can be enormous, so once started, better rely on your own path and progress. It is still important to set realistic goals, aware that you cannot put 5kg or more of muscle every year.