So, how long does it take to build muscle? Well, there are a few factors to consider:
- How long you’ve been training
- The type of training you’re doing
- The amount of training you’re doing
When you first start training, neural adaptations come first before changes in the actual muscle tissue. Essentially, what this means, is that the nerve that controls a muscle improves its efficiency of control. So, with the same stimulus, more of the muscle is recruited during a contraction resulting in faster strength gains. Plus, you also get improved synchronization of the nerve, which results in more of the muscle contracting at the same time to improve the strength output.
You see more of this change in people who are newer to training. This occurs before you see structural changes in the muscle, such as increased size. You also get changes in the brain and spinal cord as you learn different movement patterns. As you learn a movement pattern, the firing in the brain becomes more efficient to improve the recruitment of the muscle.
Neural adaptations come before changes in muscle tissue.
Muscular growth, or hypertrophy, requires changes in the actual muscle tissue. The body will produce more proteins that make up the muscle tissue. This process takes time and involves many hormones and proteins. This process is stimulated by exercise and the rate of protein synthesis is increased after exercise for 48 hours.
The rate of increase in development of these proteins vary based on the exercise stimulus, nutrition, and several other factors. All in all, it takes 6-8 weeks to see changes in the actual muscle since these processes take time and consistent training. This process is repeated over time, and is continued with the continued stimulus of training for even more gains.
True and lasting changes in strength of a muscle take about 6-8 weeks.
If you’ve been training for a while, be patient and consistent in your training so you can see those true changes!
Reference: Haff, Triplett, N. T., & National Strength & Conditioning Association. (2016). Essentials of strength training and conditioning (Fourth edition.). Human Kinetics.
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Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.