The Reality Of Building Muscle As A Natural Lifter

The Reality Of Building Muscle As A Natural Lifter

What’s up, guys. Sean Nalewayj here,
and today I want to discuss one very important principle that natural lifters really should
be aware of and understand. I did touch on this in the previous video
but I wanted to expand on the concept a little bit here. And that is the law the diminishing returns
that you’ll experience as you progress from one year of training to the next. In other words, it’s the simple fact that
the longer you’ve been properly training and the more muscle you’ve gain, the more
your rate of muscle growth will naturally slowed down. And the longer it will take to continue building
additional muscle. Remember that your body doesn’t actually
want to hold on to all these excess muscle that you’re trying to build. Muscle requires a lot of energy and resources
to built and maintained, so your body has genetic limits in place to prevent you from
gaining too much. And as you get further and further away from
your natural set point, and your body is holding on to more and more of this extra muscle,
the harder and harder it starts pressing on the brakes to stop things from going to an
excessive level. So it’s not going to be a linear process
where since you gain, say fifteen pounds of muscle mass in the first year, that you should
then expect to gain fifteen more pounds in the second year and another fifteen in the
third year. It’s not going to work that way. And expecting that it is going to work that
way is not only going to set you up for disappointment, obviously, but it can actually be directly
counterproductive to your results. And that’s because if you’re expecting
to just continue replicating your rate of muscle growth form all the previous period
up to this point, because you think that process is supposed to be a straight line, but then
the scale isn’t going up in the way you expected or you’re not seeing a visible
gains in the way you expected it makes you liable to start pushing the envelope with
your training and your diet in a way that can actually have real negative consequences. Getting carried away in the gym in terms of
volume and intensity is one possibility which could lead to injury, but the other more common
one is that you’ll go overboard on your food intake trying to maintain that linear
rate of muscle gain. And you’ll end up putting an excessive amount
of fat as a result. You’ll think you’re putting on muscle
but the actual ratio of muscle to fat gain will be far less than ideal, let’s say. And this is something that happened to me
personally as a beginner/intermediate because I just didn’t understand this concept and
I way over estimated how much muscle I was actually capable of building within a certain
timeframe. So I was literally just stuffing myself with
food all day long, thinking that I was supposed to just keep building more and more muscle
at the same pace all the way through. And as you can guest, I ended up putting on
a very significant amount of body fat as a result. And then when I did cut later on, I realize
that the amount of actual muscle I have build relative to how much weight I have gained
was way less than I thought it was. So always keep in mind that your muscle building
journey will be a game of diminishing returns and it’s very important to understand this
so that you have realistic expectation about how the process works, and so that you can
stay patient and so that you don’t do anything crazy with your training or your diet to try
to excessively speed up the process and end up fat or injured as the result of that. Or fat and injured, which would be quite a
sad combination. When you first start out lifting, you’ll
make gains relatively quickly because weight training will be a brand new stimulus for
your body and because you won’t be carrying a lot of muscle to begin with. And as your body becomes more and more accustomed
to training and it’s being forced to divert its resources on to building and maintaining
more and more muscle, the process will naturally slowed down. I did cover this in another video and this
just a rough approximation, but assuming you’re following a proper training and nutrition
plan and you’re remaining consistent with it. And you’re starting once you’re fully
grown and from a normal healthy body weight then you’ll probably reach about 50% of
your noticeable genetic muscle building potential within the first year of training. And then from there it will decrease by about
half for every year after that. Again, this is just a ballpark figure, so
don’t put too much stock in it. It could be 40%, it could be 55%, no one can
say for sure. But when you consider that most natural lifters
will max out the vast majority of the total noticeable muscle mass your body is capable
of building within about three to five years of proper training and nutrition that would
be a reasonable guideline to go by. So in other words, out of a hundred percent
of your genetic potential you’ll reach about 50% after year one, maybe around 75% after
year two, 85-90% after year three. And then after four years and beyond you’d
be right up near your natural limit, which for guys with average genetics would probably
be somewhere around thirty pounds of total lean muscle mass give or take. Maybe twenty pounds for those slightly below
average, maybe forty for those with good genetics but somewhere around that thirty pound mark
for the average lifter. And for women, take those figures and cut
them by toughly half. It’s not that you can’t build more muscle
after four or five years of training. You certainly can. But it’s just that the rate of growth will
slow down very, very sharply. Now, I know that some people don’t want
to believe this or they think it’s just a negative limiting believe, and you can achieve
anything you set your mind to, but this is just a fact of how the process works. And it’s a fact of how the builds muscle. There are genetic limits in place that influence
how fast you can gain muscle and how much muscle you can build in total as a natural
lifter. And you’re going to be far better off both
physically and mentally if you maintain realistic expectations with this. Otherwise you just going to end up feeling
constantly disappointed and you might end up doing things in the gym or in the kitchen
that are actually counterproductive to your physique. By all means, set big goals if that’s what
you’re after and train hard and focus on your nutrition to maximize your own potential
if that’s what you’re trying to do. But at the same time, maintain a down to earth
outlook and understand that the more progress you achieve the more your overall rate of
progress will slow down. And as a natural lifter, once you’re passed
that three or four year mark, assuming you’ve done things properly and have made a significance
gains by that point, it’s best to really allow your patience to kick into gear, be
proud of what you’ve achieved and then start thinking more in terms of a slower, gradual
long term approach for continued progress over the longer term. So I hope this was helpful, guys. If you want to get a complete step-by-step
plan to help you maximize your genetic muscle building potential in the most efficient way
possible. Including fully structured workout plans,
meal plans, supplement guides and one-on one coaching, make sure to head over to
and grab my complete Body Transformation Blueprint System. You can do that by clicking up here at the
top of the screen, or by using the link in the description box. If you enjoyed the video, as always, make
sure to hit the like button, leave a comment and subscribe to stay up to date on future
videos. You can also check out my official blog over
at for all of my latest updates. And you can follow me social media here if
you aren’t already. Thanks for watching, guys. And I’ll see you in the next video.

100 Replies to “The Reality Of Building Muscle As A Natural Lifter”

  1. If I could only watch one fitness channel on YouTube it would be yours. Always appreciate your guidance. Thanks Sean!

  2. Only 40-50 pounds?? When I started  I weighed 128 pounds and now after 2 years of lifting I weigh 194 pounds, I am a bit fatter but lets say I drop 20 pounds I'll be even leaner than I was when I started. So I'd say I've put around 44 pounds of muscle in 2 years. But I've also started when I was 16 so I guess I've also grown in body size.

  3. Great video Sean! Could you do a video on mind muscle connection since I am having some trouble isolating my chest when doing bench press.

  4. Please stfu twig I always see this shit everywhere. If you want to bulid muscle then overtrain. When I mean overtrain I don't mean when you sore some shit I mean doing it EVERY DAY! PUSH harder than yesterday and eat like a king, THEN come back to me and tell you ain't growing. You will, you won't do it though you won't.

  5. Hi Sean, I've always had a question concerning "newbie" gains. If you're at 18% bf and you decide to cut first and get down to 10-12%, does that mean you won't make these explosive newbie gains since you'll be in a deficit for the first 3 or so months of lifting, which is when the most substantial newbie gains would be made if you were in a surplus?

    And then when you switch to a lean bulk, will you have already missed your opportunity to capitalize on the best newbie gains, since you were eating in a deficit for the first several months when the training stimulus was totally novel? Or, when you switch to a lean bulk, even though you technically aren't a rank beginner anymore, will you still be able to experience dramatic muscle growth in that first year of training? Thanks

  6. I have been training for 2.5 years and i am 19. But isn't 24 the age when you can reach your maximum genetic potential in terms of size or is that a myth, can you reach your genetic potential earlier?

  7. Hello Sean. Have been running through your videos for the last couple of weeks since I found your channel. Just want to confirm the "no BS" channel status and thank you for what you do. Really surprised by number of your subscribers. Should be much more. Started scrupulous calories account yesterday.)

  8. Do all creatine monohydrate supplements have the same effect or do some benefit you more based or brand etc ?

  9. But what about going to failure as a natural lifter when trying to build muscle? Do you still believe that going to failure is the optimal way for building muscle as a natural lifter?

  10. years of PROPER training is the key thing there..because a lot of people who train sub-optimally (which is what the average Joe in the gym is doing), will be watching this who have trained for several years and they will think that they are near their natural limit..

    for a lot of people it takes them 3-4 years to even max out their noob gains.

  11. Sean I have a question, should I be able to put on size on a muscle that is very much undertrained, even though I'm 6 years into lifting consistently? For example, I never trained rear delts in isolation consistently, as well as traps and abs. After 6 years can I still grow like a new gainer for these muscles are new to being trained? Thanks!


    This should be your goal. Is he natty? Probs not. Is it obtainable natty? Probs not. But it is the perfect goal physique.Maybe a few will obtain. Obvious genetc differneces aside. This is attractive, beefy, and a 500 pound bench, 6-700 pound squat, 800 pound dead lift physique. eat like a man, act like a man, fuck like a man, be a man.

  13. that's weird, I'm pretty sure I gained about 30 lbs and I'm about 10-15% body fat; In just 10 months, I haven't even got on any supplements yet. I'm from 100 lbs. So I kinda refuse to believe 30-40 lbs is the gonna be the limit for natties.

  14. Sean gives the realistic and down to earth advice; let's you skip all the bro science and hype bullshit. Give him a like and subscribe.

  15. is it possible to maximize one's genetic mucles mass by training well but over eating? still, im talking about eating quality food like oats, chicken, beef, etc, not junk. like what happens if you train consistently and well, eat also well, sleep well etc. but instead of eating say a portion of chicken that satisfies your body needs you eat 2 portions just cause you feel like… my guess is you will also gain some fat, but is it possible to max your muscularity even then ?

  16. I know I have good genetics for muscle gains. Just gotta get motivated to lift! My mom was awarded strongest woman in the county (not country) she was living in and my dad and mom both trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger for a while when he was younger. How can I get motivated to start?! I'm 32 already and losing time!

  17. Does this rate of muscle development apply to someone who's been in a caloric deficit on average for the entire time they've been training? So for instance, I was 210 lbs (5ft9, fat and sedentary), I started lifting in October 2015, only started adhering to a program from May 2016 and only started tracking my lifts properly since October 2016. This entire time I've been gradually losing weight, to where I am now 140 lbs and pretty lean.

    I've never bulked or been in a 'mass gaining phase', I've acquired my newbie gains and have been holding onto muscle while losing fat since then basically. Have I really already achieved 50% of my muscular potential, or are these rates of progression based on the assumption that you've been gaining weight during this time???

  18. That's true. Been training for 4 years and I don't see results anymore. Constantly considering steroids and been researching it for months.

  19. Very truthful video, its taking me 5 years to gain 5-6 lbs of muscle.. I have been training 16 years now and still enjoy every part of this journey called natural bodybuilding even if the gains are slow and I'm making millimetre muscle gains over the years it makes me happy to know i achieved my shit through nothing but had work.

  20. If you are naturally big, you will gain more muscle in general.. If not, you still will but not so quickly and not so much at once…

  21. One question im 16 years old im not big and have just started. Do u think i have already reached my setpoint of muscle?

  22. Ive been training for 6 years, gained a lot at first , then levelled out, then didn't really seem to gain and I also looked like I put on weight etc ,but last year I started to gain muscle again and lose fat, I started eating less but better quality and gave up alcohol at the weekend etc and I'm now 45…

  23. Food don't make you fat . Junk food makes you fat!! I pass my genetic potential when I wasn't working for 2 years, all I did train,eat,sleep and repeat.

  24. Very good video on point with your points I've been a bodybuilder for 20 years and I started out natty. And I will say unless you're competing you should stay natty. But my first about 5 years I was natty and it does come fairly fast at first but it does tapper off. As I said if I wasn't competing I would have stayed natty. But this is a great video very informative for the younger guys or new guys.

  25. I can confirm this from my own experience of serious bodybuilding for 5 years, 4-5 times a week, 1 hour to 2 hours each time, when I was younger. I went from 155 pounds of body weight to 172 pounds the first two years, than it took me 3 years to go to 178 pounds at about 11% body fat. I am almost 5'9'' of height by the way. Actually Arnold Schwarzenegger said the same thing in his training advice that a natural bodybuilder would make about 2 to 3 pounds of lean muscle mass gains per year of training. So natural bodybuilders should prepare mentally for this reality. A natural bodybuilder reaches a nice level of muscle maturity for competition value over about 8 years of natural training. So it is an easy way to spot fake naturals.

  26. i have been training for 3 years or so and my diet i wasn't tracking any of my calories. i hardly look much different from three years ago so does that mean i completely have wasted my muscle building potential? or will my muscle building potential start when i begin to follow a proper nutrition plan?

  27. I started lifting in 2012
    I’m 5’6: Started a skinny 134.5lbs

    I started powerlifting in 2014 when i was 156lbs

    Right now: I’m 178.6lbs with 14-15% bodyfat.

    Is this good or bad genetics.

  28. All these videos are all lies man the only way to get fit is steroids I worked out for two years and ain't gained no make and the only thing I lost was time no weight change or nun

  29. I was really lucky in my life when it came to gaining muscle. Without realising it, I took advantage of the body's growth spurts and did bulk and power training at the right times. Between ages 17 and 18 I followed a 4-month program in Iron Man and gained 30 pounds. That's the time in a young man's life when he changes physically from a boy into a man.
    Then I gained NO more muscle until age 24 when I decided it as time to make my move and I did breathing squats, bench presses and bent over rowing for three months and gained 25 more pounds, but some of that was fat. The final growth spurt we undergo is at age 24 when we "fill out" as they used to say.
    In the intervening years I trained my guts out with pretty much no gains at all. Then at age 30, after being a Powerlifter since age 25, I again used breathing squats to gain weight to move up into the 125kg class. Of course a lot of the weight gained was fat as well as muscle, but the increased leverage and body mass enabled me to become as strong as some of the lower dose steroid munchers! Now, I look like your typical heavyweight powerlifter from the days before rampant steroid use . . generous waistline, barrel chest, big arms, etc . . but that's just fine with me. I was puny as a kid and now I'm not. No interest in bodybuilding, just maintaining size. Sean is right when he says your body will try and shed what it considers to be excess size.

  30. So if I figured out where my nubie gains slowed or diminished….stop working out for a month or two…so when I start again I will have reset the newbie gain clock…been working out for 8 months now and gained 18lbs of muscle at 43 yo

  31. guys there is a question that i cant find its answer in Youtube
    its that for a natural lifter , if you stop lifting for like a month or more do you lose all your muscles or you stay the same as you were ?

  32. Look I am 61 years of age now, and I am still reasonably muscular at 5'11, and I weigh around 250 lbs…There is way too much thinking into this nonsense, too much "science", and overthought into the building of muscle and mass….I have competed at every level, so I know what the hell I am talking about, even if I sound simplistic in what I am saying…SIMPLIFY YOUR THINKING…Use MASS BUILDING EXERCISES AS THE CORE OF YOUR WEIGHT TRAINING ROUTINE….EAT, EAT, EAT, and get at lest 3-5 good meals in a day, and don't sit there like a bitch and count every stupid calorie like a little diet accountant…USE HEAVY WEIGHTS IN YOUR MOVEMENTS…I once gained a huge amount of basic mass using an entire routine consisting of SQUATS, BENCH PRESSES, PRESS BEHIND NECKS, ROWS, DIPS, HEAVY CURLS, HEAVY TRI EXTENSIONS, AND DEADLIFTS….If it comes down to a protien shake or a MEAL, EAT A MEAL, if it is feasiblei!!! Eat and drink MILK, and STOP eating a little wussy chicken roasted, skinless "chicky" breast and a piece of broccoli and then bitch why you cannot gain SPIT!!!…eat steak, eat salt less nuts, eat cheese, eat eggs, eat turkey, eat chicken, eat pizza when you need it, and eat lots of carbos and fats, YEAH, I SAID IT, and stop fretting like a bitch about a small gain in your belt size, your can rip that off later on!!! You need PROTEIN, FAT, and CARBS, when you need to GROW….It's as complicated as you make it people….If your a natural you need to GROW FIRST, not walk around TRYING to grow on a fat free, starvation diet, and expecting any kinds of results!!! And PLEASE STOP USING THAT WUSSY TERM "NATTY", IT SOUNDS SO SISSYFIED AND FEMININE IT'S SICKENING….NOW GROW FOR CRYIN OUT LOUD!!!!

  33. Training for pure muscle building goals is a waste. You will never reach your wanted goals, and natural bodybuilding is a joke. It's damaging for your mental and physical health; you'll injure yourself, overtrain and eat yourself fat, sick and misserable. And not to mention it only leads to unhealthy muscle dysmorphia and at worst case can lead to steroid abuse just to reach your ''goals''.
    No, train for general health and strength.

  34. Hi Sean, I have gained 10-12lbs of weight in the past recent months & also noticed a slight increase in muscularity. As a natty lifter for 18 months it could possibly be the peak of my maximum gains & anything that follows will be half to quarters afterwards…..I have also been with the misconception eating more & training more will continue to make steady gains.

  35. Bodybuilding is a lot like driving a car… if you learn bad habits you'll be getting a lot of tickets and into some accidents… and in bodybuilding using proper form and technique… with years of training, you'll experience the phenomenon of instinctive training…this is an adjunct to muscle confusion… this is like traveling down a different route, or changing directions midstream!

  36. Something also to keep in mind is that this is based on effective years of training. If your first year is really shitty style training and you don't actually put on that much muscle, then you may have more potential than you think you do. It's not so much about time as effectively used time.

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