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Training Age: How Close Are You to Your Maximum Potential?

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calendar-iconFebruary 11, 2019

Foundational Training Series

Training

Thus far we've covered the basics of muscle growth as well as what we can do to stimulate it, but when it comes to gaining muscle, a very common question is "How fast can I put on 'x' lbs of muscle?".

The answer to this question lies in the principle of your training age. So what the heck is your training age? How does it relate to how quickly you can build muscle? We'll explain it all here in this article.

Training Age

Maximum muscular bodyweight and size potential are positively correlated with a person's height and bone-structure....

The amount of lean body mass a human body can develop and maintain is limited by it's own, naturally occurring, hormone levels.

Casey Butt, Ph.D

Your training age is how many years of optimal training you've had. This is an important concept because it has a significant correlation to how quickly you can grow more muscle.

Research has shown that those who are just beginning to practice resistance training can expect a faster rate of muscle growth, while those with a higher "training age" should expect their rate of muscle growth to slow down over time (fig A).1-5

This means you could be able to gain 6-8 pounds of muscle in your first 3 months of training, but maybe 4-6 pounds months 3-6. As your training age goes up, you get closer to your 'maximum muscular potential', or your genetically predetermined level of maximum muscle mass. The closer you get to this maximum potential, the slower the rate of muscle growth will be.1-5

Finding Your Training Age

As used currently, the Wilks formula appears to be a valid method to adjust powerlifting scores by body mass.

Vanderburgh PM & Batterham AM

So, if you're trying to figure out how quickly you can put on muscle, figuring out your training age should be your first concern. Currently there is no official way to measure training age, as it is an individual’s progression towards his or her "genetic ceiling", which cannot be empirically determined.

One way to estimate how close you are to your genetic ceiling, however, is to compare your strength to the average strength of others with the same body mass. There are several algorithms that can be used to calculate this, but the Wilks Formula is widely employed in
strength competitions.6 When applying the Wilks Formula, individuals who are relatively weaker than most people with the same body mass are considered to have a younger training age, and therefore can expect a faster rate of muscle growth.1-5

Here is a calculator to determine your Wilks Score and relative strength!

The Takeaway

Your rate of muscle growth can be roughly determined by your training age, or how many years of optimal training you've had. Your training age reflects how close you are to your maximum genetic muscle growth potential. While there is no empirical way to find your exact training age and progression toward your genetic ceiling, relative strength formula's like the Wilks Score can give you a great estimate.

References

  1. Aragon, A. (2018). AARR | Alan Aragon. [online] Alanaragon.com. Available at: https://alanaragon.com/aarr/ [Accessed
    26 Jul. 2018]. Link
  2. Butt, C. (2011). The WeighTrainer – Your Maximum Muscular Bodyweight and Measurements. [online] Weightrainer.net. Available at: http://www.weightrainer.net/potential.html [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018]. Link
  3. Garthe I, Raastad T, Refsnes PE, Sundgot-borgen J. Effect of nutritional intervention on body composition and
    performance in elite athletes. Eur J Sport Sci. 2013;13(3):295-303. Link
  4. Helms, E. (2014). What Can be achieved as a Natural Bodybuilder? [online] Alanaragonblog.com Available at:
    http://www.alanaragonblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Aug-2014-AARR-Eric-Helms-Article. Accessed July 26,
    2018. Link
  5. McDonald, L. (2009). What’s My Genetic Muscular Potential?. [online] Bodyrecomposition. Available at:
    https://bodyrecomposition.com/muscle-gain/whats-my-genetic-muscular-potential.html/ [Accessed 26 Jul. 2018]. Link
  6. Vanderburgh PM, Batterham AM. Validation of the Wilks powerlifting formula. Med Sci Sports Exerc.
    1999;31(12):1869-75. Link
Date Created: February 11, 2019

Last Updated: April 2, 2020

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