How long does it take to build muscle? Fitness trainers answer your most Googled questions

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How long does it take to build muscle? Stylist Strong trainers answer the most Googled health and fitness questions

Women’s weight training is shaking off its taboo. And thank god, because that badass feeling we get after squatting with a barbell that weighs as much as we do is a feeling all women should experience. But the benefits go further than that, according to science.

Let’s start with the biggie: the more muscle mass we have, the less likely we are to die early. In fact, a study in The American Journal of Medicine found that muscle mass was even more important than BMI when it comes to determining lifespan. 

Perhaps more importantly, though, it means we have a happier and healthier life, too. One study found that mice with higher muscle mass had reduced stress hormones in the blood, with researchers suggesting that shows strength building exercise can reduce depression.  And another paper also reads “muscles are immune-responsive tissues”, meaning that the more muscle we have the better we are at fighting off infection. 

Have we convinced you to get training for muscle? Each week, three trainers from Stylist Strong answer some of the most asked questions from women who want to get into lifting. This time, they’re teaching us how to build muscle – and fast!

How long does it take to build muscle?


“If you’re relatively new to training it can take at least eight weeks to get the muscle fibres firing. If you had a lot of muscle from training and then maybe had a break or an injury, it can take around three to four weeks to kind of see that muscle gain again.”


“I think the rule is give it 12 weeks to see a really noticeable difference. Novices might see a difference in four weeks. Really, really trained people might not see much of a difference in a year. It just completely depends on where you’re at what load you’re using, how much you’re eating, how hard you’re working hard at gym. It’s so dependent on the person.”

How much training should you do in order to build muscle?


“You need to train with progressive overload. What’s really important is to not to stay within your comfort zone and just be doing the same reps every week. You want to be going through a cycle. So that’s what we do at Stylist Strong – we go through a two week cycle and revisit the moves, doing them in different ways and adding more load. Don’t be frightened to add a little bit, even if it’s just one kilogram or even half. Little by little you need to stress the muscle in order to progress it.”


“For a newbie, putting any kind of load through it will get results because you’re overloading the body more than ever before. If you’re a trained person, you have to put a lot more load through the body in order for it to be progressive. But regardless of your experience, I’d say stay within your eight to 12 rep range because that is a hypertrophy range which means you’ll be growing muscle. Focus on four main exercises and make them compound movements: squats, deadlifts, press ups or a bench press, pushing overhead and something that’s pulling vertically like a lat pull down.”

How do you build muscle fast?


“Look at all of the outside factors. You’ve got to have good nutrition and enough recovery to see your results progress. I’m not saying it’s going to be quicker than around eight weeks, but it will be a better progression. Nailing those factors alongside a good program with progressive overload is how you’re going to be able to build it faster than burning yourself out by going to the gym seven days a week.”


“If your main focus is building muscle, take all cardio out. That’s because there’s two training states: anabolic and catabolic. Anabolic means building, catabolic means breaking down. Cardio conditioning is catabolic so you’re breaking down muscle. If you’re lifting weights, you’re in an anabolic state. And you need to fuel it efficiently so your body doesn’t start eating into your muscle for energy and it can just use your carbohydrate and glycogen from food to build. Eating 90-45 minutes and absolutely having carbs and protein after your workout. And make sure it’s a big enough portion to replenish the energy you just lost and feed the muscles.”


Stylist Strong is a fitness brand specialising in strength training specifically tailored for women. Our classes are designed to build both physical and mental strength in a smart and informed way.

So, whether you’re a beginner or already have strength-training experience, Stylist Strong has a class to suit you. Come and try our strength-based classes, including our new yoga classes, at our own purpose-built studio at The AllBright Mayfair.

Images: Getty

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