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Celebrity Muscle Gain Claims: Fact or Fiction?

Hilary Swank said she gained “19 pounds of muscle” for her Oscar-winning role in the “Million Dollar Baby.” “The producers asked me to gain 10 pounds of muscle,” she said. “I gained 19 pounds of muscle. I started at 110 and went to 129,” she told MovieWeb in an interview, detailing her diet that consisted of 210 grams of protein per day.

Alicia Vikander said she gained 12 pounds of muscle in a short period of time for her role in “Tomb Raider.” Besides weight training, martial arts training and HIIT, Alicia said she ate three meals a day and two snacks a day, with lunch and dinner including 40g of protein, 40g of good carbs, and 30g of healthy fat.

Mark Wahlberg said he gained 40 pounds of muscle for his role in “Pain and Gain.” He said he lifted “very” heavy weights for 7 weeks and eating 10 meals per day or “all day long.”

When we see actors who look skinny or normal get ripped, muscular, or fit for a role, people are intrigued. Add in the claims mentioned above, and it’s a recipe for confusion and an opportunity to sell you an “Alicia Vikander’ or a “Mark Wahlberg” workout.

So how do Hollywood actors get muscular and ripped? And do they actually put on 10-40 lbs. of muscle in such a short period of time? I have to point out that there’s no fast, magical path or secret technique that can help you look like you’ve been training for decades in just weeks. You can eat like they do, work out 4-6 days a week for years and still fall short of these claims. Why? Because, physiologically, it is impossible to gain that much muscle in such a short period of time.

According to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, for some people muscle size can increase by 0.2% every day for the first 20 days of a strength training program. For the first 20 days, yes you can get great newbie gains if the right stimulus is applied, and you are genetically gifted. You need enough food to gain weight and the right amount of protein to allow your muscles to grow (I recommend 1 gram per pound of bodyweight), and the correct training methodology for your genetics and physique. With proper commitment, a genetically gifted man with the correct training can expect to gain between 0.25 and .50 lbs. of muscle per week in these first weeks (1-2 lbs. per month.) Women however lack the hormones naturally for this much gain. Their muscle gain with the correct stimulus is 0.12-0.25 lbs. per week (0.5-1 pound per month.) And if we are talking about a naturally thin woman (like most actresses), with a narrow frame and smaller bones, they are already starting behind an average woman in the muscle gain game. Off the bat they would genetically have half the muscle of an average woman.

I mention genetics often because it plays such a huge role in natural muscle gain. I’ve known men, and a couple of women, who have surpassed the amounts mentioned above naturally. They’ve surpassed it by a pound or 2, not 10, 20 or 40! Also, not in 7-10 weeks like these celebrity press releases claim. It is disappointing that so many people buy into the fake news. It is just not physiologically possible to gain this massive amount of actual muscle in such a short period of time. Even for the massively chemically-enhanced person, the amount of steroids and growth hormone you would have to do to gain 40 lbs. of muscle in a short period of time, would probably kill you first. I am really appalled by the pushing of such flagrant misinformation and hype just to obviously sell something.

Please don’t let this discourage you. Set more realistic goals, not fantasy ones based on celebrity hype. You can gain muscle and be fit if you stick to the diet and lifting. Muscle gain is individual and some people are able to gain more quickly. But please don’t expect miracles and don’t buy into the celebrity hype and movie workouts. There is no magic pill!

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