Muscle Building

6 beginner tips that will boost your newbie gains


With average genetics a beginner can build as much as 20 pounds of pure muscles in the first year of lifting weights. But that requires a lot of knowledge (nutrition and training wise) which you probably lack if you are just starting out. Don’t worry, I was in your shoes when I started as well.

If you need help with your training or dieting, subscribe to the blog, send me an email at chris@gainsthetics.com and introduce yourself and let me know what your goals are. I am happy to help.

Now let’s get back to the article.

In today’s post we are talking about the most common mistakes that beginners make when they start working out. Looking back at my first year of training I messed up on a bunch of things and there are a lot of things that I would do differently. Let’s start this off.

The most important thing you need to know is that you, as an untrained beginner, are in a privileged position when it comes to building muscle and losing fat. First of all beginners can build muscle and lose fat at the same time and this is an advantage you will not encounter again during your weight lifting life. Secondly, another great advantage is that you will notice strength and muscle gains, literally each time you hit the gym, or at least each week.

A natural bodybuilder can put on 30-40% of its maximum muscular potential of he’s entire life in the first year of training. Building more muscles and more strength will become harder and harder each year o training. The more experienced you are the harder it will be for you to put on more size. Here are a couple of different muscle growth rate models:

Lye McDonald’s model

YEAR OF PROPER TRAINING POTENTIAL MUSCLE GAINS
1 20-25 pounds
2 10-12 pounds
3 5-6 pounds
4+ 2-3 pounds

 

Alan Aragon’s model

CATEGORY RATE OF MUSCLE GROWTH
Beginner 1-1.5% of total body weight per month
Intermediate .5-1% of total body weight per month
Advanced .25-.5% of total body weight per month

 

The numbers above are backed up by some serious bro science. There is no debate about how important your first 2 of years of proper training are.

The problem is that many newbies have no idea about the advantages they have and most of the times screw things up by not eating right or not training right. Here is what you should to if you’ve just started lifting.

1. Don’t cut if you don’t really need to

Unless you have a lot of extra weight to lose (if you are over 25% body fat or so) I don’t recommend cutting back on calories at all, or if you do cut make sure you stay in a minimal caloric deficit such as 200 kcal below maintenance level. Not eating enough will hinder muscle growth and you will not be able to take advantage of the newbie gains I was talking about above. Remember that working out will recompose your body. Lifting weights will burn off fat while making you muscles to grow. Beginners can lose fat while building muscles and by eating at maintenance level or a little bit above.

The takeaway here is to make sure your nutrition does not stand in the way of gaining muscle mass.

2. Don’t over-train

As a beginner your muscles don’t need a shit load of volume to grow. You don’t need to do 30 freakin’ sets per workout to grow. Your best strategy as a beginner is to keep your workouts low volume and high frequency.

To be more specific, here are two workout routines that I would recommend.

Beginner workout routine A (Full Body)

  • Incline bench press (3 sets)
  • Triceps push downs (2 sets)
  • Seated rows (3 sets)
  • Squats (5 sets)
  • Bicep curls (2 sets)
  • Shoulder press (2 sets)

Do this routine 3 days a week, preferably with one day of rest in between.

Beginner workout routine B (Upper body / Lower Body)

Day 1 (Upper body)

  • Incline bench press (3 sets)
  • Triceps push downs (2 sets)
  • Seated rows (3 sets)
  • Bicep curls (2 sets)
  • Shoulder press (2 sets)

Day 2 (Lower body)

  • Squats (5 sets)
  • Leg curls (4 sets)
  • Calf raises (3 sets)

Do this routine 4 days a week so that everybody part gets hit twice.

As you can see both workouts are low volume but hit everything 3 times, respectively 2 times each week.

3. Train every muscle equally

Don’t be skipping leg days man. I mean it. I don’t know why there are so many guys skipping leg workouts. Train each body part equally. The last thing you want for yourself is to be disproportionate. You all saw those bodybuilders with chicken legs.

Put the same time and effort in all your muscles. I see a lot of beginners saying that their back or their shoulders is a weak part and that they need to focus more on that. Man, when you are a beginner every body part is your weak part.

Focus on developing everything and then you can actually see which part lags behind and make small adjustments and tweaks to your training routine such as hitting some muscles more frequently than others.

4. Be consistent

Training should become a part of your life, a habit. For me, training is something that I do each and every morning, Monday to Friday. I can’t really remember when I skipped a training day.

You need to be consistent if you want results. Make a plan and stick to it. No excuses.

5. Connect with your muscles

A common mistake in both new and experienced people is not staying focused on the exercises you are doing. This is something that I used to do as well before watching one of Arnold’s videos about the right mind set and about how important the mid – muscle connection is for getting better results.

So, instead of looking out the window or talking with your friend while you are doing bicep curls, think about the muscle you are training and concentrate on squeezing it on each rep. This will result in a more effective workout.

I noticed that when I really concentrate on the exercises that I am doing and focus on feeling the muscles doing the work, I get a bigger pump and I can’t do as many reps as I could do if I would not connect my mind to that specific muscle, which means the muscle works harder.

6. Don’t be afraid to supplement

Many beginners avoid taking any kind of supplements because they are afraid of side effects, of getting deadly diseases or because they are afraid of getting too big. Unless you are using steroids or really shady brands or products you will be fine. Here are some of the most common supplements:

  • Creatine: I recommend taking 5 grams of creatine monohydrate a day. This is an old school supplement, totally safe to use. You can check out the reviews it’s been getting and refer to scientific studies. It helps with building more strength and size.
  • Whey protein: Building muscles requires a decent amount of protein intake each day. I don’t want to get into the “how many grams of protein should I eat per day” discussion now because there is a lot to say on that topic. Just in case you have a problem eating chicken or other lean sources of protein each day, you can supplement with whey protein.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Can’t really get wrong here. I don’t use them; I just eat my fruits and vegetables each day.

Take away

Let me try to summarize everything in just one sentence: eat to grow, keep workouts low volume, hit everything 2-3 times a week, be consistent and serious about your training.

Hope you liked this, don’t forget to comment below or reach me out at chris@gainsthetics.com.

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