For many people setting off on their fitness journey, gaining muscle is often one of their main priorities however it can be pretty daunting to navigate through the internet minefield of information without something like a beginner’s guide to gaining muscle. With this in mind, here are a few simple points for anyone to follow which will set them off on the right direction.
Our Beginner’s Guide to Gaining Muscle
1. Session Structure
Progressive overload is the key principle which underpins any effective training plan, especially so for someone following a beginner’s guide to gaining muscle. With this in mind, we now need to structure a session layout, there are hundreds of different training splits and programmes out there, and truth be told, they all could potentially do the job.
The most important thing is that the training split and session frequency is something you can adhere to and allows you to be consistent with your training over a long period of time. Building muscle is not easy, and it certainly won’t happen overnight. Allow for enough time for your body to adapt, a minimum of 8-week training block should be essential.
2. Exercise Choices
The next thing to consider is which exercises are going to be most effective, and my general rule of thumb here is to keep it simple! The main compound lifts Squats, Presses, Rows and Deadlifts should form the backbone of your sessions. These are movements that incorporate lots of different muscle groups and allow for you to lift heavier weights and accumulate a far greater level of training volume. Living heavy is one thing, but as always, control is absolute key while following a beginner’s guide to gaining muscle.
Don’t let your ego take over, and make sure the weights used are within your capabilities, over-reaching will get you nowhere fast. The more isolated movements shouldn’t be neglected within your session but could be added to further increase session volume where needed or as a means to assist your overall performance in the main compound movements.
3. Session Tracking
As I mentioned earlier, progressive overload is the key. One of the best tools to help ensure you are applying this principle is a pen and paper! A nice simple training log-book can potentially be the most important piece of equipment you use in the gym. Track your numbers for each session, weight, sets & reps, then make that the baseline for next week’s session. It can also act as a missive motivational tool as well, something to help drive you through a tough session and beat last week’s numbers.
This section comes in two parts, rest and nutrition. For the nutritional side of things, the two main things to consider are your overall energy balance (calories consumed vs calories expended) and your daily protein intake. To gain muscle you need to eat, it can be that simple. This isn’t an excuse to head straight for your nearest Domino’s Pizza, you need to implement a slight calorie surplus where you consume slightly more calories than you expend. This will allow you to gain muscle tissue with minimal additional body fat. Your next consideration is daily protein intake, this can range pretty widely depending on various factors but somewhere in the region of 1.5-2.5g of protein per 1kg of bodyweight is a good place to start. A great way to make sure you get a high enough daily is to start taking an effective protein supplement, like SAS Nutrition’s All-in-One protein supplement.
Someone new to training will be towards the lower end of the scale as opposed to someone with much more training experience. The final consideration to take into account is your recovery, no this can tie in with appropriate nutrition and protein intake, but you also need to take into account factors such as sleep and rest days. If you enjoy training, you will likely want to train every single day, but we aren’t super-human. We need to allow for time away from the gym in order for our muscles to recover and grow, especially when choosing to undertake training inspired by a beginner’s guide to gaining muscle.
Tick all of the boxes above, and you will be on the right path, but the most important aspect of all is consistency. Training for 2 weeks then changing your plan or missing weeks of training will only reduce your progress. There is no magic session plan, or exercise. Just good old hard work and consistency that will pay-off in the end. Have a question for us? Don’t hesitate to get in touch at 0844 740 8021 or send us an email via our secure online contact form.