Wondering what "newbie gains" are or how you can maximize them? We've got you covered! Today we're going over the science on newbie gains and how to capitalize on this phenomenon!
Muscle gain is typically a slow process, taking months or years of consistent training to see dramatic increases in muscle mass. There are exceptions to this, such as with beginner trainees.
The Beginner Advantage a.k.a. "Newbie Gains"
Those new to resistance training can benefit from newbie gains: when the body is hyper-responsive to resistance training due to it being a brand new stimulus. Studies show that trainees without any prior resistance training experience have potential for a faster and greater rate of muscle gain than those with prior experience.
Many Factors Contribute to the Rate of Muscle Gain
These include but are not limited to:
Type of exercise
How Much Muscle Can a Beginner Expect to Gain?
The rate of muscle gain will be highly individual since it is influenced by multiple biological factors, but a beginner can expect to add more than an intermediate or advanced athlete. For example, one study observed a 5.6% increase in muscle size in 8 athletes that had no prior strength training experience after 21 weeks of training. This was in comparison to a group of 8 strength-trainied athletes that experienced less growth.
How to Maximize Muscle Growth: Resistance Training + Proper Nutrition
If you want to maximize newbie gains, the most important factor is intense resistance training with an emphasis on progressive overload. Focus on getting stronger in compound exercises, such as variations of squats & deadlifts.
In additional to resistance training, proper nutrition is just as important for muscle growth! Since protein is the building block of muscle, a protein intake of 0.7-1g per lb of body weight is commonly advised. Eating adequate carbs and calories in general is also necessary, as these serve as the energy and fuel for your lifts.
Can I still capitalize on newbie gains in a deficit?
Yes, a beginner can still grow while in a calorie deficit. However, if the primary goal is to maximize gaining potential during a newbie gains period, it would be better to eat a full non-dieting TDEE (maintenance) or a slight surplus.
How long do newbie gains last?
After consistently training for at least a year, one starts to move towards the intermediate phase of training where muscle growth may slow down a bit. After consistently training intensely and correctly for 2-3 years, one becomes an advanced athlete and new muscle growth slows down considerably.
If I've been lifting for a while, can I not capitalize on newbie gains?
No, not necessarily. If you've been lifting for a couple of years, but haven't been taught by a professional coach to lift with correct volume and intensity to achieve progressive overload, you may still fall into the category of a newbie lifter. With the right coaching approach, program, and intensity, it is definitely possible to enter a phase of capitalizing on newbie gains.
Other circumstances where someone who has been lifting for a while can see rapid growth in muscle include:after coming back from an injury, from a long term illness, or from any long period of time out of the gym. While these may not be "newbie" gains, one can still see rapid strength and size growth as one gets back into regular lifting.