What You Should Focus On To Build Muscle After the Beginner Gains

When you first start lifting weights, anything and everything works.

You just need to show up consistently and you will build muscle.

Then it slows down. You find that it’s much tougher to put on muscle.

This is where a lot of people give up and dont reap the benefits of building muscle and improving their physique.

We like to see quick feedback and building muscle is far from that.

The problem is that your body finds any muscle past that point to be somewhat useless unless you give it a reason to need it.

Muscle costs a lot of energy to maintain and build. This is helpful in today’s world, but it wasn’t helpful in the world we evolved in.

So we must give the body reason to maintain it and build it.

But what about after those initial beginner gains and just being consistent isn’t enough? What becomes the priority?

Here are things we focus on with online clients (in no particular order):

➡️Tracking workouts

It amazes me how many people don’t track their workouts, if this is you, expect to see very small returns on your investment.

In order to build more muscle, you need to overload the muscle over time. Read HERE for principles of building muscle.

This has been coined progressive overload.

You dont have to just add more weight. You can overload multiple ways.

  • More weight
  • More reps
  • More sets
  • Better technique

These are just a few, but they are the best for building muscle.

If you arent tracking you will not remember what you did last week, even if you think you have a good memory.

Tracking has also helped me push through a few reps that I would have otherwise not gotten.

If you dont track you WILL be leaving results on the table.

Track your exercises, reps, sets, and weight. Taking form videos can also be helpful.

➡️Finding exercises that fit you

In the beginning, the basics were enough, but now it’s time to start figuring out what exercises fit YOU best.

Too many people get married to certain exercises because they worked at one time OR these exercises are perceived as muscle-building exercises.

Some exercises just dont work well with certain body types.

Or some people just hate certain exercises. This is ok.

After a while, you need to start to find what exercises fit you best. This will probably change over time, but if a back squat doesnt stimulate your quads and thats your main goal with the lift, then you need to find something that does hit the quads.

You find this by staying consistent with training. You can weed out the bad ones and keep in the good ones.

One caveat here, if you try an exercise once and it doesnt feel great, give it another shot for about 3-4 weeks. If it still feels like crap after the 3-4 weeks then it probably isn’t the best exercise for you.

➡️Intensity

You don’t have to go to failure every set, but you can’t breeze through every single workout feeling like you didn’t do anything.

At some point, you have to push yourself in your training.

If every workout feels easy, then you are leaving results on the table.

In the beginning, you can get away with less intense training because your body is just primed for muscle growth.

But eventually, you must push it.

Again this doesnt mean every workout needs to be super intense, but every once in a while you must push yourself.

HERE is a great podcast going over a technique we use to monitor intensity, called RIR (reps in reserve).

➡️Recovery strategies

Now is the time where you need to start implementing deloads, focusing more on sleep, and managing your stress. Going hard 24/7 isn’t going to build muscle.

I just mentioned that you need to push it at least at some point, but now im saying you shouldn’t go hard 24/7?

When you overload and push yourself your body gets fatigued, this fatigue adds up over time.

Too high of fatigue levels lowers training performance and increases injury risk.

Therefore we must find ways to lower that fatigue when we can.

Some people never push themselves, but then you have some people who only know how to just push themselves, and they end up being under recovered.

These are usually the types of guys who train 7 days a week go hard for a bit and then end up injured or burnt out from training.

You will be leaving results on the table if you dont focus on recovering from training.

➡️Protein

Low protein is going to hurt your progress at any stage, but after those initial gains, if you are still eating low protein, kiss building more muscle goodbye.

Low protein is a muscle-building killer.

A lot of people dont focus too much on nutrition when they get started, and thats fine as you can get away with this.

But as we have talked about throughout this blog, if you dont give your body reason to build more muscle then it won’t.

Not eating enough protein is a sure sign that will happen.

Aim for around .8 to 1g per pound of bodyweight.

Read HERE on how to get more protein in your diet.

➡️Eating enough regularly

In the beginning, your body is primed for muscle growth and you can get away with a deficit or maintenance, but eventually, you need a small calorie surplus to build muscle.

Again your body needs a reason to build more muscle.

Not taking in enough food is a great reason for it NOT to build muscle.

It’s going to prioritize other important functions over building muscle.

Probably the biggest reason why people dont put on the amount of muscle they want/should is because they undereat.

People who think they are hard gainers are just not eating enough consistently.

People who want to be more tone, but dont have the shape they want because they are scared to gain any amount of weight, therefore they dont eat enough regularly.

HERE is an article going over why you need to go through at least one building phase

HERE is an article going over ways to get more calories in your diet.

➡️Patience

The beginner gains are great, but they can put you in the mindset that building muscle comes quick. It doesn’t. If you don’t have patience, building muscle will be tough.

Lack of patience has killed more physiques than you can imagine.

Building muscle takes time and patience, you can’t rush this process.

Hopefully, this helps you take the next step with your training to build muscle.

You dont have to do all of these, but it’s a good idea to start to focus on at least a few of them.

If you need more structure and guidance towards your training fill out the application HERE to work with me 1:1.

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