One of the most sought after terms in powerlifting is ‘Newbie Gains’, which is used when talking about how people who are new to powerlifting get strong… QUICK.
The newbie gains come with a plethora of questions, like how long do newbie gains last? Or how strong can the newbie gains actually make you?
A lot of people, depressingly, tend to learn about newbie gains well after they have already passed, however, YOU are here to learn more about it no matter what! And if you haven’t even started lifting yet, this is a great way to maximize what you get out of the gym.
So let's dive deeper into the world of newbie gains so you can keep getting stronger.
Table of Contents:
- What Are “Newbie” Gains?
- 7 Tips to Keep Progressing With Newbie Gains
- How Strong Can They Get You?
- Why Do the Gains Stop
- Tips to Continue Growing
- Can You Be a “Newbie” More Than Once?
What Are “Newbie” Gains?
Before we start talking about how to get the most out of your newbie gains, this is a good chance to talk about exactly WHAT they are, so you can understand better.
The term newbie gains refers to the period when a person starts lifting for the first time and sees an incredible amount of strength and muscle development in a short stretch.
As a person becomes more trained, it is harder to add on strength and muscle no matter what kind of stimulus is being performed. The fractional increase in their strength and size can be frustrating for longer lifters, but it’s cool as hell for the newer ones.
To put this into perspective, someone who has spent 5 or more years training may spend 12 months to add even 15lbs onto a lift while a new lifter can nearly double their squat or deadlift in half that time… If not better.
7 Tips To Keep Progressing After Newbie Gains
As a lifter, it is up to you to optimize how much you can get out of newbie gains and beyond. Here are 7 tips that if you master, you will get the most out of your gains, newbie or not.
1. Eat a High Protein Intake
Building muscles requires that you pack in the protein so they are able to rebuild themselves after you have put them through the ringer of training.
While the bro science will tell you to eat unlimited protein, the general recommendation is at a much more reasonable level. You will roughly want to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight to make sure that you have the building blocks to get bigger, faster and stronger.
If you are struggling with getting your protein in, splitting it between meals is a great way to do it. You can go with 20-40g of protein per meal until you reach your goal for the day. Personally, as a 175lb athlete I am eating approximately 40g per meal, with 5 meals per day.
The other part of this is to make sure that you are eating carbs and fats as well to get all the fuel your body will need to function.
2. Focus on Getting Stronger
To get stronger and provide more stimuli there is one PROVEN way to move forward… Add more weight.
If you notice your gains starting to slow, adding weight or leaning into a strength training program can help you add more volume for more stimulus.
It sounds crazy, but to get stronger you have to get stronger.
3. It’s Ok To Change Your Lifting Program.
Lifting doesn’t need to be complicated to get the gains. In fact, some of the best programs apply the K.I.S.S. method to ensure long term gains.
However, you shouldn’t just keep running a program into the ground. Part of this is for sanity and the other part is to provide different stimuli compared to what you are currently doing. You can swap out your accessories, change the rep/set scheme or just do a completely new main exercise for a while.
An extreme example of this principle is you can’t expect to do 225lbs on squat, never changing the reps or weight and squat 500lbs without any extra training.
4. Stay in a Caloric Surplus
This ties closely with the protein point, but you can’t expect to keep adding strength or shape if you are cutting calories. While this can happen, eventually your body will stall out and you will feel sluggish.
The way to combat this is simple, eat more food to move more weight. You don’t need to be in a major caloric surplus, however if you avoid dipping below maintenance, that should be a good start.
But to get the most, eat a bit more and pack on them muscle gains.
5. Choose Compound Movements
The best bang for your buck is to do compound movements.
Now we may be biased as a strength training company, however they pay off big time. The compound movements, like the Big Three, are complex and recruit a ton of muscles to help them get better.
They also take years to master (if you ever can) and when you have them properly placed in your program, your shape will also change dramatically to look like an anime protagonist.
6. Train… Hard
If getting gains from the gym was easy, everyone would be doing it.
You have to put in effort to get better, and this isn’t just some gym bro advice. A lot of lifters get stuck in a rut because they don’t put effort in and start to feel upset with what they are doing.
While you don’t need to be puking every session (or any…) breaking a sweat and increasing your heart rate is a helpful tool to get better.
Effort is the key to gains year round. If you don’t like what you are doing and don’t want to put effort in, it is ok to look else where and try to find something else that gets your blood pumping.
7. Recovery is Important
Recovery is easily the most forgotten about step in making newbie gains last longer.
You can go to the gym for 7 days a week and put in 11/10 on the RPE scale, but if you don’t recover, you won’t last long and may get hurt.
Making sure that your sleep is on point, your nutrition is right and your fatigue management is ever growing is HOW you continue newbie gains much longer than most people think possible.
Stop beating yourself down everyday, take a nap, and get the gains. Literally in that order.
The Newbie Gains FAQ’s
Newbie Gains: How Long Do They Last?
A vast majority of lifters tend to think that their newbie gains last only a few months, but that simply isn’t true.
The estimated range of newbie gains is actually closer to 6-12 months, depending on the individual and the circumstances surrounding them. If you have followed the tips we provided above, your gains may last a bit longer than others, but they also may not.
Some signs that you may be slowing down on them gains is that you have gone an extended (longer than just a few weeks) period without making gains on the bar or you stop seeing progress in either the mirror or on the scale.
Instead of stressing about how long your gains may last, set some cool goals, train regularly and follow our 7 tips to get more and more out of your lifts.
How Much Can You Get From Newbie Gains?
This is probably the most impossible question to answer, because it all depends on YOU. Your training, nutrition and genetics all play a role in how much you are able to get.
Much like the length, the quantity of gains does seem to have a general average for what you are able to get.
Men generally experience an increase of muscle mass at about 20-25lbs while women are about half of that at 10-12lbs. This is due to women generally weighing less and having a different hormone make up compared to men.
Why Do Newbie Gains Stop?
Simply put: Stimulus was new, now it ain’t and you are efficient at the moving now.
As a species we evolved to be adaptive to our environment. This is done to burn fewer resources and make sure that we can get the most out of what we do.
Evolution sucks on this standpoint because why couldn’t we evolve in such a way where gains were just inherent to who we are?
Can you Experience Newbie Gains Repeatedly?
Newbie gains happen all of the time, but it might be on a more minute scale than what you imagined.
When you change up bars, movement patterns or nutrition, you can see rapid improvement which ties into getting better.
For example, if you have been lifting for years but have never squatted… Guess what!?! Newbie gains are abound for that specific lift.
You can also re-see newbie gains if you have taken a significant time away from the gym due to life. Once you hit the gym again and get back into a routine, you will regain size and strength faster than when you first started lifting.
The Newbie Gains are Ending
While newbie gains are fist pumpingly awesome for any lifter, it often leaves more questions than answers.
Hopefully today we were able to explain your newbie gains and get you set on the right track.
What kind of gains have you made in the world of newbie lifting?
FOLLOW THEIR JOURNEY
If you are looking to follow and learn from some amazing people and powerlifters follow the links below or read this article for some great stories. Or if you are looking for programming, you can find one of our free programs here or you can reach out to one of our team members to see how to take your training to the next level.