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5 Things EVERY Beginner Lifter Should Know!

Don't Let Your Muscle Building Potential Go To Waste!

Posted by Scott_Herman - May 12th, 2017

We all make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. But lucky for you, I’m here to make sure you make as little as possible when it comes to reaching your goals! Believe it or not, a lot of seasoned lifters tend to forget these five things too, so maybe a little refresher course is needed for everyone.

Why Do Beginners Still Have So Many Problems?

But the main reason I want to talk about these things is because as a beginner lifter trying to reach your goals, your training schedule can get super chaotic very fast.  Especially if you don’t know where to start or how to establish a proper foundation.

The problem is in that most beginners are usually very excited and eager to see quick results and at the same time they’re constantly bombarded by fad articles in fitness magazines and now, more than ever, Fake-Natty YouTubers which inevitably leads to unrealistic standards and goals. As a result, a lot of beginners become frustrated by the lack of their results and desperately try to turn the tables by experimenting with a NEW PROGRAM or a new muscle-building “secret routine” every week, and finally they end up quitting fitness altogether just because they didn’t have the right tools and knowledge to begin with.

So for that reason alone, which is actually the main reason I started my YouTube channel 6 years ago, I decided to share with you my 5 BEST TIPS that every beginner should know!

1. Establish A Foundation By Focusing On Compound Movements!

When you step into the weight room for the first time there are just too many options to choose from and it can become very overwhelming. Barbells, dumbbells, machines, bodyweight exercises, bands, cables the list goes on.

But the weight room doesn’t have to be intimidating. As a beginner, you just need to focus on building a strong foundation, grow your major muscle groups, strengthen your tendons and connective tissue and increase your work capacity over time. Now, the best way to do all that is simple and it’s by utilizing compound movements in your routines.

If you’re unfamiliar with this term, compound movements are exercises that train more than one muscle group at the same time and are also known as multi-joint exercises. For example, an exercise like a triceps kickback will only isolate and work your triceps during a set.  But an exercise like a barbell bench press will train the entire chest, triceps and shoulders at the same time during a single set.  So, as you can already see, compound movements will build more overall strength and muscle mass much faster than isolation exercises. They can also help prevent asymmetries and muscle imbalances as well.

So, with all that in mind, you need a program that focuses on compound exercises and also ensures that you train all your major muscle groups twice a week if you want to maximize your muscle gains.  My recommendation for you is to simply eliminate all the guess-work and follow a 100% proven program like my 12 Week Push/Pull/Legs which is ideal for increasing your strength and muscle quickly & effectively.

Now having said that, you also need to understand that the number one prerequisite for muscle-building is progressive overload, which is a fancy way of saying “making progress in the weight room”. This can be done by either increasing the resistance, increasing sets or reps, or decreasing rest intervals between sets.

However, you WILL NOT be able to do any of these things if you do not STICK to a program for at least 6 to 8 weeks.  This is because if you start changing your program week to week, you’re always doing something new and your body has no time to adapt and grow.  Therefore, it’s smart to generally follow a program until you stop making progress with it and that could be 3 months, 4 months or even up to a year.

2. Proper Form & Full Range of Motion Are Vital For Muscle Growth!

If you’ve been a subscriber to my YouTube channel for at least 4 months, you know I’ve been implementing my new technique called Cheat & Recover into my training.  Cheat & Recover is using a bit of momentum or a spotter during the concentric phase of an exercise to place a greater overload on the eccentric phase for 8 repetitions and then dropping the weight and performing 8 additional clean reps. Of course, in order get through the cheat portion of the set we are compromising proper form to a degree and to be honest, beginners shouldn’t be training with Cheat & Recover because it places the body under a high amount of stress which your beginner body may not be ready for yet.

But the problem is that most beginners try to mimic me or anybody who’s doing something similar and think they can get away with it. Then, after a few weeks, they either get injured trying to lift weights they clearly can’t, or they see no progress at all and they end up switching to another bound-to-fail technique or just quit.

Listen, when you’re a beginner, you do NOT need advanced weightlifting techniques yet. Cheat & Recover, drop sets and super sets are all advanced bodybuilding tools and they’re used by advanced lifters to bust through plateaus. But when a beginner tries these techniques, their bodies will not be able to handle them just yet which either leads to an injury, or much slower progress.

What you need to do as a beginner is to stick to the BASICS and this means applying proper form and full range of motion to every single exercise. This will allow you to establish a solid foundation, build your mind-muscle connection and most importantly, it will ensure that you do not get injured. Remember…whatever range of motion you’re not training in, you’ll be weak in! Master proper form first, and then we can talk about more advanced techniques that will take your physique to the next level!

3. Don’t Underestimate Rest Days

The third thing every beginner should know, and honestly it probably should’ve been NUMBER 1, is don’t underestimate rest days!  This is because most people think that they’re growing when they’re in the gym but the fact is that your body is only growing when it’s repairing itself on rest days. Remember the anabolic window article? Muscle growth occurs in the 24 – 48 hours AFTER training. I think this is also a good time for me to reiterate how important EATING is on rest days as well. A lot of people do not eat well on rest days because they think they only need to follow their macros properly on workout days for muscle growth. Well, that just isn’t true.

Also, as a beginner your body may not be able to recover from continuous abuse which means you really shouldn’t work out every day. Sometimes LESS IS MORE. Try to rest at least 1 to 3 times per week and don’t feel bad if you skip a gym day, because it’s probably going to do more good than harm.

However, an advanced lifter like me doesn’t really get too sore which means I recover relatively fast and I can train a muscle group 2 or even 3 times a week if I wanted to. Also, I can probably get away with only 1 rest day per week as well. But beginners can’t and you should always try to remember that if you are feeling beaten and sore… it’s not because you suck… it’s because you are a beginner!  It’s normal!

I go to the gym every day, some days just to film videos for my YouTube channel, and you know what? I keep seeing the same beginner faces day in and day out, and I keep wondering “when do these guys rest?”  This is the reasons why they make no gains! So make sure you don’t fall victim to this mistake!

4. Nutrition Is Just As Important As Training (If Not More!)

Now OK, yes, as a beginner it should be very easy to see gains because your body has never been trained before. But that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want and get away with it. In fact, I believe if you’re reading this article to optimize your first few years of training and maximize your results then what you need to do immediately after finishing is take a look at one of my most popular articles called Building Your Meal Plan. It will teach you everything you need to know about calculating calories and macros to achieve your goals, and yes, you do have to count them.

Also guys, it goes much deeper than just calories and macros. You have to consider vitamins and minerals as well which is why JUNK FOOD doesn’t equal more gains during a bulk.  Eating McDonalds every day might help you get enough calories and protein for the day, but it’s not quality food.  For NATURAL Athletes, eating junk will make you look like junk. Period.

Also, as a beginner you don’t need a lot supplements. A simple protein, multivitamin, creatine, BCAAs or fish oil is a great place to start, but a lot of people go nuts and buy everything the dude at GNC tells them to. Always remember that no amount of supplements can fix a trashy meal plan! So before you start spending loads of money on supplements, get that meal plan straight first. Use, but don’t abuse! Enhance your meal plan with supplements but don’t depend on them to replace your crappy eating.

5. Building Muscle & Transforming Your Body Takes Time

To put it simply, you need to BE PATIENT. As a natural beginner athlete, you can expect to put on about 20 – 25lbs of muscle in your first year as long you’ve optimized your training, eating and resting. Now I will say that again, 20 – 25 pounds of muscles in your FIRST YEAR!

But the problem is that most of us are very impatient and if we don’t get huge after 2 months of training we think there’s a problem… Gains take time guys, plain and simple!

There’s a process involved when building muscle and it’s a consistent cycle of train, recover, and grow. Also, since you can only grow muscle in the 24 – 48 hour window after a training session, you can imagine it takes time to start seeing gains. But once you do, you know you’re doing things right.

Another thing is that as a beginner, you’re probably going to be able to add muscle and lose fat at the same time, which means you’re going to be a completely different person after the first year is over. What I mean by this is, you may be 150lbs now but in a year or so you could be 160lbs, having lost 10lbs of fat and gained 20lbs of muscle. So be patient, train hard, eat right, get plenty of rest and if you have any questions feel free to ask me down in the comment section below or even better, in the @forums.


It’s natural to be confused when you’re just starting out. Honestly, I’ve been training for 18 years and I still don’t know everything there is to know about fitness. But if I’ve helped clear some of that confusion up please be sure to share this article with your friends!

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