First of all, take a moment to congratulate yourself. The hardest part is now over. You’ve made it through another lockdown and it’s finally time to get back out there. But it’s not all Easy Street from here – the road from rookie to ripped is paved with DOMS and blisters.
But one silver lining should provide you with the requisite motivation. Not only will you see results quickly, but they’ll be more impressive than the of the seasoned gym-goers sweating alongside you.
Deep within the diminished biceps of a lapsed lifter like you lies a dormant physiological mechanism that, once activated, turns you into a muscle-building powerhouse. Newbie gains are a phenomenon unique to beginners.
Building muscle in a calorie deficit – as most are, when supersetting new gym and diet plans post lockdown– is no easy feat. Your body usually needs an excess of calories to bulk up. However, when you get back under the bar after this hiatus, the stimulus triggers a significant spike in muscle synthesis. As the University of São Paulo found, your body continues to build muscle for 50 hours after your final sweat-soaked rep.
“The adaptive stress that you’re putting on your body will be incredibly high,” says Shaun Stafford, the founder of City Athletic. “Your body is ready, as long as you’re getting enough protein – around 2g per kilo of bodyweight.” This is important: if you’re dieting to lose weight, make sure you’re stripping away calories from fat, not protein.
You can expect to pack on up to 3kg of muscle in the first three months, scientists at Göteborg University estimate, with “significant increases” in strength and fitness in four weeks, according to Stafford. Newbie gains don’t last forever, so put in the hard yards now. Stafford recommends three or four weight sessions per week allow 48-72 hours’ recovery before training the same muscle group. Stick to compound exercises – press-ups, pull-ups, squats and deadlifts.
And, if gains are your main goal, avoid cardio: “it wastes energy you don’t have”. There’s nothing stopping you now, no excuse, gyms are ready, are you?
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