We usually talk a lot about how you can optimize your workout routine, how you can maximize your fat loss, and improve your bodybuilding career. However, a lot of people have been asking us whether we’d still give this advice when we’re training someone who’s just started out bodybuilding versus someone who’s been doing it for years.
You might have just started on your bodybuilding journey and are so excited with all the gains you’re making already! If you’re making such great gains with less effort than you thought you would have to, you might be asking yourself, how long will this last?
Alternatively, you might be someone who’s been lifting weights for years, and you’ve started to realize that you need to work harder and longer if you want to maintain your muscle. Gains might have started to come sparingly or hardly at all—what gives?
The truth is, there are many differences between training a beginner weightlifter and training a highly advanced one. Once you advance in your weight training, it isn’t just about targeting a specific body part every day of the week and simply increasing the reps if you want to gain muscle.
While that might’ve worked before, when your body needed to adapt and recover to the stress you put it through, as you get closer to your genetic potential ceiling, gains start to come at a slower pace. But don’t worry, you can break past your ceiling.
Muscle Gain Is Easier As a Beginner
If you’ve just started lifting weights, you’ll probably see that the rate at which you gain muscle and your body gets transformed is much higher than for someone who’s been going to the gym for years.
The simplest reason we can give is that your body needs to adapt to all the novel stress you’re putting it through. Think about it this way: when you’ve just started, your genetic potential ceiling for muscle gain is so high that you need to do a lot of work to reach it.
As a result, you start out with a lot of room to grow and you start advancing toward that potential at a much faster rate. If you’re an experienced bodybuilder, on the other hand, you might be much closer to that ceiling threshold, and these last steps toward reaching that ceiling will need a lot of effort and will be extremely slow.
Not only is your rate of muscle gain that much slower when you’re advanced, but the amount of effort you need to input to acquire these gains becomes exponentially higher.
Typically, when you’ve just started out, you’ll see gains on your legs, quads, and calves just by doing some cardio exercises such as cycling or running. Sounds like the best exercise you could do, right? You get to improve your fitness, cardiovascular strength, and make gains to boot!
However, once you’re highly trained, that cardio becomes non-specific to gaining muscles in your legs, and actually it might cause you to lose muscle if you’re training in the wrong direction. This is why your training needs to be more specific as you advance in your weightlifting career.
Volume and Frequency Matter
Probably the biggest difference between beginner and advanced bodybuilders is how much effort they need to put in, and how many times they need to work on a specific body part to see results. As a veteran bodybuilder you might find that your training volume can triple or quadruple if you’re looking to make the same gains as someone who just started out!
Typically, when you’re untrained, you’ll be able to do 1-3 sets and see results. However, studies show that when you’re highly trained, you might need to do 8-14 sets per body part in order to maximize your muscle and strength gains.
For a highly trained bodybuilder, those 1-3 sets wouldn’t be to make gains, but rather to taper and maintain the muscle you’ve already built. The only way to make gains when you’re in that stage is to triple or quadruple your training volume.
Not only that, but training frequency will also need to increase for more advanced bodybuilders. This is why most bodybuilders turn their passion into a lifestyle. When you’re untrained, you’ll probably have to train 1-2 times a week per body part. If you’re highly trained, you’ll need to target a body part 2-3 times a week to see any gains. If you only target each body part 1-2 a week, then you’re pretty much just doing it to maintain your gains.
We recommend taking a look at our periodization series in order to find out how you can stop yourself from plateuing by continually switching up your exercises in order to maximize your gains.
Essentially, periodization refers to adding variety and changing things up in your workout routine, and it’s important for both highly advanced athletes and individuals who have just started out. When you’re untrained, we’d normally recommend you change things up every month, or maybe every two months. However, if you’re highly trained, you might need to change up your exercises every week or even every workout.
Finally, the timing of your protein intake and meals matters much more when you are a veteran bodybuilder. When you’re untrained, the window of opportunity for protein synthesis could last for as much as 72 hours after training! When you’re highly trained, however, your window of opportunity becomes much shorter and timing is essential. This means you might need to take your protein almost immediately after your exercise.
We hope this article helped you understand the differences between advanced and beginner bodybuilders. We’ll see you next time you have any questions!