Strength training for first-timers can be intimidating: New movements and terminology, and a sometimes scary weight room environment. On the bright side, beginners experience a phenomenon called "newbie gains", or a period of rapid improvement in strength, size and muscle. Learn to make the best of it!
When you first move from couch to gym, you can pretty much follow any program and quickly see benefits from fairly regular training. This period of accelerated growth is generally referred to as "newbie gains", which come mostly from your nervous system becoming more adept at the movements involved with your exercise, not necessarily because of huge muscles.
Strength coach and writer of Strengtheory's popular Complete Strength Training Guide, Greg Nuckols says:
"...the stimulus is so new, your body is simply going to respond strongly to it, even if it's not the "optimal" stimulus. The most important thing is that it's something you enjoy and can stick with, and that physiologically it's "good enough."
"The more foreign an exercise is, the more strength you'll rapidly gain as your nervous system learns how to use the muscle mass you already have to efficiently perform the movement."
Most experienced lifters would swallow a dumbbell to harness that power again. Once the body adapts to regular training (typically after 2-6 months, but can vary from person to person), future "gains" take a lot more work and time, and usually never progress as linearly or as quickly as anyone wants. This is generally where beginners also start to lose interest or become de-motivated because they no longer see results as quickly or have hit a plateau (i.e. stop progressing).
In these cases, there's still yet more road for the beginner to go. Greg recommends:
- Falling in love with and buying into the process to ensure long-term adherence to the discipline.
- Once you've gained proficiency with the movements, move onto a more intermediate program that is optimised for gaining a ton of muscle mass.
- Shifting training styles.
- Finding a positive fitness community made up of similarly experienced individuals to work out with but also with more advanced individuals who can mentor you, as well.
That should get help you keep going, even if it feels like those "newbie gainz" have worn off. Remember, as you keep pushing, you'll see real gains, so you won't get discouraged.
The Complete Strength Training Guide (Beginner) [Strengtheory]