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Thread: Tips For Making Gains At A Young Age

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    MuscleScience's Avatar
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    Tips For Making Gains At A Young Age

    If you were anything like me and had a lot of trouble making gains at a young age it can be frustrating to say the least. All that time, energy and effort seems like it was only one bad cold or off week on diet and you lost 10 pounds. Remembering that and having the benefit of both formal education and many years of practical experience I want to share some things I learned.

    Many on here already know me and my background but to briefly give the reader some context. I've been lifting for 18 years now. Mostly straight through with some breaks either by choice or injury which we will come back too. I also have three formal degrees in human physiology and practiced as and exercise physiologist for about 2 years before going to earn my doctorate. Having said that, I won't get deep into the technical science in making gains because you can find that anywhere. I want to get into the bare bones of what it takes to put on mass. Which brings us to the first key point, consistency.

    Consistency of Exercise Over Time

    This is the first key point because it's in fact the most important. The only way for you to grow the muscle is to break it down and build it back up. Your single goal to lifting weights is to break up muscle fibers, that's it!
    By doing so your body repairs the damage and grows the muscle just a bit stronger and a bit bigger. The more consistent you are the better and more solid gains you will make. Both professionally and here on the board we hear all the time, "I can't gain weight I have been hitting it for 3 months now." buddy, it takes years to build quality muscle, yes I said years.

    That's not to say in three months you can't put on an impressive amount of muscle, you can. It just shows that you constantly and consistently have to break down that muscle to get it to grow. The bigger and stronger your muscles get the slower and harder this process is.

    For me personally, I have had to take time off due to injury a number of times. Which happens it's life, but what it taught me was this. It's a never ending process, don't get impatient, stay the course and look at yourself on the mirror and ask yourself honestly. Am I doing everything I can to reach where I want to be? Sometimes when I was younger, I would get discouraged and take extended breaks from training. With that and all the time I took off from injury I sometimes wonder where I would be. But one thing that has helped me stay the course when I want to quit. If me 6 months ago would be happy about me now just quiting and doing nothing, after putting in all that time and energy?

    Nutrition

    This is the second key point because it's extremely important also. Diet even as a highly ejumacated individual is my Achilles heal. I suffer from bing eating at night and not eating enough during the day. I work on it everyday to improve. As a young lifter, take advantage of this time to build muscle. Pre 25 years of age is when your natural Testosterone is at its highest. Make sure you are feeding the machine. The single biggest mistake a young lifter makes is not eating enough. I'm going to say it again, the single biggest mistake a young lifter makes is not eating enough. Work, school, social life can all get in the way and be an excuse. Don't let it be, you can Find a way to eat above your minimum requirement to build muscle.

    The mistakes I made was trying to stick to a diet plan that didn't work for me. There are a billion diet protocols out there. Find one that you both like and you can fit into your daily schedule. I have actually put on good amounts of muscle following an intermittent fasting protocol where I fast for 12-16 hours. It doesn't matter how you get your calories in, just get them in. I'm also not talking about cereal, donuts, soda pop and so on. Everything you eat from now on, has to feed the machine. Eat with a purpose, find foods that fit your daily macro requirement (proteins, fats, carbs) and avoid foods that have little nutritional value. You don't have to eat perfect, just have to eat effectively.

    Rest

    You have got to sleep, and you have got to give time for your muscles to repair and grow between exercise sessions. As a general rule of thumb, your muscles will need 72 hours to fully recover from a workout. I personally hit every body part on the 4th day. So if hit legs on Monday, I will hit them again on Thursday

    You grow when you sleep, you can't grow if you don't repair. More is not always better, I have made his mistake numerous times. In fact just recently, I've been making killer progress and I wanted to push the envelope and was training every 3rd day. It cut me down and now I'm battling tendinitis in varies joints. More is not always better. Work smarter not harder.

    Slow Negatives

    The negative phase of the exercise (eccentric) is what breaks down the most muscle fibers. I see so many throw weights up and then let it flop back down. It's not a race to see how fast you can pump out your bench press. All the research shows that slow and controlled eccentric movement produce the most muscle hyperthopy.

    Did you catch that bit? You tear down more muscle fibers the longer your muscle is under tension, this is called Time Under Tension.(TUT) Slow negatives also help prevent injury as you are taking out the momentum and rapid direction changes To the joint and the rapid elongation of the muscle.

    Lifting The Correct Amount Of Weight

    This should go without saying but doesn't. Pick a weight in each exercise that you can both lift and control. If you are using momentum and physics to lift the weight then you are again not keeping the muscle under tension to a maximum amount. This also helps reduce injury risk and helps with staying consistent. Also as we read above time under tension is the single biggest factor in building quality muscle. One caveat to this I'm talking purely for muscle mass growth. Powerlifting has a few differences, that I won't get into on this thread. But if you read this comprehensive paper that summarizes all the current studies in which program is better, you can choose for yourself

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubme...from=/trending

    Set Goals

    This is self explanatory but is another area where young lifters make an easily fixable mistake. Write down your goals, set a time frame, set up your action steps and stay the course. The great thing about exercise (more on them later) is that most exercise programs work, you just got to stay consistent and have a goal in sight to achieve them. I recommend a log book to write down all your goals and track progress. It seems rather silly but most of the big pros do it. It can also give you very helpful data later on the road if you tried a new program and are comparing.


    Do Your Damn Cardio

    There is so much bad broscience about cardio stealing gains. This is only true if you're a distance runner and eat like a bird. In fact there is evidence to suggest that doing moderate amounts of cardio can enhance your muscle gains. Specifically I alternate HIIT Cardio and lower intensity cardio. Getting your heart rate up for extended periods of time actually enhances the release of your bodies own anabolic hormones like Testosterone and HGH. Not to meantion the fact that staying lean helps showcase those hard earned muscles.

    Stretch, Warmup and Stabilizer Work

    I won't go deep into this other than to say, make sure not to skip on these three thing. I like to do stabilizer work as my warmup because it primes both the nervous system and the muscles for work. For upper body I will do heavy rope work, for lower body a light jog or plyometric work. Nothing to hard here, the idea is injury prevention which goes back to being able to be consistent. I feel it's best to stretch AFTER your workout. There are a number of reasons but again it goes back to injury prevention. Artificially lenghting a muscle, the tendons and ligaments prior to exercise around the joint. May increase injury risk slightly until the brain adjusts the propoceptors in the area. For stretching I like everything from yoga to even light cooldown exercise emphasizing the stretch.

    A special note, really make sure you stretch the pecs and biceps so your shoulders don't roll forward over time and cause issues. Also make sure your quads are balanced and stretched well. These two things are the most common muscle imbalances I've seen over the years but are easily fixed.


    Supplements

    There are two essential supplements a young lifter should seriously consider.

    1. Good whey protein source, don't live off of them but do use them strategically pre and post exercise to keep those muscle fed with amino acids so they can grow and repair.
    2. Creatine Monohydrate- This is the single best supplement for young lifters. It is very safe, extremely effective and has many other health benefits. Simply put, IT WORKS!

    How Well You Picked Your Parents

    This is your genetics, some of us have great genetics and some of us like me didn't chose well. Your genetic makeup will determine to some extent how well you are able to put on mass given that you do some of these proper things for growth. Don't get frustrated with your body, learn what works for you. There are many different exercise programs and philosophies and to some extent they all work. You have to find out which diet and exercise program works for you. That maybe a matter of trial and error at first. That is why a log book will help track what worked and didn't work.

    Anabolic Steroids

    Ok I'm not going to pretend they are not out there and you haven't thought about using them. So let's address it head on. I think the 24-25 year olds and anabolic steroids are not the best idea. Why? Because parts of your body are still developing and your body specifically makes Testosterone to cause PERMINATE changes to those areas of the body. Steroids are probably not as dangerous as the general public is told. In fact you have to look very hard in the medical data to find any deaths directly linked to steroid use . But they are also not as safe as the bros in the gym have told you either. Again, they are powerful drugs and can have future ramifications if you do them improperly.

    Your natural test is through the roof anyway so take advantage of it while it's there. If you are seriously considering them. Do your research! They are not magic beans and all the above rules I outlined still apply.

    You can't out juice a poor work ethic. If your workouts are crap, you eat like crap and get crap for sleep. Using roids will be a huge waste of time, money and potentially your health. Someone will say yeah but my buddy ate Taco Bell for every meal and is jacked. Well guess what, you aren't that guy. Because if you were, you wouldn't be reading this.

    Quite honestly if you are not really committed to doing these simple things I have outlined above. Steroids are a very bad idea because they do have consequences associated with them. If you're just a casual lifter and have a hard time being consistent with your exercise. Why would you risk perminate health issues later down the road just to be somewhat pumped up for the 3 months you are cycling?

    Summery

    To wrap it all up, you must be consistent and committed to all these things. No one singular thing can you do well and neglect the others. All these little habits add up and set the environment for your body to grow. Consistency, consistency, consistency if nothing else, let that be your take away message.

    But don't just take my word for it:
    6 time Mr. O explains

    https://youtu.be/hggkrZF-Bpw
    Last edited by MuscleScience; 08-27-2017 at 09:24 PM. Reason: Video Link Added

  2. #2
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    I welcome all comments, Questions or additional tips you think I should add in.
    “If you can't explain it to a second grader, you probably don't understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein

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    I agree with most of it.

    I think your statement about creatine being "extremely effective" is a bit overkill. Imo, vegans and vegetarians would benefit the most.
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    New sticky thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MToption2 View Post
    I agree with most of it.

    I think your statement about creatine being "extremely effective" is a bit overkill. Imo, vegans and vegetarians would benefit the most.
    In my opinion it is. Granted not roid level but as far as a supplement goes I'm comfortable with that statement.

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    Added a new section on genetics and keeping a log book.

    How many of you guys log your workouts?
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    “If you can't explain it to a second grader, you probably don't understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuscleScience View Post
    Added a new section on genetics and keeping a log book.

    How many of you guys log your workouts?
    Have years worth of sweaty log books! Occasionally, if I'm feeling stale or want to change things up a tad, that's quite ofen the first place I look. Since I lift in my shop and don't have to wait on a machine, d'bells, etc. I normally have my lift laid out ahead of time. I don't really let it define my number of reps/sets or my working weight, but it helps me focus if I lay things out ahead of time and know my sequence of lifts. I just load the machines as needed or roll my FID bench over to where I'm working and dive in.
    Really nice write up. About the only other thing I could even think of would be for the younger guys to respect their flexibility and do what is necessary to maintain it as much as possible. You won't regret it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by almostgone View Post
    Have years worth of sweaty log books! Occasionally, if I'm feeling stale or want to change things up a tad, that's quite ofen the first place I look. Since I lift in my shop and don't have to wait on a machine, d'bells, etc. I normally have my lift laid out ahead of time. I don't really let it define my number of reps/sets or my working weight, but it helps me focus if I lay things out ahead of time and know my sequence of lifts. I just load the machines as needed or roll my FID bench over to where I'm working and dive in.
    Really nice write up. About the only other thing I could even think of would be for the younger guys to respect their flexibility and do what is necessary to maintain it as much as possible. You won't regret it.
    Good point, I overlooked that. I'll throw that in. Thanks!
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    “If you can't explain it to a second grader, you probably don't understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein

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    "You can't out juice a poor work ethic. If your workouts our crap, you eat like crap and get crap for sleep. Using roids will be a huge waste of time, money and potentially your health."

    Well done MS. I agree on all points. I preach consistency to anyone that asks my advise: Just do the work, and don't over complicate the work. Simple compound movements will get it done. And if your not meeting your goals, you don't want it bad enough.

    typo fix needed. then sticky this shit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by -Ender- View Post
    "You can't out juice a poor work ethic. If your workouts our crap, you eat like crap and get crap for sleep. Using roids will be a huge waste of time, money and potentially your health."

    Well done MS. I agree on all points. I preach consistency to anyone that asks my advise: Just do the work, and don't over complicate the work. Simple compound movements will get it done. And if your not meeting your goals, you don't want it bad enough.

    typo fix needed. then sticky this shit.
    Thanks I'm glad your reinforced the point about consistency, it's such a huge point. I don't think it can be overstated.

    I'll go back through and fix the typos, the one downside to not having a lab top anymore is typing on iPhone or IPad. The auto correct goes and changes your sentences behind you...
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    “If you can't explain it to a second grader, you probably don't understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein

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    Ive always said all these young guys need is Dedication,Nutrition, training and Rest. Good read!
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuscleScience View Post
    You can't out juice a poor work ethic.

    Like Ender inferred, the above is the best single line there. Really pounds it home and is so true. Very well written MS. Quite informative and helpful to the inexperienced guys.
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    Good info MS!
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    Good info MuscleScience!
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    Pin up! I already called it ya greedy bass tards.
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    Can't begin to tell you how applicable this is to me. These reasons are exactly why I joined this site; To get better educated nutritionally, to hold myself accountable for consistency, and to get general advice from experienced lifters with knowledge I've yet to possess while keeping my natty card. Thank you for this thread, MuscleScience. I'll be sure to put more emphasis on getting rest.

    almostgone - Thanks, friend, I'll be throwing more stretches into my p/w routine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by trenetics View Post
    Can't begin to tell you how applicable this is to me. These reasons are exactly why I joined this site; To get better educated nutritionally, to hold myself accountable for consistency, and to get general advice from experienced lifters with knowledge I've yet to possess while keeping my natty card. Thank you for this thread, MuscleScience. I'll be sure to put more emphasis on getting rest.

    almostgone - Thanks, friend, I'll be throwing more stretches into my p/w routine.
    Your welcome, there is volumes of information on this site. I learn something new almost daily here.
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    “If you can't explain it to a second grader, you probably don't understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein

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    Dorian Yate explains. Link added to OG post.

    https://youtu.be/hggkrZF-Bpw
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    “If you can't explain it to a second grader, you probably don't understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein

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    "In a world full of pussies, being a redneck is not a bad thing."
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    Link to a review study comparing which is better High volume vs low volume higher resistance training for strength and hypertrophy. Added to original post.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubme...from=/trending
    “If you can't explain it to a second grader, you probably don't understand it yourself.” Albert Einstein

    "Juice slow, train smart, it's a long journey."
    BG

    "In a world full of pussies, being a redneck is not a bad thing."
    OB

    No Source Check Please, I don't know of any.


    Depressed? Healthy Way Out!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuscleScience View Post
    Link to a review study comparing which is better High volume vs low volume higher resistance training for strength and hypertrophy. Added to original post.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubme...from=/trending
    Thanks for posting that. I've seen it already, but Schoenfeld's work is proving invaluable in educating people and dispelling some of the "common knowledge" around skeletal muscle hypertrophy.

    I almost never bother cracking the 8-10 rep range on any movement, and never bother above 5 on my primary lifts. Had precisely zero problems building both strength and size thus far, though admittedly my work capacity is still kinda crap. That last one will get better as my overall volume increases over time though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gallowmere View Post
    Thanks for posting that. I've seen it already, but Schoenfeld's work is proving invaluable in educating people and dispelling some of the "common knowledge" around skeletal muscle hypertrophy.

    I almost never bother cracking the 8-10 rep range on any movement, and never bother above 5 on my primary lifts. Had precisely zero problems building both strength and size thus far, though admittedly my work capacity is still kinda crap. That last one will get better as my overall volume increases over time though.
    There is a lot of trial and error trying to find what works for the individual. For me, heavier weight and lower rep range builds my upperbody much more. But for my legs, they ONLY respond to volume. It took me a number of years to figure that out. Maybe if I was smarted if wouldn't have took that long...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuscleScience View Post
    There is a lot of trial and error trying to find what works for the individual. For me, heavier weight and lower rep range builds my upperbody much more. But for my legs, they ONLY respond to volume. It took me a number of years to figure that out. Maybe if I was smarted if wouldn't have took that long...
    Absolutely. People really need to spend more time playing with what works for them.

    Luckily, it was pointed out to me early in my lifting, that if you compared the various stuff used by all of the best in various strength sports, you'd play hell finding two routines that even looked remotely similar. This prevented me from forming that "one way of accomplishing X" syndrome that seems to plague so many of us newbies.

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    hey guys, great thread. I hated to hear the "find out what works for you" answer to anything, but after lifting on and off for 24 years naturally, i've come to realize the truth to it. I used to believe in the volume bs spouted by weider and his ghost writers back in the days before the www and used to get so disheartened when I could not push myself beyond a one and a half hour workout. In the beginning i would work each bodypart twice a week, but then I discovered mike mentzer's heavy duty book (wish i still had it as i've seen them fetch over 150 quid on ebay now lol). I really enjoyed reading his philosophical and practical approach to volume and intensity and I began to train using the HIT system from then on. Since then, I've always trained each bodypart, never more than once a week, and never had a workout that lasted more than one hour, My body was just not physically able to withstand any longer workouts, despite consuming well over three k calories a day.

    anyway, as for age, the only thing that's changed since working out this way since age 18 is that my joints are a lot sorer and almost every fibre of my body aches every morning when I get up.

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