If you are a beginner to the gym you are likely overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information out there on building muscle, mostly from bodybuilders on steroids.
I remember exactly what it feels like to be a beginner, so I want to lay out EXACTLY what you have to do from A to Z to gain your first 20 lbs. of muscle in this article.
I used to be 137 lbs. as a junior in High School, and am now 205 lbs. with less than 10 percent body fat.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is “Everybody learns from mistakes, but nobody said they had to be yours.”
If I listened to EXACTLY what I’m about to tell you in this article, I would have gotten to my current physique about 5 years sooner.
Seriously, I made so many mistakes it’s ridiculous, and that is why I wanted to put together this comprehensive guide on how to make your first 20 lbs. of gains as fast as possible.
Seriously, building muscle (especially your first 20 lbs.) is not a complicated thing, but when you are going down multiple rabbit holes its easy to feel overwhelmed.
Let’s hop on the gain train and get this party started!
Your First 20 Lbs. of Muscle Gains from A to Z
PART 1 – Nutrition and X Factors
We are starting this article off with nutrition because its actually the most important part. A lot of guys think they are eating enough to build muscle but they are completely wrong.
I recommend you use some sort of calorie tracking system like “My Fitness Pal” or whatever is convenient for you.
How many calories do you need to eat and how will we eat them? No need to overcomplicate things, let’s make this really easy!
I could throw all these fancy charts at you and completely overwhelm you, talk about “carb cycling” and all these fancy things that fitness models and body builders do, but your body is PRIME for muscle growth as a beginner so all you need to concern yourself with is that you are eating enough calories for GROWTH and that you are in a calorie surplus.
We are simply going to take our bodyweight and multiply it by 15 to get an approximation on our “maintenance calories.”
What I mean by this is the amount of calories that our body’s burn naturally throughout the course of school, work, working out, and overall running around on planet earth!
Once again, you will see various guesstimates on this all over the internet. IGNORE THEM… and here is why.
Now that we have our approximate “maintenance calories” lets do some more simple math.
Remember how I said we have to be in a calorie surplus to gain muscle mass? We are going to add between 500 and 1,000 calories to this number to ensure we are in a proper surplus.
Let’s say you weigh 150 lbs.
So far we are at 150 lbs. x 15 which equals 2,250 Calories at maintenance.
Next we are going to add between 500 and 1,000 to this number Every single day and keep track of our weight each week to make sure we are gaining weight.
Let’s say we are very active and training like a beast. That means we take the 2,250 maintenance calories and add 750 total calories to it, meaning we will have to eat 3,000 calories Per Day.
If the 150 lb. man-child is training like he should (which we are about to cover) – and NOT gaining about 1 lb. per week this means he needs to continue to add more calories.
This is not uncommon with someone under 21 with a super fast metabolism. That is why its so important to track your calories and weigh yourself!
I repeat – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!
WEIGH YOURSELF AT THE SAME TIME EACH WEEK!
I like to weigh myself either Sunday Nights or Monday mornings (keep in mind your weight fluctuates night vs morning – which is why you want to weigh yourself at the same time each week)
I have all of my coaching clients do this and literally 100% of them all gain mass when its structured like this.
The reason that we have to weigh ourselves is this:
We all have different metabolisms, workout volume, and activity levels.
Some of us will have to add 1,000 to our maintenance calories due to these factors, while others will only have to add 500.
The easiest thing to do is get on the scale and make sure its moving up by at least 1 lb. per week, because when you follow the workout advice we are about to get into, you will be gaining mass like a Boss!
Part 2 – Workout Routine and X Factors
This is the Workout Regimen That packs on 20 Lbs. the Fastest!
Seriously, make sure you pay extra close attention to what I’m about to say because if you don’t it will cause devastating side effects which include:
-lack of progress in the gym
-No “mirror gains” after close to a year of working out
-An embarrassingly weak bench press and squat
-Years of frustration and social media trolling
Your first two years in the gym you need to be doing tons of BICEP CURLS!
Seriously, doing bicep curls is going to be huge for you because if you have bigger arms you will command respect and get more girls, right?
Ok, I’m being really sarcastic…
There is no need to be drop-setting bicep curls if you can’t even do a regular weighted pull-up. You are actually causing more harm than good!
This was the single most catastrophic mistake that I made when I was younger, and I’m STILL playing catchup from it.
The Great Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was also on shit tons of steroids but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a ton of knowledge said this:
“My first 2 years in the gym all I did was the basic compound lifts, the bench press, squat, dead-lift, overhead press, and rowing exercises. That formed my foundation and I would recommend everyone does that regimen the first 2 years.”
Arnold is a bodybuilding legend for a reason, he paid attention to the details and he knows how important an incredible foundation is.
The quickest 20 lbs. of PURE MUSCLE MASS will come from getting stronger on the compound lifts.
This is because these exercises put the most overload on your largest muscle groups, as well as working surrounding muscle groups.
You might think that a set of bicep curls is going to get you bigger arms, when in reality its actually getting stronger on pulling exercises like the barbell row and underhand grip pull-up!
The great thing about the regimen that I’m going to lay out for you is that you are going to see super fast progress.
X Factor Pro Tip: Get yourself a composition notebook and keep track of all your lifts each workout! I can’t recommend this enough.
If you don’t do this you are going to go in the gym and have no recollection of what you lifted last time.
The beauty of tracking your lifts is you always know how much you have to lift to beat your previous workout, and this will cause you to get stronger each workout, and build muscle faster with progressive overload!
Here are the exercises we will be focusing on during our first 2 years!
Barbell Bench Press
Db Bench Press
Barbell Incline bench press
Db incline bench press
Db Shoulder press
Seated Military Press
Db Arnold Press
Underhand Grip Barbell Row
Pull Ups (Wide and Medium Grip)
Db 1 Arm Row
Barbell Front Squat
Db Walking Lunges
Leg Extension Machine
EZ Bar Curl Close Grip (Perfect Form, Slow Motion)
Straight Bar Curl
Weighted Dips (Or regular if not strong enough)
For Skin Tearing Biceps & Triceps try our 28 Day Nuclei Overload Arm Trainer.
Stiff Leg Deadlift
Lying Hamstring Curl
Weighted abdominal crunch
Monday: Chest Day!
Thursday: Arms and Shoulders
Friday: Spinal Erectors and Abs
Now we have an entire workout laid out for you, and you better not skip out on those front squats!
Seriously, you should have a laser like focus on every single 1 of these lifts, but especially getting stronger on these:
Barbell Bench Press
Stiff Leg Dead-Lift
I would put the front squat and stiff leg dead-lift near the top of the “not fun to do” list of exercises, but they work out hugely important muscle groups that are usually weak in 99% of guys, so the faster you start training these compound lifts the bigger stud you will be in a few years, trust me!
Pro Tip: Sets, Reps, Etc.
I recommend that you perform anywhere between 3-5 sets of all of these exercises each workout depending on how much time you have.
Your reps should go down each set as you attempt to lift heavier and you get warmed up.
I recommend 8-12 reps per set on your 1st set, then I suggest moving in the 5-8 rep range on your “heavy sets” that you are tracking each workout. (Remember, get yourself a workout Log!)
Some guys like to gradually increase their weight EACH set. You can do it like that, or just lift the same “heavy weight” for 2-3 total sets.
Once again, just keep track and beat your workout scores each week!
So a typical bench press workout might look something like this:
12 Reps – 10 reps – 8 reps – 6 reps (Increasing weight each set)
12 Reps – 7 reps – 6 reps – 5 reps (Same “heavy weight” for sets 2,3, and 4)
Change it up and just keep track!
Rest time should be about 90 seconds to 2 minutes long.
You will find that you need more rest time on exercises like the squat and deadlift.
Wanna Make More Gains?
You know what is the biggest X Factor to making crazy fast gains? Surrounding yourself with motivation and like-minded people.
That’s why I put together this bad-ass Private Facebook Group where you can connect with me and ask any questions you have.
I call the group “Super Human You” – and I want you to join so you can connect with me right now! I’m all about forming a super motivating community where everyone reached their goals.
After you do that I want to leave you with a Gift I’m really excited about, and you are about to see why.
I call it the “Panty Droppin Gains Workshop” – and it includes 5 videos that I used to go from skin & bones to muscular & shredded!
You’ll also get some bad-ass NFL Combine Workouts and so much more.
It’s also 100% Free and I promise if you want to make really fast gains as a beginner it will be your ultimate resource.
Can’t wait to help you get Swole Brother!