Anyone who has been lifting for about a year or so consistently has seen massive increases in their performance over that time. This is what lifters call “Newbie Gains”. The body is able to lift more, get bigger, recover faster, and increase performance exponentially when first starting out. Being a beginner in weightlifting is an exciting thing because the body will make great strides quite quickly as the body moves closer to its genetic potential. This process takes about 3-9 months.
So why does this happen?
Blame the General Adaptation Syndrome, or GAS. There are three stages that make up GAS.
- Alarm and Shock
In order to make changes to the body, enough stress must be placed on the body in order to start this cycle. As a beginner, nearly anything will stress the body enough to start off the cycle and move towards adaptation. With this being the case, the body is able to recover very quickly from these because it is not overly taxing to the nervous system. For a beginner, it is possible to add 5-10 lbs of weight to your bench every workout, and up to 20 lbs to the squat and deadlift every single workout.
The body’s neuro-muscular efficiency improves, form improves, and your body bounces back quickly. As a beginner, you should look to squat 3 times a week, bench press twice a week, and deadlift once a week. Assistance work should include barbell rows, chin-ups, and Romanian Deadlifts.
It only takes 24-48 hours for the beginning lifter to fully recover from their workouts.
So why does this stop?
As the lifter gets stronger, the stress needed to cause change increases, and this puts more stress on the nervous system. It can no longer increase strength workout to workout, and now takes about a week to adequately recover and adapt as needed. This is when a lifter becomes intermediate and should resort to actual programming rather than a 5×5 or similar approach. A good first program for an intermediate lifter to follow is the Texas Method.
Research that if you are curious or feel free to ask me about it!
Success is voluntary my friends.