[Episode 72] Understanding Beginner Gains

by | Oct 15, 2021

In this episode we will be talking about getting started with training again and understanding beginner gains. This is the quick progress that a person will often make when they first start training.

It’s why you’ll see so many trainers out there promising you big changes in a really short period of time.

Because when we initially start training and haven’t been very active, our bodies respond to being active quite quickly. Simply because of the fact that we go from doing little to doing something, anything at all that is active.




Understanding beginner gains is important and this is why!

Progress in our training when we first begin can be very easy, when we are consistent with our training.

It doesn’t necessarily even really matter exactly how your program is laid out when you initially begin training.

So long as it is getting your body moving and your muscles working, you’re gonna make progress.

This can be really great and motivating. But it’s so important to remember that this progress is based on training consistently.


Bojack Horseman on a stage announcing "you need to be consistent"


To be honest with you, and I know I’ve said this before. When it comes to training, being consistent with your training is one of the most important things you can do.

Especially if your goal with training is to be able to move well, without pain. And be strong enough to do the things in life that you want to do and feel energised and active.

Because training is not rocket science. And it’s not this hugely complicated activity like some trainers out there will make it out to be.

Which they often do when targeting folks that are new to training.

These trainers rely on a person’s lack of knowledge around training, coupled with beginner gains that come when a person first starts training, to influence people into thinking that everything they need to do is very complex or impossible without their help.

But I digress a little.



What are the main things to know about beginner gains and early progress in exercise?

You may find that when you first begin training and maintain a consistent regime for 3-4 months, you’re gonna notice that your body changes quite quickly. Regardless of how you’re eating or really, what exercises you’re doing.

And this is totally great. These changes to our bodies in the initial stages of training can be so motivating.

But gradually, over time these changes are going to slow down. Remember, our bodies need to adapt to our training and suddenly being more active. This is when a program that gets a little more targeted can be really helpful.


Everyone’s body will handle early progress differently!

Now depending on who you follow out there, you might hear that beginner gains can last anywhere from just a few months to years.

The truth is our bodies all respond differently to being active. What may happen to one person’s body, isn’t necessarily going to translate the same in another person’s body.

Even if they do both follow the same training program, and this is totally ok.

 There are so many fitness “influencers” out there spreading all sorts of stuff about what worked for them, but be mindful that this doesn’t mean it’s gonna work the same for you.

Just know that this is totally ok.

When you first start training, the best thing you can do is just focus on you and where you’re at.


A gif of The Ancient One from Dr Strange saying "It's all about you"


Your body is gonna do what it’s gonna do and showing up for yourself and training regularly is gonna show, I guarantee it.

Just be realistic with your expectations and mindful of seeking quick fixes.



So you’ve started training and have some expectations? Here’s a few tips on how to manage early training progression.

If you’re just starting training, firstly way to go. That’s a big deal and I know that it’s not always the easiest thing to do.

Especially if you’ve been avoiding your body any way you can. Feeling it moving can be tough. And that’s totally ok and valid.

I did speak a little about how weird training can feel last week. If you haven’t had a listen to that episode, it may be worth a listen.

Because I can tell you for sure, that training has some of the strangest and often awkward movements I’ve ever practiced.

Now, as I was saying. If you you’re new to training, the best thing you can do is show up for your sessions. It is the guaranteed way to see changes in your body.

To start with, don’t try and change lots of things at once. If you’re introducing training into your life, that’s a big enough change to start with. Don’t think you’ve gotta also change every other part of your lifestyle at the same time.

Because as I mentioned, understanding beginner gains is important and they’re gonna do a lot for you.

So I’d say if you feel you can, start by moving around 3 days a week to begin with. I’d recommend putting a rest day between each session because the . Because you’re gonna need the rest!


Snoopy going to sleep with a caption that says "let yourself rest"


One important thing to note when understanding beginner gains that that our progress is made in our recovery from our training, not from the training session itself.

Also, don’t think you’ve gotta absolutely smash yourself every session you do to “get the most” out of your beginner gains. This can be a really common thing that folks will try.

Usually because they’ve heard people talking about “milking” their beginner gains. Just, no.

Keep your session manageable and focus on controlled movements and good form. This is will not only help you get the most out of every session, but also help you develop the right form from the get go so that your body stays safe and you can train long term.

Because there is going to be a point where your beginner gains will leave, and then you’re gonna have to begin working a little bit harder to keep progressing.

Which is totally ok and a thing that always happens. Developing great movement patterns from the start will mean that transitioning to more specialised movements will be easier and safer for your body.



Does it feel like you’re not making enough progress? That’s totally fine, normal and also a common experience.

But let’s say, you’ve started training, and you’re not noticing these so called ‘beginner gains’. Maybe it’s been a couple months and you’re starting to question whether or not your program is working? Because this can be a common situation.


Someone holding a small dachshund dog over a bucket of water and the dog is paddling, despite being held in the air. The caption at the bottom says "Why am i not getting anywhere?"


In these situations, I’d say stick with it. It takes about two months for our bodies to adapt to getting moving before any real progress starts to show up. And the changes that will happen aren’t necessarily going to be massive.

Our bodies don’t do rapid change well. It takes time if you’re doing things right. You’ve just got to trust the process and stick with it. Keeping consistent will get you there.

Don’t try to tweak your program or change to another program. This is not going to help long term. And is likely to trap you in a loop of never actually allowing your body to have the chance to progress.

So much of this comes down to being realistic with your expectations from training. Its so important to be realistic about what your body may actually be capable of doing.



Closing Recap

We’ve touched on a lot today.

  • First, we had a look at what beginner gains are, being the initial changes that your body experiences when you first start training. This shows up at muscle gain, weight loss, strength increases and improvements in your cardio fitness.
  • Secondly, we touched on how important it is to be concomitant with your training to allow your body to make the adaptations it needs so that your progress starts to show.
  • Lastly, we spoke about how important it is to stick to your program. And not going and changing it just because things may not be happening at the speed that you expect.

    Until next week friends. Remember, our bodies can take time to change. And regardless of what we may expect, our bodies can only do what they do. So if you’re getting moving stay consistent, change will happen just trust the process.

    Have a rad as day pals.

    Bowie Stover Thinking Pose

    Bowie Stover

    Pronouns: they/them

    My passion to help others through developing an active and healthy lifestyle, along with my desire to contribute as much as I can back to our queer community, has led me to co-found Non Gendered Fitness. To be a small part of your day that makes a HUGE impact on your life would be one of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences that I could hope to have.

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