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What Are Newbie Gains?

Naptime. Summer vacation. Recess. Someone else doing the grocery shopping. These are beautiful elements of youth, right? Things I wish I had appreciated when I had them. I mean, how awesome would it be to have recess or naptime at work?!? Alas, we rarely appreciate these times when we’re in them.

The sports equivalent of this is “Newbie Gains.”

Newbie Gains” is a term for the remarkably quick progress you make when you start something new. But, much like growing up, it doesn’t feel like it’s happening quickly at all. It feels clunky, awkward, slow, and sometimes defeating.

But from a coaching perspective – and in hindsight – it’s really the most magical time.

Why Are Newbie Gains?

The easiest way to understand what’s happening with Newbie Gains is to think about your progress in 2 pieces: strength and skill.

When you start out, your natural strength is going to be greater than your skill because everything is new. You haven’t yet learned how to move your body in a way that is comfortable and efficient. You’re still learning the details. In other words, your body is stronger than your skill allows you to demonstrate.

In the beginning, skill builds more quickly than strength (for a lot of reasons that aren’t super relevant here). You will experience the increase in skill in a more nebulous way as a growing familiarity with the movements and in a very concrete way as increased weight on the bar.

It’s not uncommon to add 5-10lbs. (or more!) to a movement each week as you learn how to lift. In the world of strength sports, this is wild! For reference, later in your lifting career, we shoot for a 5-10lb. increase over the course of 6-12 months rather than 2-4 weeks.

You will never in your lifting career add weight to the bar as quickly as you do in your first six months of lifting. It’s really fun and super exciting!

What Happens When Newbie Gains Are Over?

Newbie Gains last a different length of time for each individual, and they vary by sport. In lifting, you can expect to experience Newbie Gains for anywhere from 6-12 months. Then what happens?

Then you hit your first plateau. *womp*womp*

This is where the rubber meets the road for many people when learning a new sport. When your skill catches up to your strength, the progress starts to level out. As mentioned before, strength typically improves much more slowly than skill, especially at the beginning. So at this first plateau, we really start pushing forward into true strength training.

Building strength takes good programming, purposeful recovery, and – most importantly and most frustratingly – time.

But never fear! You will still be adding weight to the bar, and you’ll absolutely feel the positive impacts of strength training in your daily life. This is when we talk about enjoying the “process” of lifting as much as the progress, and we measure progress in all kinds of ways that aren’t just weight on the bar.

This is also where it’s super beneficial to have a supportive community around you. When lifting becomes a part of your life and your routine, the former strangers at the gym become your friends, and your coach really gets to know you. It’s not an increase in bar weight, but it’s an equally magical experience if you know how to approach it.

Want Some Newbie Gains?

Sadly, my personal days of lifting Newbie Gains are over. But the second best thing is vicariously experiencing Newbie Gains by helping YOU to get them too! When you make Newbie Gains, everybody wins 🙂

The first step is setting up a free coaching call with the PPG Team. You can do that by clicking the “Free Intro” button on this page or by emailing us at [email protected] with “Newbie Gains” in the subject line.

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