When most people go to the gym, they don’t want to get smaller and weaker. They want to lose fat sure, but nobody is trying to lose muscle and strength.
If you are, I imagine you’re already more muscular than you want to be. For the majority of people out there, your pursuit of maximal strength and hypertrophy will never be reached.
If you’re one of those people, you’re going to want to stick around because in this article I’m going to go over the top 5 signs that you’re building muscle.
These tips include:
- Using the mirror to gauge progress.
- Measuring muscle groups with a
- Bodyweight is increasing but body fat % is staying relatively the same
- Increased Energy & Stamina
- Improved Performance In The Gym
Let’s jump right into the article!
Here we go!
Use The Mirror To Gauge Progress
This is something that anybody can do, however, it’s a little more subjective to other methods. The bottom line is, if you’re looking lean and more muscular in the mirror, odds are you’re building muscle!
If you’re feeling flat and your waistline is increasing, there’s a good chance your muscle-building efforts aren’t going the way you want them to.
This is why it’s important to increase calorie balance slowly. If you increase them too quickly in an attempt to force muscle growth, chances are you’re adding more body fat without much muscle.
As somebody that’s done this in the past, I can tell you now it’s a complete waste of time! You absolutely want to add calories in slowly so your physique in the mirror changes the way you want it to.
The other thing that works well is taking progress pictures as well! As you gain bodyweight, it’s going to be difficult to track week to week with just a mental note. That’s why it’s important to take pictures to compare your look as the weeks roll by.
When in doubt, add calories slowly (200-500 Calories), use the mirror and take pictures to document your journey. It will be much easier without a doubt!
Measure Muscle Groups With
Measuring your individual muscle groups is an awesome way to make sure you’re gaining muscle mass. If you’re interested in building bigger biceps and triceps, measuring the circumference of your arms will tell you if you’re gaining properly.
For legs, measuring will tell you if you’re building in your quads/hamstrings. You can do the same thing for calves, chest, lats and other muscle groups as well.
This is a great way to track progress as well as making sure your waistline isn’t growing too. Using a simple tape measure will give you fast data on your muscle size without relying on subjective means such as how you look in a mirror.
A combination of the two will give you the best results while being the most accurate. If you go from an arm size of 16 inches to 18 inches and your waist is staying the same size, chances are you gained 2 inches between your biceps and triceps.
Definitely a good way to measure progress over the long term!
Bodyweight Increases But Body Fat % Stays The Same
When the goal is building muscle mass, you want to be in a calorie surplus. 200-500 calories is a good range to start in to give your body the nutrients it needs to build muscle tissue.
Being in a calorie surplus will increase your bodyweight over time. The weight on the scale should be going up as you increase calories over time. The important thing is to not overfeed and build a higher percentage of body fat in relation to muscle mass.
A great way to test this is by measuring your body fat % to ensure you aren’t just getting fast. It happens more often than you think! If your weight on the scale is going up and your body fat % is staying relatively the same, you’re on the right path.
If you notice you’ve gained 20 lbs in a month and your body fat percentage went up 10%, I hate to break it to you but you simply added a ton of fat. This isn’t what we want to achieve obviously!
Make sure to increase calories slowly and add no more than 1% of your bodyweight per week. If you’re 200 lbs, this is a gain of 2 lbs per week. This will keep you from gaining a bunch of fat and build more from muscle growth.
There’s also another important factor to bring into the debate. If your body fat percentage is already higher than 15%, your body is in a bad place to allow for proper nutrient partitioning. This means that your body doesn’t use the carbs, fats, proteins, and calories as efficiently.
If you’re leaner, around 10% body fat, your body does an awesome job of partitioning nutrients correctly. This will allow your body to utilize nutrients for muscle growth and recovery much better.
What this boils down to is you’ll gain more muscle mass and less body fat if you’re leaner. If you’re concerned about when you should be trying to be in a calorie surplus, get down to 10% body fat before you do anything. This will give you the best bang for your buck!
Increased Energy & Stamina
One of the best benefits of building more muscle is how it helps improve your energy levels and stamina. If you have more muscle, you’re able to do basic tasks much easier in everyday life.
This is true whether you’re overweight or underweight. More muscle mass will give you more energy than those that have less muscle mass. On average of course!
I’ve had younger athletes train with me that have no work capacity whatsoever. They’re also much smaller than any other demographic I usually train. A couple of weeks building muscle and their performance is completely different!
This is an important benefit that most people need to realize. A bigger and more muscular body is a more useful body. If you’re dragging ass in the gym and feel like crap in your everyday life, odds are you aren’t eating enough for muscle growth.
When you’re in a massing phase (muscle gain), your goal should be to eat as much food as possible without adding unnecessary amounts of body fat. If you’re doing this, you’ll have more energy and build more muscle. The greater amounts of muscle will improve your stamina and make you better at life!
Bottom line: if you’re training for more muscle mass and your energy levels aren’t going through the roof, you need to eat more and train harder!
Improved Performance In The Gym
This is the best way to gauge progress in the gym. Whether your goal is muscle gain or you’re working on strength. The other awesome thing about tracking muscle growth this way is that it’s easy!
Here’s how simple this method is.
- If you’re gaining strength in the 5-20 rep range with big compound movements, you’re gaining muscle mass.
- If you’re able to do more reps each workout, you’re building muscle.
- If you notice you’re recovering faster in between workouts and sets, you’re building muscle.
As you can see, there’s a ton of ways to discover if you’re building muscle mass or not. Just by following these basic guidelines and getting stronger, you’re going to be able to determine your progress immediately!
Here are some examples of how to track this in reality.
- If you go from 200 lbs for a set of 5 on the Bench to 200 for 10, you’ve definitely built muscle. Doing more reps at the same weight is an awesome way to determine muscle growth.
- If you go from 300 for 10 reps on the Squat to 400 for 10, you’ve absolutely built muscle! Using a heavier weight for the same number of reps is a surefire way to determine muscular growth.
- If you’re doing more reps and sets each workout and you’re recovering quicker, you’re building muscle mass. The more muscle you have (to a point), the more energy you’ll have. I alluded to this in an earlier article, those that are super underweight or super overweight with no muscle mass have similar energy levels. Those that have more muscle whether they’re underweight or overweight, will generally have more energy than any other demographic.
As you can see, this is probably the # 1 way to track your progress for muscle growth. If you aren’t getting stronger or doing more reps, you’re most likely spinning your wheels. Use your progress in the gym to gauge your success. This is the best way to ensure you’re progressing in a way that makes sense.
Bottom line: make sure you’re tracking your progress in the gym. If you’re one of those people that just go by feel without tracking your workouts in a training notebook, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Work on getting stronger and doing more reps. The stronger you are in the 5-20 rep range, the more muscle you’ll build. If you’re only training in the 1-5 rep range, you might not be building as much muscle, unfortunately.
Get stronger, keep an eye on the mirror, and measure your waist, muscle groups & body fat percentage. As long as you’re doing these things, you’re definitely going to know if you’re not building muscle. If that’s the case, it’s time to change things up to make sure you do!
Thanks for reading! If you’re having trouble determining if you’re building muscle tissue, drop a comment below and I’ll help you figure it out!
I hope you all have an awesome week!
Until next time,