When most people go to the gym, they don’t want to get smaller and weaker.
They want to focus on losing fat sure, but nobody is trying to lose muscle and strength.
For the majority of people out there, your pursuit of getting stronger and building muscle will never be fully reached.
Let’s learn the top signs you’re building muscle so you can improve your body composition.
Table Of Contents
- 1 1. You Notice A Difference In The Mirror
- 2 2. Your Soreness Goes Away Quicker
- 3 3. Life Gets Easier
- 4 4. Your Measurements Are Increasing
- 5 5. Improved Mood
- 6 6. Excited To Get In The Gym
- 7 7. Bodyweight Increases But Body Fat % Stays The Same
- 8 8. Improved Posture
- 9 9. Increased Energy & Stamina
- 10 10. Other People Start To Notice The Difference
- 11 11. More Hunger Pangs
- 12 12. Improved Performance In The Gym
- 13 13. Your Clothes Fit Differently
- 14 Conclusion
1. You Notice A Difference In The Mirror
This is something that anybody can do, however, it’s a little more subjective than other methods.
The bottom line is, if you’re looking lean and more muscular in the mirror, odds are you’re on the right path to build muscle!
If you’re feeling flat and your waistline is increasing, there’s a good chance you’re not building muscle.
This is why it’s important to increase calorie balance slowly.
If you increase them too quickly in an attempt to force weight gain, 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! The more time you spend adding on extra body fat, the more time you’ll spend losing fat to get back to where you were.
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 weight, 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 (add 5-10% extra calories per day), use the mirror, and take pictures to document your journey.
It will be much easier without a doubt!
2. Your Soreness Goes Away Quicker
The soreness you feel between workouts is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short.
Beginner lifters are going to get sore pretty much every weight training session while starting out. Because they’re untrained, any amount of work will cause soreness.
Over time, as you work out more, you’ll get used to the workload you’re placing on your body.
As you continue to build more muscle fibers through your strength training, your soreness will go away much quicker as well.
Plus, you can push yourself much harder over time without getting obnoxiously sore like you used to.
The ability to adapt to a certain workload and recover quicker is a sure sign that you’re growing!
3. Life Gets Easier
It might sound silly, but as you gain muscle and improve your body composition, life is going to be easier to handle as a result.
Walking around is easier and your posture gets better so aches and pains tend to dissipate.
A trip to the supermarket is even easier because you’re getting stronger overall. Everything you lift and move will be just a little less demanding from getting stronger and gaining muscle.
Above all else, the changes in your body composition will give you more confidence. This will change how you carry yourself and how you interact with other people.
Plus, all of these factors will help improve your mental health as well.
If you’re gaining muscle, all of these things will happen without you noticing them. But if you pay attention, you just might realize you’re on your way to a more muscular and stronger version of yourself!
4. Your Measurements Are Increasing
Measuring your individual muscle groups with a tape measure is an awesome way to make sure you’re gaining muscle.
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 if your muscle fibers are increasing in 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 the weight gain of 2 inches between your biceps and triceps was mostly muscle.
Definitely a good way to measure progress over the long term!
5. Improved Mood
Earlier I mentioned that your confidence improving and day-to-day life being easier to deal with are definitely signs that muscle growth is occurring.
Right along with this are improvements to your mood.
When you notice you’re building muscle and making progress how you want to, naturally that’s going to excite you!
You feel better in your skin, are less self-conscious, and overall just feel better in every way.
Rest assured, if you’re adding weight to all your lifts and noticing muscle growth in the mirror each week, your mood is going to be much better too!
6. Excited To Get In The Gym
There is nothing worse than getting to the gym and feeling like you’re spinning your wheels.
I know a ton of people out there completely understand this feeling and it’s a sad predicament for sure.
However, if you’re super excited to go to the gym every day, you see changes on the scale or even in how your clothes fit differently, and all your lifts are increasing consistently – you’re definitely gaining muscle!
That excitement to keep making progress and getting your workouts in is going to push you even harder to make more gains.
It’s a great feeling and one I understand far too well!
7. Bodyweight Increases But Body Fat % Stays The Same
When your main goal is to build muscle, you want to be in a calorie surplus.
5-10% extra calories is a good start 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 it isn’t just fat gain. 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 that was pretty much all fat gain.
This isn’t what we want to achieve as you’ll be forced into losing fat for longer after you’re done bulking.
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 weight gain of 2 lbs per week. This will keep fat gain at bay and allow you to build more lean muscle tissue.
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!
8. Improved Posture
As you gain more muscle, you’re going to notice your posture is starting to get better as well.
However, this is only true if you’re weight training properly. You should be trying to build up your upper back, lats, and rear delts.
If you’re just training your chest and biceps, not only is your physique going to be very imbalanced, but your posture is going to go to shit as well.
As you build more muscle in your back, it will help pull your shoulder blades together and provide better support.
This will help prevent a hunch back while also preventing your shoulders from being pulled forward.
If you notice your posture is getting better, odds are, you’re building muscle in the right places. This will keep you safe, prevent injury, and set you up to have the most balanced physique possible.
9. Increased Energy & Stamina
One of the best benefits when you build 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. 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 weight gain.
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 doing proper weight training for more muscle mass and your energy levels aren’t going through the roof, you need to eat more and train harder!
10. Other People Start To Notice The Difference
This is another easy one to figure out!
As you’re building muscle, you might not notice the small differences on a day-to-day basis.
However, the people around you will start noticing your gains and might even ask if you got bigger recently!
Some might even ask if you use steroids! Which, if you’re all natural, is actually the biggest compliment you can get!
11. More Hunger Pangs
Building and maintaining muscle is a metabolically demanding process that requires a lot of nutrients.
As you gain weight, you might notice that even with your increased food intake, you’re still getting hungry.
This is a sign that your body is using the calories effectively toward muscle growth and recovery.
Which is awesome because you can probably add a little more food.
Just make sure not to overdo it and gain weight in excess of 1% of your bodyweight per week. Unless you’re super lean and have a hard time putting on muscle in the first place of course.
However, if you’re increasing your calories, hitting personal records on all your lifts, and you’re still hungry – that’s a great sign!
12. Improved Performance In The Gym
This is the best way to gauge progress in the gym, whether you’re lifting weights for muscle gain or just getting stronger.
The other awesome thing about tracking weight gain this way is that it’s easy!
Here’s how simple this method is.
- If you’re lifting weights and gaining strength in the 5-20 rep range you’re gaining muscle.
- If you’re pushing close to failure, and you’re beating your reps week after week, you’re building muscle.
As you can see, just by following these basic guidelines and getting stronger, you’re going to be able to determine your progress immediately!
This is a much better way to track progress anyways as a mind muscle connection is definitely not required.
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.
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.
Feeling a bigger pump or a better mind muscle connection is just not something you need to pay attention.
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.
13. Your Clothes Fit Differently
This is probably one of the easiest signs you’re building muscle!
If you notice your clothes are starting to get tighter across your chest, shoulders, arms, and legs but your waistline is still about the same – that’s a huge signal that what you’re doing is working!
Stay the course and keep doing what you’re doing!
If you notice that everything is fitting tighter but your waist is growing a little more than you like, just dial back the calories a bit and take it slower.
Regardless, strength training to get bigger and having to buy new clothes for more muscle is an awesome feeling!
Now I turn it over to you!
Do you think you’ll be able to track your muscle gain better after reading this post?
Let me know in the comment section below, right now!
Until next time,