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How to track progress while gaining muscle

The content of this article:

  • Overview of muscle gain
  • Variable factors
  • schedule
  • Key points

During weightlifting and fitness, you usually go through the “bulking” phase to gain as much muscle as possible. However, the muscle gain phase is not suitable for everyone; if you are looking for extraordinarily large muscle gain and improving performance indicators (such as strength) that are sometimes closely related to weight gain, then muscle gain is worth exploring.

The only caveat to using the muscle-building phase is that if the plan lacks strategy, it can sometimes backfire. For example, weightlifters say that they are “gaining muscle” as an excuse to eat casually, ignoring the eating habits they established before the muscle-building phase.

Even in the muscle gain phase, we should still consciously strive to use strategies and keep tracking the indicators. This will not only ensure that our plan is effective but also reduce the rapid growth of unnecessary excess fat. If we always have tracking indicators, we can adjust the plan up or down based on the target and the trend we see.

‌What is muscle gain?

Before we dive into the progress tracking when gaining muscle, let us first talk about what is gaining muscle. Muscle gain is to increase calorie intake, so that daily caloric intake exceeds daily total calorie expenditure (TDEE), to increase as much muscle as possible. A muscle-building diet is usually coordinated with a training plan. The training plan is designed to use excess calories to maximize muscle growth.

The muscle gain phase usually has a set time and a weight gain goal that you want to achieve. Both of these are important because they can be part of a strategy to determine how many excess calories there are, and whether the plan is suitable for the weightlifter’s lifestyle and habits, and whether it is realistic and feasible. If you have difficulty achieving your daily calorie intake goal by diet alone, you can use weight gainers to help you reach your goal.

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Variable factors of muscle gain progress

When we have a deep understanding of the progress tracking of muscle gain, we must understand that we need to determine some variable factors and do not enter the muscle gain stage without preparation. These variables include:

  • Current TDEE: We need to know the current intake, and then determine the daily extra calories in line with the goal and starting point.
  • Body starting point: In addition to knowing our TDEE, we should also know the current body fat content and body composition, because this can help us choose additional calories that meet the strategy and help us track the progress of body composition more smoothly.
  • Muscle gain goal: What do you want to achieve during the muscle gain phase? Is it weight-centered? Or gain muscle for athletic performance?

After establishing these basic elements, you can start to choose the way to track your muscle gain progress. Please note that this article is dedicated to tracking progress. You have to develop the structure of your muscle gain plan according to your life, goals, and needs!

‌‌‌‌How to track the progress of muscle gain

Although tracking progress is important, we also need to determine the starting point, because this allows us to see the progress in different areas during muscle gain. It is a good idea to record the following at the beginning of the muscle gain phase.

  1. body weight
  2. Body fat (average is fine)
  3. Performance indicators, such as 1-RM, activity time, etc.

After recording these, there are many ways to track the progress of muscle gain during muscle gain.

My suggestion is to use weight and another indicator below. Using two indicators, we can be more objective about our progress, and we can have a better and more macroscopic insight into our goals and muscle gain stages.

1. Track your weight

The first indicator to be tracked is your weight, which is also very easy to track. It is normal for your weight to fluctuate daily, especially when the amount of food you eat increases. Therefore, it is wise to record your weight at least three days a week so that you can get an average. Trends and averages must be better than single-day numbers-please remember that we want to make small changes with the data, rather than passively make large changes, and trends can help us do this.

During weight tracking, the first thing to do after getting up in the morning is to record your weight, and to weigh before eating or drinking. In this way, you can better understand the consistent range of weight.

As for weight and changing muscle gain parameters, try to change it according to the weekly weight trend. For example, if you find that from week 3 to week 4, you are gaining much more than you want, and your weight continues to increase in week 4, then you can slightly reduce your intake. Conversely, if growth is slower than expected, increase intake.

2. Progress photos

Another useful tool in-progress photos. It doesn’t take much effort to take pictures, but it can have an extra motivational effect during muscle gain. If possible, take photos of the progress in the morning while weighing (before eating and drinking).

Of course, you can also take photos of your progress during the day and after the workout (I encourage you to take photos after the workout!), but to track progress, save a series of morning photos as much as possible for accurate judgment, because this is The time that muscle and fat may grow.

Try to take morning progress photos at least 1-3 times a week. Please remember that we are recording trends, and one photo may not be able to show our progress in multiple aspects!

3. Third party body fat test

If you want to measure progress more accurately, then using a third-party body fat testing tool can be a good way. To track the amount of body fat and muscle gain during muscle gain, there are a variety of tools that can be used.

Here are some popular options. I list it by accuracy, from high to low!

  • DEXA scan
  • Bod Pod/static water weighing
  • Skinfold Fat Clip
  • Bioresistance analysis

In addition to using bodyweight indicators, the above are all good choices. If you want to use some of the more accurate and expensive options, it is usually a good idea to use them every three to four weeks. If you have limited resources (they can be expensive!), you can use these options before and after the muscle gain phase.

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Key points of muscle gain progress

A good muscle-building plan should have strategies and multiple indicators for tracking progress. In general, it is best to use the two methods in the above list to track progress to ensure that excessive fat gain is reduced during muscle gain.

In the process of gaining muscle, some fat will inevitably be increased. This is not a problem; however, we have to consider our starting point, pay attention to the increase, and what makes us feel particularly good and perform well.

When building muscle, remember to optimize the following:

  • Protein intake: If you want to get enough protein or calories, you can consider weight gain supplements!
  • Nutrition before and after fitness: Since you are in the stage of gaining muscle, you should double your nutrition before and after fitness to help you perform well and maximize your gains.
  • Repair first: We grow very much during the repair period. Therefore, you can consider using some supplements, such as magnesium to support sleep; vitamin D supplementation in colder months; or zinc supplementation to maintain the immune system.

The above are just a few aspects to consider when gaining muscle. If you are in the phase of gaining muscle, use extra calories to promote muscle growth. I wish you a happy gaining muscle!

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