4 Things Your Personal Training Clients Need for Max Muscle Gains

4 Things Your Personal Training Clients Need for Max Muscle Gains

I started lifting weights at 17.

I wanted to get bigger and stronger for lacrosse, but to be completely honest…

I had one more reason—

I wanted to look good without a shirt on.

And I’m not ashamed of that.

In fact, that’s the reason most of our clients step into a gym for the first time.

But there was something I didn’t know when I started:

Gaining muscle is hard.

Your clients might not know that either.

Eventually, I figured it out. Along the way, I realized there are 4 major factors that maximize muscle gains.

Today, I want to share them with you, so you can help your clients who want to achieve that goal.


The 4 Most Important Factors For Gaining Muscle


1. Do the Right Exercises

Gaining muscle takes hard work and serious strength training.

Resistance training is what tells your body:

“Hey. It’s time to get bigger and stronger.”

And there are 3 pieces to the puzzle.

  • Muscle tension
  • Muscle damage
  • Metabolic stress


Beyond that, there are specific exercises that make up these pieces...

Big compound movements, like...

  • Squats
  • Presses
  • Chin-ups
  • Rows

...are great at causing muscle tension and muscle damage.

Make sure compound movements like this are the centerpiece of your client’s programming.

Here’s why these are some of the best exercises for gaining muscle:

  1. They cross more joints, so they use more muscle mass
  2. They allow clients to lift more weight, which increases muscle tension
  3. They cause the most metabolic and hormonal disruption, which can lead to more strength and muscle mass


Here are some other exercises that are great at increasing metabolic stress:

  • Push-ups
  • Dips
  • Chest flyes
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Lunges
  • Leg presses
  • Hamstring curls
  • Reverse flyes
  • Lateral raises


Choosing the correct exercises is a foundational element of your client’s progress.

Focus mostly on compound, multi-joint movements to get the most “bang for your buck,” and add in exercises for metabolic stress.


2. Eat the Right Food

If your client wants to gain muscle, the most important thing he or she can do (aside from training) is...

Eat more food.

Without extra calories, the body doesn’t have what it needs to build new muscle.

But wait—

Don’t write “Big Mac” on that meal plan just yet…

Most people only need about 200-500 extra calories per day to gain muscle.

Give your clients some leniency every now and then, but encourage healthier food choices so they’ll be less likely to overeat.

And emphasize protein.

Your clients will need it to repair damaged muscles from workouts. And the amino acids will help them build new muscle.  

For more on this, you can signup for GymCloud and receive a free nutrition e-guide, The Five Foundations of Eating Clean, in the Documents section of the mobile app.


3. Rest

Muscle growth doesn’t happen in the gym.

It happens in the bedroom…

During sleep.

The body secretes growth hormone while it’s asleep. This helps it grow and repair tissues.

Rest and sleep between workouts helps general mental and physical health too.

So, if...

Strength training tells the body to get bigger and stronger...

And eating the right food gives it the building blocks and energy to build muscle...

Then rest and recovery give it the space and time to actually grow new muscle.

So, make sure your clients rest and sleep enough.


4. Recognize Gender and Genetic Differences

Men might call it “bulking up...”

And women might call it “building lean muscle…”

But both are chasing the same goal—

Bigger muscles.

And there’s primarily one hormone to blame for men and women’s differences in size:


Men have up to 10x more than women!

Since testosterone drives muscle growth, men tend to bulk up like the Hulk…

While women stay relatively lean—

Even though both genders are training for similar goals.

But it can even be more complicated than that.

Two men could have totally different responses even if they do the same program.


Genetic and nutritional differences.

Even though they’re doing the same exercises, they might not put gain muscle the same way.

All this to say—

The same program could have different effects on different clients.

Be prepared for that, and adjust accordingly.


Gaining Muscle Comes Down to Choices

We all know “that guy” who can pack on muscle by just walking into the gym…

That’s genetics.

And if he’s your client—

Your work is cut out for you.

But most people have to put in more effort.

They need your guidance to make better choices about exercise, food, and recovery to reach their goals.

Use this guide to help them do that.

Gaining muscle is hard.

We’ve been there ourselves, and have helped others do it too!

So if you have questions or a client who needs help, let us know.

We’d love to help.

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Andy holds a M.S. in exercise physiology as well as the coveted CSCS certification. He is a self-employed personal trainer and strength coach based in Nashville. When he's not coaching or working out himself, he's got his nose in a book or walking his dog, Jane, at the local park. He likes lifting heavy things, eating BBQ, and drinking local beer.

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