How To Be A Successful Fitness Entrepreneur

As a diet coach and trainer I get a lot of questions over training, nutrition and supplementation. Hosting the Training and Nutrition Truth podcast is an avenue I get to talk about those things, or even presenting at conferences and seminars. But as much as I talk about training, nutrition, and supplementation I also get a TON of questions over the business side of being an online coach/trainer. This article I am writing is based on the PowerPoint presentation I give all the U.S. and it’s one of the topics I enjoy talking about the most. I hope this information that I have learned from spending 10 years in the trenches failing over and over again helps you see through all the B.S. out there and shows you a clear path to maximize your potential and grow the business you dream of.


2016 Physique Summit Conference speakers discussing being successful fitness entrepreneurs

Current Landscape

We live in the single greatest era in the history of man when it comes to being a fitness entrepreneur. Everywhere we look we see new trainers and coaches popping up and starting their own business, and the industry is very over-saturated right now. We see trainers making six figures a year selling online programs through their IG pages (most are running transformation contests) that 4-5 years ago just wasn’t possible. We see very successful well known coaches who have been using the internet for 10-15 years making a great deal of money because they weren’t late to the game.

Making money isn’t a bad thing, we shouldn’t look down on some of these IG trainers selling cookie cutter plans making six figures a year- they built their brand and following and are cashing in on it. Sure there are better plans that can be written, more personalized, etc but these coaches are still taking full advantage of where everyone’s eyes and attention is at- social media and mobile phones.

Let’s start breaking down why social media is the most important tool to use for advertising and building your brand, and then follow that up with how to maximize it to your advantage to help you grow a successful fitness business. Just because everyone is starting up a coaching/training business doesn’t mean they will be successful. I assure you, I see hundreds come and go because most don’t have the chops to do the things I am listing below. They don’t want to do the work. The work… that’s what’s going to get you past making a quick buck in the beginning and having something long term and sustainable.

Social Media/Building Your Personal Brand

I know I personally wouldn’t have a business even remotely close to I have had it not been for social media, namely Facebook. But let’s back up here for a minute and explain why social media is so important.

When was the last time you watched TV and saw a commercial and went and bought a product being advertised? What about magazines, when was the last time you saw an ad and then purchased a product? What about the radio, when was the last time you listened to the radio and then went and bought a product being advertised over the air waves? You probably havent, and it’s pretty fascinating when you think about the fact that most of us haven’t even been watching TV, and esp not watching commercials. Most of us don’t listen to the radio anymore, we buy songs online and listen to our phones. Magazines? Why buy them when we can visit the mag’s website and view it digitally and not have stuff laying around? You see what I am getting at? The MOBILE PHONE is where our attention is right now, and rapidly shifting there.

This brings us to social media, and why it’s so important to have a lock on your social media outlets. Why? Because that’s where everyone’s attention is, and you want to advertise (be it soft selling like posting up before/afters of clients or buying straight up FB ads) and where you will get the most bang for your buck.

The 3 most popular platforms are- FB, IG, and SnapChat with the latter gaining rapidly on FB and IG. Don’t hesitate, start up a Snap acct now and learn to start using it because it’s going to be a big time player for years to come. There are others such as Pinterest, Youtube, Twitter etc but these are B players in my opinion next to the 3 I listed because they don’t have the attention of people like FB, IG and Snap.

Assuming you have at least 1-2 social platforms up and running, let’s talk about how you can use them to maximize growing your brand and “advertising” softly to potential customers. And realize, YOU are your own personal brand. Whether you have a personal FB page or business page, YOU are still your own brand. Remember that.

Content, Content, CONTENT

This is something so many business owners don’t get. The content you put out is everything and how good it is can be the difference of your brand growing or being stagnant. I don’t care if someone has over 100k followers on IG, if they put out content that sucks they will only get so far. Providing valuable content is key, and here’s what it entails….

Ask yourself this question- “does my content solve a problem or provide value that ultimately leads in the direction of helping them?” If not, it’s still content it’s just not delivering the most benefit for people reading your posts. Take a physique athlete that has 100k IG followers who posts nothing but pics of their physique and maybe some motivational quotes once in a while versus the physique athlete with 100k IG followers who posts up workout examples, recipes, supplement advice, tips of the day, etc. THAT is valuable, those posts provide VALUE to the person consuming the content, and that is what will scale and grow someone’s brand following. That girl posting ass pics every other post, sure she will get 3000 likes, but are those people their to buy her training programs? Hell no they arent. That’s not solid content because likes are just a number, it’s what you are doing with your following that counts. PROVIDE VALUE. HELP PEOPLE SOLVE A PROBLEM.

The more value you provide people the more organic your following will be, and the more loyal they will be. When you provide them so much value they benefit, they will gladly support your business. A great book written over this topic is “Jab Jab Jab Right Hook” by Gary Vaynerchuck.


An example I do myself is post up a weekly “Knowledge Bomb” on FB covering topics such as cardio, training, nutrition, even business topics are discussed and they help people and provide them value. I cant tell you how many people have messaged me thanking me for taking the time to do that, for FREE. Those people are also the people who are supporting my business buying my two books, attending my conference and speaking events, etc. I have provided them so much value they are loyal in turn. And let me tell you, I appreciate the hell out of these people because without them I wouldnt even be writing this.

Education (Outside of School)

So many people ask me if they need a college education to be a fitness entrepreneur. You don’t. That’s not to say there’s not benefit to having an education. Here’s my short take on the subject and then a faster way to learn.

If you are going to own your business, you don’t need a degree. If it means you are going to accumulate a lot of debt right out of college, don’t do it. I have $110k in debt from my degrees and I don’t even need them. Huge mistake I made before I decided to own my own business. If you are going to go work for a company and they require a degree then yes by all means go for it, that’s not the same animal we are talking about here.

Here are ways you can fast track your education to becoming a better fitness entrepreneur, and recommended sources linked for your convenience:

PodcastsTraining and Nutrition Truth, The MFCEO Project, Ask Gary Vee Podcast

Books– “Muscle and Strength Pyramids”, “Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy”, “Metabolic Capacity and Reverse Dieting”, “The Flexible Fat Loss Solution”, “#AskGaryVee”, “Relentless”. There are many more here but this is a good mix of books covering training and nutrition and business/personal development.

Learn from a Coach– Everyone can use a good coach, and one way to fast track is to hire someone successful and learn from them. I have learned from multiple coaches over the years and have equally learned from their success and failures. This can be tied to learning about the body or learning about running a successful business. Remember you are as successful as the people you surround yourself with. Even if you dont hire a coach you can follow them and learn from their behaviors or from the content they are putting out.

Conferences/Seminars– This can be HUGE. I personally own the Physique Summit Conference with Cliff Wilson and we bring in the top coaches from around the world each year for a two day event that is like no other. We cover business but also the science that relates to physique enhancement. There are great conferences out there, I also recommend the ISSN conferences. Sometimes you will have smaller local seminars given by top area trainers, it all depends on what level you are on and can afford.


2017 Physique Summit Conference- a great way to learn from the best

6 Things You Can Do To Drive Business

These 6 things below have absolutely been key to me scaling and growing my business over the years. These are 6 things are guaranteed ways to move your business in the right direction as long as you are relentless with them and providing good content. These are listed in no particular order:

1 Extreme Focus On Each Client– The number one way to grow your business is to get client results. Most trainers and coaches focus so much on growing their business they forget the key base of everything- client satisfaction. No matter what, make sure you dial your focus in on EVERY client like a lazer beam. Tighten things up, talk to them more, ask them more questions. That all leads to not only better results for them, but satisfaction. Happy clients with great results tell 5 people, there is no better marketing than word of mouth from a satisfied client.

2 Post 3x a Week Minimum About Your Business– A lot of people will fall short here, and 3x a week isnt much at all but too much can be a detriment as well. It’s all about finding that balance for your audience and followers to see. I like people that I help grow their business to start out with 3 posts a week on FB of either before/afters, workout tips, recipes, or anything that shows what you do as a trainer/coach that provides value. The only exception to this amount is IG because that’s something that needs to be done often and is a different platform than FB. I recommend at least posting daily on IG, I personally post 2x a day and some have had great success with 3x a day at the key times of 9 am, 5 pm, and 9 pm. Make sure to maximize hashtags. And, dont post asking people to hire you all that time that turns people off fast. Post content that shows what you are good at or posts that provide value to readers.

3 Form a Team– This is something I have seen work extremely well in numerous businesses. Very few people like to go on a journey alone, and having people alongside for the ride helps create accountability, motivation, inspiration, and most important- LOYALTY. I know my Team Gorman clients love to get together just to train and eat, with some meet-ups having over 30 people crashing weights and crushing food. People want to belong to something, so give it to them. Form a team with your clients and run a 5k or do a mud run, take them all to dinner every month or two, have a bbq, go to shows together, etc. And be genuine, and it has to be genuine. Happy clients get better results, better results means they tell their friends, and telling their friends is the best advertising you can get.


4 Go the Extra Mile– Short and simple here- do MORE than what’s expected of you. If you need to help your client move who is a single mom, go help them. If you need to take that new client grocery shopping who is just getting started, GO. Again, it has to be genuine. I promise you, the competition isnt doing stuff like this, people are too lazy.

5 Educate Yourself– Attend conferences, workshops, listen to podcasts, and follow the top fitness entrepreneurs and LEARN from them to fast track. And you arent just looking to learn from their success. Watch for their failures and then use that as a learning tool to avoid their mistakes. I have seen some of the best coaches in the biz step in a lot of shit and I was able to avoid that down the road by being aware after seeing it.

6 Evaluate– The hardest thing for most people to do is be 110% real and honest with themselves. Self-awareness is a quality a lot of people dont possess, and if you struggle with it you need to develop the ability to look in the mirror and be brutally honest with yourself. Do you suck at returning emails? FIX IT. Do you sit up at night watching Netflix putting off work that is going to take you to the next level? Evalute yourself, recognize it and be self aware, and then FIX IT.

If you are really up for it, ask your clients to evaluate you after your time with them is up, or even in the middle of their plan. Nothing teaches you how to fix your shortcomings than someone paying you money telling you what you suck at. This is something 99% of trainers wont do, and why most trainers are never truly successful.

Here is a link to the PowerPoint presenation done over these topics

Long Term Planning- Different Avenues

To wrap this up I want to mention long term planning. Every year around December and January people start talking about goals and make them for 1 year at a time. That’s fine, I do it myself and it’s very useful to write down your goals and see them through. However, think longer than 1 year. 1 year goals will help you grow at a nice clip but thinking about how that ties to long term success is extremely key. Once you start getting to where you are experiencing success and have a full client load there are a number of other opportunities you can start to get rolling to make passive income or just to grow your brand. Things such as guest speaking, hosting a podcast, being an affiliate or sponsored by a company, writing books (e-books or hard copies), making a DVD, etc.

I started coaching/training in 2007 and until 2014 that was how I made my money in the fitness industry- 1 on 1 training, and then later online coaching. Finally in 2015 I started working on numerous side projects that have now turned into a substantial amount of side income every year. In 2015 and 2016 I wrote two books, started the Phat Muscle Project apparel line, started the Training and Nutrition Truth podcast at 1st Phorm HQ, formed the Physique Summit Conference and held 2 huge events, and guest lectured all over the U.S. And, at the time I am writing this I am working on a DVD release for 2017. I dont say all of this to impress you, I am by no means successful, not yet. This is an example of how you work your ass off for years, but also look ahead to the right time to start other projects or ways to increase your business and brand. I wanted to write a book in 2008 (I stall have the rough draft table of contents saved haha) but I wasnt even close to ready to write a book and if I did it would have sucked. 8 years later my books got published and sell well but it took that time and experience under my belt. Self-awareness at it’s finest.

Employ the tactics in this article and work your ass off. If you do that you will have no choice but to be more successful. And, be RELENTLESS with all of it.

– John Gorman, MA, CPT, is a well-respected diet coach and the owner of Team Gorman LLC. John is also the host of the Training and Nutrition Truth podcast, owner of PHAT Muscle Project apparel, a published author, public speaker, co-owner of The Physique Summit Conference, and proud member of the 1st Phorm Phamily as an Elite Trainer. His work centers on helping athletes achieve their maximum potential in various sports such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, crossfit, along with high school and college level athletics. You can follow him on Snapchat @teamgorman , Instagram @team_gorman , or contact him via email

Maximize Your Muscle Strength by Changing Exercises

Exercise science purists and academics who teach in Exercise Science programs like what we have at Lindenwood University teach key principles such as overload, specificity, reversibility, progression and others. An extension of the progression principle says that to optimize positive adaptations to your exercise program, you must progress something: commonly the load, volume (sets x reps) and exercises you choose are all things that are switched or progressed. How many of you have yourself switched up your exercises just because it was time or advised a friend or client to do the same? Nearly everyone does and if they are not, they should be! A research study was just published examining the impact of switching up exercises and intensity.

I get excited by this type of research! It is exciting because it is extremely practical and answers a question or provides information about something nearly all of us do (or should do) and routinely talk about when discussing your workout program. In the November 2014 issue of Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, a study was published that compared the strength and muscle hypertrophy changes after 12 weeks of resistance training (1). The unique aspect was one group made no changes to the intensity or exercises they completed the entire time (sounds like an exciting program, doesn’t it?), another group did not change the intensity but switched up their exercises, another group switched their intensity but not change exercises and finally a fourth group switched up both their intensity and the exercises that were performed. A 5th group was a control group and did nothing except come in to the lab and complete the same tests at the same time as other participants.

Because this was a research study many things had to be controlled. As an example (and an excellent one!), the volume was controlled in all groups which means that every single person who exercised completed the exact same number of repetitions. Also, all study participants only resistance trained their lower body and completed varying numbers of sets and reps (depending on what group they were assigned) of the squat, leg press, deadlift, and lunge exercises. Certainly, many of you may feel the program lacked some key exercises, but one must consider the job of the researchers and in this situation they did an excellent job with controlling key factors while choosing exercises that were relevant to most athletes who resistance train.

What did they find? First, they found that all groups experienced significant increases in muscle hypertrophy in both legs that were trained (except for the control group that did nothing). Most importantly, all groups experienced similar increases in muscle size (9.3 – 12.2%). These data are awesome because it gives us valuable perspective on a few key things. First, doing nothing does nothing to improve muscle hypertrophy. Duh! Yes, but this just goes to show you that you have to do the work, you can’t just talk about it and expect growth to happen. Also, it is valuable to know that similar increases in hypertrophy occurred no matter how people trained. Thus, if you have a routine and you don’t want to mess it, don’t! If you like trying other exercises and the challenge of switching things up, knock yourself out.

Changes in strength, however, were different and more in line with what we might expect. Again, all groups experienced a significant increase in one-repetition maximum using the squat exercise when compared to the control group, who again experienced no change. The group who switched up their exercises but trained at the same relative intensity experienced the largest increases in maximum strength when compared to all other groups.

Some may be frustrated because the message from this study seems to be different for muscle hypertrophy and muscle size, but don’t be. You can’t lose sight of the fact that all styles of training led to similar increases in growth. That makes it easy as you just need to get in there and train. Of course, other factors such as their diet, supplementation, genetic predisposition and how many weeks someone trains (this study lasted 12 weeks) will also impact hypertrophy to some degree. Also, sizable improvements in strength occurred in all groups with most groups increasing lower-body strength by 20 – 40%, so again, the training process overall is pretty effective. It does, however, seem that switching exercises is a powerful stimulus to maximize increases in strength and over time greater strength may translate to greater overload and subsequently more growth, but that is beyond the scope of this paper.

1. Fonseca RM, Roschel H, Tricoli V, de Souza EO, Wilson JM, Laurentino GC, Aihara AY, de Souza Leao AR, and Ugrinowitsch C. Changes in exercises are more effective than in loading schemes to improve muscle strength. J Strength Cond Res 28: 3085-3092, 2014.

Maximize Training Efficiency with Intervals

Much has been said about the positive impact that occurs from completing high-intensity intervals as opposed to continuous intensity exercise. A number of studies have reported many positive effects from this type of training including an increase in fitness and training adaptations. A recently published study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism had male students completed three different testing conditions and had their calorie burning rates measured at several points after they completed each condition (Hazell, Olver et al. 2012). One condition required the student to do nothing out of the ordinary; this group was the control group. A second condition had the study participants completed one 30 minute bout of exercise at a moderate intensity. The final group required the study participants to perform two minutes of sprint interval exercise.

As expected, heart rate and other markers of how hard the exercise bouts were indicated that the two minute bout of high-intensity exercise caused the greatest response. Greater numbers of calories were burned to complete the 30 minute bout of exercise when compared to the more intensity, two minute bout of exercise. This should not be that surprising, after all you are comparing 30 minutes to 2 minutes. But what is fascinating and reason enough to get you to work a little on that next exercise bout, when calorie burning was compared through the first 8 hours after completion of each exercise bout, the 30 minute bout of exercise was greater. But when calorie burning was compared across the next 16 hours or through the first 24 hours after completing the exercise bout, the amount of calories burned were similar between the two exercise groups.

In other words, the significantly greater rates of exercise intensity created a situation where the amount of recovery and calorie burning completed was similar to the amount performed by the body after exercising for 28 minutes longer! Now for perspective. These results do NOT mean that continuous intensity exercise is useless or not worth your time. In fact, hundreds of studies have documented the many positive effects from this type of exercise including improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, weight loss, etc.

These results DO indicate that completing a very brief (2 minutes) period of maximal intensity exercise periodically can have very beneficial effects. This study was primarily focused upon changes in calorie burning rates over the 24 hour period after completing each exercise bout and they found that over this time period the amount of calories burned were similar.

This makes me think, what would be the impact of finishing each workout with a two minute bout of sprint cycling, rest for 1 minute and complete another two minute bout of sprint cycling? That’s only five minutes and if over the course of several weeks it led to greater fat loss would it be worth the extra pain?


Hazell, T. J., T. D. Olver, et al. (2012). “Two minutes of sprint-interval exercise elicits 24-hr oxygen consumption similar to that of 30 min of continuous endurance exercise.” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 22(4): 276-283.

5 Muscle Building Mistakes and How to Correct Them

For those of us who train in the gym multiple days a week we are always trying to make sure we maximize the effort we put into those hours spent working out. Most people spending the time hitting the iron are working on some sort of muscle growth whether they are dieting and fighting to hold onto muscle or in a muscle building phase striving to maximize their potential. It could be working hard to achieve a desired look, or might be to maximize strength or performance. There are common mistakes I see as a diet coach that people make consistently that could make a big difference in the levels they achieve. Here’s a list of 5 common mistakes for muscle growth and how to correct them.

1. Training Body Parts Once a Week

One of the biggest downfalls to training body parts once a week is the fact that a lot of growth is left on the table. When you work out protein synthesis (muscle growth) is activated and elevated and the body signals a period of growth to repair and build new muscle. This process typically lasts anywhere from 2-3 days, and the more advanced of an athlete you are the shorter that window becomes and the more frequent a muscle group can be trained. However, regardless of training status, regardless of the amount of volume you do for the day, after 3 days protein synthesis is back to baseline and growth for that muscle group is done. You can train 100 sets or 10 sets for chest on Monday, by Thursday the muscle is completely done growing.

Another disadvantage to training once a week revolves around the principle of practice. Weight training is a skill and the more you do movements the better you get at them. For those working on building strength such as in the squat, bench, or deadlift there will be big advantages to training those lifts multiple times a week. Think about shooting free throws- to get better at shooting free throws you practice and do them more often. If you start out shooting 100 free throws a week on Mondays the best approach would be to spread that amount out into multiple days to get better at shooting them. Maybe 20-30 free throws 5 days a week. Weight training is the same way, but monitoring how hard you push is key so you don’t tax your CNS too much and start to over-reach. If you want to improve your bench, training it once a week is putting you at a disadvantage compared to training it twice a week.

Here is an example of my favorite workout to recommend for people starting out training body parts twice a week- the Push/Pull/Legs workout split. (Push is chest, shoulders, triceps. Pull is back and biceps. Legs consist of quads, hamstrings, abs and calves) Here is the typical set up along with what I have found as optimal of sets to start with.

Mon: Push (hypertrophy, 8-12 and 15-20 reps, 9 total sets per body part)

Tues: Pull (heavy, 6-8 reps, 9 total sets per body part)

Wed: Legs (hypertrophy, 8-12 and 15-20 reps, 9 total sets per body part)

Thur: Push (heavy, 6-8 reps, 9 total sets per body part)

Frid: Pull (hypertrophy, 8-12 and 15-20 reps, 9 total sets per body part)

Sat: Legs (heavy, 6-8 reps, 9 total sets per body part)

Sun: OFF

Notice on this split I have heavy days and hypertrophy days listed so all rep ranges are hit each week.

An example of a push workout with 9 total sets could look like this: Chest- bench x 3 sets, incline dbell press x 3 sets, pec fly x 3 sets. Shoulders- overhead press x 3 sets, side raises x 3 sets, face pulls x 3 sets. Triceps- rope extensions x 3 sets, dips x 3 sets, underhand cable pushdowns x 3 sets. 9 total sets for each body part.

At the end of the day the science and research supports training body parts more frequently each week versus once a week for maximizing muscle hypertrophy and strength. While I love science I am the type of person who has to apply it before I come to conclusions. I can say without a doubt over the last decade working with bodybuilders, powerlifters, and gym goers looking to maximize their physiques that training more frequently has shown to be superior by FAR. The key to it all when hitting more frequent training is to make sure to not train with a ton of volume and too many sets or you can start to really feels the CNS starting to get suppressed and training suffering. I would start with the recommended total sets above and if you can move up from there go for it. If you are looking to add more muscle I am confident moving from once a week to twice a week body part training will get you there much faster.

2. Not Using Creatine Monohydrate

There are so many supplements on the market these days that most people have no idea where to start. Walk into any supplement store and you will see every “magic” supplement under the sun ranging from $15 to $100 in price with some claiming to be the holy-grail to muscle growth. Besides whey protein I believe the number one product for the money in regards to muscle gain, strength, and performance is creatine monohydrate. No other supplement has been researched and studied more than creatine.

Creatine is found in small amounts in animal foods we eat, such as red meat, and can also be made in the liver and kidneys from amino acids. While a lot of the creatine found in food is destroyed during the process of cooking it’s needed in supplemental form to receive the full benefits.

For those that aren’t familiar with what it is or how it works worry about bad side effects. There is really no harm or anything to worry about, it’s a natural substance in the body that is found inside our muscle. It’s not a foreign substance, it’s not a steroid, it’s not something that is going to cause bad side effects like acne or deepening of the voice like a lot of people think that aren’t familiar with the product.

Creatine works as a cell volumizer- meaning it pulls water and electrolytes inside the muscle cells to create a fuller, stronger muscle. When people hear creatine makes you hold water, it certainly does, right where you want it inside the muscle tissue. The fuller a muscle cell is, the stronger it is. Creatine also works by increasing protein synthesis and in turn yields more muscle growth, strength and better performance.

Two other benefits supplementing with creatine gives are increased brain function (especially in the elderly) and more energy during training due to resynthesis of ATP and the ability to push harder and longer through the workout.

The dosing on creatine can be all over the board, but research shows that 5 grams taken around the workout is sufficient. Whether taken before, during or after the workout doesn’t seem to make a difference. I am not a fan of loading phases for days, I have seen too many people struggle with the water weight gain from loading 20 grams a day for a week or even have some stomach discomfort. 5 grams daily is an amount that works well and doesn’t cause the issues that loading can cause.

It doesn’t matter if you are female or male, creatine works the same way for everyone despite gender differences. All my female athletes use creatine to help them achieve their goals.

You can typically find a good micronized creatine monohydrate powder for under $20, such as 1st Phorm’s creatine product.

3. Doing the Same Training Routine For Too Long

One of the most common mistakes I see when a potential client approaches me to help them put on muscle is the fact that they have been doing the same training routine for far too long. They do what has worked for them from the beginning, they do what they are comfortable with, they do what they know. The problem here is that your body is an amazing machine and adapts far quicker than people realize.

While someone new to the gym can benefit from the basic program of hitting body parts once a week and doing everything in the 8-12 rep ranges, the more trained an individual becomes the harder it is to put on muscle. Sticking to the same training routine that yielded results in the beginning won’t show the same results a couple of years down the road. I know too many people that train the same way for 5 years and after a couple years don’t look any different.

It’s important to change it up and make sure to include different cycles in the training program such as adjusting volume and frequency, and also implementing over-reaching and deload periods. Every training program should have goals and direction to take you from start to finish, and then it’s time to begin again with new goals. An example of a common goal within a training cylce may be to increase poundage lifted on certain exercises such as the squat, bench and deadlift. To get from A to B we need directions, and it’s the same way with muscle growth. It’s like driving to Florida- we wouldn’t just jump in the car and start driving right? No, we would have detailed directions on how to get there, where to stop, how much longer we have, etc. The same applies to training, we shouldn’t just blindly hit the gym and train without any sort of direction or purpose. To maximize muscle growth we need to be detailed and have a plan.

4. Getting Advice From the Biggest Guy In The Gym

Another thing to think about when it comes to training is who to take advice from. If you want to build a bigger chest, the last person you should be asking advice from is the guy in the gym with the biggest, best looking chest. Usually when you approach this person and ask the secret to building such a monumental chest the answer is simply “I stick to the basics and train chest once a week”. I know back in my 20’s this would make me second guess everything I knew- was I training too much, where the basic lifts all I needed, what am I doing wrong, etc. We all have a body part that responds and grows much faster than the other muscle groups and is a standout body part. A good friend of mine has the biggest set of calves you will see on a guy in the gym and people ask him all the time what he does for them. His response? He trains them maybe once a year!

The best person to get advice from would be the person who had a weaker body part such as a small chest and who has worked hard to bring that up to be a stand out body part. Typically when you ask a person like this what the secret is they will say “I started training multiple rep ranges while hitting my chest more times during the week than my other body parts”. The response they give will show they had to put in the extra effort to make the muscle grow along with learning what needed to be done to get the best results. I am not saying that people who just train body parts once a week aren’t putting in the work to learn and maximize their training- I am saying that to get good advice it’s always best to find out who had to take their training to the next level by applying different approaches and learning how to maximize their potential.

5. Not Getting Enough Protein

You can go to any gym in the world and meet people who have been training for years yet they still look the same. Their training might be on point, but something is holding them back from putting on the muscle they are working so hard to try and put on. One of the biggest set-backs I find with new clients that come to me is that they are not eating enough protein to support muscle growth, or in some cases not enough to even recover.

If you are training in the gym 4 or more days a week I consider you an athlete. It doesn’t matter if you compete in a sport or event, training that often and working to improve your physical fitness in my opinion classifies you as an athlete and as athletes you need way more protein than the general population to support muscle recovery and ultimately growth.

The normal recommended daily intake (RDI) of protein for anyone over 18 years old is .8 grams per kg of bodyweight. Simply put that translates out to about 80 grams of protein for a 220 pound person, which is very low for someone hitting the gym multiple days a week.

The amount myself and other diet coaches have found to work very well for athletes is simply taking in 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight you weigh. So for a 220 pound person make that would be 220 grams of protein a day. While protein intake isn’t necessarily based on bodyweight, it’s related more to lean body mass/muscle tissue. The only time I don’t recommend 1 gram per pound is if someone is obese since body fat doesn’t mean protein levels need to be higher to support fat mass. For example, if a 300 pound obese female that has 150 pounds of lean mass I like to recommend anywhere from 1 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of lean mass, leaning more towards 1.25 grams per pound if they have been training for a couple of years or more. This set up would yield between 150-185 grams of protein for a 300 pound obese female.

I hope you as the reader can recognize these common mistakes and use them to maximize your training, muscle growth and recovery. We spend so many hours and years in the gym, we definitely want to cover all the bases when it comes to getting the most out of our efforts.

– John Gorman, MA, CPT, is a well-respected contest prep coach/nutritionist and the owner of Team Gorman LLC. John is also a published author, public speaker, co-owner of The Physique Summit Conference, and proud member of the 1st Phorm Phamily. His work centers on helping athletes achieve their maximum potential in various sports such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, crossfit, along with high school and college level athletics. You can follow him on Instagram @team_gorman , on Periscope @teamgorman , or


American College of Sports Medicine, and American Dietetic Association. “Joint Position Statement: nutrition and athletic performance. American College of Sports Medicine, American Dietetic Association, and Dietitians of Canada.”Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise32.12 (2000): 2130.

Bemben, Michael G., and Hugh S. Lamont. “Creatine supplementation and exercise performance.”Sports Medicine35.2 (2005): 107-125.

Chwalbiñska-Moneta, Jolanta. “Effect of creatine supplementation on aerobic performance and anaerobic capacity in elite rowers in the course of endurance training.”International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism13 (2003): 173-183.

Raastad, T., et al. “Powerlifters improved strength and muscular adaptations to a greater extent when equal total training volume was divided into 6 compared to 3 training sessions per week.”17th annual conference of the ECSS, Brugge. 2012.

Schoenfeld, Brad J., et al. “Influence of Resistance Training Frequency on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men.”Journal of strength and conditioning research/National Strength & Conditioning Association(2015).