You Don’t Need a Meal Plan to Build Muscle – Here’s What You Need Instead

A few days ago, we received a great question from a reader named Emma:

“I am 14 years old, and I have decided to start strength training in a few months. I wonder if I have to follow a meal plan to build muscle, like bicep and tricep?”

I answer this question in the video below, but if you’d rather read, you can skip to the transcript below the video.

First off: I’m so so glad that you’re gonna start training! However, you do not need a meal plan to build muscle. If you’ve managed to grow until 14 years of age without a meal plan, then you don’t need one to get started with strength training.

What you do need is this:

  1. Get started. Get a gym membership, get in there, and just allow yourself to get used to the place. Nothing else matters until you get through the gym doors. Or start training at home, like me, I guess.
  2. Make a plan. Find a simple beginner strength training program. Write it down or keep it on your phone. We’ve got several for free in our workout app. Look at the instructions for the exercises (you can find them in the app or in the exercise directory), and then when you get to the gym, you start practicing them. Over time, the practice will start to feel more and more like training, and by this point, you will find that you’ve already become stronger and more muscular.
  3. Educate yourself. Learning about training and caring for your body is a never-ending journey, and it means that you will be a student for life – just like all of us. So go find some trusted resources on training that you like, and start your education.
  4. Food. Since you’re asking. Even though the options are endless, there is no need to get fancy. Eat the foods that you already know are good for you, and eat until you are full. When in doubt, leaning towards whole foods is usually better for your health than very processed food. Know that the whole subject of food when it comes to health and fitness is riddled with myths and exaggerations when in reality the basics are really simple: Just eat what your granny would.

We’re continuously adding more articles and guides to this site to help you get started with training and getting good results, and here are some that might be of use to you:

Thanks for the question, Emma. I wish you the best of luck!

Remember, if you have a question that you’d like us to answer in the future, just leave a comment or send a message, and we’ll do our best to help you.

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Daniel Richter

Daniel has a decade of experience in powerlifting, is a certified personal trainer, and has a Master of Science degree in engineering. Besides competing in powerlifting himself, he coaches both beginners and international-level lifters. Daniel regularly shares tips about strength training on Instagram, and you can follow him here.