Bodybuilding for beginners, once the basic foundations are there, is easier and simpler than it is for intermediates and advanced trainees – and the gains are certainly made much more quickly.
Here are some key pointers to follow if you are a beginner bodybuilder. They will help you get on the right training regime, avoid the pitfalls, and avoid putting on excess fat.
Compound lifts are king
A good program should revolve around compound lifts, and especially for beginners, there is no better way to quickly develop maximum strength and size for you efforts. Compound movements include the bench press, squats, dead lifts, shoulder presses, and bent over rows, at the very least.
Compound movements include many muscle groups and sub muscle groups all working in synergy. The result is rather than simply cherry picking and working on singular muscles, you work many muscles at once – and in an almost ‘cheating’ way, the bigger muscles groups help to bring the smaller ones up to par.
While isolation exercises can most definitely be used and be beneficial, for the beginner, I believe compound movements to be the most important.
Train hard, short, and not too often
By training hard, I mean by picking weights which will challenge you. By the end of each ‘set’ (a set is a collection of repetitions/singular lifts) you should be struggling slightly. If you don’t find yourself almost shouting or grunting by the end reps of the last set, then you are lifting too light.
By training short, I mean that your sessions should last no more than 1 hour. For the beginner, sets of 3 – 5, and repetitions of 5 – 12 are adequate. There are no hard and fast rules, just general guidance.
By not training too often, I mean you should probably start with 3 days a week, and never go over 5. Monday, Wednesday, Friday works well for most beginners and intermediates.
Don’t overwork the muscles
A good program will be structured in such a way that the muscles are hit every 72 hours, and no more. Of course, sometimes it’s impossible and inevitable that muscles will be hit again, but the aim is to minimize this as much as possible. Without having ample time to recover, strength and size will become static or even lost.
Eat well, sleep well
Eating is, they say, 90% of bodybuilding. The battle is won or lost with the fork. How much you should be eating is based upon your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), and consistently eating more calories than this on a daily basis.
You can calculate your BMR on many websites, and go from there.
Overall calories are the key, but macronutrients which make up the calories are just as crucial. Calories should come from lean, whole foods. Junk foods, while can certainly be eaten in moderation, should be avoided for the most part, and certainly not be you staple.
Go for healthy proteins such as eggs, milk, chicken, beef, and cheese. Complex carbs such as wholemeal bread, pasta, brown rice. Sufficient fats should come from the protein sources, but supplementing with a little fish oil can help.
Try to go for a split of 40% protein, 30% carbs and 30% fats.
Rest as much as you can. Rest on your off days, and rest after your workouts. You need to conserve energy for muscle growth and repair.