So, you’re new to bodybuilding. It is great to see you joining the bodybuilding world, and we warmly welcome you. There are a lot of different reasons why you have joined this lifestyle, and we can’t pretend to know all of them.
But here you are, and it is great that you have decided to join us.
But now that you have decided to start bodybuilding, you might feel lost in an ocean of terms and equipment. You know where you want to be, but you aren’t quite certain how to get there yet. Don’t worry. We are here to help.
We’re going to take you on a guided tour of things that we had to learn the hard way or get from seasoned bodybuilders. We’re going to give you 15 tips that you’re going to need as you start off on this incredible path. Let’s begin, shall we?
Stick to free weights
When you start building a house, you don’t dive straight into furnishing an empty lot. No, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before you can move on to the fancier stuff.
The same applies to bodybuilding. You might be looking around and seeing a whole lot of shiny machines that do incredible things. But you’re going to ignore all the glitz, and get down to building a foundation.
Free weights are weights such as dumbbells, kettle-bells and the like. These weights don’t constrain your movements and will therefore require more effort from your stabilizer muscles.
This will strengthen these muscles and help you a lot as you move forward. The shiny machines with their constrained and fixed movements will be great for later, but right now, you’re focusing on your foundation.
Focus on compound movements
Thanks to the internet, there are a lot of different articles out there with a lot of interesting workouts. Each one promises wondrous results and help for things you have never even heard about before.
That is great. But you need to leave your web article at home when you go to the gym. Those exercises are not for you yet.
You need to focus on the basics, and you will see that even seasoned veterans still use these exercises. Compound movements are what you will be focusing on.
Compound movements are exercises which focus on more than one muscle group. Squats, deadlifts, barbell bench presses, military shoulder presses and the like are your new best friends. They should not be missing from any of your routines.
Isolation exercises are for later. Once again, you need to have a certain level of strength and experience to move on to the more advanced stages.
Be patient; one day you will be using all those bookmarked bodybuilding exercises. And, as I mentioned before, you will see all the bodybuilding giants adding these exercises to their programs.
These compound exercises will be with you all the way, so don’t knock them until you have perfected them. And by then you will have a deeper appreciation for them.
Learn the correct form of each exercise
Do you want to be injured? No, of course not. Nobody in their right mind goes into the gym expecting to get injured. Injuries will set you back and hinder your progress phenomenally.
That, and it will hurt- a lot. But you’re going to get injured if you walk into a gym expecting to nail every move perfectly. Slow down, newbie. You need form.
Each exercise is unique, and you will need proper form when tackling these exercises. Remember that you don’t know much, and you’re going to have to swallow your pride and ask for help.
If possible, ask a trainer, or a bodybuilding friend. If you go into the gym without proper knowledge of how to execute the relevant exercises, you’re in for a world of hurt.
Most gyms have personal trainers who would be glad to help you out in the beginning. They will also be the best people to spot your mistakes and help you out.
They are also paid professionals, so they won’t laugh at you. Besides, you can rest assured that you aren’t the worst person they have ever trained. In the beginning, you need to take every precaution to make sure that you don’t end up benched, in all the wrong ways.
Have a program and stick to it
The quickest way to fail at bodybuilding is by going into the gym, and just winging it. That sort of aimless mindset will have you failing before you even begin.
You need to ask a personal trainer, or seasoned bodybuilding buddy to help you out. Ask them to help you come up with a beginner’s schedule that maps out what exercises you need to do, how many sets, how many reps, et cetera.
As you become more experienced, you will be able to map out your own program, which will be better suited to your needs. But right now, you need the help.
Another great way to map out your program and stick to it, is by recruiting a friend to join you. When you have someone, who is equally as clueless, and equally as motivated, you will be able to get a lot more done.
A friend will help you to stick to your goal, and you will always have a spotter. Which will come in handy quite soon. When you have someone who is on the same journey as you, it will be easier to laugh off your mistakes, and make it to the gym on time.
Don’t train everyday
Do you know when muscle is built? Is it when you are exercising, or when you are resting? Many people get this answer wrong, and it leads to overtraining, which eventually leads to a plateau.
Which is somewhere you do not want to be. The correct answer is while you are resting.
While you exercise, you are putting your body under stress. This results in your muscles breaking down. While you rest, your body builds muscle, and that is why rests are so important.
Now, look at your program. If the person who helped you knows what he is doing, you should have 3-4 rest days a week. If not, then you have asked the wrong person to help you.
As a beginner, you don’t need to work out more than 3-4 times a week. You should be resting every other day. If you push it more than that, you will experience a lack in strength and progress which will discourage you.
You don’t need to face a plateau when you have just begun. When you do start experiencing progress, don’t take it as a sign to over train. There is never an excuse to over train. Seriously, trust me.
Train each muscle group every week
Don’t take the above tip as a sign that you should lessen your workouts. Don’t get me wrong, you still need to work hard to get those gains.
They will not just come in all by themselves. You do need to train your muscles to get strong, that is just a fact. Just as too many workouts will hinder your progress, too few workouts will have the same effect.
You must find the perfect balance, or else you will be facing no progress, which will once again lead to some serious discouragement.
To find your perfect balance, you need to start by training each muscle group every week. Your program should contain a healthy mix of compound and isolation exercises.
While compound exercises focus on two or more muscle groups, isolation exercises focus on one specific muscle group.
As a bodybuilder, you need to train all your muscles. Your whole body needs to be accustomed to training, or you will start to look very strange. That is something that you do not want.
By focusing on all your muscle groups, every week, you will start to notice some definite improvement before long. You will find your balance before long.
Gradually increase the weights
Stop looking at how much weight the guy next to you is benching. You need to focus on yourself. You will not start out among the greats and bench staggering amounts. In fact, that is the quickest way to hurt yourself.
And do not take your first signs of progress as a sign to heap on the weight. A problem that most beginners face is biting off more than they can chew. They overestimate what they can bench, and are left red-faced and struggling.
Start small, and add the weights as you can handle. This is where modesty is needed. Modesty is knowing what you can and cannot handle.
Once you know the form of each exercise, you can gradually increase the weights for each exercise. Keep track of how much you lift, and be sure to keep an eye on your progress as well. Every two weeks, you need to slightly increase the weight.
This careful consideration might seem unnecessary at first, but it is the best way to keep increasing your strength. As you do this, you will not only get stronger, but you will also see your progress first-hand, which is the encouragement you need to continue lifting.
Avoid Junk food
You have done it! You are on your way to sure bodybuilding success, and you could not be happier. You are sticking to your program, and you are loving the progress. You finally understand what that “pumped” feeling feels like, and you understand the world of bodybuilding.
It is a great moment for you. But now, on your way home, you catch sight of a fast food restaurant, and your stomach is rumbling. You really want a treat. Surely some take out might not be such a bad idea? After all, you have been doing so well lately.
No. Just no. A treat here and there is not a bad thing, but junk food in general is a bad idea. Your diet is a very important part of the bodybuilding journey.
You cannot work hard at the gym, come home to a bunch of junk food and expect gains. Your body is only as good as the fuel that you put into it.
If you want to ensure that your bodybuilding journey is a success, you need to make sure that your diet is as strict as your program. You don’t want to sacrifice all your hard work for binge eating.
Eat a lot of protein
Time for a basic biology lesson. Are you ready? What are the basic building blocks of muscle? Protein!
What are you, as an aspiring bodybuilder, trying to build? Muscle!
What should you be eating more of? Protein!
As an aspiring bodybuilder, you need to eat correctly. Remember, lifting weights and hitting the gym is only half of the battle.
You need to eat chicken, milk, eggs, dairy products, some nuts and vegetables. Basically, you need to be eating food that are sources of a lot of protein.
You’re going to need that protein if you ever want to get anywhere in the bodybuilding world. Most experts recommend one gram of protein for each pound of bodyweight. But what if it becomes a bit difficult to do that?
Then protein shakes are your best friend. Remember that you must consume that amount of protein everyday if you want to continue down this bodybuilding path.
Plan your diet around these new dietary recommendations, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are the exception to the rule. These recommendations are in place to help you. As a bodybuilder, your body needs to be running at optimal performance for you to see progress.
Be in a caloric surplus
We eat to fuel our bodies. When we are active, or perform any activities, our bodies burn calories. As a sedentary person, you had to be careful not to consume more calories than you burn, because then those calories are stored away as fat in case of an emergency. As a bodybuilder, you need to consume more calories than you burn.
Use a calorie counter to figure out your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and adjust it according to how active you are. If you have a sedentary job, obviously you will need to consume less calories, and vice versa.
As a bodybuilder, being in a caloric surplus is like having a bit of a safety net. When you are hungry, your body will start breaking down your muscles to feed your major organs, which is something that you would presumably like to avoid.
Eat more often
You are going to be hungrier. As any seasoned bodybuilder will tell you, you are going to be hungry almost all the time, unless you adjust your diet accordingly.
At first, it may stress you out, but it does make more sense when you think about it. Your body is using up a lot more food than before, and you must compensate for that. You also need to avoid being hungry to prevent your muscles from breaking down, which will hinder your gains.
So, how often should you be eating? You need to eat every 3-4 hours to avoid being hungry. This means that you will be having 4-5 meals every day.
It will be an adjustment, especially to your food budget, but it is a necessary allowance that needs to be made. Your body is working much harder than before, after all.
Eat fruits and vegetables
Just because you need to eat more, does not mean that you can stuff your face with junk. You want your body to perform at optimal levels; that means that you need to eat optimal food.
Besides eating macronutrients (such as carbs, protein and fats) you also need a whole bunch of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). So, back away from the sweets aisle, and go get yourself an apple or two.
You’re going to have to incorporate a lot of healthy vegetables and fruit into your diet if you want to get the most out of your workouts.
If you really want to eat fast absorbing carbs, usually foods with lots of sugar or white flour, the time to do so is right after your workout. And even then, it should be done sparingly. Don’t wreck all your hard work just because you don’t want to cook tonight.
Rest and recover
Are you a night owl? Because, you need to sleep. Remember, your muscles only grow when you’re resting, or more specifically sleeping.
Even then, your muscles only really grow when you achieve REM sleep, so you need to get in a healthy amount of sleep (between 8-9 hours). Only then will you be able to see any real progress.
You need to organize your schedule around your bodybuilding, not the other way around. You cannot expect to live the same way as before and see considerable progress. Bodybuilding is a way of life for a reason.
It takes dedication and determination to get to any kind of skill level. It also requires you to have a healthy balance. You need to make sure that you are in bed for 8-9 hours of sleep most nights if you want to see real progress.
You are still a newbie, a beginner in a vast world of things that you still have to learn. And that is okay. You will catch up and learn everything that you need to, but that takes time.
You can’t expect to learn everything overnight. You are going to need a lot of patience if you want to navigate this world successfully. You can’t get impatient and rush into things; otherwise you’re going to be worse off and you could even become injured.
That is why you need to take the time to get to know the forms of each exercise. But, you also need to be cautious when you make progress.
You need to get a safety belt for lower back protection. It might not seem like an important piece of equipment if you don’t have back pain. But you do not want back problems, and so you need to take preventative measures now, before it is too late.
Be an athlete
Athletes have always been respected. In every culture, in every time, athletes have earned a special place in society. That is because they are hardworking, determined individuals whose hard work is proven by their skills.
Their dedication leads them to show their devotion to their sport in every aspect of their life. A true athlete will not lead an unhealthy lifestyle. They stand apart and everything they do is for the good of their bodies.
You need to be like an athlete. Bodybuilding requires determination. You should train like an athlete, but most importantly, you need to live like an athlete.
Your diet and training program are essential, but so are your habits. You need to avoid excessive drinking, smoking and other unhealthy habits. If you do not, you will not experience proper progress. You will work harder than everyone in your gym, but still not see results.
You need to be focused on your goal and be determined to live like an athlete.
The Bodybuilding Journey:
You’re only a beginner on an incredible journey. And like most journeys, you are going to need some help. Do not hesitate to ask for it. If there is no-one you can ask, do the research.
Find a friend to join you, and make the necessary changes in your life. Get help in drawing up a program, adjust your diet and be safe in everything you do.
Apply these tips and you will navigate the bodybuilding world with knowledge beyond your skill level. And remember- have fun. You’re only a beginner, so laugh it off and don’t take yourself too seriously.