You are looking to start bodybuilding? Good. The Gods are smiling at you. But where should you start? Every beginner makes the same bonehead mistakes, this article is to stop you making them, and give you some direction and guidance in your bodybuilding training.
DO Big movements
If your idea of training consists of tricep kickbacks, calf raises and wrist curls you are in trouble. Using some logic, you want to build the most muscle as possible, so use movements that use the most muscle. These movements are split into compound and isolation, read about them here.
Movements that you should base your training around should be compound. These include Squats, Deadlifts, Overhead presses, Bench presses, Dumbbell and barbell rows, chins, dips etc.
You’ve seen really big guys doing loads of small exercises? That’s true, but ask them how they got so big. Compound exercises. Every. Single. Time.
DO Focus on your form
When you first start training you might be super eager to throw as much weight as possible on to the bar, and keep ramping it up. Although having goals of more weight on the bar is good, that isn’t your concern just yet.
For your first 2 months you want to focus on fully understanding the main movements involved in bodybuilding, developing the flexibility, and educating your nervous system. Look up the form online, get a personal trainer, record yourself, use forums, whatever it takes! Your number one priority is making sure you are nailing the form on the exercises.
DO hit your body parts multiple times per week
As you are a beginner, your muscles will need less time to recover. This means that to grow as much as you are capable of growing you can hit your body parts several times per week. This means that initially you should stay away from a body part split that only allows for one session per week per body part. There will be some suggestions below, but this principle will help you gain muscle the quickest.
DO feel the muscle
It is something that many lifters master later in life, but to be a successful bodybuilder you must understand which parts of your body are working and when. This means that when you train, you must focus on how your muscles are working with the movement. Arnold called this the mind-muscle connection, and he attributed his great physique partly to this.
So understand how your muscles work, and what the exercises are doing to your muscles.
DON’T Just focus on your “beach muscles”
So many young people go into the gym chasing big arms, and a puffy out chest. If you are just focused on your arms and chest, traps or whichever specific muscles you are hoping to grow you are in trouble. Your entire body needs to grow for you to have a chance at looking good.
Muscle groups like your back and your legs, whilst not traditional “beach muscles” are probably the most important for full body hypertrophy. Make sure that you are not neglecting any parts of your body.
DON’T over do the machines
In the beginning it might be fun to try all the different machines. The machines make you feel like you have a better pump, and they are easier than free weights, so tempting! However, these machines are for later on. They focus too much on isolating particular muscles, and although later on they can be very useful, just hold off on them too much for now.
Instead of machines, stick to free weights, barbells dumbbells, kettlebells etc. This will ensure you are progressing at the proper pace.
DON’T go for such low reps
If you are hoping to focus on your strength, then the lower rep ranges are ideal for you. However, for hypertrophy you are going to be focusing on the 8+ rep range. This doesn’t mean you are going to be weak, but strength is secondary to your monster sized muscles. So don’t be too distracted by pure strength training, go for those higher reps with perfect form.
DON’T Program hop
Whenever something is new you might want to try everything, jumping from one thing to another every week. This is the way to make sure you never make any progress and quit with a physique just as lame as the one you started with. Bodybuilding training is about consistency, so make sure you are applying yourself.
Find a program written by an expert, there are loads out there, there are some below too. Stick with it for the length said in the program. The length of a training program is part of the program, it isn’t a randomly assigned number. Just like you wouldn’t dare swap out the squats for tricep kickbacks, doing a program for 2 weeks instead of 2 months makes zero sense.
Have some commitment, trust the experts and grow!
DON’T curl in the squat rack
Doing a bicep curl in the squat rack in some countries is punishable by death, so be careful, and NEVER DO IT.
Below are 2 bodybuilding training programs for you to try out. Each of them is for 2 months, and every exercise will be done for 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps.
The reason for the flexibility in the sets and reps is that it allows you to push your self a little, if you feel like you can get a few more reps, or another set then go for it, within the limits set.
Bodybuilding Training Program 1
4 days per week. Split up into Upper body and Lower body days
Barbell Bent Over Row
Close Grip Bench
Barbell bicep curl
Standing Calf Raise
Barbell Overhead Press
Pull up/ Lat Pull down
Dumbbell overhead press
Seated Calf Raises
Bodybuilding Training Program 2
3 days per week, full body every time
Barbell Bent over Row
Barbell Bicep Curl
Dumbbell Bench Press
Overhead Tricep Extension
This should have given you some insight into how to start your bodybuilding training, so now go and put it into practice!