Bodybuilding for the Beginner!
Cashman?s Guide For Beginners
This is a long post but valuable to the novice who wants to begin bodybuilding (and to save repeating myself again & again
). I?ll not be getting too scientific with this as it?s geared to the very inexperienced to outline the key principles that must be considered to maximise the inevitable gains a complete beginner will make and to get into the good habits as early as possible.
So you wanna be a bodybuilder? Here are the elements you should consider?..
So often neglected by the beginner and yet the most important ingredient in success?. DESIRE. So many fail by seeing it as a short term goal to improve your physique. This will contribute to failure. Get it out of your head that you need to get in shape for your holiday in 8 weeks time. You should see it as a lifestyle. A way to live your life. "A bodybuilder is for life not just for Christmas"
Accept the condition your body is in and make the decision to change your life to achieve your objectives. Accept it is a long term plan and you will not be disheartened if it takes time to improve. Lets face it folks, if it was easy then everbody would be doing it.
Be realistic about your goals. A beginner should not be saying I want to lose 30Ibs of fat and gain 20Ibs of lean muscle in 2 months. It Just Won?t happen, yet people time & again put this sort of image in their mind and become disheartened when it doesn?t happen that fast. Time to wake up and forget the brainwashing from much of the health & fitness industry we have endured most of our lives to sell their latest fat loss or muscle growth gimmick.
Prepare yourself for hard work and sacrifice and you will see it as something you love and not as a chore. You will see it as something that distinguishes you from the masses who cannot be bothered or those who shoulder too much pride to seek advice. As soon as you see it as a chore you are on the path to failure.
2. Objective Setting
First of all assess your physique. Decide what you need to do most of all ? Lose fat, build muscle. How fat you are, or how small your muscles are, will determine where your priorities are. I feel this is important so that you can set yourself some attainable targets. Remember?. For fat loss, the more muscle you have the more calories your body burns at rest and while exercising a Ib of muscle burns roughly 10x as many calories as a Ib of fat (approx 70 cals per hour compared to 7 cals per hour for fat).
Set some sensible targets e.g. to lose 10Ibs of fat in 5 weeks and gain 5 Ibs of lean muscle mass. Despite what we think, it is physically more difficult to build muscle than to lose fat. You can, though not advisable, lose 4 or 5 Ibs of fat in a week (as you are likely to lose muscle mass). You cannot build 5Ibs of lean muscle in a week.... live with that fact as It will not happen.
Setting some lifting targets as you become familiar with the exercises and your routine e.g adding 20kg to your bench press in a month, will help you gauge your progress.
3. Training ? Weights
Your weights routine will be the bedrock of your lean muscle gains. To make consistant and long term gains you should make of point of having a structured weight routine from the start.
My first recommendation is to join a good gym. A gym that offers a comprehensive induction process, members of staff who know what they are doing. It should have a full range of free weights & equipment, lots of dumbells and plates (especially plenty of the heavy plates-20Kgs) for you to work your way up to the bigger weights. A good gym will be one where you feel comfortable.
It is very important that as a novice you are NOT INTIMIDATED by training alongside much more experienced bodybuilders. They won?t bite you
!!!! Most are very nice, helpful and normal people that are good fun and very helpful. They will not be looking down at you because you are new to the sport. We all were at some time! In fact use their experience to help show you how to do exercises correctly, etc as most of us just love the sound of our own voice and will not hesitate to help someone less experienced. Swallow that pride folks.
My preference is to start as you mean to go on and learn to use free-weights asap. They will allow a much more thorough workout of the muscles than machines due to the full range of natural motion you can achieve in the exercises and that they recruit many more fibres in the supporting muscles and working muscles than machines. More fibres recruited?.. More muscle gains you?ll make.
GET YOUR FORM RIGHT!!!! This cannot be stressed enough. Poor form is rife amongst the MAJORITY of gym goers and will vastly hinder your progress. Do not sacrifice good form in ALL exercises for more weight just to feed your ego! Your muscles will develop MUCH quicker and you will have much less risk of injury if your form is good. If you cannot complete good form with the exercise then the weight is too heavy for you. It's that simple! Live with it! And work at getting stronger while having perfect form. Do not try and compete against the bloke next to you who is doing it wrong but lifting heavier. (in 6 months time he'll be the one that won't have grown much at all and you can leave him to wonder how you have put on so much mass.)
To see how any exercises are done correctly click here ? www.exrx.net http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/exercises.htm
Try and separate your workouts into splits ? chest, biceps, triceps, back, traps, legs, calves, shoulders, abs. Train each group once a week and your body will have plenty of time to recover and rest. You grow when you rest.
A nice 4 day split that will not kill you is
As a good rule aim for 9-12 sets (MAXIMUM) for Large Muscle groups (Chest/Back/Legs) followed by a smaller muscle group for 6-8 sets (MAXIMUM)(Biceps/Triceps/Shoulders/Abs/Calves). Go easy on the biceps as they are much smaller than the tricep so will probably respond better at the lower end of that set range. Forget about doing 50 sets of bicep curls for big arms! You'll overtrain them and they will not grow to their full potential.
Also as a good rule work at a weight that you can perform 6-8 reps with strict form with before you can?t hold good form anymore. When 8x becomes comfortable then you can add a little more weight on. 6-8 reps is the best compromise between hypertrophy gains (muscle growth) & strength gains. Where you see "train to failure " - this means until you cannot do anymore reps at that weight with perfect form.
Here?s an idea for a routine as an example which was my own routine based on gaining lean mass and shifting some bodyfat:
SATURDAY - Chest/Tri
5 Min warm-up
Dumbell Flat Bench - 4 sets 6-8 reps
Weighted Dips For Chest - 4 sets 6-8 reps (last set to failure)
Incline Dumbell Fly- 4 sets 6-8 reps (last set to failure) (Lay so head is at the top of the bench)
Skull Crushers - 3 sets 6-8 reps (or close grip bench press)
overhead cable presses 3 sets 6-8 reps (last set to fail) (or close grip bench presses)
SUNDAY - Back/Bi
5 min warm-up
Deadlifts 4 sets 6-8 reps (last set to failure)
Bent Over One Arm Dumbell Rows 4 sets 6-8 reps
Chins or Lat pulldowns 3 sets 6-8 reps (last set to fail)
(I would prefer you to do chins instead though if you are strong enough to lift your bodyweight)
Barbell Bicep curl 3 sets 6-8 reps
One arm Dumbell Hammer curls 3 sets 6-8 reps
REST & Cardio (30 mins swimming before brekkie approx 40 lengths)
TUESDAY - Delts/traps
5 min warm-up
Seated Dumbell military press (Sit on Bench while executing) - 3 sets 6-8 reps
Lateral dumbell raises (side) 3 sets 6-8 reps (last to fail)
Barbell Shrugs 5 sets 6-8 reps
REST & Cardio (30 mins swimming b4 brekkie)
THURSDAY - Legs & Abs
5 min warm-up
Barbell Squats 4 sets 6-8 reps
Stiff Legged Dead Lifts 3 sets 6-8 reps
Calf Raises (link shows seated) 4 sets 8-10 reps (last set to fail)
Weighted Swiss Ball crunches 4 sets 6-8 reps
hanging leg raises 4 sets 6-8 reps
Dumbell side bends 3 sets 6-8 reps
REST & Cardio (30 mins swim b4 brekkie)
[SEE END OF POST FOR ALTERNATE ROUTINE TO CHANGE TO WHEN YOU HIT PLATEAU]
For some other routine ideas click here - http://www.muscletalk.co.uk/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=29461
This is very important. You should aim to give your muscles a week?s rest for recovery and growth. Muscles grow while you rest. It is very easy to overtrain and when you do your body goes into catabolysis (where it starts using the body?s protein source ? muscle). This is not good. Many budding Bodybuilders overtrain and wonder why their biceps haven?t grown in the last 6 months! (that is why I have listed the rep & set numbers like I have). It is very easy to overtrain, especially when you are very enthusiastic at the outset. To begin with you will most likely gain some muscle but not nearly as much as if you rested properly. No good doing 20x sets of bicep curls 3x a week. Your arms will not grow!
You should get a minimum of 8hrs sleep every night. You grow while you sleep. Less than 7hrs and you start to risk catabolysis of the muscles and lose those hard earned gains.
5. Training ? Cardio
Important for fat loss & cardiovascular fitness. You should aim to do cardio on separate sessions from weights so that your muscle glycogen is used while weight training to fuel the muscles. DO NOT perform cardio before the weights sessions otherwise you reduce the potency of the weights session.
Fat loss cardio should be at 65% Max Heart Rate (MHR) for 30-40 mins and ideally before breakfast so that your body can tap into its fat stores for fuel immediately. Any more than this and at a higher intensity then your body will also utilise protein for fuel and lead to muscle loss (HIIT is the exception to this but we?ll keep it simple for now). If time is a prob then if you have to do cardio in the same session as weights then do it AFTER the weights and for no more than 20 mins at 65% MHR. Always try to have a protein shake before cardio (even 1st thing in the morning).
Endurance cardio is done at higher intensity. Not great for bodybuilders as it is more catabolic but with protein taken before & after the session it should minimise catabolysis.
I?m gonna keep this real simple ? EAT CLEAN, EAT BIG - Try and eat every 3hrs to keep protein flowing through your body to provide a positive nitrogen balance and to keep your metabolic rate high.
<b>Muscle growth</b> ? High Protein, High Complex Carbohydrates, Moderate Fat (good fats ? flax seed oil, rape seed oil, etc)
<b>Fat Loss </b>? High Protein, Lower Complex Carb, Lower Fat.
To lose fat you need to use more calories than you consume. To gain muscle you need to raise the calories to a higher level than you would utilise. This means a little fat gain but with some gentle adjusting you?ll find where your level is at. Aim for 1.5g of protein per Ib bodyweight for gaining & fat loss. 200Ib person would need 300g protein in diet per day for bodybuilding.
Worth going to the diet forum for specific diet advice as this is a BIG area.
Also remember to get protein in you before you go to bed, when you wake up and immediately after weights. This is when your body needs it most.
Good whey Protein supplement for post training & when you wake up.
That?s it! As a beginner you are wasting money on all the muscle solutions, fat burners, etc that are out there as your body will change drastically with 6 months hard work. Once you have the basic platform then you can think about extra supplements. As for beginners thinking about steroids?. Forget it. They are for the serious & experienced Bodybuilder who has reached their natural limit. A get big quick solution may seem appealing to a novice but do not be tempted as you need to know what your body?s limits are to use these effectively IMO.
Finally remember that bodybuilding is about getting a good balance between attitude/weight training/Rest/Cardio/Diet. If you neglect any of the areas I have mentioned so far then you are not fulfilling your natural potential.
Good luck and any questions you have feel free to post away??
Likewise, if any of the experienced Bro?s have anything to add (I?m sure there?ll be plenty
) then please do so.
8) Wear Comfortable clothing! http://www.muscletalk.co.uk/bodybuilding-tshirt.asp
(This is a James Edit!)
Alternate Routine 1.
When you find that your strength & mass gains start to slow and you want to change the routine then you can try this one for size...
5 Min warm-up
Dumbell Incline Bench - 5 sets 5 reps (very low incline)
Weighted Dips For Chest - 5 sets 5 reps
Seated Dumbell military press 5 sets 5 reps
Skull Crushers - 5 sets 5 reps (or close grip bench press)
5 min warm-up
Deadlifts 5 sets 5 reps
Wide Grip Chins 5 sets 5 reps
Bent Over Barbell Rows 3 sets 5 reps
Barbell Bicep curl 5 sets 5 reps (Strict Form!!!)
Incline seated dumbell curls 3 sets 5 reps (arguably this exercise can be cut out. Just listen to your body and decide how knackered your biceps are by this point)
Legs & Abs
5 min warm-up
Barbell Squats 5x sets 5 reps
Stiff Legged Dead Lifts 5 sets 5 reps
Calf Raises 5 sets 5 reps (last set to fail)
Weighted Swiss Ball crunches 4x sets 6-8 reps
lying leg raises 4x sets 6-8 reps (if you can do these resisted tyhen even better.)
Dumbell side bends 3x sets 6-8 reps
I've put a combination in that will work you hard. Start to push yourself hard on the weight and on the 5x5 exercises don't worry if you can only do 2 reps on your last set. It's better that you work harder on your early sets and keep the weight the same on your later sets but drop the rep numbers as your muscle tires, than to drop the weight. When you can actually hit 5 sets of 5 reps then it's time to add some more weight. Your strength should progress nicely.
post edited by Cashman - 2007/04/02 13:38:51