Bodybuilding, although popular for decades, appears to now be more desirable and appealing than ever before, as there are countless men and women all over the globe, who dedicate a large portion of their lives to bodybuilding, in their endless pursuit of the perfect body. If you’ve ever tried bodybuilding yourself however, you’ll know that it is an incredibly difficult pastime, which requires a great deal of focus, self discipline, determination, and above all else – knowledge. It doesn’t matter how many weights you lift, or how many protein shakes you chug down, if you don’t know what it is that you should be doing in the first place, you may as well save your time and your money. Everybody starts out as a beginner at some point, and if you’re in the early stages of your bodybuilding journey, here’s a look at the only bodybuilding guide for beginners that you will ever need.
First off, we’ll begin by taking a look at the training side of things. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just pick up the heaviest set of dumbbells you can find in the gym, and begin repping them to your heart’s content, there is an art to training, and to ensure your hours spent in the gym are as productive as they can possibly be, here are some simple tips to help you get the most out of your bodybuilding training.
Embrace compound lifts
A compound lift is an exercise/movement which recruits multiple muscle groups simultaneously, so you basically are working multiple muscle groups at the same time, by doing just the one exercise. Barbell bench presses for example, work the pectoral muscles primarily, but on top of that, they work the triceps, the deltoids, and the core. For anybody looking to build muscle and learn complex exercises, compound lifts are absolutely ideal.
Practice your form
Before you even consider using heavy weights, you must first take the time to practice your form, and work on performing an exercise exactly as it should be performed. If your form is poor, or if you cheat, you not only fail to benefit from the exercise as you won’t be working the muscles you may have been hoping to work, but on top of that, you could even be putting your health at risk as you will be more likely to pick up an injury. Practice your form and technique by performing an exercise as usual, but with much, much lighter weights than you will use during your working sets.
Follow a routine
Some people when starting out in the gym, will simply play it by ear and will train when they can be bothered to train, and they will do whatever they feel like when they get there. This however, is not productive because, in order to build a symmetrical physique, you need to ensure that you are working all of your major muscle groups evenly. This means you will need to find a training routine that you think you can follow, and you should stick to it religiously. That means that if you are down to train legs on Wednesday, you train legs on Wednesday, no matter how tired you may be. A training routine will help keep you on the right track and will prevent you from skipping workouts and cutting training sessions short.
Vary your rep ranges
To really maximize muscle hypertrophy, you should vary your rep ranges and mix things up every so often. If you perform 8 reps per set, for every single set, your body will quickly adjust to the stress you are placing it under, and it will fail to respond favourably. One session, you could aim for 8 -10 reps, yet for the next, why not lighten the load and aim for 14 – 16 reps instead?
Compared with the dieting side of things, training in the gym is a piece of cake (pardon the pun), so here are some handy tips to help you nail your diet and nutrition.
Plan your meals
In order to ensure that you eat healthily, and that you stick to a healthy eating regime, make sure that you take the time to carefully plan your meals in advance. If for example, you know that Wednesday’s post-leg session meal is salmon, broccoli, and sweet potato, you can ensure you purchase the necessary ingredients, and that you don’t cheat and decide to eat something else.
Get enough protein
As a bodybuilder, protein will be your best friend as this macronutrient is absolutely essential for the growth, repair, and maintenance of muscle tissue, and for the healthy functioning of our cells in general. Without enough protein, your muscles simply will not be able to grow and repair themselves after you train, so your efforts in the gym will have been in vain. Aim for 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, spaced evenly throughout the day, and coming from clean, healthy, and natural sources.
Don’t neglect your other macros
Fats and carbohydrates are also very important for bodybuilders, so make sure you are getting enough of these as well. Fats should come from healthy sources such as oily fish, whole eggs, healthy oils, and nuts and seeds, and your carbs should come from complex sources like sweet potatoes, rice, pasta, and whole grains.
Eat your greens
Greens, and other vegetables for that matter, are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, and they are therefore essential for our health and well-being. Try to include a fruit or veg source (preferably veg) with every meal.
Prep your meals in advance
Eating clean is tough, especially when you are tired and are perhaps not in the best of moods. To make things easier, set aside a few hours at the weekend, and prep your meals for the week in advance. You can cook simple and tasty meals, store them in Tupperware, and place them in the fridge or freezer, and re-heat when needed. This will save time, and effort as you don’t need to cook, or wash up afterwards during the week.
If used in conjunction with a smart training regime and a healthy diet, supplements can really help you take your training to the next level. Here are some general tips.
Get a good quality protein
If you can consume whey protein, always look for a good quality whey that comes from a reputable supplier, and which contains quality ingredients. Ideally a whey protein isolate which is 95% or more, pure protein, is perfect, as you can consume 2 – 3 shakes per day to help you meet your daily protein macro requirements.
Never rely on supplements
Although very useful, supplements are certainly no substitutions for whole food sources, so don’t skip meals to take supplements instead. To get the most out of your supplements, you should ideally use them alongside healthy foods.
Know your staples
To really put together an effective supplement stack, you need to know your staple ingredients. Generally, you can’t go far wrong with the following:
- Whey protein
- Creatine monohydrate
- Fish oil
- Casein protein