Bodybuilding for Beginners
Bodybuilding for beginners is where you start your muscle-building future. You'll want to start out with the right exercises, the right diet, and the right recovery programs.
Muscles grow as a result of overloading them, feeding them, and letting them recuperate, so that they grow stronger and bigger over time. You need all three components (exercise, nutrition, and rest) to make any gains. Two out of three is not good enough.
It is at this stage where you learn the basics of bodybuilding.
First things first! You want to hit the weights, and I don't blame you. Just don't forget about the other two pillars (and don't forget about mindset – which won't be a problem when you're starting out but it will when you hit your first sticking point).
In your first month, these are the exercises you want to do (just watch, don't necessarily listen to the recommendations):
Lift on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, or every other day. This gives your muscles time to recover, adapt, and grow.
On your rest days, do your normal thing. If you like to run, run. If you ride a bike, ride a bike. On your workout days, try to just lift weights.
Of course, this may be a bit impractical. If you're on a high school football team, you will practice every day. There's no getting around that.
However, this makes it all the more important to really do nothing on your off days (like Saturday and Sunday).
Your body and mind need the rest. There is a strong central nervous system (CNS) response to weight training.
After one month, add one set to each exercise and stick with that for 3 months. Add weight when you can, in the smallest increments possible.
In many cases, beginning bodybuilders find that they can add weight every single workout to almost every exercise. If you can – great. If you can't, that's great, too.
Everybody gains strength at different rates. Consistency at this point is king.
My experience tells me that eating a “normal” diet is best, supplemented as needed with in-between meal snacks. Stick to wholesome, whole foods. Organic when possible.
Eat a variety of foods, like beef, chicken, eggs, milk, and fish for your protein sources. Grains, vegetables, and fruits for your carbs. You needn't worry much about fats, as if you cover the protein category, you most likely won't be lacking in fat intake.
Do not, however, try to go on a low- or no-fat diet, even if you're overweight. That's a really bad idea. Once you begin limiting your fat intake, your body goes into survival mode and begins hoarding the fat you do eat. Worse yet, it begins conserving your body fat.
The results are often counter to your objective – you gain fat.
To summarize: Eat 3 meals a day with 2 or 3 snacks in between. If you feel hungry, eat more often. If you can't eat that often, do the best you can. If time isn't on your side, mix up a meal replacement shake (MetRx is great) in the morning and carry it without you throughout the day.
At this point, supplements aren't really necessary, outside of a good protein supplement (like the aforementioned MetRx – pick it up at Trader Joe's) and multi-vitamin/mineral tablet.
Rest & Recovery
This is one of those very “iffy” areas. Everybody – and every body – has different needs when it comes to rest and recovery.
So these are general guidelines:
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep
- Rest as much as you can when you're not working out, unless you're overweight
- In that case, do some steady-state cardio on off days
- Don't do any “extra” weight training – stick to the guidelines above
- If you feel like you're tired all the time, get more rest – you will find a way (take a nap)