Bodybuilding for Beginners

I’m a complete beginner to weight training. I’d like to make gains as fast as possible, but when I ask people how I should go about it all I keep getting different answers. Please help me, I need advice on all areas: diet, routine, exercises, supplements, etc.

This is one of the most common questions that I am asked. And for those who are just getting started it can be very confusing. I understand what you are going through because I went through the samething when I began bodybuilding.

We all have to start somewhere and it can be overwhelming at times because people often make things more complicated then they really are. When you put aside all of the hype you can see that building muscle and losing fat is not very complex.

What I am going to do is outline a good weight training, nutrition, and supplementation program that you can follow. You do not need to have much exercise equipment. In fact you can make great gains by training in a small home gym. But I would recommend that you workout in a commercial gym. Besides having more exercise equipment to choose from. There is a lot more energy in a commercial gym and there is a feeling of friendly competition. This will help motivate you to work hard and make improvements.

For a beginner I would suggest that you workout 3 days per week or every other day. By doing this you will give your body plenty of time for recuperation and muscle growth. Muscles do not grow while you are working out; they grow while you are resting. Working out will stress and damage the muscles slightly. Then your body reacts by building up the muscles in order to handle the extra work and stress. So by gradually increasing the workload you put on your muscles your body will become bigger and stronger.

Once you workout you have to give your body time to repair and build the muscles through rest. Then you repeat the process of working out and rest. A common mistake that people make is thinking that they will get better results if they workout for several hours everyday. This is not true because what happens is the muscles get stressed and damaged but they don’t get a chance to recover and build up. This is what is called “over training”. When you over train your body can’t build muscle and you may even lose some of the muscle you have now.

We can shorten the period it takes the body to recover from a workout through proper nutrition and supplements. By eating lots of nutritious foods you provide the body with the raw material it needs for muscle growth. Nutritional supplements can help provide extra nutrients. Supplements are not designed to replace real food, but to be taken in addition to real food. For example if you ate the typical 3 meals a day and then had a protein shake in between each meal this would be a great way to “supplement” your diet with extra protein.

For your nutrition you should eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. For protein eat foods such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, milk, protein shakes, etc. Eat plenty of carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes, yams, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, fruit, vegetables, etc. Try to limit your fat intake, you don’t eliminate fat entirely just avoid eating excess fried foods and “junk-foods”. Eat a small meal every 2-3 hours. A protein drink or protein bar can be considered a meal. Strive to drink approx. 1 gallon of water per day and get 8 hours of sleep each night.

For supplements take a multivitamin and fish oil capsules with your breakfast and evening meal. You can have a protein shake between meals and after your workouts or any other time that you are unable to get a complete high protein food meal. For example, in the morning I’ll often have a big bowl of oatmeal and mix in 2 scoops of vanilla whey protein. This is a great way to have a quick high protein breakfast.

For lunch at school or work you could:

  • Cook foods such as chicken, beef, turkey, rice, pasta, etc. ahead of time and put them in a Tupperware container to reheat in the microwave. Cooking on a George Foreman grill (or similar grill) is a fast and easy way to cook your meats, chicken, etc. for meals later in the day.
  • Make sandwiches such as tuna, roast beef, turkey, etc.
  • Mix a protein shake and take it with you in a thermos or shaker bottle.
  • Take healthy snack foods like apples, bananas, carrots, dried fruit, nuts, etc.

Eating right is not that difficult it just takes a bit of planning ahead.

The biggest factor to your success is being consistent with your workouts and proper nutrition. You can follow several different workout routines and make good progress, just make sure to work all of the major muscle groups.

Here is a good workout routine that you can follow. With this routine you split up your workouts by exercising half of your body one workout and then exercising the other half the next workout.

Workout 1:

Bench press 3 sets of 10 reps (for the chest)
bench press picture

Pull downs 3 sets of 10 reps (for the back)
lat pulldown picture

Military press 3 sets of 10 reps (for the shoulders)
should press picture - military press picture

Crunches 3 sets of 25-50 reps (for the abdominals)
abdominal crunch picture

Workout 2:

Squats 3 sets of 10 reps (for the quadriceps)
squat picture

Leg curls 3 sets of 10 reps (for the hamstrings)
leg curl picture

Barbell curls 3 sets of 10 reps (for the biceps)
bicep curl picture

Triceps push downs 3 sets of 10 reps (for the triceps)
tricep pushdown picture

Standing calve raises 3 sets of 15 reps (for the calves)
calve raise picture
With this routine you workout every-other-day and alternate the two workout routines. The weight that you lift for the first couple of weeks should be light enough so you can complete the repetitions with ease. Then gradually, over time increase the amount of weight that you are lifting. For the first set of each exercise, use a light weight to warm up the muscles and prevent injury. For the other sets, increase the weight so that you have to work hard to complete the required repetitions.

At this stage it is best not to complicate things, keep your routine simple and be consistent with your eating and training. The biggest factor with success in bodybuilding is to just stick with it and focus on making small improvements overtime.

“inch by inch life is a synch, yard by yard life is hard”

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About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you...

1 Comment

  • Nelson Rivera

    Morning Lee I checked out your NEW website and everything is right there for you to enjoy. All the info, pictures Q & A. You gave some advise on getting and ( Gravatar ) so I signed up. I have been reading and enjoying your site along with ( Vince and now Elliotte Hulse ) you guys are awesome. I have shared your site with family and Freinds and forward your training tips. Keep up the good work Lee. How is your training coming along for your comeback to the compition bodybuilding stage? Only The Strong Survive… Herc.