Gym rat, Gorilla juice, and other sneering adjectives are tagged on bodybuilders mostly from envy. No sane man would lock horns with a bodybuilder in his prime and hope to come out with all bones intact. Eugene Sandow, a German, born 1867 is honored as the Father of Bodybuilding. A phenomenal strongman, he also participated in muscle display performances. Bodybuilding is a high focus discipline and gratifying in the evident change in your physique, strength, and posture. The health benefits go without saying. It is recommended to maintain a journal. Of course, as with everything, there is a right way of doing it and making a hash of it. This handy guide on tips for bodybuilding will make you Tarzan in a short time. So pull on your trainers, your hoodie and head for the gym.
Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners
1. Stick to Free Weights
Your first few days should start with stretches for warming up. Follow up with core strength training; planks namely. Freehand exercises like pushups, pullups, squats, abdominal crunches should be the main focus. Follow this for a couple of weeks before progressing to free weights. Remember to cool off at the end of a session.
Undoubtedly free weights, dumbells, and barbels form the backbone of muscle definition and toning. Warm-up with stretches and pushups to prevent muscle tears. Warming up is not negotiable. Another great benefit is body balance.
2. Do Compound Movements
For muscle and strength building, compound exercises rule the roost. They are no doubt highly demanding as the lift weight is the maximum of your capacity. Compound exercises involve a number of muscle groups in tandem. The other type is isolation where only one to two groups are used. A large number of calories are expended but the great advantage is the tremendous gain in functional body strength. A word of caution, however. The exercises must be done with correct form and motion or you will injure yourself seriously. Compound movements are:
The Deadlift– the king of complex exercises. All the large groups of muscles get worked out.
The Squat– The entire lower body glutes, quads, calves, etc. are targeted.
Bench Press– Builds chest, shoulders, and arms.
Shoulder Press– This is another classic for the upper body.
Bent Over Row– This takes prominence in building a strong back, the fundamental structural member in load carrying.
3. Build a Training Program and Stick to It
You need to chalk out a suitable training program, a schedule of your weight training routine.
An example of what it looks like for a beginner is shown below.
4. Train Each Muscle Group Every Week
Just as spending more time at the gym won’t get you bigger, not working out enough is also a setback. The fundamental goal is that each muscle group should be worked out every week. Another thing which is vital to be aware of is the correct form of doing a specific exercise. For example, when doing pushups, never lock your elbows. Do not swing your body when doing a curl, and so on.
5. Gradually Increase the Weights
Once you have mastered form and in less danger of doing it wrong, increase the weight incrementally so that you can achieve at least 8 repetitions. Every set should be 5-8 reps, so stick to that. The gym trainer should be able to address any issues that you may have. But there are some reservations about this. He may not be qualified enough or hard-pressed for time. Be aware of situationally. When executing a squat, was that squeak from your trainers or knees. If the knee is the culprit, you don’t want to intensify whatever the problem is by adding weights. Consult a sports medicine doctor first. If all is well, your technique gets a pass.
6. Change Up Your Rep Ranges
Examine your goals thoroughly, strength training or hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is the building of muscle mass and size by the lifting of weights which can be seen in the contestants of the Mr. Universe title. That does not preclude that strength training comes without musculature development
There are four questions you need to put to yourself before succumbing to the draw of those heavier dumbbells.
Assuming your technique is solid, increasing the load on a day when you are tired is setting yourself up for injury. Here is a recommended test you can perform to ascertain if you can up the ante. Use your usual weight and do a few repetitions. Stop and relax awhile. Stand erect knees stiff and bending forward, try touching your toes. Stop when you feel a pull in your hamstrings. Then add some weights and repeat. If you can bend as much as the first time. You are good to go with the new weights and add a few more pounds.
The reps can now be increased. For strength building, as explained before sticking to 5-8 reps. For hypertrophy, this will be 12-15 reps. This is a general guide subject to your fitness level and the period you have been lifting heavyweights.
Now we shift up to the final gear shift. Assuming all well, increase weight by 10-15 pounds for lower body workouts and 10 pounds for the upper body. The rule-of-thumb that you have zeroed in is that the last two reps require tremendous effort to complete, without cheating on the form of course.
7. Caution Always
The heavy lifting of weights comes with heavy strain on different body structural members. You may have seen on TV, even at the International level, the participants wear a waist belt. You should too as a precautionary move.
8. Eat A Lot of Protein
The Academy of Dietetics recommends a protein intake of 1.2g to 1.7g for every kilo body mass for people involved in bodybuilding (Caspero 2014). For example, a 90 kg individual would require 108-153g of protein daily, Err on the higher side, protein is good.
The ideal diet for a bodybuilder is one that promotes muscle growth, presents a lean body so that musculature is defined and generates fat metabolism. Muscles require rest between workouts.
The underlying principle is called ‘Bulk and Cut.’ This means intermittent fasting and specialized nutrition. But how do I build muscle if I fast? Valid question. Remember we need to get rid of fat too simultaneously.
During weight training intervals, switch to cardio which burns fat. This practice comes highly recommended.
9. Calorie Surplus Counts
On days when the entire focus is on building muscle, the body requires the most desirable fuel which means consuming more calories than will be expended. (Lambert, 2004).
Specific guidelines for diet tailored for bodybuilding are 55-60% from carbohydrates, 25-30% from protein and 15-20% from fat. (Lambert, 2004)
Consistency with this diet is key. On days of intermittent fasting, cut down on the quantity.
10. Eat More Often
An efficient bodybuilding routine and diet plan is to have at least 5-6 small meals, nutrient-packed, throughout the day. This way energy levels are high and muscle repair progress faster.
Lean protein apart, carbohydrates play a very important part a vital role in bodybuilding diet. They are particularly useful after a workout, which is known as carb load up
11. Consume Fruits and Vegetables
We have already touched upon macronutrients (carbs, protein and fats). Never leave micronutrients out which come loaded with vitamins and minerals. Hence, consume fruits and vegetables amply.
12. Rest and Recover
Muscles grow not when you are in the process of a workout. They just about get inflated. They grow when you rest. So get those 8 golden hours in the sack.
13. Model Your Lifestyle as an Athlete
You are one. So stay off the usual vices that will set you back. No ground to be yielded.
Things to Avoid
We are not referring to gorging on ice-cream here.
This is about steroids, bulking supplements, and hormone injections. An increasing number of wannabe Mr. World wrongly assume this is part of the game without understanding the dire health risks. Kidney failure, heart problems, seizures, and even a few deaths have resulted. An example is a steroid product was released in the market. Users ended up with severe jaundice and liver damage. Protein shakes are innocuous provided the manufacturer is a well-known brand. Steroids based on testosterone, a male hormone advertise endurance and muscle growth stimulation. They are well documented for inducing extreme aggression referred to as ‘roid rage.’
The rudimentary steps and pitfalls towards taking up bodybuilding have been covered in this guide. In a shorter while, than you think, you would have transformed yourself into a powerhouse. Use it for good causes. In the morning, when you look into the mirror, you will like what you see and that is a terrific boost. So Mr. Bodybuilder, stay focused and do it. And do not forget to jot everything down in that journal. All the best.