You are motivated! You want the muscles! But you don't know where to start? Good! Your motivation is the first and most important key that will open all other doors for you as a bodybuilding beginner. Yes, bodybuilding can hardly be rivaled by any other sport in terms of the complexity of combining all its manifestations. Which form of training is the right one? Does the order of my exercises matter? What kind of diet should I follow? What supplements should I use? And are the tips I've been given so far right? These 20 tips aim to make muscle building easier for beginners. They are categorized into "basic tips", "training tips" and "nutrition tips" for easy reference, but they are all (almost) equally important because: Muscle building is more than the sum of its parts!
- An experienced training partner is worth its weight in gold
- Put great emphasis on recovery
- Increase regularly
- Do not pay attention to the others
- Do not change your training plan all the time
- Keep it smart and simple
- Train as early as possible
- Do not stretch before or after training
- Train the big muscles first, then the small ones
- Include basic exercises in the workout
- Always train the legs
- Train short but intense
- Use the eccentric movement phase
- Train with free weights
- Train with heavy weights
- Use intensity techniques
An experienced training partner is worth its weight in gold
Having a training partner makes muscle building twice as effective for beginners. It is obvious why this is so, because the training partner can not only demonstrate exercises and inform about one or the other trick in training and nutrition, but also acts as a motivator. A good training partner pushes you to your best and motivates even tired athletes to go to the gym instead of lying on the couch.
In addition, a training partner acts as a spotter, allowing beginners to safely push themselves to their limits even on complex basic exercises like squats, bench presses or the military press. Until you find such a partner, video instruction can be helpful.
Put great emphasis on recovery
Muscles do not grow during training, but in the rest periods between workouts. If you want to build muscle, you should give your muscles a good 48 to 72 hours of rest after each training session before you load the same muscle group again with a training stimulus. Regular and sufficient sleep is also important for optimal regeneration.
Depending on the individual, between 6 and 9 hours per night is considered ideal. The duration of sleep is particularly important because the regeneration of body and mind takes place primarily in the deep sleep phase. Conversely, a permanent lack of sleep can lead to a reduction in the release of growth hormones. Other negative consequences of too little sleep: testosterone production is reduced, fat burning becomes poorer, and cravings for junk food increase. So: Good night!
Strengthen yourself regularly
What is the point of strength training if the muscles are not regularly presented with new challenges? Right, nothing at all. That's why it's especially important to heed the principle of progressive progress (Progressive Overload). This basically states that an athlete, whether beginner or advanced, should increase at least a little bit in every training session.
It doesn't always have to be a massive increase in training weight, because that's not necessarily realistic in such a short time. It is enough to simply squeeze one more repetition out of the muscles per set or even per exercise, so that the total load moved increases. Incidentally, an increase in weight is always called for when the current training weight can still be moved cleanly 12 times in the last set.
Do not pay attention to others
Especially in the gym, many beginners tend to orient themselves too much to the other athletes, who are usually much more experienced. As a result, you want to lift heavy weights as quickly as possible and overestimate yourself. Others, on the other hand, look at unclean techniques and consider them to be correct, because the athlete from whom they have copied the technique finally has a good form. When it comes to muscle building for beginners, however, the exact opposite is true.
Everyone should focus on themselves first and work their way forward in continuous steps according to their own plan. Silly sayings about why you use a low weight for exercise X or Y should be ignored, as should other negative remarks. However, if you follow through with your training with discipline and the support of an experienced training partner, you will celebrate success in any case.
Do not constantly change the training plan
Yes, the world of bodybuilding is new and building muscle for beginners is an initially exciting endeavor. So it's not uncommon to frequently switch between different training systems and plans just to try it once or to force supposed lack of success. This is also counterproductive, because every training system needs at least four to six weeks until successes become clearly visible. It is therefore important, especially in the beginning, to stick to a single system for a few months. For example, a classic full-body workout with free weights completed about three times a week is recommended. After four to six months, you can finally switch to a split system.
Keep it smart and simple
Bodybuilding is an extremely multifaceted sport, characterized by a wide variety of approaches, nutrition strategies and workout systems, which, to top it all off, can be combined with each other. The confusion becomes perfect when no less complex nutrition plans and exotic workout strategies also come into play.
One of the most important tips for beginners is therefore: Be smart and keep the training and diet as simple as possible at first. This makes it much easier to persevere and also creates a valuable experience base that can be used for later specializations and experiments. However, it can take up to 6-12 months before such experiments can take place.
Train as early as possible
If you train early in the day, you have the advantage that the metabolic activity of the organism remains elevated throughout the day. This means that the nutrients that are absorbed during the day reach the muscle cells as quickly as continuously, where they can be processed much more effectively than during the evening and night hours. The optimized protein intake and absorption also leads to an increased build-up of lean body mass, i.e. muscle.
As a beginner, you will initially be able to make good progress with your training during any time of day, although an early training time is a little extra. As your training becomes more advanced, the timing of training becomes more important to avoid stagnation or to take full advantage of a maximal strength cycle. So if you can train in the morning or mid-morning, you should definitely take advantage of this, because what better start to the day could there be than exercise?
Stretching neither before nor after training
One of the biggest mistakes should be avoided right before training, because this costs performance and thus also a considerable portion of the maximum possible growth stimulus that can be set during training. Even though light stretching before endurance training is justified, it should be avoided both immediately before and immediately after strength training. Stretching before training leads to a reduction of tension in the muscles, so that especially the maximum mobilizable force suffers.
Caution: stretching is not the same as targeted stretching! Stretching involves holding tension for several seconds, while stretching corresponds to a fluid movement in and out of the stretch. Stretching also helps you prevent injury. Hard plastic rollers, which can be used to massage tense muscle groups themselves, such as Foam Rolling, also promote regeneration.
First train the large muscles, then the small ones
The recommendation to train large muscles or muscle groups such as the back or chest before smaller muscles such as the biceps or triceps is based on avoiding muscular pre-fatigue. If the biceps are trained before the back by means of various curls, this very small muscle is already exhausted. This is counterproductive for muscle building because the biceps is also needed as an auxiliary muscle during back training. However, if the biceps is now already pre-fatigued, it is likely that it will fatigue well before the back and thus no ideal growth stimuli can be set for the back muscles.
Incorporate basic exercises into training
This tip follows on seamlessly from the previous tip, as performing basic exercises builds on the general benefits of training with free weights. Basic exercises are characterized by their complexity, which is based on the fact that at least two joints and several muscle groups are involved in such a movement sequence.
Basic exercises thus not only increase coordination skills and functional strength, but also ensure a significantly higher release of growth hormones, which boost muscle growth, due to the involvement of a large proportion of skeletal muscles. In addition, basic exercises can save a lot of time, as they can easily replace several isolation exercises. Thus, an optimal training time of 45-60 minutes can be easily adhered to.
Absolutely train the legs
Leg training also takes a central role in muscle building for beginners, even though it is extremely strenuous and obviously less fun than bench press Mondays or arm training. The background to this recommendation is three things at once. First, the purely visual aspect, because how does it look on the beach when the muscular upper body stands on two thin stilts?
The second point concerns the stability that well-trained legs give the body. Especially since any chain is only as strong as its weakest link, it is not uncommon for a strength and stability deficit in the legs to limit performance in other exercises performed while standing.
The third reason in favor of leg training is again based on the release of growth hormones. Since the legs are the largest contiguous muscle group, the release of testosterone and HGH is naturally particularly large - a rather small but welcome effect in the overall picture. The positive effect is not limited to the legs, but extends to the entire body.
Short but intensive training
A lot does not always help a lot. This also applies to muscle building for beginners, because even if countless athletes spend several hours in the studio at once, this does not mean that this is the right strategy. In fact, the opposite is true, because with increasing training duration, the organism releases larger amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which has a strong catabolic effect and thus reduces the positive effects of the anabolic hormones (testosterone and HGH), which are also released during training. It is better to train for a short time but very intensively and with only few set breaks in order to make the most of the demonstrably higher muscle-building effect. The ideal time for a complete workout is 45-60 minutes.
Exploit the eccentric movement phase
If you only concentrate on the concentric movement phase during training, i.e. lifting a weight and then more or less dropping it, you are giving away considerable growth potential. This is because the musculature is composed to a large extent of muscle fibers that respond very well to eccentric loads, such as those that occur when a weight is released. To take advantage of this additional growth stimulus, the eccentric movement phase should be performed particularly slowly. Approximately 2-3 seconds for the release of the weight is ideal.
Training with free weights
Of course, it is very attractive for many beginners to train on machines, since the exercises are guided very precisely by the machines and the potential for errors is accordingly low. However, beginners should do exactly the opposite and at least mainly train with free weights, i.e. with dumbbells and barbells. Due to the freedom of movement and the lack of guidance, there is no extensive isolation of certain muscles, so that smaller auxiliary muscles are also effectively trained.
This is particularly important when building up muscles for beginners, as a high level of basic stability and functional strength is achieved right from the start thanks to the improved interplay between the muscles (intermuscular coordination). In combination with the increased range of motion for each individual movement, this results in a reduced risk of injury and a stronger growth stimulus. All that matters is a conscious and controlled execution of movement. Improper or incorrect movement patterns can lead to injury in the long run. Another reason why tip 1 is so important.
Train with heavy weights
You often see beginners in the gym using light weights who could actually do a lot more and then wonder why they don't really want to make progress with muscle building. In order to set optimal stimuli for muscle building, training should always be as heavy as possible. Weights that can be moved cleanly in the hypertrophy range are ideal - i.e. at least six times, but no more than twelve times. Another advantage of training with heavy weights is that the testosterone release is significantly higher than when training with light weights. This, in turn, is conducive to muscle building.
Use intensity techniques
In order to tease out the last bit of power from the muscles, beginners can and should also resort to simple intensity techniques. These are usually used in the last set performed for a specific muscle group and generate a stronger growth stimulus once again due to the additional tension. Intensity techniques that can be easily and safely implemented even by beginners are drop sets, super sets and forced repetitions. With this tip we are already moving towards advanced skills, first try to take the upper tactics tips to heart.
High protein diet
The basis for muscle building for beginners is a protein-rich diet, because without the cell building material the best training is useless, because the organism is not able to build new tissue. As a rule of thumb, 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is sufficient to achieve very good results. In addition to the total amount, the quality of the protein, the so-called biological value, is also important. The higher this is, the better the organism can convert the dietary protein into the body's own protein structures.
In addition to whey protein, casein and various multi-component proteins, fish, lean meat, seafood, eggs and dairy products are considered particularly high-quality. Vegetable sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu and soy are also not to be despised in this respect. Overall, protein consumption should not be one-sided, but rather composed of a wide variety of sources in order to ensure the intake of the broadest possible spectrum of amino acids and also to benefit from various micronutrients contained therein. A balanced diet is key and will give you the best results.
The main reason why muscle building is often so difficult for beginners is simply insufficient nutrient intake. Especially ectomorphic body types, who generally have a hard time gaining weight due to their wasteful metabolism, or people who were not used to eating a lot until now, are affected by this. Instead of haphazardly devouring fast food and ice cream, it makes much more sense to keep a food diary with the help of a calorie counter app.
This primarily serves to monitor the calorie surplus, because without a calorie surplus, there will be no muscle building. Those who have problems getting used to the large amounts of food can reach for foods with a high energy density. These include nuts or cheese, for example. Alternatively, protein shakes or weight gainers can be used as rich snacks.
Keeping the body fat percentage low
If you want to achieve a top figure and keep it permanently, you should do one thing above all - keep your body fat percentage low. Of course, this applies above all to the build-up phase, because every kilogram of carelessly built-up fat mass only prolongs the subsequent diet unnecessarily and thus carries an increased risk of losing the painstakingly built-up muscles again.
Therefore, it is also appropriate in the mass phase to record the eating habits with the help of a calorie tracking app and not to let the daily energy surplus rise above 500 kilocalories. Additional cardio sessions also help to counteract fat gain, so that in the spring no extremely hard diet is needed at all to get in top shape.
Use only the best dietary supplements
Dietary supplements, the so-called supplements, also play a weighty role in muscle building for beginners. In view of the large selection, however, beginners should initially limit themselves to the absolute basic products, since these are completely sufficient at the beginning and optimally support muscle building and regeneration.
This category includes, for example, vitamin preparations, maltodextrin, dextrose and the whole range of protein powders. However, the old rule "he who buys cheap, buys twice" is also valid here, because cheap products often do not contain the highest quality nutrients or tend to be low in dosage. It is therefore important to focus exclusively on the best quality products. And you can get them here, at esn.com.
That was quite a lot of info now? You don't find yourself 100 percent in these tips yet? Don't let that discourage you! No one has ever found it easy to get started in bodybuilding. Set achievable goals, such as gradually adjusting your diet or developing a workout routine, talk to the people at the gym, and heed these tips, and success will come little by little. Also note: this list covers many aspects, but not all! Which exercises you should know, psychological aspects like discipline, equipment,... important is: always stay patient! And: Always keep your big goal in mind. It is worth it!