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12-week
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Beginner to Advanced in Just 12 weeks
Phase 1: One-Day Split

The 12-Week Beginner Bodybuilding Plan - Phase 1

Say Hello to whole-body training, and teach your muscles how to contract properly with classic lifts designed to generate strength and mold muscles.

Phase 1 The One-Day Split ( Weeks 1-3)

You don't need Einstein's IQ to guess that a whole-body training split involves training the entire body in every workout. It's ideal for beginners, allowing them to train each muscle group multiple times each week. With a whole-body training split, you can train each muscle group three times per week -- say, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

XXX
"Your muscle fibers must learn how to contract in concert, allowing you to perform exercises correctly."

That sort of repetition helps train train the body's nervous system. See, before you can focus on muscle building, those muscles must first learn to contract properly. Learning how to bench press or squat is like learning to ride a bike, and just as painful if you don't know what the heck you're doing. Your muscle fibers must learn how to contract in concert, allowing you to perform exercises correctly, and apply the most strength when you do it.

We suggest training Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but any three days of the week will do, as long as training days are separated by rest days. Your body needs time to recover from the previous workout. Recovery is critical for becoming bigger and stronger.

Weeks 1-3 Workouts

Phase 1 Workout

Complete this workout three times per week with at least one full day of rest between workouts (e.g. Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

Phase 1 Rundown

Exercises

The exercises you'll be using are the tried-and-true mass builders, such as the bench press, squat and barbell curl to name a few. The kind of stuff Arnold did. You'll be performing only one exercise per muscle group during this phase. More than that, and the workout would become prohibitively long and excessive for muscles not yet accustomed to such stimulus.

Reps

Rep is the abbreviated term for repetition, which involves doing an exercise one time through its full range of motion. In this phase, aim for 10-12 reps per set. That is a good range in which to learn the exercise and build size and strength in the beginner's body. Exception: calves and abs. For those stubborn muscle groups, higher reps will stimulate more muscle growth. And when doing body weight ab exercises, such as the crunch, do as many reps as you can until reaching muscle failure.

The amount of weight you use is determined by the rep range. Since you'll be doing 10-12 reps per set, choose a weight that prevents you from doing any more than 12 reps, but allows you to complete at least 10 reps.
"Since you'll be doing 10-12 reps per set, choose a weight that prevents you from doing any more than 12 reps, but allows you to complete at least 10 reps."

Weight

The amount of weight you use is determined by the rep range. Since you'll be doing 10-12 reps per set, choose a weight that prevents you from doing any more than 12 reps, but allows you to complete at least 10 reps. You should grow stronger over these three weeks, so once you can exceed 12 reps with the weight you're using, increase the weight by 5 or 10 pounds.

Sets

A "set" refers to doing all reps for an exercise. Picking up the bar and performing as many reps as you can before putting down the bar completes one set. Typically you do several sets per exercise, resting in between those sets. In this phase you'll do three sets per exercise, just enough repetition to learn the exercise, yet not too much to over-extend the workout.

Rest

During this phase, you'll rest 2-3 minutes between sets. The goal is to allow enough rest for you to stick fairly close to the rep range using the same weight on all three sets. This will help you gain more size and strength. In fact, research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that beginning lifters resting 2.5 minutes between sets gained more than twice as much muscle size on their arms as those taking one minute between sets. The exception here is calves and abs, which tend to recover faster between sets. For these exercises, rest 1-2 minutes between sets.

Main | Phase 1 | Phase 2 | Phase 3 | Phase 4

Related Articles

About The Author

Jim holds a doctorate in exercise physiology and has been the personal nutrition and health consultant for numerous celebrity clients...

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lfiggins

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lfiggins

See you in four weeks with the results!

Jan 3, 2012 12:22pm | report
 
silvalization

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silvalization

Usually I make my own workouts, but I like this one and how the splits are with the workouts you encompass in it. Going to give it a try and see how I feel.

Feb 8, 2012 9:34am | report
 
isaacfh

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isaacfh

I don't really get the whole sets thing, are you supposed to do your 10-12 lifts then wait 2-3 minutes and do it again or are you supposed to cycle through all the work outs in order 3 times?

Mar 22, 2012 10:57am | report
 
Jcardona94

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Jcardona94

hey man you were right the first time.. a set is the amount of repetitions youre going to do per exercise. so if its 3 sets of 10-12 reps then youll do your 10-12 reps, rest, do another 10-12, rest again and then do your final set of 10-12 and then go onto the next exercise.. hope that helps!

Apr 1, 2012 10:51pm | report
k9guy165

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k9guy165

When are you guys doing cardio?

Mar 23, 2012 10:47am | report
 
dlknight553

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dlknight553

I do 20 mins cardio on the treadmill before each workout Mon, Wed, Fri. gets the blood flow going...nice and warm!

Oct 14, 2012 12:14pm | report
y2j2008

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y2j2008

So far what I have heard is, Squats do at the begin of the workout..isn't it? Was I wrong? I think yes, when I see this.

Anyway..I'm gonna start this great program starting on this Monday..will get back with results soon

Thanks !

Apr 1, 2012 12:33pm | report
 
xXOAKLEYXx

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xXOAKLEYXx

I have been workingout going on a bit over a year now and have never had a routine in place. This will be my first. Its gonna take some dicipline to change my habits but imma going for it. See ya in 12 weeks.

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Apr 2, 2012 8:04am | report
 
xXOAKLEYXx

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xXOAKLEYXx

Day one complete and I gotta say it kikd my butt. Thumbs up to first day it was good to have a change in my routine. looking foward to Wed.

Apr 2, 2012 1:47pm | report
jjv101

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jjv101

Interested in what kind of results you see when you get farther into this workout.

I am debating between this one and Jim Stoppani;s new workout with the micro cycles.

Apr 5, 2012 10:56pm | report
MarshmellowPeep

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MarshmellowPeep

Just finished wek one of this program and its was very good. i enjoyed the change up i got. Onto week two!

Apr 10, 2012 1:12pm | report
 
xXOAKLEYXx

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xXOAKLEYXx

Now into week two and I have noticed a bit more confidence in my forms and going to increase my wieghts a bit. So far no physical changes noticed but really notice a change in my strength and stamina.

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Apr 11, 2012 1:06pm | report
 
xXOAKLEYXx

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xXOAKLEYXx

Phase 1 Complete. Great sucess so far with a 2lb gain. I will be moving on to Phase 2 and tracking my feedback there if anyone wants to follow the results.

Apr 23, 2012 8:13am | report
Ram143

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Ram143

Did do you follow diet and do you take any supplements????

Apr 24, 2012 9:44pm | report
xXOAKLEYXx

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xXOAKLEYXx

The only supplement currently taken during this plan is a prework out sup. Blitz and Nx6 to help my endurance and keep me going straight. Since I workout on my lunch break I have to shorten my inbetween breaks and these help. As for diet i just try and stuff myself all day everday with anything I can. I do avoid fastfoods and deserts though. Hope this helps.

Apr 30, 2012 11:01am | report
Dwolfman91

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Dwolfman91

I've been lifting for a few years now with not very impressive results. i have definitely lost body fat (going from 240lbs to around 200), but haven't seen any significant gains for having lifted for 2-3 years. i feel like i have been benching 135x10 for so long. before starting the program i would do 4 part splits and as far as bench i would do three sets of 10 at 135, 145, and usually get about 4 or 5 out at 155. after the first phase of this program i'm doing the same 135, 145, but now i can squeak out a strong 8 or 9 at 155. I've also noticed my pecs increase in size just slightly. I start phase 2 tomorrow and am super excited. I'm hoping i go back to some soreness because my body seemed to adapt to the full body splits after mid week 2. Im also trying to stick to around a 2400 calorie net diet with about 40/40/20 protein, carb, fat split. the key word is trying =P I'll do my best to keep up with my results and gains.

Apr 29, 2012 9:10pm | report
 
IDGAFBRAH

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IDGAFBRAH

Sweet!

May 6, 2012 12:00pm | report
 
1234har

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1234har

hey guys do you do warm up sets with this routine? or just go for the 3 sets right away?

May 7, 2012 1:48am | report
 
Exman2099

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Exman2099

I usually do 1 set of 15 with no weight just a barbell...usually enough...

May 11, 2012 11:26am | report
Exman2099

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Exman2099

Been lifting for about 2 years, Started off by doing P90X...Awesome program....I been looking for a good 12 week program started this on Wednesday, going on second workout today, I am an intermediate lifter, but sometimes we all have to go back to basics...Supplements I am taking on this workout the first 3 weeks is L-Glutamate,Multi vitamin , Whey protein and Beta Alanine......

May 11, 2012 11:24am | report
 
pacheco25nick

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pacheco25nick

Well said!

Jul 12, 2013 12:59pm | report
michaelbella

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michaelbella

Finally took the plunge and got myself some weights and a bar for home use.

With 13 weeks until my holiday, and 13 weeks until my half marathon, I thought this workout would be a great addition to my training.

First started 'working out' as a complete beginner back in Sept 10 for six months, but with no programme or nutrition. Gains were fast at first, mainly as I weigh 128, so it didn't take much to see muscle, but months 2-6, I had no gains at all. Greatly disappointing.

Looked long and hard for a programme, and although this doesn't have many exercises, I understand it's all about the longer goal, and phase one is simply going to awaken and grow my overall strength, and then it's the progression into the other phases that then starts to look at individual muscle groups.

So I had day one this morning, and it took some trial and error trying to find the correct weights I could lift, but I'm hoping that by the end of week one, I'll have found my limits and can progress from there.

I'll update week by week if people want, though don't expect too much as I'm training for a half marathon and I do bootcamp three days a week, so I probably burn off 3,000 calories a week.

Apologies for the essay, just giving a bit of background before I start posting!

Mike

Jun 11, 2012 1:13pm | report
 
SunnyRosario

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SunnyRosario

GREAT article for beginners!

Jul 19, 2012 12:14pm | report
 
kdygamboa

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kdygamboa

can someone help me im confuse.
on monday i did phase 1 day 1 then rest on tuesday then on wednesday im still sore.i still lift that day with the same weights i lift on monday but i can't finish 10 reps per set on everything.and i didnt finish it.
why?should i still rest when still sore?or is it normal?

Aug 26, 2012 4:00am | report
 
SC79

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SC79

your going to be sore my friend thats what lifting or building is all about.. sore is good as long as your not injured... go lighter and focus on form

Sep 12, 2012 9:23am | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 57 Comments

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