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You've probably seen the Charles Atlas ad in the back of a comic book or on the Internet somewhere. In the Atlas ad, Mac gets sand kicked in his face at the beach and he decides to put on muscle and fight back. Here's an even faster way to put on muscle than Mac did.
Maybe you saw that Charles Atlas ad and felt like Mac. Or perhaps you saw Conan the Barbarian for the first time. Or maybe you saw the local bodybuilding hero at your gym hitting some check poses after his herculean workout. Maybe it was a photo on a box of supplements.
Whatever the case might be, you have made a decision. You want huge, powerful and rippling muscles. Congratulations! You want to be a bodybuilder.
Now what? How do you go about getting there? "I wanna get big!" you say. Well, wait no more. This article will get you started on a life-long adventure as a bodybuilder. The first thing you want to focus on when becoming a bodybuilder is your body - your whole body.
You're not setting out to be an arm-builder or a chest-builder or a bench-presser for that matter. You have to look at your body as a complete package. Nothing can be overlooked. You will definitely have your favorite body parts to train and some body parts will indeed respond better than others, but in order to build that impressive physique, you need to train everything from head to toe.
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The routine I'm about to share is one to kick-start your body into some incredible growth. It works. I followed one very similar to this when I was age 13. I made some impressive gains.
I gained more than an inch on my arms in a little more than a month and I was gaining about two to three pounds of bodyweight per week the first month and a half. Sound good? Keep reading. You can achieve the same results.
Before you start this endeavor, weigh yourself, have someone shoot a couple photos of you, and take measurements of your arms, chest, waist, thighs and calves. Write them down and date it. And put it in a place where you'll never lose track of it. If you get hooked on bodybuilding, you'll cherish this little piece of paper when you've been at it for 20 years!
This program is a basic, total-body, three-times-per-week weightlifting routine. It can be done at any gym or at home if you have a weight bench and a barbell. (I started with this routine in my basement.) Perform the exercises on Monday, Wednesday and Friday or on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The whole routine should take you less than an hour.
Now, before we go any further, you may have read or heard of split routines where you train only certain body parts on one day and others the next. That's for intermediate and advanced training.
This is to break you into the world of bodybuilding, make some quick gains and get acquainted with the exercises, balance and your new muscle pumps. You have an entire lifetime to try other routines. This is a foundation, take your time and enjoy it.
Nope, we're not starting with the bench press. We'll start with the largest muscle groups and work our way through to the smaller muscle groups. Your legs are the biggest muscle group .
If you don't have a squat rack to hold the bar, you'll have to use a weight that you can press over your head and then let the bar rest across the back of your shoulders. There's a little "sweet spot" that it will fit perfectly on. Don't let it rest on that bone that sticks out on the back of your neck.
Wear a t-shirt and wrap a towel around the bar for extra comfort if you need to the first few times. (I recommend not using one of those foams pieces for comfort. Just get used to the area having a bare bar rest there. You'll get a little callous built up soon enough.)
With your legs about shoulder-width apart, squat down to a position where your thighs are roughly parallel with the floor. Do four sets of 10 reps with the same weight. (You'll be going light enough when you start out so don't worry about warm-ups sets.)
The next exercise is barbell rows. Bend over at the waist and keep your back straight with a little arch. Pull the weight up to your stomach and concentrate on using the upper back muscles-not your arms. Don't round your back. Remember keep it slightly arched. This will help you to contract the upper back muscles. Do four sets of ten reps.
Okay, now you can do the bench press. Start with a medium grip, which will be just a little wider than shoulder-width. Slowly lower the weight to your chest. Touch your chest briefly and push the weight right back up. Use a nice smooth motion and never bounce the weight off your chest. Do five sets of eight reps.
The next body part to blast in this routine is shoulders. The best exercise for building cannon-ball-size deltoids is the overhead barbell press. It's also called the military press.
Do them seated and lower the bar to the front just under the chin. Do not go all the way down to your collar bone. Pressing the weight behind the neck could give you shoulder joint pain when you start going heavier so I recommend pressing the weight in front. Do four sets of 10 reps.
Next up is calves. Do four sets of 15 reps of standing calf raises. You can do these on a machine or with a barbell on your shoulders. Don't neglect your calves. Many guys have trouble building them. Some of it is laziness because sore calves make it hard to walk. (Some days it's almost impossible to walk!) Do them anyway.
There are only two exercises left - barbell curls for your biceps and lying triceps press for your triceps. Do two sets of 10 reps for each exercise the first two weeks and then four sets of eight reps of each exercise the following weeks.
The Beginner Training Plan: 3 Times Per Week
- Barbell Squats: 4 sets of 10 reps
- Bent Over Barbell Rows: 4 sets of 10 reps
- Bench Press: 5 sets of 8 reps
- Military Press: 4 sets of 10 reps
- Standing Calf Raises: 4 sets of 15 reps
- Barbell Curls: 2 sets of 10 reps
- Lying Triceps Press: 2 sets of 10 reps
That's it. Stick with this routine for your first three to four months and reap the rewards before moving onto the intermediate routine.
The Bodybuilder's Diet
Training is an important aspect of bodybuilding, but diet is just as important if not more important. The old saying, "You are what you eat" is true - to an extent.
Eating high-quality protein foods will help you build high-quality muscle. Protein is muscle and muscle is protein. (Eating a donut, however, won't make you a donut, but donuts are high in carbs, fats and calories so if you eat too many of them, they will make you fat.) If you eat a lot of useless fat, you'll add useless fat to your body. It's pretty simple.
Your body will respond and you'll probably notice some size, definition or overall better shape to your muscles. To keep the progress going strong you'll need to pay close attention to your eating habits. Not just a little, but a lot of attention.
This is the secret, guys, that separates the men from the boys. This is what the big dudes bench pressing three or four plates at the gym have figured out. It's all about eating high-quality food - lots of it. Here's what your typical day of eating should consist of:
Eat like this every day. Make it your normal style of eating. If you want muscle mass, then this is what you have to eat. Try to eat a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Eat lots of high-quality carbs like oatmeal, rice, pasta, potatoes and yams. Eat your veggies. Eat every three hours. Don't let yourself get hungry. This is what it takes.
Eat. And then eat some more, but don't eat junk and fast food. That'll just get you fat and not put on the muscle. You need high-quality food to put on high-quality muscle!
Kicking It Up A Notch
Now onto the intermediate training. We're going to bump up the number of days you train to four days per week. You'll be training on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Every muscle group will be trained twice per week. One day you will train half the body and the other half the next day.
The first day will be all your push movements. That'll be your chest, shoulders and triceps. The second day will be pulling movements and legs. Pulling movements are for your back and biceps.
Monday & Thursday:
- Bench Press: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
- Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
- Military Press: 4 sets of 8 reps
- Shrugs: 3 sets of 12 reps
- Skullcrushers: 3 sets of 8 reps
- Squats: 5 sets of 6-8 reps
- Leg Curls: 3 sets of 8 reps
- Pullups: 3 sets to failure
- Bent Over Barbell Rows: 4 sets of 8 reps
- Barbell Curls: 4 sets of 8 reps
Tuesday & Friday:
Each workout should again take you less than an hour. Include a light warm-up set or two of 12-15 reps at the beginning of each exercise. Rest for two to three minutes between each set. Stick with this routine for about six months.
Concentrate on adding weight and getting strong, but never sacrifice good form for added weight. Bad technique will get you injured and then you can't train at all. It's hard to make progress when you can't train. Play it safe and keep your form really strict.
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Follow this training and eating plan and you will be well on your way to putting on some serious muscle. It won't pile on overnight, but in a few months you'll see tremendous progress.
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And if you stay patient and realize this is a long-term commitment, you will look back at your progress in a few years and you (and all the people around you) will be amazed at how your body has changed!