Beginning Bodybuilding: A Comprehensive Guide (Part 3)!

This series of articles is written for the beginning bodybuilder, someone who either has been training a very short time or just starting out. Part 3: continue with 3-day split and get invaluable tips on creating your own routines.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

By this time, you should be comfortable with the weights and you should be seeing changes in your physique. You should be seeing new strength levels and new muscle size.

If fat loss was your goal, you should be losing fat and adding muscle. If you're doing cardio, you will find you need to do a little more as your conditioning improves, but only do 45-60 minutes at a time, no more than 5 times a week. This would be an extreme situation where you have a lot to lose. If you don't have to much to lose, it's better from a recovery and progress standpoint to limit cardio to 3-4 sessions a week and 30-45 minutes at a time.

The routine for month #3 is based on the same 3-day split we used last month. Soon, we'll look at a 4-day split, as well as designing your own routines. This month introduces several new exercises and a little more workout intensity. By this time, you should have been steadily increasing the poundages you're using. Many of this month's exercises drop the reps and encourage a very hard final 2-3 reps.

Rep Performance - continuous tension is a new-to-you method of performing a rep: you keep the weight moving, like a piston, slow and controlled but with no pauses at all. Use this technique exclusively during month #3. Be careful when using this technique to not let momentum take over, remember to control your reps.

Month #3 Routine
Split, 3 Days A Week


Here's The Routine:

Why is the split set up like this? Deadlifts work the lower back and legs, as do squats, although each exercise hits these areas differently, so to allow complete recovery, you break it up with a "pushing" day, as well as recovery days. This way, your lower back has a chance to completely recover.

arrow Day 1: Back, Biceps, Forearms, Abs:

  • Deadlifts:
    • Pyramid:
      Set #1, 15 easy reps, add weight
      Set #2, 12 easy reps, add weight
      Set #3, 12 easy reps
      Do 3 working sets, 6-8 reps each set.
      This is a power exercise so you want to begin to push up the poundages, these sets should be tough. On the working sets, do your heaviest set first, drop some weight, then continue. Here's an example of the whole process:

      50 lbs x 15 reps
      80 lbs x 12 reps
      100 lbs x 12 reps
      130 lbs x6-8 reps
      115 lbs x 6-8 reps
      105 lbs x 6-8 reps



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[ Intensity Building Techniques ]

      The weights used are only examples. If you can do 8 reps, don't stop at 6, if you can't do 6, you're using to much weight and if 8 seems easy and you could do more, add weight. I always advocate doing your heaviest set (after warm-ups) first when you are strongest, as opposed doing it as the last set, when you are fatigued.

  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows:
    • This is another great exercise to thicken up the back. Review the performance of this exercise on the exercise database to insure correct form. Do 2 warm-up sets of 12 reps, then perform 2 working sets of 8-10 reps each.

+ Click To Enlarge.
One-Arm Dumbbell Rows.
Video: Windows Media - Real Player

arrow Day 2: Chest, Deltoids, Triceps, Abs:

arrow Day 3: Legs, Abs:

arrow Performance Tips:

    Review the exercise videos on any of the new exercises you are unsure about. Add weight every week as long you can complete the suggested reps in good form.

    If you can't add weight every week, shoot for every other week. During this time, you should be making great gains in size and strength, most beginners do. Remember to allow enough time for complete recovery, you grow when you recover, not because of much work you do.

Size And Strength
+ Click To Enlarge.
You Should Be Making Great Gains In Size And Strength.

Month #4
Designing Your Own Routines

After 3 solid months, you can begin to design your own routines. By this time, you've used a number of different exercises, you have access to the exercise database, so you can try virtually any exercise you want.

Designing routines is not hard, you just have to understand how to group your body parts, the best exercises to use and what split to use. Other factors certainly come into play: what are your goals, do you need to bring up any weak points, are still gaining muscle size and if so, how much do you want to gain?

arrow Grouping Body Parts:

    When grouping body parts, and if you look at how I've set up the routines, always start with a larger muscle and work down to a smaller one. Most often, the smaller one is involved in the exercises for the big one and you don't want to pre-fatigue the small muscle and limit your strength on the bigger exercises.

    As well, always do your basic exercises first, after warm-ups, when your strength is at it's highest. If you're doing legs, for example, and you wait and do squats at the tail end of the workout, how hard will you be able to train on that exercise? How much weight will you be able to handle? Do them first, when you are strong and fresh and you will see the most benefit.

How Important Is Warming Up? How Important
Is Warming Up?

Much of the time you will see people stretching out their legs before a run, or stretching out any body part before they train it. It's also very popular for people to begin warm-up sets before they really get into the workout.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

arrow Rep Performance:

    As far as rep performance, you can choose: train as you did in the first few routines, or keep using continuous tension, or lift explosively and lower slowly, or combine all this into your workout.

Rep Performance
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Rep Performance Is Up To You.

arrow Split:

    As to the type of split, I've always liked the basic push/pull/legs setup. Right now, I've changed to a chest/triceps, back/biceps, legs/deltoids split. This is an excellent 4-day split routine because it deals with the one limitation of the 3 day, which is you're doing a lot of work on push day (chest, triceps, deltoids).

    Another great set up is to put arms on their own day. All of this points to a very important concept, one you've heard me say before, variety is critical.

    Remember, all the millions of programs out there will work, but only for awhile. Then your body adjusts, gains slow down and you have to go to something new, so try to change things up every few weeks.

workout Workout Database:
100's Of Workouts!

he Workout Database contains hundreds of categorized workouts that you can search.

[ Check Out The Database Here! ]

arrow Intensity:

arrow Exercises:

    This leads me to exercise selection: some exercises should never leave your routine, such as squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, bench presses.

    In other words, always center your routine around the big, basic exercises and always attempt to move forward in terms of pounds on the bar. There will be a time when you are using enough weight; that's when you introduce advanced techniques.

    And, as always, be sure to allow time to recover!

+ Click To Enlarge.
Always Allow Time To Recover.


I hope this guide has provided any new trainers with good information and allowed you to get off to a good start. There is an excellent glossary on, as well as articles for intermediate and advanced bodybuilders. Knowledge is the key to success so always strive to learn more. I've been at this for 28 years and I still have a lot I want to learn.

Thanks for reading.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3