The first thing you need to do is come up with your budget. Decide how much money you are allowed to spend on bodybuilding. Now if you have a family don't include the entire grocery bill in this only include your food in this. Once you have your budget worked out you will be able to see where you can spend your money. I will break down the different areas of bodybuilding in sections. Gym, Food and Supplements.
If you are on a budget you don't want to be blowing a ton of money for a gym membership. So shop around. Find a gym that is waving the joining fee. This alone can save you up to 100 bucks. Most gym memberships will run you around 35 to 40 dollars a month, some even more, especially if you have a family membership but there are ways of getting around this. If you work for a large company you may receive discounts. My wife works for a very large insurance company and she can get us a family membership to Gold's Gym for 15 bucks a month, yes you read that right, 15 bucks a month. Also check with your current employer to find out if they offer any assistance for gym memberships. My previous employers would offer to pay up to 20 dollars a month for a gym membership. Why would they do this you ask, because it lowers the health insurance rate they pay because the insurance provider assumes that if you join a gym you will be a healthier person and won't be seeing the doctor as much thus saving them money. So call around and check with your employer it could save you some money.
You can also save money by simply choosing a gym that is close to your work or your house. You will end up spending a ton of money on gas if you choose one on the other side of town and that gets old. The gym I just joined is about a minute from my house, very convenient for me.
To many people that are on a budget try and spend their money on supplements before they really know the right foods and the right amounts of food for intake. Even with all the supplements in the world none are more important than food. It's a common mistake. I see people going to spend a ton of money on all the latest prohormones, creatine and whey protein yet they are only eating two to three times a day. Get the diet and nutrition down first before you ever worry about taking supplements. Food is what should be the base for your bodybuilding budget. If you only have a 100 dollars a month to use towards bodybuilding then spend it all on food. You must eat ever three to four hours a day. That usually comes out to be five to six meals a day.
Where to buy
Well if you have access to a wholesale club (where I live it's Sam's Club) you can save a ton of money by buying in bulk. At the regular grocery store I may spend 4 bucks for a box of cereal, well at Sam's 4 bucks will buy 3 boxes of the same size cereal. It's a lot more bang for my buck. My membership only cost me 15-20 dollars. These wholesale clubs are a lifesaver for a bodybuilder.
If you don't have access to a wholesale club then just buy the off brands, or generic brands, of the foods, this can save you a good bit of money too. Another good place to do your shopping is Wal-Mart. I can usually save up to 25-30% more shopping with them versus a regular grocery store.
What to buy
I get the question "what do I need to eat" all the time. That all depends on what you are trying to do: bulk or diet. If you are dieting it's simple, high protein food, cut your carb intake to a minimum. If you are bulking on the other hand it's a whole different story. Instead of listing every food that is good to buy, I will just list the ones that I buy just about every time I go shopping.
Cheese (can make most anything taste ok)
Cereal (I love cereal, especially ones with marshmallows)
Grits (mostly found in the South)
Frozen mixed veggies
Ketchup (I am a ketchup freak, I got to have it with my eggs, mmm)
Fat free mayonnaise
That's it. If you buy smart and really have a meal plan this is a very cheap shopping list. Nothing on it is too expensive. When I shop I am buying enough food for two weeks. So shop smart. I can get out of the store for around 75-80 dollars.
When selecting your supplements it is important to stay basic. Prohormones are great and have worked well for me but don't go blowing all your money on them if you can't afford a good sound supplement schedule. To many people jump out and buy all the newest stuff on the market, don't see the gains they thought they would then get discouraged that they aren't gaining. So I am going to touch on the supplements that I use as my foundation almost year round.
Multi vitamin and mineral could be the most important supplement for bodybuilders or athletes. For the body to perform at it's maximum it must be fed a wide array of nutrients. A lot of these nutrients and minerals are very hard, if not impossible, to consume the proper amounts from food alone. Being deficient in just one of these vitamins or minerals can cause a decline in optimum efficiency and the body's performance will drop. Providing the body with high potent multivitamin/mineral will help ensure that the many metabolic reactions are operating at optimum efficiency. For me the optimum time is early morning. This is also beneficial for me because I am taking them immediately following a workout as well.
I feel it is extremely important to supplement with your simple basic Amino Acids or BCAAs. They are the building blocks for a good supplement program. These are the foundation. To many people worry about their creatine, prohormones and other types of muscle builders when they need to keep in mind the effects of using the basics. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They come from sources high in protein such as red meats, fish, poultry and dairy products. They also come from some sources of vegetables and grains. Amino acids are essential to the human body. But even more, bodybuilders have a much more demand for them because of the repair aid and development of new muscle.
There are many different types of protein but whey is the ultimate. It is the highest quality and the best form of protein. Whey contains the perfect combination of overall amino acid makeup for optimal performance in the body. Hormonal and cellular responses are enhanced with the supplementation of whey. The immune system also benefits from whey. Whey is so much better than all other forms. I can personally say that when I am consuming whey protein supplements I have an overall better sense of well being.
Without a doubt this is the most popular supplement on the market. Just about everyone I know who lifts weights has used it at some point. Creatine is used to supply energy to our muscles. It increases strength and muscle size. The reasoning for the increase in muscle size is that creatine draws water into the muscle giving it the full look. When it first came out I remember paying 35 bucks or so for 100 grams. But now this stuff is pretty cheap and easy to afford if you are on a budget.
That is pretty much all the supplements you will need. With a good diet and the use of these supplements there is no real need for the exotic type of supplement. If you want to use prohormones then save your money and use them when you can combine them with the supplements above. You don't want to do some high tech prohormone cycle when you don't have any money for a good diet and the other basic supplements. I really hope that this article will help those of you on a strict budget. Just remember to keep things basic, just lay a good foundation.