This is for all of the beginners out there who want to get started in bodybuilding or just want to start getting in shape. Recently, I have been getting an extensive number of messages with questions about what to eat, what to do in the gym, how much to eat, what supplements to buy, etc. If you are a beginner and have not read any of my past articles about nutrition or working certain body parts, I highly recommend that you do so. That way, you will at least have some background knowledge before reading any further in this article. Here, I will include a workout plan and a diet to follow. I'm not going to include supplements because I feel that the majority of beginners do not need to concern themselves too much with supplements. It is more important that you work on maintaining a consistent diet and workout plan. Once you have become more advanced, you can start looking into buying supplements.
A Workout Plan
First off, let's talk about a workout plan. For a beginner, it is very important that you execute correct form for all exercises. This means using light weight for many reps so that you will have enough practice at the movement. Once you have become familiarized with the exercises, you can begin modifying them in such a way that you can hit the target muscle with more accuracy and precision. However, I urge that you perform all movements with strict form and light weight for the first month. Secondly, be sure that you properly warm-up and thoroughly stretch before grabbing a weight. I recommend a 5 minute warm-up on the stationary bike or on the treadmill followed by stretching for about 5 more minutes. Once you are loose, you can begin with weight training. I've put together a schedule that I believe will benefit anyone starting out with weights:
- Monday: Chest and Abdominals
- Tuesday: Back and Shoulders
- Wednesday: Off
- Thursday: Arms
- Friday: Legs
- Saturday & Sunday: Off
For a beginner, I feel that this schedule is perfect. One thing you want to avoid is working out too often. This way, you will have plenty of rest time between body parts and you can work everything in a five day period. Beginners have the tendency to overtrain, especially if they are really Gung-Ho about getting fast results. As for specific exercises, I would stick with three or four exercises per body part, and 10-15 reps per set. An exception to this is abdominals. If you can, aim for 2-3 sets of 20-30 reps per exercise.
Exercises to Consider
Here are a number of exercises that you might want to consider: for chest, you could do flat press, incline press, and a fly movement. Whether you use dumbbell or barbell is up to you. Some good back exercises are pull-ups, seated rows, front pull-downs, bent-over rows, and machine pullovers. Exercises for shoulders include seated dumbbell/barbell press, side lateral dumbbell raises, front dumbbell raises, and upright rows. For biceps, try standing barbell curls, alternating dumbbell curls, and preacher curls. Dips, cable push-downs, and nose-breakers are good triceps exercises. A few great leg exercises are squats, leg press, leg extension, lunges, leg curls, standing calf raise, and seated calf raise. Finally, for abdominals, try regular sit-ups and leg lifts. Of course, if you want to do a specific exercise in place of what I have listed, go ahead. I have recommended the basic movements, but this does not mean that you are limited to only these exercises.
If you want to incorporate some sort of aerobic workout schedule, you can! I would not recommend doing any additional exercises on your off days. However, if you felt strongly about running or biking or whatever on the weekend, you could do some sort of aerobic activity on either Saturday or Sunday. Like always, I recommend doing aerobic activities in the morning, before breakfast. Make sure that you eat right after exercising if you choose to do this. A good aerobic exercise schedule would be something like: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. In my opinion, you really shouldn't have to go more than 30 minutes per session. I like to do, at most, 20 minutes of either the stationary bike or treadmill (that is, when I do cardio, which is about a month before a contest). If at all possible, don't do weight training right after a cardio workout. You will need to go and eat first, at least one full meal, and then go and lift weights after resting.
The diet portion is simple. Don't freak out on me because you think that you are going to have to be on some strict diet and won't be able to eat what you like. This is definitely not the case! Basically, I think that you should be eating about 4 meals per day. I say meals, but I don't mean eat until you are going to bust with every meal that you eat. By the time you get done eating, you should feel comfortable and satisfied.
Before we get started, get the idea that you have to eat an enormous amount of protein in order to gain muscle out of your head!! I'm going to make this very easy for you in choosing the right foods. Stay away from 99% of processed foods. That's it! Some exceptions to this are: all natural foods such as all natural peanut butter, salsa, gluten-free bread, white corn chips, etc. All fruits and vegetables are good to eat, you really can't eat too many of them. However, stay away from fruit juices; the sugar content is outrageous. Be smart about the foods that you choose by looking at the nutrition facts on the back of the label.
Make sure that you are getting adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. I've already gone into specific amounts of each that are recommended in previous articles, so there is no need in repeating myself. However, I will list good sources of each!
Carbohydrates: all vegetables and fruits, pasta, rice, bread (nonwhite, gluten-free), oatmeal (the real stuff, not the instant packets with loads of sugar), grits, cream of wheat, tortillas, and tortilla chips (not too many).
Protein: all lean meats including: skim milk, baked chicken, baked fish, lean steak, eggs, soy, and turkey.
Fats: olive oil, peanut oil, nuts, avocados, salad dressings, and cottage cheese. I've listed many examples, and if you still have questions on what to eat, or if you have a special diet that you have to follow and need to know what to eat, just e-mail me.
You want to make sure that you incorporate a variety of foods for every meal. Take it a little easy with the fats since they do release more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates combined. Also, don't go overboard with the protein, you don't have to eat an astronomical amount of protein to gain muscle. Drink plenty of water, at least one gallon every day. Stay away from fried foods, foods high in saturated fats, and foods high in refined sugar. Don't worry; you don't have to eat clean every meal for the rest of your life. You can squeeze in a bad meal every 3-4 days and eat whatever you want for that meal!
If you are just starting out, and you decide to follow this plan, I guarantee results! For further questions, don't hesitate to send me an e-mail.