How Can A Beginner Bodybuilder Build A Good Base Frame?

How can a beginner bodybuilder build a good base frame? Find out what other people from the message boards think...

TOPIC: How Can A Beginner Bodybuilder Build A Good Base Frame?

The Question:

When first starting to bodybuild you must focus on creating a base. Once your base is strong, what should you focus on after that?

What is the correct way for a beginner to build a base?

Which exercises are best for beginners? How many sets, reps, etc?

What other factors should be considered when starting out?

Bonus Question: How long will it take to build a strong base? How long did it take you to build your base? Could you have done it faster?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:


        1st place - 75 in store credit.
        2nd place - 50 in store credit.
      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

1st Place - Kill_yourself

Bodybuilding is no longer just a sport. It is not just about winning prizes or being featured in a cover of a magazine. Well, it is much more than that. It is a lifestyle. It is a way someone chooses to live their lives, and for many people that do not understand, would consider it as "crazy" "useless" or "egocentrical."

Bodybuilding means to be in the gym more hours than you watch television, it means sleeping as long as your new born kid and it also means eating enough food to feed your entire family.

You constantly think of the next best way to force your legs to grow, you think about what your next meal is and you get excited by just the thought of going into the gym to pump those quadriceps.

A Strong Base

One of the most important things in bodybuilding is to establish a stable and strong base and building up your size and frame to be bigger than normal people. The time taken for that to be achieved ranges from 1 year to people with gifted genetics to 3 years for people that have average genetics like you and me.

Once you have managed to pull through that hardship, which comes along with bodybuilding, you can then slowly take your focus off your base frame and start looking at your body through a microscope and start detailing it. Like a pimped out ride; it is after you have acquired the base frame of the car - then only you could start on adding the colors, interiors and so fore.

Almost immediately after having your base, the next most important thing would be to create these factors:

  1. Symmetry
  2. Proportion
  3. Definition
  4. Density
  5. Separation


Symmetry is extremely hard to perfect. But still that doesn't mean it is not possible. Symmetry means that both the muscle on the left side of your body and the right side of your body must be equal in shape and size.

For example, both biceps will have to be equal in shape and size and by looking at it, you wouldn't think that either one is weaker or smaller than the other.

Usually this is achieved by focusing on the "weaker" side and maintaining the stronger one. It could be to add more sets and reps to the weaker part. The main idea is to create equality between the 2 muscle groups.


Proportion is commonly mixed up with symmetry. Proportion actually means the equal development of body parts while symmetry is the equal development of the left and right side of the body. For example, proportion would the size of your legs in comparison to your back.

There shouldn't be a strong point or a weak point. They must look like they have been equally focused on. The key to proportion is the mindset of the bodybuilder when in the gym.

Sometimes you will have the urge to push one more set for the chest or one more rep for the back. You must have the same kind of attitude for all the other body parts. Even when you are doing a blood and gut workout of legs, you must have the attitude like you would have while doing the more "observed" body parts like the chest or biceps.


Definition is the amount of fat covering the muscle; high definition meaning that you carry low fat percentage and low definition meaning that you have a high percentage of fat. Every one of us needs fat to survive.

We need to have body fat in order to insulate us and to protect our organs and body from external impact. But when putting bodybuilding in context, high definition must be attained. It is to allow the muscles to be clearly visible.

With a layer of fat over the muscle it tends to shade the muscle's actual size and shape that you have work so hard to achieve. Although it would make the body part look bigger, but on stage, that is not what the judges are concerned with.


Density is defined as how deep and full the muscles are. This is very important in the overall look of a bodybuilder. For example if we were to take a look at the abs.

Every single one of the 6 or 8 abdominal muscles must be able to be seen. They should almost look like they were chiseled out and are deep from within. That is the look that a bodybuilder should strive for.


We all know that body parts are defined as chest, back, legs and arms. But being a bodybuilder, you will have to look at the separation within these body parts. For example how the 3 portions of the quadriceps are separated; they must be easily seen and the cutting between the portions should be deep and visible.

Building A Base

Building the base frame of a bodybuilder is very important. It is going to be what your body shape will generally look like till the day you die. One good example would be Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He was a champion bodybuilder in his time; the one person that had almost everything; the height, frame and shape. And through these times, he developed many career paths, from a bodybuilder to an actor then to a state governor. Although he is not as fit as he was back in the days, he has still been able to maintain that base frame.

He is not someone that shrunk within weeks after he stopped competing. During his time, it was an era of little advancements in the supplementation industry and they relied on the concept of more is better and no pain is no gain.

Even now when you take a look at his recent pictures (sure he is not larger than life which he once was) you could still see the outlines of what used to be his large frame, unlike Kevin Levrone who shrunk to almost 1/3 of his size within months after he stopped competing.

The Correct Way To Build A Base:

The main concept to building a strong base is to use compound exercises; such as squats, deadlifts and bench press, while using a range of 3-5 sets with reps ranging from 10 and below.

The main point in building a base is to get the initial size, you don't need muscle definition or anything like that. A good way to get started to is to include the 3 giants of exercise. Namely, deadlifts, squat and bench press. These exercises can help you release natural growth hormones and improve your muscle growing abilities.

These Are What You Should Do:


      • Flat bench press
      • Incline bench press
      • Pullovers

print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Chest Workout.


      • Pullups
      • Bent-over rows
      • Deadlifts

print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Back Workout.


      • Shoulder press
      • Military press
      • Shrugs

print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Shoulders Workout.


      • Preacher's curls
      • Barbell bicep curls
      • Overhead barbell triceps extension
      • Triceps pushdowns

print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Arms Workout.


      • Squat
      • Leg press
      • Leg curl
      • Stiff-legged deadlift
      • Standing calf raises
      • Donkey calf raises

print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Legs Workout.

      • For every body part you should do 3 warm-up sets of 50%, 60% and 70% of your max weight.
      • You should push your max weight that you can do. Four sets for each exercises and 8- 10 reps for each exercise.

Other Factors In The Quest For Bodybuilding Greatness


I just cannot stress enough the importance of sleep. Especially if you are not a full time bodybuilder, rest is doubly as important because you are constantly moving around and also using up more calories than someone that stays at home all day and the only time he goes out is to the gym where he works out.

Sleep is where you can build muscle. Without sleep, all the hard work in the gym will go down the drain. Because muscle is not built when you are pumping iron in the gym or when you are squeezing in a last rep for your squat. To efficiently and effectively take advantage of all your hard work in the gym, you must sleep 10 hours if possible.

I know what most of you are thinking. Sleeping 10 hours is impossible given my daily schedule. So in that case the only way to achieve that figure is through naps.

You should take a 2 hour nap after your workout and after you have taken your post workout meal. In that way you accelerate your body's rest period. And during the night, all you have to do is hit 8 hours and you have completed your 10 hours in total.


With the increase of technology in the supplement industry, we are always getting new supplements almost on a monthly basis. There is always this new product that is supposed to be the best and the one that can build your 100 pounds of muscle in less than 3 months.

Then they will go ahead by placing before pictures of a skinny or extremely fat person, followed by after pictures of someone that looks like they pump steroids like the liver will never die out.

The main point is not to believe and get caught up in the hype of it all. Use the supplements that are basic and down to earth.

Here Are Some Examples:

Whey Protein Powder:

bad url

Try to get Optimum's Whey Protein powder. They not only have an incredible tasting protein powder, they are also extremely absorbent in the body which makes it a perfect nutritional drink after your workout.

Whey protein is absorbed and utilized by the body very quickly; which is exactly the effect you should be looking for in a post workout meal.



Being a bodybuilder, your body uses up the available nutrients faster than an average Joe, so that is why you would have to replenish it the moment it finishes.

These nutrients may not seem that important to you because you think all you need is protein. I assure you, investing in a good multi vitamin will also help you gain muscle faster and easier. Universal Animal Pak is an extremely good choice to go for. It has a higher anabolic effect and I personally have used it and it is great.


The wonders of creatine have been proven over and over again through the decade. It has withstood the test of time which many other hyped up supplements couldn't achieve. That is why till this day, it still stands as the most popular supplement in the market.

Some Of The Benefits Are:

        • Increase growth of lean muscle.
        • Improved strength.
        • Improved recovery rate.
        • Improved energy levels.

And the most stunning thing is that creatine is cheap. A good creatine tub can last you anywhere from 3-6 months and it is not nearly as expensive, considering the fact that it has such a great amount of good benefits.

Your Pride:

One important aspect to remember when starting out in bodybuilding is your pride and ego. When first starting out, you will have almost no ego. Because you know you are just starting out and you are not the strongest around. So you do weights that you can manage and not to impress.

This is also one of the reasons why you grow the most in the initial stage of working out. So as you grow bigger and have established a decent amount of strength you will tend to want to do more because you think it will look good. But remember, it is not how much you lift that builds the muscles for you, it is how your muscles respond to the weight that you used.

So whichever stage that you are in; beginner, intermediate or even advanced, always leave your ego at the door of the gym.

Listening To Your Body:

This is extremely important. You have to learn to know what your body is trying to tell you. If it is telling you something and you go against it then frustrations and lack of gains could be the outcome. For example, if you were supposed to finish up 4 sets of pullovers for the chest after your entire chest workout and you are extremely exhausted already, you should stop.

You must know when your body is saying it is exhausted. One sign is: you tend to struggle at weights you used to do warm-ups with, or you tend to only be able to do a few reps. These are just some of the sure signs that you need to stop.

Although it is part of the plan to finish up the 4 sets, your body is just not able to take it anymore, so you should stop. Do not take it as a form of laziness, but a way of listening to your body. Another example would be if you wanted to go to the gym, and on your way there you are extremely tired and you feel like skipping the workout.

You should listen to your body and go ahead and skip the workout. Because if you are exhausted and you still go ahead you risk the chance of injury, you are also less focused and you will not be as motivated to lift the weights. Bodybuilding is a marathon, it is not a sprint. So skipping one training to come back with another 10 good... it's definitely worth it.

Bonus Question:
How Long Will It Take To Build A Strong Base?

Like mentioned before, genetics will play a very big role in deciding the time needed. Some people, maybe more, but some may be extremely fast. On average it will take about 3-4 years to actually get a solid base or frame to work on. Because you will also have to learn how your body works etc.

How Long Did It Take You To Build Your Base?

It took me a total of 5 years to build a solid base. And the main reason being that I was learning, I was only beginning to find out what works and what didn't work for me. I didn't know anything about bodybuilding and I did not have anyone to teach me.

Basically I started from scratch. I took about 3 years to know how my body worked and about 2 years figuring out what my body best responds to. So actually I am very slow in building a base. But then again, it is a marathon not a sprint.

Could You Have Done It Faster?

Oh yes, for sure. It definitely could have been done faster if I had someone to help me bypass all the trial and error portions of my training. If someone that you know of is much more experienced in bodybuilding then you, listen to them and seek advice. What works for them may not necessarily work for you, but it is worth a listening ear.



2nd Place - Kane22

Similar to an architect building a home, your body must be reinforced with a solid base frame, beginning with a strong foundation. This foundation is essential for every bodybuilder so that he/she maintains a strong, healthy lifestyle.

Definition Of A Good Foundation:

  • Healthy eating habits
  • Daily multivitamin supplementation
  • Daily physical activity
  • Understand your muscles
  • Obtain a sufficient amount of rest

Healthy Eating Habits:

As a child, our parents/guardian determined our diet, in most cases trying to persuade our minds in choosing healthier food choices. As we grow older and more independent, we are to make our own food choices based on the knowledge we have acquired.

With that said, not all of us, particularly Americans, have made these choices wisely. In a recent U.S. study, nearly 30% of Americans are obese, and 60% overweight, making the U.S. one of the fattest nations in the world.

As a bodybuilder, a strict diet must be obtained first and foremost before going to the next level, because as any good bodybuilder knows, a good body is built not only in the weight room but in the kitchen as well.

To begin a lifestyle of healthy eating habits, one should plan his/her life's obstacles (job, medical handicaps, schedule, etc.) around their diet and understand how the body uses certain foods.

For a bodybuilder, one needs to understand that the body is in a constant state of change, anabolic (positive protein synthesis) and catabolic (negative protein synthesis), requiring a greater amount of nutrients consumed at variable times in the day, than the average dieter.

To maintain at an anabolic state, a bodybuilder must abide by the basic guidelines of a bodybuilder's diet, which include:

      • Eat 1g of protein per pound of overall body weight
      • Stay properly hydrated with water throughout the day, at least 64 oz. a day
      • Eat protein in every meal
      • Eat at least the recommend daily allowance of calories every day
      • Refrain from eating vast amounts of fats or sugars
      • Eat a meal every 2-4 hours

When a bodybuilder abides by these guidelines, only then will he be on the right track to much healthier eating habits, and lifestyle.

Daily Multivitamin Supplementation:

As many know, the human body is far from perfect; it requires an infinite amount of nutrients to maintain a state of equilibrium. Many of these nutrients are derived from the food we consume, but we do not always receive a sufficient amount our body may need, that is why everyone should take a multivitamin.

Vitamins have the potential to boost immunity, improve circulation, support the bones, improve vision and much more. As a bodybuilder your body uses most of its energy to repair muscle tissue, which may lower our immune system, potentially causing illness, so the extra vitamins are a must.

A good rule of thumb when buying a multivitamin is to find one that is specifically designed for your body, one of the most popular choices for bodybuilders is one that is packed with many vitamins and minerals, because what little extra is not absorbed, will only be excreted harmlessly from the body.

Daily Physical Activity:

Daily physical is not a hard task to accomplish, whether it is a light jog or a game of basketball, yet many of us still do not obtain enough daily exercise. Physical activity allows the body to rid itself of many toxins; it also increases the body's metabolic rate, burns calories and strengthens many of the body's major organs such as the heart.

Without physical activity our bodies will not be able to burn calories, potentially causing weight gain, increased body fat, unhealthy organs and so many more negative side effects.

One of the most common mistakes made by many beginning bodybuilders is that they try to jump straight into a strict physical regime/plan when there body has not been adjusted to such physical strain, and giving up shortly after just beginning because they were ill prepared.

To be prepared for bodybuilding, one must know that their body is in such physical shape to handle the demanding exercises. One of the best ways to prepare a bodybuilder for a strict physical plan, is he/she can begin doing some small exercises daily such as jogging, until their body becomes more physically prepared.

Understand Your Muscles:

Unlike the beginner, any advanced bodybuilder can tell you almost anything about how the body functions, because they know that without an understanding of the body, they would not know how to improve themselves.

For a beginner bodybuilder, it is natural that they understand the commonly worked muscle groups in bodybuilding (triceps, biceps, quadriceps, chest, etc.), and how they function, but a beginner must also understand what is happening to these muscles as they are being worked.

During weight lifting, microscopic tears are made in the muscle fibers that make up the muscle tissue. Since the muscle is being physically damaged, the body signals the brain to release immune cells such as neutrophils, to clean away the torn muscle fibers.

What Are Neutrophils?
Neutrophil granulocytes, generally referred to as neutrophils, are a class of white blood cells and are part of the immune system. Nuetrophils have a segmented or multilobed nucleus.

Once the area has been cleared, the body begins to repair the damaged tissue with proteins, increasing the overall muscle mass of that area. To understand more about how the muscles repair itself after each set and/or session, a bodybuilder must understand what happens to the body as it's in a state of rest.

Obtain A Sufficient Amount Of Rest:

Sufficient rest is a staple in any bodybuilder's routine, whether the bodybuilder be a beginner or a pro. Rest for a bodybuilder is categorized into two main factors, rest in between sets and rest between sessions.

Rest Between Sets:

During rest between sets, a bodybuilder's body restores an energy storage compound known as phosphagen. Phosphagen immediately supplies the worked muscle tissue with the required amount of energy that could not be supplied by glycolysis.

Without sufficient rest between each set, a bodybuilder will notice an immediate decline in energy and focus.

Rest Between Sessions:

During rest between sessions your body begins to replace an important polysaccharide known as glycogen. Glycogen is used during exercise to provide the muscle with a sufficient amount of energy to complete the exercises, similarly to that of phosphagen.

Yet glycogen levels cannot recover quickly, it takes the body up to 24 hours to completely restore it to its natural state. During this rest, a bodybuilder's body begins to repair damaged muscle tissue, eventually resulting in an increase n muscle mass.

After The Base Is Created
When First Starting To Body Build You Must Focus On Creating A Base, Once Your Base Is Created What Should You Focus On?

Only after creating a base does a bodybuilder must focus on creating a goal and finding a way to accomplish that goal.

Creating A Goal:

To create a goal, a bodybuilder must know what he/she wants out of the sport, whether it be a more cut physique, or an increase in body mass.

The bodybuilder must also consider that before choosing his/her goal, that he/she must put the goal in the confines of there reach, and not to a point where it cannot be obtained. This goal will be the focal point of everything that bodybuilder does, it will be everything he/she wants to achieve.

Finding A Way To Accomplish A Goal:

For a bodybuilder to accomplish his/her new goal he/she needs to research ways to achieve it. One of the most important things to do to accomplish this goal is to find a workout routine, and with the thousands of exercise programs available, it is fairly easy to find one made specifically for the goal.'s Searchable Workout Database. Go!

Next the beginning bodybuilder needs to change their diet to better fit this new routine, such as consuming more/less calories per meal. To help keep up with your changing body along the way during this new routine, it is also recommended that a beginning bodybuilder keep a log/journal to help maintain there diet/workouts.

Building A Base
What Is The Correct Way For A Beginner To Build A Base?

The correct and most likely the best way for a beginner to build a base is for him/her to begin immediately, or as soon as possible. Many people that want to begin a lifestyle of bodybuilding tend to stall things off for extended period of time until they either forget, or change there mind.

The sooner the beginner starts, the more he/she becomes hooked and more driven to finish what they have began. Also, don't try to overdue it in the beginning, take baby steps.

Not all of us have the will power to completely drop our unhealthy habits for healthier ones, and no one expects us too, for which no one bodybuilder is perfect. Just start small by slowly limiting your unhealthier habits, until you can rid your self of them.

Which Exercises Are Best For Beginners, How Many Sets, Rep Etc.?

Which Exercises Are Best For Beginners?

For a beginning bodybuilder, the majority of training (exercises) should be done with free weights rather than machines. Our muscles are naturally designed to overcome the pull of gravity rather than work against mechanized resistance (machine restraint), so the largest portion of gains a beginning bodybuilder will make in size and strength will come from free weights.

Free weights also allow the beginning bodybuilder to better understand each of his/her muscles, by giving him/her the freedom to isolate certain muscles and to work the body in different ways.

How Many Sets?

Beginning bodybuilders should begin with four sets of each bodybuilding exercise. Four sets have been proven throughout the decades of bodybuilding to fully stimulate the trained muscle fiber, without the risk of overtraining.

How Many Reps?

For beginning bodybuilders, it is best to stick with the basics and do 8-12 repetitions for upper-body and 12-14 repetitions for the leg muscles. These numbers are the general guidelines for 70-75% of a bodybuilder's one rep maximum, the amount of weight they could use doing one full-out repetition.

Other Factors

There are many other factors that should be considered when starting out, but the most important ones to remember are:

  • Don't expect immediate results. Remember you are in this for the long run - the results will be come with time, and when they do you will have a broader sense of satisfaction. Remember your limitations. Although you may have changed your overall lifestyle, remember that your body still has limitations, and it's not wise to try to overcome these limitations.

  • Remain confident and strong. Having confidence in yourself is one of the most important things in bodybuilding; a bodybuilder must always believe that he/she is capable of accomplishing his/her goals, no matter what problems may occur. Also, remember to stay strong, don't let anyone or anything get in your way, you can and will accomplish this!

Bonus Questions

How Long Will It Take To Build A Strong Base?

When building a strong base, a beginning bodybuilder must understand that it will take time. A base is an entire change of ones overall lifestyle, he/she cannot expect to change everything immediately; it could be weeks or even months before they may fully build a strong and stable base.

How Long Did It Take You To Build Your Base?

When I began bodybuilding more than 3 years ago, I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle. At the age of 15, I weighed a massive 243lbs. with a body fat percentage of 33%. I was unhappy with the lifestyle I was living, so I decided that a change was in order.

I immediately began buying healthier foods and began a daily workout regime. Knowing very little about my body, I began to buy numerous magazines on bodybuilding, teaching myself new ways to improve my body as well. It took me time to fully commit to this new lifestyle (I would occasionally skip on an exercise, or eat an unhealthy snack), but within a little over a month, I had finally stuck with it.

I now am fully committed to this lifestyle, weighing in at only 175lbs with 13% body fat, and sharing what I know to motivate others to commit to this healthy lifestyle.

Could You Have Done It Faster?

No, I could not have done this faster. Like stated above, it takes time to commit to this lifestyle, if a bodybuilder tries to commit to fast, he or she may find themselves jumping off the bandwagon too soon, losing confidence in themselves, potentially causing him/her to quit.

I hope everyone has enjoyed this article, I have stayed up numerous nights to complete it. Any criticism is welcome.

Matthew Stiltner

Review Of Other Articles
Or "Why Wasn't Mine Picked?"



  • Good ideas/information.
  • All questions were answered accordingly.
  • Great answer on the bonus question.


    • Grammatical errors.
    • Article needs more structure to it. Try refraining from using lists and use more complete paragraphs.

Comments: There were some structure problems throughout the article. Some fragments, run-on sentences, capitalization, etc. effected the quality of the article. Nothing too major that cannot be fixed in this article.



  • Good grammar.


    • Not detailed. Did not discuss their ideas on symmetry and fullness of muscle. Questions weren't answered with much detail. Little information when discussing supplements, rest, etc.

Comments: Spending more time expanding on the ideas of this article would be very beneficial.



  • Good Effort


    • Grammar errors.
    • Most of this article seemed to be focused upon training, and not fully describing all other aspects.

Comments: More time should be spent describing all aspects of creating a base frame. Spacing some of the article out to make it easier to read would be a good idea as well. It is also a good idea to proofread your articles for grammar mistakes.



  • Good organization.
  • Good ideas and information.


    • Too short. Although a good article, it doesn't have the lengthy detail and information that the winning articles had.
    • all questions answered: Bonus, what to focus on after a base is built.