Those who are new to bodybuilding have an opportunity to take advantage of a phenomenon known as “newbie gains”. With a solid diet and a dedicated approach to one of the workout plans below, you’ll see muscle growth that those who have been bodybuilding for years can only dream about.
Building a Strong Foundation
Whilst browsing forums and reading various bodybuilding articles, you’ll often hear people discuss the building of a solid foundation. This just means creating a solid base layer of muscle that will allow you to build more muscle than the average person. Once you have a solid foundation, you can adjust your routines to focus more on symmetry, proportions, definition, density and separation. Building a solid foundation means focusing on the fundamentals whilst working out all muscle groups – you don’t want to be the guy at the gym with great shoulders but stick-thin legs. After you’ve spent time correctly building your base to grow from, it also becomes easier to maintain muscle.
Why Beginners Should Focus on Compound Exercises
Too many people hit the gym for the first time with a vague understanding of the muscle building process – focusing on simple (but risky) isolation exercises like bicep curls, leg extensions, chest flyes and so on. After weeks, they may have a little more definition, but will not make significant size or strength gains, at least not compared to those who focus on compound exercises in their workout plans. Compound exercises involve working out more than one muscle group at a time, and because they are spread out over multiple joints, more weight can be lifted with less risk of injury. More weight equals more strength and more muscle mass.
With this in mind, compound weightlifting will be 90% responsible in building your foundation. It’s recommended for beginners to avoid isolation exercises to start, and then gradually work them into routines. Isolation exercises make it possible to further work muscles that are lacking in development, or to continue hitting a muscle when secondary stabilizing muscles are tired. When you become more advanced, you’ll want to hit muscles from multiple angles for well-rounded development.
Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners
Before looking at the workout plans below, it’s important to keep the following bodybuilding tips in mind:
- Form and technique is the mainstay of bodybuilding. By not performing an exercises properly, you are likely to hinder your growth at best and seriously injure yourself at worst.
- Always warm up before working out. You may want to accompany stretching as part of your warm up. Some bodybuilders recommend stretching after each exercise is performed.
- Focus on your compound movements first in your workout, with any isolation exercises later on. The reason for this is because major lifts will use more energy.
- To avoid overtraining, always allow at least one day’s rest between workouts of the same muscle group.
- Avoid cardio prior to lifting so as not to drain your energy. Cardio should be performed after your weightlifting sessions or on a ‘rest’ day.
- Make sure to eat pre and post workout. You may want to eat at least an hour before working out to allow time for the food to digest and become available for fuel.
- Don’t lift too much weight. The only thing you’ll be building is your ego. Only once you can perform the required number of reps and sets (utilizing correct form) should you increase weight slightly.
- Make sure to contract or squeeze the muscle being worked out at the top of every movement.
- Always perform controlled movements – lowering the weight should take you twice as long as lifting it.
- Focus on building a strong core to maintain good posture and a healthy spine. Generally, when following workout plans, it’s best to keep your lower back slightly arched, your chest up and your head looking straight ahead.
Workout Plan Examples
For the sake of simplicity, you can perform all of the exercises below using 3 sets of 10 reps. When you become more experienced, you can mix up your rep range depending on the exercise and your goals. Most people recommend reps ranging between 8-12, utilizing drop sets, super sets and tri sets. Powerlifters often perform a 5 rep x 5 set routine when they are training for strength.
Full Body Workout Plan
- Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
- Dumbbell Lunges
- Reverse Grip Barbell Rows
- Chin Ups
- Rocking Barbell Calf Raises + Sitting Calf Raises
- Barbell Deadlifts
- Military Shoulder Press
- Barbell Step Ups
- Narrow, Medium and Wide Grip Push Ups
- ¾ Sit Ups + Hanging Leg Raises + One Arm Medicine Ball Slam
- Full Barbell Squats
- Decline Barbell Bench Press
- Pull Ups
- Standing Dumbbell Upright Row
- Tricep Dips
Weekly Split Workout Plan – Includes More Isolation Exercises
By choosing this routine you can work in abdominal and cardio workouts into weekly sessions, or choose rest days over the weekend to focus on the two. If you choose cardio during weekday sessions, 15-30 minutes is more than enough at the end of each session.
- Dumbbell Flat Bench Press
- Barbell Incline Bench Press
- Barbell Decline Bench Press
- Dumbbell Pull Overs
- Chest Fly (Machine)
- Barbell Full Squat
- Dumbbell Lunges
- Leg Extension
- Hamstring Curl
- Standing Calf Raise
- Sitting Calf Raise
- EZ Bar Curl
- Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curls
- Wide Grip Standing Barbell Curl
- Reverse Grip Triceps Pushdown / Regular Grip Triceps Pushdown
- Triceps Pushdown Rope Attachment
- Tricep Dip
- Reverse Grip Forearm Barbell Curl
Thursday: Shoulders and Traps
- Standing Barbell Military Press
- Lateral Dumbbell Raise
- Front Dumbbell Raise
- Incline Bench Reverse Flye
- Barbell Shrug
- Cable Upright Row
- Pull Ups
- Barbell Deadlift
- T-Bar Row with Handle
- V Bar Pull Down
Remember that the two workout plans above are guidelines. It’s a good idea to enlist the help of a personal trainer if you have a gym membership, as they can help build a routine for your goals and also make sure you understand how to execute each exercise correctly. If you are working out at home, then do your best to follow tutorials closely and learn from your mistakes.