If you are new to bodybuilding and you want to improve the way you look, here are some useful tips that will help you a lot! You should not expect huge improvements over night, but muscle mass will slowly grow over time.  It’s really important to have patience, to stick to your workouts and diet, and results will definitely show!

1. Stick to Free Weights.

Even though the modern gyms are full of fancy and shiny machines, they will not help you build a solid foundation of muscle mass. Dumbbells and barbells are the best when it comes to building muscle and especially for a beginner.

2. Do Compound Movements.

While you might be tempted to try all the possible exercises you see on fitness magazines or websites, you should stick to the basic movements first. Exercises like the squat, the deadlift, the barbell bench press and the military shoulder press should not miss from your routine.

3. Have a Program and Stick to it.

You cannot just go in the gym and do whatever you feel at that moment. You need to have a strict routine and follow it closely. Ask a personal trainer or an advanced bodybuilder to provide you with a program that includes the exact exercises you need to do, the number of sets and the number of reps per set. When you set foot in the gym you need to know exactly what you will do in that training session.

4. Don’t Train Every Day.

If the person that made you the program knows what he’s doing, your routine should have 3 or 4 workouts per week. As a beginner you don’t need to train more often than that. Spend the other days of the week to rest and recover.

5. Train Each Muscle Group Every Week.

While too many days in the gym won’t help you get bigger, too few workouts are not good either. You need to work each muscle group at least once every week.

6. Learn the Correct Form of Each Exercise.

While you may be tempted to see how much you can lift, you need to start with lower weights and learn the right form of each exercise.

7. Gradually Increase the Weights.

After you master the correct form on each exercise, you need to start increasing the weights periodically. Keep track of how much you lift on each exercise and slightly increase the weight every 2 weeks. This will increase your strength and will lead to muscle gains.

8. Be Cautious.

When you get to the point of using big weights, use a safety belt for lower back protection. You may not have back problems right now, but you don’t want to have them in the future either.

9. Eat a Lot of Protein.

Protein is essential when it comes to building muscle and can be found in chicken, fish, eggs, milk, dairy products and some nuts and vegetables. Most experts recommend at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for the best results. If consuming enough protein each day becomes difficult, add a protein shake as well.

10. Be in a Caloric Surplus.

In order to build muscle you need to eat more calories than you burn. Use a calorie calculator to find out your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and adjust that according to how active you are. If you have a sedentary job you will need fewer calories and if you are very active you will need more.

11. Eat More Often.

Have 4-5 meals per day and eat every 3-4 hours. Avoid being hungry!

12. Avoid Junk Food.

It’s true that you want to gain some weight, but you want that weight to be muscle mass and not fat! Consume quality food like lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats and stay away from junk food, lots of sweets and fatty foods. The only time when you should consume fast absorbing carbohydrates (usually foods that have a lot of sugar or white flour) is right after your workout. Read more about what to eat to gain muscle in this article.

13. Consume Fruits and Vegetables.

Besides macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fats) your body also needs micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). So make sure you consume lots of fruits and vegetables each day!

14. Rest and Recover.

Your muscles don’t grow when you work out but when you sleep. So make sure you get enough sleep each night (about 8-9 hours).

15. Act Like an Athlete.

Try to have a healthy lifestyle and avoid as much as possible smoking, alcohol and other unhealthy vices.

By carefully selecting the time of your workout, the combination of techniques, and the proper post-workout snacks, you can maximize your workout to build muscle: 10 Workout Hacks for Building Muscle

Featured photo credit: Closeup of a muscular young man lifting weights via Shutterstock

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