Bodybuilding is a great way to strengthen, tone, and stabilize your entire body, but it’s easy to make mistakes that can cause injuries that keep you out of the game for months.
Building muscle isn’t rocket science. All it takes is repeatedly doing the things that are proven in the lab and gym to work.
If you want to dedicate yourself to building muscle mass over time, be patient, start with some bodybuilding basics, and move forward from there.
Here are 15 of the best bodybuilding tips for beginners that are not only for the body, but also for the mind.
15 Effective Bodybuilding Tips for Beginners
1. Stick to Free Weights
Even though modern gyms are full of complex, high-tech machines, they will not help you build a solid foundation of muscle mass. Dumbbells and barbells are the best, especially for a beginner.
Free weights offer a wide range of motion and rely on proper form, which ultimately helps a bodybuilder to build more muscle than the restricting machines often found in a gym.
2. Do Compound Lifts and Movements
While you might be tempted to try all the possible exercises you see on fitness magazines or websites with heavy weights, you should stick to the basic movements first as one of your first bodybuilding tips.
Bodybuilding workouts like the squat, the deadlift, the barbell bench press, and the military shoulder press should not be lacking in your routine.
These are popular for a reason. They’ve been designed to tackle major muscle groups that will help you build on your routine from the ground up.
3. Find a Program and Stick To It
In order to be successful with bodybuilding, 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.
Consider working with a personal trainer. Not only do they support you in training you to do the techniques correctly, but also serves to be an accountability partner. In addition, they can help you with specific goal setting and also provide you with nutritional advice.
When you set foot in the gym, you need to know exactly what you will do in that training session in order to create a weekly routine that will lead to more muscle mass. By knowing what you’re doing on a specific day and knowing what came in the days before, you can avoid injury and overuse.
4. Don’t Train Every Day
If the person that made you the program knows what she/he’s doing, your routine should have three or four workouts per week. As a beginner, you don’t need to train more often than that. Doing so can lead to muscle strain, which can eventually cause debilitating injuries, so paying attention to this bodybuilding tip is essential.
Each time you do a bodybuilding routine, remember that you are tearing your muscle fibers. If you do this seven times a week without allowing them to recover, you can cause permanent damage.
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 on each muscle group at least once each week to see the effects. You should also be increasing the weight you’re lifting every week or every other week to continuously challenge your body to keep building more muscle.
Working muscles groups together gives time for proper rest for the muscles groups.
Choose an exercise for every major muscle group at each workout, and you’re set. This includes:
- Legs (squats, deadlifts, lunges)
- Chest/Shoulders/Triceps (bench press, dips, military press, push-ups)
- Back (bent over rows, pull-ups).
You can also pair muscle groups that are close together—there’s no right way to group your muscles together. You may want to experiment with a few different pairings until you find one that works best for you. If you’re training for general fitness, you can follow a program that balances all the different muscle groups.
If you’re training for a sport, you may benefit from emphasizing certain muscle groups frequently used in your sport.
6. Learn the Correct Form
While you may be tempted to see how much you can lift, you need to start with lower weights and learn the right form for each exercise. If you’re going to a gym, they often have trainers who will show you the correct form for various exercises. If you need more guidance, consider hiring a personal trainer for one or two weeks to get you started.
Good form allows you to reap all the benefits of your workout and avoid injuries simultaneously. No matter your age, current fitness level, or sex, you can benefit from weight training with the right technique.
Once you have the correct form, you’ll be able to continue pushing yourself without going too far using the other bodybuilding tips for beginners.
7. Gradually Increase the Weight
After you master the correct form of each exercise, you need to start adding heavier weights periodically. Keep track of how much you lift on each exercise, and slightly increase the weight every two weeks. This will increase your strength and will lead to muscle gains.
If you stay at one weight too long, your body will get comfortable and won’t build more muscle, so it’s important to keep offering your body challenges.
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. When it comes to bodybuilding tips, this is one many people overlook until it’s too late.
9. Back off a Little Bit
Another way to recover faster and build muscle fast is to back off a little bit with regard to the number of sets and reps you do at each workout every once in a while.
Studies show that reducing the workout volume (sets and reps) by about 50% every 8-12 weeks can help you make progress significantly faster.
This means that instead of doing 12 total sets at a workout, you’ll only do 6 using the same weight. Do this for a week, and then go back to your normal routine.
Cutting back every once in a while will help you stay mentally fresh, too. This, in turn, gives you more energy to put into your future workouts.
10. Be in a Caloric Surplus
This is one of those bodybuilding tips that most people don’t understand at first. To build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn
Ensure to avoid eating too few calories, as this will mean your body may start burning the muscle you’re building for energy. If you have a sedentary job, you will need fewer calories, and if you are very active, you will need more. Losing fat requires a caloric deficit, but building muscle requires the opposite.
11. Eat More Often
If you’re bodybuilding as a beginner, it’s a good idea to eat more often. Try eating 4-5 times each day, and don’t go more than 3-4 hours without a meal.
As your body builds muscle, it will want a consistent source of fuel, which comes from food.
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! For this bodybuilding tip, consume quality food like lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats, and avoid junk food, sweets, and fatty foods.
The only time when you should consume fast-absorbing carbohydrates like sugar is right after your workout.
13. Eat Fruits and Vegetables
Besides macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats), your body also needs micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). These come mostly in the form of fruits and vegetables, so make sure you’re getting enough each day, both pre-and post-workout.
Leafy greens such as spinach, broccoli, and asparagus are common foods to help you build muscle, but as expected, you can include your choice of vegetables in your diet. Starchy vegetables are also very viable; these would include potatoes, corn, and even peas.
14. Rest and Recover
One of the most essential bodybuilding tips for beginners is to allow your body time to recover. Your muscles don’t grow when you work out but during rest periods, especially when you sleep. Eight to nine hours a night is optimal. If you have trouble falling asleep, try settling into a night routine that can get your sleep schedule on track.
15. Act Like an Athlete
If you want to dedicate yourself to bodybuilding, get into the mindset of an athlete. Building a stronger, healthier body means doing so both in and out of the gym. When you’re not working out, avoid smoking, alcohol, and other unhealthy vices as much as possible. This will help you create an overall healthier lifestyle to match your efforts in the gym.
Food and Nutrition Hacks
1. Eat Enough Protein Every Day
Contrary to what advertisements for protein powders say, you don’t need to eat and drink hundreds of grams daily to build muscle. The truth is, eating this amount won’t help you build muscle faster. It can be stored as fat.
All you need is enough to meet your body’s daily needs and a little more to stimulate muscle gain. This works out to about 0.8 grams per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 150 lbs., you need to eat about 120 grams of protein daily.
Don’t stress too much over exactly how many grams of protein are in everything you eat. Use the eyeball method instead.
You also need to know which foods are protein-rich. They include beef, eggs, poultry, pork, and seafood. Drink a protein shake if you’re having trouble eating enough of these foods. The best type of shake for building muscle is one that uses whey and casein proteins as its primary sources.
2. Take Nutritional Supplements That Are Proven To Work
Consider taking nutritional supplements to help you build muscle fast. The key thing is to use products that work. Through my research, I have found that three work best: branched-chain amino acids, creatine monohydrate, and fish oil.
Branched-chain Amino Acids
The first supplement, branched-chain amino acids, is shown in several research studies to give you energy during your workout, decrease muscle soreness, and “turn on” the muscle-building process within your body.
I find that they help me increase my energy and decrease post-workout soreness. You should take about .05 grams per pound of body weight before and after working out for the best results.
Next is my favorite, creatine monohydrate. If you’re only going to take one supplement to build muscle, this is the one. This is because there are dozens, if not hundreds, of scientific studies that show it safely helps you build muscle and get stronger. 
If you decide to try it, make sure you buy a product that is tested and guaranteed to include nothing but creatine monohydrate to ensure its purity. When you take creatine, follow what’s referred to as the loading phase, which is taking 10-20 grams a day for five to seven days for the best results.
Research shows this is the best way to get creatine into your cells as quickly as possible. You can then back off to five grams a day to keep getting benefits.
Last but not least is fish oil. In addition to being good for the health of your brain and heart, it can also help you build muscle fast. When shopping for a fish oil supplement, make sure you buy a concentrated source that’s tested free of impurities and pesticides.
It has also proven to sharpen memory and improve mood.
Tips for Effective Bodybuilding
The Bottom Line
The above bodybuilding tips are a great place to start if you’re trying to get into bodybuilding. These kinds of workouts can be amazing for your muscle mass, as well as joint stability and cardio health. Start slow and safe to build up a healthy routine that will help you enjoy bodybuilding for many years.
Featured photo credit: Anastase Maragos via unsplash.com
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