How to Become a Bodybuilder: The Ultimate Guide
Bodybuilding is becoming increasingly more popular, and hundreds of contests are held each year.
Whether you want to compete or simply sculpt a lean, muscular physique, bodybuilding can be a rewarding pursuit. Along the way, you will build the healthiest, strongest version of yourself. Moreover, you'll cultivate self-discipline, patience, and dedication.
Nevertheless, becoming a bodybuilder won't be easy. You'll need to change your lifestyle so that it revolves entirely around your workouts and nutrition. The first step is understanding how to become a bodybuilder!
Set Realistic Goals
If you're new to bodybuilding, it can be easy to make unrealistic goals, especially when you compare yourself to professional bodybuilders. Unfortunately, having unrealistic goals sets you up for failure.
It's much better to focus on short-term goals that you can reach in the next few months. As you achieve these, you'll be closer to your long-term goal, but you'll embrace all the progress you make along the way.
As a beginner, here are some practical goals you can set:
- Workout consistently for an entire month
- Stick to your diet
- Learn how to lift with proper form
As you progress, you can move onto goals related to your muscle mass, body fat percentage, and the weight you are lifting during specific exercises.
Create a Strength Training Schedule
Weight lifting is essential to building muscle mass. As a beginner, you'll have to train more frequently than seasoned bodybuilders since you cannot lift as much weight.
For optimal results, you should make time for lifting at least four days a week. When you go to the gym is up to you, but try to be consistent and lift at a time of the day when you feel energized.
Upper/Lower Body Training Split
Next, you need to decide how you will break up your training splits. Some people divide their exercises into upper and lower body muscle groups.
The upper body group includes the arms, back, chest, and shoulders. Meanwhile, the lower body group involves the quadriceps, calves, glutes, hamstrings, and abs.
For each muscle group, you should do three sets of two different exercises. Doing this increases the volume of work done on each body part.
If you prefer, you can train in two different rep ranges. For the first set, you can focus on strength by choosing a heavyweight at which you will fail in six to eight repetitions. You should concentrate on hypertrophy during the second and third sets by lifting a weight you can handle for 10-12 reps.
Here's an example of an upper and lower body split:
- Monday: lower-body muscle groups
- Tuesday: upper-body muscle groups
- Wednesday: rest
- Thursday: lower-body muscle groups
- Friday: upper-body muscle groups
- Saturday: rest
- Sunday: rest
Since you are training each muscle group several times a week, you will need more rest days to recover.
Push/Pull/Leg Training Split
Another excellent training split divides your workouts into push and pull motions, enabling you to train your entire body over three days instead of two.
The push muscles, including the chest, shoulders, and triceps, are all trained one day. The back and biceps are pulling muscles, and thus, are trained on opposite days.
Meanwhile, you should train your legs on a different day, and abs can be incorporated whenever you desire.
Many bodybuilders divide their training split this way because most exercises work several of your muscle groups. For example, a bench press uses your pecs, triceps, and delts. So training them all together allows them to recover sufficiently before your next push workout.
With this training split, it is best to perform three exercises for every muscle group. You can use multiple reps as long as you do your heaviest reps first and using compound movements.
For example, your first and heaviest set should be 6-8 reps. On the second set, you can slightly decrease your weight and increase to 8-10 reps. Finally, you can burn out your muscles with 10-12 repetitions of a lighter yet still challenging weight.
Your training schedule should look like this:
- Monday: chest, triceps, and shoulders
- Tuesday: back and biceps
- Wednesday: legs
- Thursday: chest, triceps, and shoulders
- Friday: back and biceps
- Saturday: legs
- Sunday: rest
If you find yourself feeling too sore with this training split, take an extra rest day. You can add it after your first leg day of the week.
If you want to build larger muscles, you must increase the weight you lift in your sessions. This method is called progressive resistance training.
As you increase the intensity of your lifting sessions, your muscles will be put under more significant stress and grow larger.
As a beginner, you should aim to achieve a particular number of repetitions with a specific weight (e.g. ten reps with 50 pounds). Once you can do this, add five pounds and try to get to ten repetitions again.
If you've hit a plateau and aren't seeing any gains, you likely need to increase the weight that you lift in the gym.
Moreover, if you find that you can't raise your training weight, you may be overtraining. Try taking more rest time between sessions.
Incorporate Aerobic Exercise
Many bodybuilders shy away from aerobics, thinking that it will sabotage their ability to build mass. Nevertheless, aerobics is an integral part of muscle growth.
Aerobics can enhance the body's ability to burn fat, remove lactic acid, and transport oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. All of these functions are essential to building larger, stronger muscles.
If you are trying to increase your body mass, you should keep your aerobic exercise at a low intensity and a medium duration. A brisk 45-minute walk is an excellent example of a cardio workout that won't sabotage your muscle growth.
Try to do your low-intensity cardio in the morning on an empty stomach or right after lifting weights. Doing so will ensure that you have depleted your glycogen levels.
If you aren't bodybuilding for competition, you can include more cardio in your workout schedule. Keep it between two to three times a week at a low to medium intensity.
The principal element of a bodybuilder's diet is protein, which makes building muscle possible. Your body can only convert amino acids to proteins to repair tissue and build muscle (in a protein synthesis process) if you consume enough of it.
Since bodybuilders subject their muscles to a lot of stress, they need to eat more protein.
As a bodybuilding beginner, you make it a goal to consume one gram of protein per pound of your bodyweight. If you eat slightly more, that's even better as professional bodybuilders usually take in twice this amount.
After training intensity, getting enough protein is the second most crucial variable when bulking up. So try to eat as many protein-rich foods as possible, such as:
- red meat
Instead of eating all your protein in just three meals, try to consume protein five to seven times throughout the day. Doing so will supply your body with a steady amount of protein.
If you have trouble eating this often, supplements such as whey protein should help you increase your protein intake.
As a bodybuilder, your diet should be full of nutritious whole foods. Yet, supplements can help you build muscle, recover faster, and stay healthier.
Although there are hundreds of supplements available that claim to be essential for optimal fitness and muscle building, it is best to include only a few in your diet. Here are some of the most popular supplements...
Whey protein contains every essential amino acid, making it an excellent choice. Since your body digests it quickly, many people like to consume it right before or after finishing a workout to help repair and feed their muscles.
Although you should be eating vitamin-rich foods, it can be hard to spot nutritional gaps in your diet. Your multi-vitamin serves as an insurance policy, preventing any deficiencies and helping your body run optimally.
Creatine is a popular supplement among those who want to gain muscle. It super-hydrates cells with water and causes muscle fibres to grow stronger.
Creatine also helps your body power through intense workouts by supplying energy.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
BCAAs are found in most protein sources of animal origin and are critical for muscle growth.
When taken before and after your workout, they can help you avoid fatigue. Many athletes report being able to work out more often and more intensely due to this supplement.
One of the newest muscle enhancing supplements are selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs).
The use of SARMs for building muscle is relatively new, and the FDA has not approved them. Nevertheless, you can find sarms for sale online as an experimental chemical.
Like steroids, SARMs work by binding to your androgen receptors. This reaction triggers changes in your DNA and increases your muscles' ability to grow.
Unlike steroids, which can lead to several side effects, SARMs are said to target your muscles without affecting other parts of your body.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is a bodybuilder's best friend. It assists with protein synthesis and helps you mentally rechange for your next training session.
Sleep also promotes the production of testosterone and growth hormone.
Make it your aim to sleep seven to nine hours each night. If you aren't used to sleeping this much, the following tips can help.
- Avoid using electronic devices the hour before bed
- Take a warm bath
- Eat some carbs
- Listen to relaxing music
- Have a consistent bedtime
- Avoid drinking alcohol or smoking
By implementing these tips, you will likely be able to get adequate rest each night.
Keep in mind that you need to eat a high-protein meal before going to bed and as soon as you wake up (if you don't plan to do any aerobic exercise).
Eating before bed will prevent your muscles from breaking down to supply glycogen to your organs while you sleep.
Avoid Pessimism and Unnecessary Stress
Your emotional health and outlook may seem to be one of the least important factors when building muscle, but they are critical.
First of all, a positive outlook will increase your quality of training. When you feel confident and expect to achieve your goals, you will likely see results.
Meanwhile, pessimistic feelings can put a damper on your workout, negatively impacting your progress.
To develop a positive attitude, you should:
- Choose friends that encourage you
- Visualize achieving your goals
- Memorize and repeat positive quotes or affirmations
These things can help you stay optimistic, even when things get difficult or progressing is more complicated than you had imagined.
On the other hand, stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. In some cases, this hormone can cause your body to become physically sick and, eventually, display severe health problems. Moreover, cortisol can consume protein tissue, which would inhibit your progress.
To avoid the disastrous effects that stress can have on your body, you may wish to practice yoga, stretching, meditation, or deep breathing.
Keep Learning How to Become a Bodybuilder
Becoming a bodybuilder requires a lot of hard work and dedication. The bodybuilding tips in this article will help you get started, but don't stop learning how to become a bodybuilder!
As you progress, you will likely face new obstacles to building muscles, but we're here to help! Check out more of our articles and bodybuilding advice that can help you be the best version of yourself!
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