How do you start a bodybuilding journey? For thousands of years, both men and women have long wanted a muscular body. Going back through history, we find muscular sculptures in Rome of powerful men, all of whom look like bodybuilders.
There is hardly a hero in the movies or on TV that doesn’t boast a muscular body. Muscles convey authority, power, discipline, hard work, and capability. Also, they make you look like an alpha male or female.
If nothing else, a muscular physique is admirable, desirable, and attractive. But how can you attain this type of build? The answer lies in bodybuilding. When you try to lose fat or build muscle, you are bodybuilding. Thus, everyone who is trying to get into shape is bodybuilding.
If you’re new to weightlifting or bodybuilding, you probably don’t have the slightest idea of where to begin. Don’t feel bad. Even the actors and bodybuilders with the most impressive physiques had to start from scratch. We’re here to help.
Please keep reading for our top 11 tips for starting your bodybuilding journey.
1. Identify your body type and dietary needs before doing anything else.
One of the essential bodybuilding tips is understanding and accepting your limits. Also, you must determine your needs before you set your goals. There are three primary body types (or somatotypes) – ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Understanding your body type helps you define your goals. Also, it shows you how to use your genes for bodybuilding.
The Three Somatotypes
Ectomorphs are naturally long, thin, and lean. Lingerie models desire this body type. But it is challenging to build bulky muscle with this body type. Skinny body types have a hard time gaining weight and putting on mass.
Endomorphs are on the other side of the spectrum. They gain weight incredibly quickly (which includes both fat and muscle). These individuals make great powerlifters and football linemen but struggle to stay lean.
Mesomorphs are the happy medium. These people are athletic. They make the ideal bodybuilder because they can gain and lose weight with relative ease.
Understanding Your Dietary Needs
It’s often said that weight is lost in the kitchen, not the gym. In bodybuilding, you build muscles in the gym, but what you eat profoundly affects your gains.
You need to adjust how you eat to achieve your bodybuilding dream based on your body type. For example, if you have trouble gaining weight, you’ll need to eat A LOT. On the other hand, if you’re an endomorph and want to stay lean, you must work harder not to gain fat. Finding the right amount of calories and protein to eat will determine your bodybuilding journey.
Find your daily calorie needs based on your BMR or basal metabolic rate. If you can find a BMR calculator that takes your body fat percentage into account, it will be the most accurate.
2. Define your bodybuilding goals right after you identify your needs.
To be successful in any life area, you need to define a list of goals to reach. Without goals, you may progress, but with no purpose or direction. Use SMART goals to guarantee success. SMART goals use specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific information.
Identify your goal, such as competing in a bodybuilding show or getting a particular physique. We recommend creating a vision board to keep yourself motivated. Sharpen your dream by providing specific information, for example, competing with Mr. Olympia in 5 years. A SMART plan does not give you any wiggle room. You either succeed, or you fail.
However, remember to take your body type into account when bodybuilding. For example, if you’re a 5’7″ ectomorph, you’ll never look like The Rock. But that’s not to say you can’t achieve an impressive physique.
Once you sharpen your goal, break it down into milestone goals. These should be a few months apart to celebrate minor victories as you progress. This will also keep you motivated. Also, convert them to SMART goals as well.
3. Invest in a trainer or coach when you are new to bodybuilding to save time and money.
Becoming a bodybuilder doesn’t happen by accident. Know what you’re doing in the gym. You can’t expect to walk into a weight room without little or no experience and start throwing around weights like the best of them.
As importantly, lifting weights improperly can lead to poor results and serious injuries. For this reason, we highly recommend hiring a personal trainer or weightlifting coach if you’re new to bodybuilding. They can teach you:
- Proper lifting form
- Practical exercises for each muscle group
- How to create a workout program
- How to prevent injuries
- And more
Even the most common weightlifting injuries can affect you for months or years. Thus, it’s best to avoid them. Also, learn from the best bodybuilders. Read their stories to discover tips and tricks that can take your journey to the next level. Why reinvent the wheel when someone else has already built it for you? Here is a list of the best bodybuilders and how they did it:
4. Don’t neglect flexibility and mobility because bodybuilding reflects what your body can do.
One of the best ways to avoid injuries is to maintain your flexibility and mobility. If you never had either, now’s the time to work on it.
The more you lift weights and increase your muscle mass through bodybuilding, the tighter and less flexible your body will become. However, incorporating a daily stretching routine to increase flexibility and mobility will keep you limber, regardless of how big and muscular you get.
We also recommend warming up properly before workouts using mobility drills. Also, these will improve your functionality and minimize injuries.
5. Focus on compound movements because your body uses many parts that work together.
A successful bodybuilding journey focuses on the most effective exercises. We know these as compound movements.
Compound movements incorporate multiple joints and muscle groups in each lift. They call on the most muscle fibers while improving balance, symmetry, and functionality. The primary compound exercises in bodybuilding are:
- Barbell squats
- Barbell deadlifts
- Weighted lunges
- Bench Press (incline, decline, and flat)
- Shoulder press (seated or standing)
- Bent-over rows
- And more
These exercises belong at the beginning of your workouts when you have the most strength and energy.
6. Implement progressive overload theory because you can’t body build without it.
A bodybuilding career relies on one major component – consistent progress. Also, this is especially important for beginners who are starting from square one. Thus, this is where progressive overload theory comes into play.
Progressive overload is the science of making manageable progress over time for significant gains. The simplest example would be to add five pounds onto your maximum barbell squat every week. After a year, you would lift 260 pounds more.
However, in programming, progressive overload takes on many forms. Here are some examples, using barbell squats as the highlighted lift:
- First Week – 3 sets of 10 at 100lbs
- The second week – 3 sets of 10 at 105lbs
- The third week – 3 sets of 10 at 110lbs
- First Week – 3 sets of 10 at 100lbs
- The second week – 3 sets of 12 at 100lbs
- The third week – 3 sets of 14 at 100lbs
- First Week – 3 sets of 10 at 100lbs
- The second week – 4 sets of 10 at 100lbs
- The third week – 5 sets of 10 at 100lbs
You can customize these examples based on your abilities. For example, if you feel comfortable adding reps and weight, do it. The primary goal is to perform better than you did the week before, every week.
7. Create long-term programming because bodybuilding is a journey, not a race.
One of the essential bodybuilding tips is understanding that it’s a long journey. You will not make massive gains overnight. It takes a dedicated effort.
It would be best if you created long-term programming. If you change up your program every couple of weeks, you will not see consistent results. We recommend sticking with an individual program (doing the same routine each week with progressive overload) for at least six weeks.
However, sticking with the same program for too long will cause hitting a plateau. It’s important to change up your routine. This includes:
- Different sets and reps
- Different lifting styles
- New exercises and exercise variations
- Different muscle groupings for each day
Finally, implement a de-load week before starting a new program. Do your regular exercises at about 60-70% intensity. Also, this will keep your muscles active while encouraging recovery. It is crucial to start your new program at 100%.
8. Write everything down and track your progress. Only what you measure will grow.
Sticking to long-term programming on your bodybuilding journey is pointless if you’re not tracking your progress. You can’t know how to improve from the previous week if you didn’t write it down. Likewise, it would be best if you saw exactly how many reps, sets, and the weight you lifted so you could improve your numbers.
This forced growth is the foundation of progressive overload theory, and it doesn’t work without a workout journal. You can also use a workout journal to look back several months to marvel at how much you’ve grown. Also, it will shock and inspire you to see where you started.
Tracking your progress also includes monitoring and following your diet. In addition, we recommend using a program like MyFitnessPal to make your life easier.
You can scan barcodes and look up your foods to know how many calories you’re consuming. It also breaks down the macronutrients of each food (proteins, carbs, and fats). Finally, this app will tell you how much salt, sugar, fiber, and other nutrients are in your diet.
9. Find the right balance between power and endurance to enhance your bodybuilding journey.
One of the most complex bodybuilding parts is finding the happy middle ground between brute strength and muscular endurance. Unfortunately, there are two opposing schools of thought here.
The first is that natural bodybuilders’ only way to get bigger is by focusing on pure strength. In some aspects, this is true. However, your muscles must get enormous and more vital to adapt to greater workloads, which results in increased mass.
An alternative theory suggests that the best growth occurs with time under tension. Also, this shows that muscle growth is optimized by performing more reps and focusing on the “pump” of weightlifting.
Both theories are accurate in their own right. For example, lifting only with low reps and heavyweight increases your burst strength by focusing on fast-twitch muscle fibers. Alternatively, high reps with lighter weights increase your slow-twitch muscle fibers.
To get maximum results, we recommend doing both. You should incorporate heavy lifts at 3-6 reps, medium lifts at 8-10 reps, and light lifts at 12-15 reps. You can also use various burnout methods, such as pyramids and drop sets.
10. Focus on your weaknesses, not your strengths, because your weaknesses will take you down.
One of the biggest mistakes beginner bodybuilders make is spending too much time on the lifts that please them. These are the lifts that they’re good at or make them feel good about themselves. Traditionally, newbies focus on upper body lifts and work their legs as an afterthought.
However, focusing on your strengths and not addressing your weaknesses can lead to significant asymmetries and imbalances. For example, you don’t want a stacked upper body with little chicken legs. Also, this is where the famous saying “friends don’t let friends skip leg day” comes from.
Correct your weaknesses and asymmetries quickly.
If you struggle with specific exercises (upper body or lower body), you need to put more effort into the associated muscle groups. Often, these problems come down to core strength or stability muscles.
You can improve muscle symmetry, stability, and overall strength by making free weights the staple of your programming. Also, machines and cables are excellent for adding variety to your workouts. However, they don’t make your stability or core muscles work to maintain balance.
Relying too heavily on machines will lead to a lack of functional strength, symmetry, and stability.
11. Commit yourself to resiliency and consistency because a bodybuilding journey takes you up a set of stairs, not an elevator.
Having a successful and progressive bodybuilding journey comes down to your mindset. How committed are you to your goals? Is bodybuilding one of your top priorities?
If you want to make significant gains, you must make a considerable effort. When you’re skipping one or more workouts every week or consistently making concessions on your diet, your road to success will be rough-going.
It may sound overly dramatic, but you need to adopt a warrior mindset. No matter how long your day was, how tired you are, or how badly you want to go home and play video games, it would be best if you got your workout in first.
This resiliency is vital to your progress. The second you allow yourself to make excuses, you take steps away from your goals. Also, commit yourself to your workout program and your nutrition plan.
Ready to start your bodybuilding journey?
If you’re looking to build muscle mass and look like the actors or bodybuilders you admire, it’s time to start your journey. Remember, if you’re going to commit, you need to commit fully.
Thus, if you need a little extra guidance, we can help. Please look at some of our workout programs and diet plans to best meets your needs. Also, check out some of our other articles for more detailed expert advice on bodybuilding.