is a challenge-but it's also fun and rewarding. There's no magic
bullet to body building success, however; it's a sport that demands
a lot of hard work, precise training, and discipline both in and
out of the gym. Everyone's body is different, and that means everyone's
results and ideal training program are different, too. Still,
if you're considering giving body building a try, here are a few
guidelines to follow.
time. First, it's important to realize that you won't see
results immediately. Building a lean, healthy physique takes time.
Many beginners get frustrated if they don't start seeing results
in the first month or so, and this can cause new body builders
to give up too early. Give yourself three months before you judge
whether or not your body building routine is working for you.
a doctor. If you have any injuries, medical conditions, or
any other problems that might affect your ability to lift, talk
to a doctor. You may still be able to body build, but you may
need to keep your body's limitations in mind and avoid certain
exercises. Discuss your body building plans with your doctor and
develop a training routine that won't cause injury.
movements first. Your first exercises should be compound movements-that
is, movements that draw on large muscle groups and demand movement
from two or more joints. These include bench presses, squats,
dead lifts, military presses, barbell presses, and lunges. Compound
movements are important because they send signals to your body
to produce more hormones that encourage growth; in essence, these
exercises are crucial to building a muscular foundation, which
you can then shape using isolation exercises.
each muscle group. Maybe you really want to flatten your stomach
or develop a bigger chest. But your body will look strange and
unbalanced if you only target one muscle group over others-this
is how some body builders develop large, bulging upper bodies
and thin legs. Build a balanced physique by focusing equally on
each muscle group in your body.
form. It's absolutely essential to learn the right form of
an exercise early on. If you do, you'll be able to monitor your
progress and decide when to go up or down in weight much more
effectively. You'll also be able to exercise safely; if your form
isn't correct, you run the risk of strain or injury. Even if you
plan to exercise without a trainer, book at least one session
or ask one of the experts at your gym to help you learn the proper
form for lifting.
on the weight at first. You can't learn good form at the absolute
limit of your lifting ability. During your first few trips to
the gym, you should use light weights simply to learn how it feels
to do each movement correctly. Once you've done all your reps
at light and easy weights several times during different sessions,
your body will learn how it feels to have good form-and you'll
be more likely to maintain it under heavier weight.
are crucial. Every time you work out, start by performing
8 to 12 reps of an exercise under light weight. This will get
blood into your muscles and help them prepare for heavy lifting.
Then increase the weight slightly and do the exercise again. If
you still can reach 8-12 reps easily, add a little more. Keep
going until you cannot finish 8-12 reps. The weight you finish
on is the weight at which you reach muscular failure. The goal
with each of your exercises is to reach muscular failure in 8-12
reps; once you can reach 12 reps, it's time to increase your weight
between workouts. Your body needs at least 48 hours to recover
completely from a training session. Generally you're not ready
to train again if you're even a little sore from the last workout.
However, if you leave too much time between workout sessions,
you could see some loss of progress in the meantime. Most trainers
will recommend that beginners train two or three times a week-a
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday training schedule is often ideal.
Avoid leaving more than three days between workouts.
need to spend all day at the gym. You should be able to do
everything you need to make gains at the gym within about an hour.
Some body builders spend hours at the gym, but this is not necessary.
The intensity and focus required to body build correctly is almost
impossible to maintain for two or more hours; if you're spending
this much time at the gym, you're probably exercising inefficiently.
Your goal is to gain muscle, lose weight, and increase your health-not
spend all day at the gym.
is crucial. If you're serious about body building, what you
do outside the gym could make more of a difference than what you
do inside. Poor eating habits can undermine all your hard work
during training. Some body builders recommend eating high-calorie
food in great quantities to gain weight, but if you do this the
weight you gain will be mostly fat. Design a nutritional plan
that will help you meet your goals, and stick with it religiously
during your first three months-otherwise you won't know whether
the problem is your exercise routine or your diet.
does take time to show results. But if you exercise smart and
eat right, you will see them. Give a routine enough time to make
a difference, and don't undermine your efforts with bad diet or
poor workout habits-and you're sure to see the results you're
Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body
Building Resource which provides articles on weight training,
nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.