Just like anything in life, knowing how to effectively gain muscle or burn fat does not only takes time and effort but also determination and consistency. However, this is also what makes bodybuilding so great, as it has the potential to not just change your physique but also improve you in many other different areas of your life. Nonetheless, one cannot start to learn a new skill or hobby and instantly expect to be good at it. This is particularly noticeable in bodybuilding, where beginners expect fast results within completely unrealistic timeframes.
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The fact is that muscle building is a slow process, and gaining weight too fast will just leave you looking chubby. I mean, that was one of the first mistakes that happened to me when I was a beginner, so I am talking from experience. Similarly, unless you somehow already possess a considerable amount of muscle mass, losing fat will only leave you looking quite unhealthy. This does not necessarily mean that you will not see any quick changes in your physique though, because you will.
Over the last decades, the fitness industry has become increasingly more popular. Nowadays, fitness has become a stapled industry within society. Everyone wants to become more fit, gain muscle and look good. Everyone is obsessed with looking a certain way, have the best looking car, the best clothes and also the best looks. Certainly, many people now do all kinds of (sometimes just plain silly) things to their bodies just to look a bit better in the eyes of society.
Botox injections, glute transplants, facelifts…you name it…People will do anything to look a certain way. Just take a quick look at Justin Jedlica and you will understand what I am trying to say. He has gone OVER 550 surgical procedures and thousands of dollars just to achieve the look that he wanted.
Most people seem to have forgotten about one key thing, which also turns out to be the very essence of fitness…
You see, we have went from Health & Fitness to Fitness & Health. Moreover, people now want fast shortcuts to achieve a certain look. This has pushed most mainstream fitness companies and fitness coaches to switch their approach. From one that prioritises health to one that prioritises fast results.
Throughout the years, I have noticed, and personally witnessed, a significant decline in the quality of information that websites, fitness instructors and companies are giving out to their customers. All just to trick them into buying supplements and diet plans that are literally useless.
Or giving advice that isn’t aimed towards helping the consumer achieve his or her goals but to push them towards requiring constant advice (= more dependency = money for the companies/instructors). However, this couldn’t be more far from the truth as one can very easily diet down or up in a fast and efficient manner, with the same results and within a similar timespan.
Now, you might be asking yourself, if both healthy and unhealthy approaches work at the same speeds, why didn’t these companies stick to promoting the healthy approach?
Because it is not the companies that dictate the approach, but their consumers.
This doesn’t mean that good, trustworthy resources and honest brands exist out there. They do exist, but the industry has become so cloudy that you have to dig deep to find them.
HOW FAST CAN YOU SEE RESULTS IN BODYBUILDING?
Approximately around 3 months of following an adequate training and nutrition plan, you could potentially gain/lose around 12-18lbs (5-8kg) of weight. Certainly, that would make for a very noticeable difference in your physique. However, if you are expecting to go from skinny or chubby, to looking like this within 3 months of bodybuilding, I am sorry to tell you, that you have set some very unrealistic expectations for yourself.
The following article will cover everything that a beginner, or someone that has taken a long break from weightlifting (and is now coming back), should know. However, the topic of bodybuilding is so vast and there is just so much to learn, that no guide in the world can possibly cover all the aspects that even just a beginner should know. However, as a beginner, you do not need to know every absolute single detail about lifting in order to achieve good results.
If you were to try and learn everything about weightlifting before even getting into it, you would need to spend years reading before even lifting a single dumbbell, and the difference in results would not make up for the time lost. For that reason, this article will only focus on the main points that all beginners to weightlifting should be aware of.
On the surface, bodybuilding might look just like a simple sport. Lift weights, eat enough, or not enough, gain muscle or lose fat.
– If it only were that simple…
But it’s not.
Everything a Beginner Should Know About Bodybuilding
In bodybuilding, the one greatest thing about being a beginner is that since your muscle fibers have never been subject to extreme stress before (such as when lifting weights), the shock that weightlifting causes to your body and muscles can cause them to over-react and achieve a term most commonly known as “newbie gains” or “body recomposition”. This effect can only happen in beginners, or people that have just came back to weightlifting after a long break and it can allow for some very impressive progress within your first few months of lifting.
Now, I usually highlight how it is impossible for people to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, and while this is true in 99.9% of cases, “Newbie Gains” are the exception. The effects of being a beginner are so powerful, that you can expect to see some very abnormal things that are nearly impossible for intermediate and advanced lifters to achieve. For example, during your first 3 months of lifting, you may be able to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. This means that, if your diet and training are on point, you may be able to pack quite a bit of muscle mass while losing fat at the same time, making your overall physique transformation even more noticeable.
What this implies
The benefits of newbie gains means that you can essentially train in a suboptimal way (not recommended) and still achieve noticeable results. In addition, since your body will basically react to just about any decent workout routine, your focus should therefore mainly be on your diet (I highly recommend that you read more about dieting here).
With the diet aspect covered, we can now move on to the main key points that all beginner’s to bodybuilding should know.
ALMOST ANYTHING WILL WORK
You don’t need the best routine or access to the best gym in the world. When you are a beginner, almost any routine and type of lifting will work. Yes, that also includes body weight exercise routines that you could do from home. However, I would recommend that you lift actual weights as this will cause your muscle fibers to breakdown more easily and grow back stronger, faster than through bodyweight workouts.
As long you follow a routine that’s not too advanced for you, and on which you are progressing and adding weight to your lifts every 1-2 weeks, you WILL see results. If you’d like, I have developed a very straightforward beginner program series that you can find on the “Routines” tab within this website. These series are divided into 3 different age ranges and will work for just about 99.9% of you. However, I must tell you again, that your diet will be the one to ultimately dictate whether you will gain or lose weight, and it is the single most important factor that you should pay attention to.
This leads on to…
MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER
“If I work out more often, I should be able to grow muscle faster!”
WRONG!!! Working out more often will only put you on a first-class express ticket to overtraining, and this is very bad news as it can lead to muscle loss, which is the exact opposite effect of lifting weights and would completely defeat the purpose of you going to the gym.
DO NOT WASTE MONEY ON SUPPLEMENTS
NO! Taking 10 million supplements will not help you achieve your dream physique at a much, if any faster rate than without taking any supplements at all. You see, bodybuilding has become quite a big market and the industry often encourages or pushes people (specially beginners) to buy their supplements with the false promise that such will provide drastic effects.
As shown by a study that tested the muscle gain effects of over 250 different gym supplements, only 2 supplements out of the 250 tested were found to be effective in lean tissue gain with resistance (weight) training. If you are wondering, the 2 supplements shown to have muscle gain effects were: Creatine and HMB.
Should I buy these supplements then?
I know that you might be thinking that you should probably buy these supplements. But if you read the study in more detail, you will realise that the muscle gain increase of taking creatine compared to not taking ANY supplements were:
- An increase of +1.09% in net strength (and a +0.20% increase in muscle gain) per week
As for HMB, the results compared to not taking ANY supplements were:
- An increase of +0.15 in net muscle gain per week
Now, if you are still thinking of buying these supplements (which are the only ones that will actually do something towards muscle gain), you may go ahead and use them, it is totally fine. Nonetheless, you will get, at most, a combined total increase in muscle gain of around +0.35% per week. The only reason that I’m telling you this is because I know that a lot of people would never buy these supplements for such little benefits.
Think about it. If you were dieting to gain 1lbs per week and, even if we assumed that the 1lbs was pure muscle gain, taking these supplements would give you an extra (16oz*1.035=16.56oz or 1.035lbs). So essentially, you would be gaining an extra .035lbs per week of muscle compared to someone not taking any supplementation.
Does that mean that supplements are useless?
No. What this means is that most “gym-specific” supplements are just not worth it.
However, nutritional supplements such as protein powders, vitamins and fish oils can definitely help in contributing to your overall health and making your life easier, though they will not provide you with any direct muscle gain or fat burning effects. This is because nutritional supplements are supposed to help you reach your daily nutritional goals, which you could also achieve by simply following a decent diet.
Nonetheless, the bottom line is that supplements are not magic, but they are convenient if you sometimes lack time to eat a particular meal (so you drink a protein shake) or when you are not getting enough of certain vitamins each day (such taking vitamin D if you don’t get enough sunlight per day).
FOCUS ON EXERCISE FORM RATHER THAN WEIGHT
Very often, lifters of all levels want to impress themselves (or others) by lifting heavier weights than what they can actually handle. However, not only is this silly (no one at your gym will really care about how much you or anyone can lift) but also counterproductive and potentially dangerous. Rather than moving heavy weight through the motions, try to instead focus on your exercise form. This is particularly important because doing an exercise badly can not only lead to a potential injury but also massively reduce the effectivity of your workouts.
For example, squatting or deadlifting with an arched back could put increased stress on your spine, leading you to experience some serious back pain issues and even injuries. Similarly, doing a squat or deadlift with bad form will target the muscles you are trying to train in a much less efficient way.
In essence, bad form will make it harder for you to build muscle while also putting you under increased risk of experiencing an injury.
I highly suggest that you research how to do the exercises listed on your routine properly and maybe even watch some videos on correct form for each one of them. In turn, this will really help you maximise your muscle gains and mind-muscle connection, which are crucial to bodybuilding.
With that said, and if you feel ready to go, I encourage you go out there and start lifting some weights! There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain so just get going and push yourself!
Seriously, I’ve seen a lot of beginners take a long time to get started. They want to research everything, find the best beginner workouts, plan, etc. Yet, none of this matters unless you actually go out there and start lifting some weights.