If you’re reading this, then chances are that you’re new to muscle building. Muscle building is something that everyone thinks about at some point in their lives. Some go through with it, others don’t. For those who don’t, there are many reasons but the main reason being that they simply don’t know how. When you don’t know how to, the idea can be pretty intimidating especially the process of muscle building for beginners. Knowing the fundamentals makes all the difference in the world. Simple things like knowing the key terms– reps and sets. The principles of strength exercises revolve around these two factors. If I were to tell you to drop and give me twenty, what would you do? You would drop down and bust out twenty pushups. Now those twenty pushups are actually twenty reps of pushups. You see, the word Reps is short for Repetitions. Now if I were to tell you to drop down and give me another twenty pushups- that would be the second set. So you would have done two sets of twenty reps.
Breathing is very important while busting out those reps. Breathe in while closing in and breathe out when pushing out. For instance, while doing a pushup, you should breathe in while performing the downward motion and breathe out while pushing yourself up. As far as sets are concerned, remember to take a break in between each one. A good break between sets would be 30-45 seconds. The general rule is to do 3 sets for each workout or 4 sets max. Anything more than that may cause muscle strain. Now when you are switching to a completely different workout you must take a longer break. 2-3 minutes is ideal.
Before you even begin your workout session, it is important that you understand the significance of stretching. This is the first and most important step in the entire process. Why? First of all, it gets you warmed up. Secondly, it gets your blood flowing and lastly, it loosens up your muscles. After a good stretch – not only will you feel better physically, but mentally as well. Spend 5-10 minutes stretching your muscles before getting started and after you’re done. Many people have been injured by exercising without stretching so it’s imperative that you do so each and every time.
Choosing your workout
Next, you’ll need to choose your workout. Choosing your workout is all about choosing which muscle group you want to target. Once you figure that out, you can proceed by choosing your workout. Regardless of which muscle group you want to build, the best way to get started is to do the workout without weights. This is called a “warm up set”. Let’s say that you’re planning to do the chest press to build your chest or squats to build your legs, remove all the weights and do 20 reps with the barbell alone. This not only will prepare your body for what’s coming, it also gives you the chance to practice your posture and motion with no resistance. When choosing your weights, remember not to make it too heavy. I remember being so sore after my first day that I had to take a week off! Take it from me, choose weights that you are comfortable with in the beginning and work your way up.
Finding a spotter
Once you have chosen your weight level, the next thing to do is to find yourself a good spotter. Not only will a good spotter help to push and motivate you, they will aid in your safety while performing those workouts. You may even learn a thing or two from them. If you’re working out at a gym, I recommend that you pair up with someone who is engaged in a similar workout. That way they’ll already be close by and won’t have to go far out of their way. Simply ask that person to spot you and offer to spot them in return. Most people will be happy to lend a hand. Remember not to choose weights that are too heavy. You should be able to perform 3 sets of 10 reps at a medium difficulty level.
Upping the weights
After doing a workout on a fixed weight level for a while, it will become easier. There will come a point when it might actually seem too easy. When you reach that point, it’ll be time to add more weights. Progression is what weight lifting and muscle building are all about. Choose a medium difficulty weight level and stick to it until you become strong enough to where you consider it an easy difficulty weight level. That’s when you up the weights to where you are back at medium difficulty. Do this over and over, slowly and steadily. Needless to say that the more that you increase the weights, the more you will increase in strength. Take your time with it and you will begin to notice your body taking shape.
When you start working out, you’ll find yourself getting hungrier that usual. The reason for this is because now that you are working out, you are burning more calories than when you weren’t working out – calories that you get from your meals. Therefore, the general rule of thumb is to eat more. Obviously, don’t force yourself to eat more than you feel a need to. The point is to keep your stomach satisfied. Make sure you are having solid meals and staying away from those empty calorie foods that don’t provide any nutritional benefits. Some examples of empty calorie foods are chips, fries, hamburgers, hot dogs and pastries. Your body will quickly burn through these meals leaving you feeling hungry in no time. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with eating a little fast food once in a while, so long as you don’t make a habit of it. You should generally be eating hearty, nutrition-rich foods. Make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet and drinking plenty of water. As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat”.
Logging your progress is a great way to stay on track. Pick up a small pad that you can carry with you. Jot down the date, the workout, the weights that you used and the number of reps and sets that you did at the end of each workout. That way, the next time you’re working out, you won’t have to wonder or guess where you left off. Not knowing where you left off will negatively impact your regimen; especially if you mistakenly do the wrong amount. I continuously made this mistake as a beginner. It’s no wonder I wasn’t getting results. Then I learned that the most effective way to workout and see consistent results is to put a program in place. Choose which days of the week you will workout and which exercises you will perform on those days. It is ideal to workout 3-4 times a week allowing for rest every other day to prevent burnout.
Remember, building muscle isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take a few months of dedication and hard work before you start to see substantial results. When you do begin seeing results, make sure you stick with it. What happens to many people is that when they begin seeing results, they get so excited that they stop working out. They feel as though they’ve reached their goal and therefore no longer need to hit the gym. The problem with this mentality is that it only lasts but so long. Within a few weeks your muscles will begin to shrink and if you slack long enough, you will be back to square one. I know that sometimes things happen that may forbid you from working out as much as you’d like. Trust me, I understand. If you’re faced with this situation- just remember that as long as you do something, even if it’s for half and hour a day, it’s always better than nothing at all. At least you have the fortitude and your determination remains intact. That way, you will never have to start over. Muscle building is all about commitment and persistence. All you need is the will. If you’ve read this far then you clearly have what it takes to get started. Once you implement these techniques and follow through with your program week by week, it will only be a matter of time before you begin seeing results.