Bodybuilding for Amateurs

Use training and diet to build a muscular, lean physique.
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To succeed in bodybuilding takes dedication, hard work and patience. Building muscle and burning fat to bodybuilding levels won't happen overnight, but with a little persistence, a structured training plan and strict diet, you can get there. When starting out in bodybuilding, don't get coaxed into following advanced training plans as these are for those with years of training. Instead, start with a basic bodybuilding routine for amateurs and make the most of the quick rate of gains that occur for new bodybuilders.

Training Split

    There are many ways you can split your muscles up during training sessions. Most professional bodybuilders follow a body-part split, in which they train one or two muscle groups in each workout, hitting each one once a week. A typical week may be chest and triceps on Monday, back and biceps on Wednesday, legs on Friday and shoulders and abs on Saturday. However, full-body sessions, in which you train your whole body three times per week, may be more suitable for beginners, says strength coach Marc Perry, author of "The Get Lean Guide."

Exercise Selection

    There are two main types of exercise -- compounds, which work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, and isolations, which focus on just one muscle group at a time. When it comes to building muscle and burning fat, compound exercises give more bang for your buck, notes Chad Waterbury, author of "Muscle Revolution." Compound exercises should form the majority of your routine, though isolations do have a place in bringing up lagging muscle groups.


    If you browse the routines in bodybuilding magazines, you'll see most workouts are extremely high volume, comprising eight to 12 exercises for multiple sets. This may be fine for the pros, but amateur bodybuilders don't need nearly this amount. Pick four or five exercise per session and do three to five sets of each. Keep the reps lower -- around six to eight per set -- for your compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses and rows. Go for 10 to 15 reps, however, with slightly lighter weights for isolations such as curls, lateral raises and calf raises.


    For muscles to grow, they need constant stimulation, meaning that you need to increase the intensity of your workouts by doing more sets, extra reps or adding weight. Aim to improve on each exercise every session. Nutrition is also vitally important. You need to eat more calories than you burn to build muscle. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that men and women looking to maintain weight need between 2,000 and 3,000 and 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day, respectively. Consume 500 calories above these guidelines to ensure a steady rate of muscle gain with little to no fat gain.

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