Did you know that you are (almost) a bodybuilder even though you are a beginner? That’s right. You don’t have to be a massively muscled up person before you can be considered a bodybuilder. People won’t label you one and you don’t want to list that as your occupation. But, in order to gain some momentum and succeed, that’s exactly how you have to think of yourself. You are in fact building your body. Think of yourself as a beginning bodybuilder.
You need a foundation. Bodybuilders have always built a foundation. You may be like me and seemingly be building your foundation for years. That is ok. Keep progressing and keep moving forward. Don’t get caught up with the hype of a product you see on TV or a trendy workout fad. As always, I’m not saying they don’t work, but you don’t need them as you begin your fitness and bodybuilding journey. Get into the gym and do all the basics that you can do; bench press, shoulder press, squats, leg press, dumbbell curls, bent over row for your back muscles, tricep kickback, and tricep press down, and any machine that is available to mimic these same movements. At this point, you don’t need to get fancy. I’ve seen more than a few personal trainers take a beginner who is 100% untrained and have them attempt moderately difficult exercises and movements. This is a disservice to their client. No foundation has been built and no progression has been followed that led them to be ready for the more difficult movements. Basic exercised worked 50 years ago and they will still work today. Have you seen all the crazy, intricate and advanced abdominal exercises that people are doing? You don’t need them, just do basic situps and leg raises for now. As you get more comfortable, you can add some of those in. Never abandon the basics.
You need to work on your nutrition. So many diets and eating plans out there. So confusing at times. Your nutritional foundation should not necessarily be a certain eating plan, but more a plan to eat real food. You don’t need to order any of those prepackaged foods that you see advertised on TV. They claim to be full of nutrients and perfectly healthy for you. They aren’t nearly as healthy as making your own food using whole foods. Lean cuts of meat, such as chicken on the bone roasted or grilled. Much better than sliced deli meat. Slow cooked pork roast with potatoes and carrots. More healthy than a canned or frozen counterpart. Do you like peanut or almond butter? Hummus? These can be easily made at home in a blender so you know what goes into them. Do you like cucumbers in vinegar with a little sea salt? It can be prepared in 5 minutes, travels well and you get a dose of raw vegetables. Do you like fast food? The best fast food is an apple or some raw nuts. It doesn’t get any faster than that. Fast and whole make it easy on you. For every food or meal, there is a whole food (fairly easy to prepare) substitute. You must always be prepared with your food as a bodybuilder. Be ready to always have food to take with you when you are at work or on the go.
You need to develop the mindset that this is a journey and not a trip. A journey that takes many, many years instead of a trip that takes 6 weeks. All the programs that are designed for 6 weeks or 12 weeks can put you in the mindset that once that time is up, you’re done. There are many great programs out there that are 6 and 12 weeks long. They are, however, usually designed to be repeated. I recommend programs that have a time frame. My point is, don’t let those small amounts of time lock into your mind and take you on a “trip.” The journey is what you want so after your 6-week program is up, keep moving forward with another round or another program, etc. Never get locked into a program’s time frame as your final time frame.
You need to realize that it’s ok that life gets in the way. I’ve known a few people with the generality – they’ve been on their diet for 3 weeks and just ate a whole pizza and now it’s all over and the previous three weeks were wasted. That is not true and you have to form your thoughts to just move on after eating pizza, cheeseburgers or cake. Form your thoughts to be disciplined so you follow your plan very closely, but that you have to live also. If you want a piece of cake, eat a piece of cake. Form your thoughts to get back to clean eating after you eat the cake. Form your thoughts to look long term. Life will always get in the way, but it mostly stays out of your way if you have the right map in your mind. You might get busy with life and not go to the gym for a week. No worries, get back the very next day you are able and keep working on your mind have a long-term outlook and that a few small setbacks won’t matter. In fact, small setbacks can make you more determined. You missed workouts or ate cake, now you’re mad and are more focused on getting a streak going.
You need to get on a streak and the streak will become a powerful driving force. I know this first hand about streaks and the power they have. At the beginning of 2017, I was in a “life is getting in the way” mode. From Jan 1st to Aug. 27th, I went to the gym 26 total times. From Aug 28th thru Dec. 22nd, went to the gym 84 times. I went every morning at 5:30, 5 days per week. After just 2 weeks of not missing really motivated me to keep going. It didn’t matter how tired I was, I went. If I had a headache, I still went. There were a few mornings where I didn’t really feel like going, but that feeling didn’t last long because I was motivated. The more I went the more I did not want to miss. Every weekday morning without fail. The streak and not missing just kept me going. However, it wasn’t hard to do. I enjoy going to the gym and I enjoy the process no matter how slow it seems to go sometimes. I’ve been down the road before where you have a good streak going and then you miss. It feels horrible. You feel light you’ve wasted an opportunity. No problem, get back on a streak and keep moving forward.
I realize this isn’t a ‘How to Become a Bodybuilder’ article as it relates to sets, reps, nutrient ratios, and timing. However, I believe that these are some points that will help get your foundation started. This is a neverending journey if you want it to be. Along with that journey, you’ll start to learn the weights, sets, reps, and how much protein to eat per day.
Good luck moving forward. As a beginner, there is an adjustment period, but it doesn’t have to be a long one. In fact, the shorter the better. Just show up every day and do your best. You are a bodybuilder.
Take a look at this great program to help get you started.