Muscle building for beginners – 20 tips from the pros

You are motivated! You want the muscles! But you don’t know where to start? Good! Your motivation is the first and most important key that will open all other doors for you as a bodybuilding beginner. Yes, bodybuilding can hardly be rivaled by any other sport in terms of the complexity of combining all its manifestations. Which training form is the right one? Does the order of my exercises matter? How I have to feed? What supplements should I use? And the tips I have received so far are correct? These 20 tips aim to make muscle building easier for beginners. They’re categorized into "basic tips," "training tips" and "nutrition tips" for easy reference, but they’re all (almost) equally important because: Muscle building is more than the sum of its parts!

Basic tips

Training tips

Nutrition tips

Muscle building for beginners - 20 tips from the pros

Basic tips

An experienced training partner is worth its weight in gold

With a training partner, muscle building for beginners is twice as effective. Why this is so is obvious, because this can not only demonstrate exercises and inform about one or another trick in training and nutrition, but also acts as a motivator. A good training partner pushes you to peak performance and motivates even tired athletes to make the trip to the gym instead of staying on the couch.

Then there’s the training partner’s function as a spotter, which makes it possible for beginners to safely push their limits even on complex basic exercises like squats, bench presses or the military press. Until you find one, video tutorials can be helpful.

Put great emphasis on recovery

Muscles do not grow during training, but during the rest periods between workouts. If you want to build muscle, you should give your muscles a good 48 to 72 hours to recover after each training session before you load the same muscle group again with a training stimulus. Regular and sufficient sleep is also important for optimal regeneration.

Between 6 and 9 hours per night is considered ideal, depending on the individual. Sleep duration is particularly important because the regeneration of body and mind takes place mainly in the deep sleep phase. Conversely, permanent lack of sleep can lead to a reduction in the release of growth hormone. Other negative consequences of too little sleep: testosterone production decreases, fat burning becomes worse, cravings for junk food increase. So: Good night!

Increase regularly

What is the point of strength training if the muscles are not regularly presented with new challenges?? Right, nothing at all. Therefore it is especially important to follow the principle of progressive overload. This basically says that an athlete, whether beginner or advanced, should increase at least a little bit in every training session.

It does not always have to be a massive increase in training weight, because that is not necessarily realistic in such a short time. Simply squeezing one more repetition out of the muscles per set or even per exercise is enough to increase the total load moved. By the way, an increase in weight is always in order when the current training weight can still be moved cleanly 12 times in the last set.

Not paying attention to others

Especially in the gym, many beginners tend to orient themselves too much on the other athletes, who are usually much more experienced. As a result, you want to lift heavy weights as fast as possible and overestimate yourself. Others, on the other hand, copy unclean techniques and consider them to be correct, because the athlete from whom they copied the technique has good form after all. However, exactly the opposite is true for muscle building for beginners.

Everyone should focus on themselves first and work their way forward in continuous steps according to their own plan. Silly sayings about why you use a light weight for exercise X or Y should be ignored, as should other negative remarks. However, if you follow through with your training with discipline and the support of an experienced training partner, you will celebrate success in any case.

Do not constantly change the training plan

Yes, the world of bodybuilding is new and muscle building for beginners is an initially exciting undertaking. It is therefore not uncommon to frequently switch between different training systems and plans, just to have tried it once or to force supposedly missing successes. This is also counterproductive, as every training system needs at least four to six weeks before success is clearly visible. It is therefore important, especially in the beginning, to stick to a single system for a few months. For example, a classic full-body workout with free weights is recommended, which is approx. three times a week. After four to six months, you can finally switch to a split system.

Keep it smart and simple

Bodybuilding is an extremely multifaceted sport that features a wide variety of approaches, nutrition strategies, and workout systems that can be combined to make matters worse. The confusion becomes perfect when no less complex nutrition plans and exotic training strategies also come into play.

One of the most important tips for beginners is therefore: Be smart and keep the training and diet as simple as possible at first. This makes it much easier to persevere and also creates a valuable experience base that can be used for later specializations and experiments. However, it can take 6-12 months before such experiments are carried out.

Muscle building for beginners - 20 tips from the pros

Training tips

Train as early as possible

Those who train early in the day have the advantage that the metabolic activity of the organism remains increased throughout the day. This means that the nutrients that are absorbed during the day reach the muscle cells as quickly as continuously, where they can be processed much more effectively than during the evening and night hours. The optimized protein intake and absorption also leads to an increased build-up of lean body mass, i.e. musculature.

As a beginner you will be able to make good progress with your training at any time of the day, although an early training time is a little extra. As your training becomes more advanced, the timing of training becomes more important to avoid stagnation or to take full advantage of a maximal strength cycle. So if you can work out in the morning or mid-morning, you should definitely take advantage of this, because what better start to the day could there be than exercise?

Do not stretch either before or after training

One of the biggest mistakes should be avoided right before the training, because it costs performance and thus also a considerable part of the maximum possible growth stimulus that can be set during training. Although light stretching before endurance training has its justification, it should be avoided both immediately before strength training and immediately afterwards. Stretching before training leads to a reduction of tension in the muscles, so that especially the maximum mobilizable force suffers.

Caution: stretching is not the same as targeted stretching! Stretching involves holding the tension for several seconds, stretching corresponds to a flowing movement into the stretch and out again. Stretching also helps you to prevent injuries. Hard plastic rollers, which can be used to massage tense muscle groups, such as Foam Rolling, also promote regeneration.

First train the big muscles, then the small ones

The recommendation to train large muscles or muscle groups such as the back or chest before smaller muscles such as the biceps or triceps is based on the avoidance of muscular pre-fatigue. If the biceps are trained with various curls in front of the back, this very small muscle is already exhausted. This is counterproductive for muscle building because the biceps is also needed as an auxiliary muscle during back training. However, if the biceps are now pre-fatigued, it is likely that they will fatigue well before the back and therefore ideal growth stimuli for the back muscles cannot be provided.

Incorporate basic exercises into your workout

This tip follows on seamlessly from the previous tip, as performing basic exercises builds on the general benefits of training with free weights. Basic exercises are characterized by their complexity, which is based on the fact that at least two joints and several muscle groups are involved in such a movement sequence.

Basic exercises not only increase coordination skills and functional strength, but also provide a significantly higher release of growth hormones that stimulate muscle growth by involving a large proportion of the skeletal muscles. In addition, basic exercises can save a lot of time, as they can easily replace several isolation exercises. This also makes it easy to keep an optimal training time of 45-60 minutes.

Absolutely train the legs

Leg training also plays a central role in muscle building for beginners, even if it is extremely strenuous and obviously less fun than bench press Mondays or arm training. There are three reasons for this recommendation. First, the purely optical aspect, because how does it look on the beach, if the muscular upper body stands on two thin stilts?

The second point concerns the stability that well-trained legs give to the body. Since any chain is only as strong as its weakest link, it is not uncommon for a strength and stability deficit in the legs to limit performance in other exercises performed in a standing position.

The third reason for leg training is again based on the release of growth hormones. Since the legs are the largest contiguous muscle group, the release of testosterone and HGH is naturally particularly large – a fairly small effect in the big picture, but a welcome one. The positive effect is not limited to the legs, but extends to the entire body.

Short but intensive training

A lot does not always help. This also applies to muscle building for beginners, because even if countless athletes spend several hours in the gym, this does not mean that this is the right strategy. In fact, the opposite is true, because as the duration of training increases, the body releases larger amounts of the stress hormone cortisol, which has a strong catabolic effect and thus reduces the positive effects of the anabolic hormones (testosterone and HGH) that are also released during training. It is better to train briefly but very intensively and with only a few set breaks in order to take full advantage of the demonstrably higher muscle-building effect. 45-60 minutes for a complete workout is ideal.

Exploit the eccentric movement phase

If you only concentrate on the concentric movement phase during training, i.e. on lifting a weight, and then more or less let it fall, you are giving away considerable growth potential. This is due to the fact that a good part of the musculature is composed of muscle fibers that respond very well to eccentric loads, such as those that occur when releasing a weight. In order to take advantage of this additional growth stimulus, the eccentric movement phase should be performed particularly slowly. Ideal are approx. 2-3 seconds for the release of the weight.

Training with free weights

Of course, it is very attractive for many beginners to train on machines, because the exercises are guided very precisely by the machines and the potential for errors is accordingly low. However, beginners should do exactly the opposite and at least predominantly train with free weights, i.e. with dumbbells and barbells. Due to the freedom of movement and the lack of guidance, there is no extensive isolation of certain muscles, so that smaller auxiliary muscles are also effectively trained.

This is especially important for muscle building for beginners, because a high degree of basic stability and functional strength is achieved right from the start through the improved interaction of the muscles (intermuscular coordination). In combination with the increased range of motion for each individual movement, this results in a reduction in the risk of injury and a stronger growth stimulus. The decisive factor is the conscious and controlled execution of the movement. Improper or wrong movement patterns can lead to injuries in the long run. Another reason why tip 1 is so important.

Train with heavy weights

Often you see beginners in the gym handling light weights, who could actually do much more and then wonder why it does not really want to progress with muscle building. In order to provide optimal stimuli for muscle development, training should therefore always be as heavy as possible. Weights that can be moved cleanly in the hypertrophy range are ideal – i.e., at least six times, but no more than twelve times. Another advantage of training with heavy weights is that the testosterone release is significantly higher than when training with light weights. This in turn is conducive to muscle building.

Use intensity techniques

To get the last bit of performance out of the muscles, even beginners can and should use simple intensity techniques. These are usually used in the last set, which is performed for a specific muscle group, and generate a stronger growth stimulus through the additional tension. Intensity techniques that can be easily and safely implemented even by beginners are drop sets, super sets and forced repetitions. With this tip we move already toward advanced knowledge, try first to take the upper tactics tips to heart.

Nutrition tips

High protein diet

The basis for muscle building in beginners is a protein-rich diet, because without the cell building material, the best training is useless, since the organism is not able to build new tissue. As a rule of thumb, 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is sufficient to achieve very good results. In addition to the total quantity, the quality of the protein, the so-called biological value, is also important. The higher this is, the better the organism can convert the dietary protein into the body’s own protein structures.

In addition to Whey Protein, Casein and various multi-component proteins, fish, lean meat, seafood, eggs and dairy products are considered to be particularly high quality. Plant sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu and soy are also not to be scoffed at in this regard. All in all, protein consumption should not be one-sided, but should be composed of a wide variety of sources in order to ensure the intake of the broadest possible spectrum of amino acids and also to benefit from the various micronutrients contained therein. A balanced diet is the key and will give you the best results.

Eat more

The main reason why muscle building is often so difficult for beginners is simply too little nutrient intake. Especially ectomorphic body types, who generally have a hard time gaining weight due to their wasteful metabolism, or people who were not used to eating a lot until now, are affected by it. Instead of haphazardly eating fast food and ice cream, it makes much more sense to keep a food diary with the help of a calorie counter app.

This is mainly used to monitor the calorie surplus, because without a calorie surplus it will not be possible to build muscle. Those who have problems getting used to the large amounts of food can turn to foods with a high energy density. These include, for example, nuts or cheese. Alternatively, you can use protein shakes or weight gainers, which serve as rich snacks between meals.

Keep the body fat percentage low

If you want to achieve a top figure and keep it permanently, you should do one thing above all – keep the body fat percentage low. Of course, this is especially true for the build-up phase, because every kilogram of carelessly built-up fat mass only prolongs the subsequent diet unnecessarily and thus carries an increased risk of losing the painstakingly built-up muscles again.

Therefore, even in the mass phase, it is appropriate to record eating habits with the help of a calorie tracking app and not let the daily energy surplus rise above 500 kilocalories. Additional cardio sessions also help to counteract fat gain, so that an extremely hard diet is no longer necessary in spring to get into top shape.

Use only the best supplements

Nutritional supplements, the so-called supplements, also play a weighty role in muscle building for beginners. In view of the large selection, however, beginners should initially limit themselves to the absolute basic products, since these are completely sufficient at the beginning and optimally support muscle building and regeneration.

This category includes, for example, vitamin supplements, maltodextrin, dextrose and the whole range of protein powders. However, the old rule "he who buys cheap buys twice" also applies here, because cheap products often don’t contain the highest-quality nutrients or tend to be in low doses. It is therefore important to focus exclusively on the best quality products. And you’ll get it here, on esn.com.

That was a lot of information? You do not yet discover yourself 100 percent in these tips? Do not let this discourage you! No one has ever found it easy to get started in bodybuilding. Set yourself achievable goals, such as the gradual adjustment of your diet or the development of a workout routine, talk to the people in the studio and heed these tips, then the successes will come gradually. Also note: This list covers many aspects, but not all of them! What exercises you should know, mental aspects like discipline, equipment. important is: always stay patient! And: Always keep your big goal in mind. It pays off!

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