As the name suggests body building is all about making your body larger and more aesthetic – although you will also grow stronger as part of this process. If building strength is your main goal however you should consider checking out this beginner strength routine. The routine outlined in this article is one that I have used myself to gain muscle with success, and it is an excellent starting point for anybody who wants to improve their body. You will find that after a few months of training you will learn more about your body based on your results and at this point you can adjust the routine to fit your specific desires or goals.
The main aim of this training routine (or any bodybuilding routine) is to promote a hypertrophic response from your muscles – or to put it simply, the emphasis is on making your muscles as large as possible. The best hypertrophic response comes from high volume training. Lots of reps and lots of sets, 8-12 reps and 3-4 sets is considered optimal. This is in contrast to strength training which focuses on lower volume, with heavier weight.
With the aim of gaining muscle, there are many bodybuilding routines out there to choose from, this one in particular focuses on a 4 day split. You will train 4 days per week (ideally not 4 days in a row) and focus on a different area of your body each day – legs, chest, back, and shoulders. Exercises for arms are built into these days as they don’t require a full training session to achieve excellent results. For illustrative purposes the training days for this routine will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday however you can arrange this routine however you like.
For detailing the number of sets and reps I will use the notation of sets x reps – for example, 3×5 would indicate 3 sets each of 5 reps. Note that only “working” sets are listed here – you should do some warm up sets before your working sets for each exercise. 2 to 3 warm up sets with a weight significantly lighter than your working sets should be sufficient. Take 2-3 minute breaks between sets.
Monday – Legs
Some hobbyist bodybuilders (if you’re not a professional, you’re a hobbyist) choose to not train legs for the sole reason that even well trained legs don’t look that great, so people prefer to focus on the more attractive areas such as chest and arms. This is definitely a big mistake in my view for two main reasons. Firstly heavy sets of squats will increase your testosterone levels which means that you will gain more muscle not only in your legs but everywhere else and secondly because if you train your chest and arms but not your legs you will eventually end up with a very disproportional and unattractive body.
- Back squats. 3×5
- Front squats. 3×8-12
- Leg press. 3×8-12
- Calf raises. 4×12
Tuesday – Chest
Chest day is often the favourite of bodybuilders, not only because it focuses on what is considered to be one of the most attractive parts of the body but also because it’s damn fun. Tricep exercises are built into this day because they are already incorporated into most of the main chest movements – do them last.
- Bench press. 3×8-12
- Incline bench press (barbell or dumbbell). 3×8-12
- Dumbbell flies / pec deck. 3×8-12
- Two tricep exercises, for 3×8-12 each. Tricep pulldown/pushdown, skullcrushers, dips, or close grip bench press.
Thursday – Back
Just as your triceps are used in most chest exercises, your biceps are used in most back exercises and so they are built into this day.
- Barbell rows. 3×8-12
- Lat pulldown. 3×8-12 or chin ups 4 sets to failure.
- Cable rows. 3×8-12
- Two bicep exercises, for 3×8-12 each. Barbell curls, ez bar curls, hammer curls, dumbbell curls, cable curls.
Friday – Shoulders
Exercises to train your shoulders also use other similar muscle groups to those that are trained while doing chest exercises. For this reason you should always have at least two days between your chest and shoulder days.
- Barbell/dumbbell press. 3×8-12
- Lateral raises. 3×8-12
- Rear delt flies. 3×8-12
- One or two tricep exercises, 3×8-12. The choice of exercises is the same as those listed for chest day above. Try to do different exercises on each day.
As with any routine sticking to your diet is just as important as sticking to your routine to gain muscle. Check out this article entitled “A Muscle Building Diet” to learn more about the importance of diet and how much calories and protein you should be consuming based on your goals. If you’re new and wanting to learn how to gain muscle – stick to this routine and I guarantee that you will see results, and quickly.