Bodybuilding For Beginners | Diet & Training Guide | MYPROTEIN™ (2023)

By Myprotein Writer

Alex Simpson

Bodybuilders eat, sleep, and breathe bodybuilding 24 hours per day, and 365 days per year.

Bodybuilding is incredibly tough, there’s no denying that, but if done correctly, it can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of your entire life.

Here’s a beginner’s guide designed to help you begin the journey into your bodybuilding lifestyle.

Bodybuilding Training

Many people believe thetoughest part about bodybuilding is probably going to be the training, when in reality, training is arguably one of the easiest parts.

Bodybuilding For Beginners | Diet & Training Guide | MYPROTEIN™ (1)

If you want to build muscle, you are going to have to exercise and lift weights, there’s no denying that.

That means that you must commit yourself 100% to your training. Here’s a look at a few things to consider regarding your training:

Which program should you follow?

The great thing about bodybuilding is the fact that it is very difficult for your training to get stale, because there are so many different routines and training programs to follow!

5-day split

A very popular bodybuilding program to follow is a basic 5-day split, in which you train 5 days per week, training one body part on each day that you train.

(Video) The PERFECT Beginner Workout (Sets and Reps Included)

Full-body routine

For those of you who are struggling for time, a full-body routine is ideal, as this routine will allow you to train all major muscle groups during each workout.

Further types of training

There are GVT (German Volume Training) routines, there is pyramid training, there is Dante Trudel’s Dog Crapp training (yes, it really is called that), there are push/pull routines, and much more besides.

As a beginner, a full-body routine 3 – 4 times per week would be a great place to begin.

How often should you train?

In reality, that really depends on which training program you are following. If for example, you are following a 5-day split, you should lift weights for, yep, you guessed it, 5 days per week.

However, if you are following a full-body routine, ideally you should train 3 – 4 times per week.

? Basically, you need to ensure that each body part gets trained at least once per week, although the frequency of your training sessions will be determined via the routine you choose to follow.

What to do when you plateau?

When training, it’s important to know that you will hit a plateau at some point. It could be a mental plateau, or it could be physical.

Whether you can’t get motivated to train, or you can’t seem to make any progress in the gym, the thing to remember is that plateaus can be overcome.

? When you hit a metaphorical wall during training, you should mix things up and try something new. That means you should do different exercises, lift different weights, aim for different rep ranges, follow different training routines, and so on.

(Video) Eat Like Jeff Cavaliere (RIPPED YEAR ROUND!)

This not only helps to keep things fresh and enjoyable, it also provides a great way of shocking the muscles into new growth, leading to increased rates of muscle hypertrophy.

Should you have rest days?

Definitely! As a beginner, you may be keen to spend as many hours in the gym as human possible, but if you’re serious bulking up and building the physique of a Greek God, you must make sure you are getting enough rest.

We don’t build muscle in the gym, we actually do the opposite, as we are destroying muscle tissue when we lift weights. We grow when we rest, as that is when our muscles recover.

? Because of this, you need to ensure you have at least two full days off from training per week, plus you must make sure that you are getting plenty of sleep each night.

Bodybuilding Nutrition

If you’re serious about becoming a bodybuilder, your diet and nutrition has to be on point!

Bodybuilding For Beginners | Diet & Training Guide | MYPROTEIN™ (2)

Here are some fundamental things you should know about diet and nutrition:

How much protein do you need?

Bodybuilders need a lot of protein, as protein is vital for muscle growth and repair. Without protein, we cannot build or repair our muscles, which would be a huge problem for a wannabe bodybuilder.

The general rule of thumb is that you should aim for around 1.5g of protein, for every pound that you weigh. So, if you weighed 200 pounds, you would need 300g of protein per day.

?Each meal should consist of a protein source, and you should aim for around 25 – 40g of protein per serving. Get the majority of your proteins from clean whole food sources, and include protein supplements to help give you that edge.

Do you need supplements?

Supplements, alongside a well-rounded diet would help significantly on your journey to living a bodybuilding lifestyle.Bodybuilding For Beginners | Diet & Training Guide | MYPROTEIN™ (3)

(Video) The PERFECT Total Body Workout (Sets and Reps Included)

Remember: You will really benefit from supplementation if your diet and training are both on track.

As a beginner, some great supplements to help get you started could be:

? Multi-vitamins

Squeezes in a ton of vitamins and minerals for general body and immune system functioning.

? Omega 3 supplements

Helps to increasing your body’s ability to use its own fat stores as energy, amongst other benefits.

? Creatine

Helps those looking to get bigger, stronger and perform better.

? Whey protein

Convenient protein powder to supplement muscle building.


(Video) TOP 3 Supplements That Help Build Muscle FASTER (YOU NEED THESE!)

Branched Chain Amino Acids, perfect formuscle repair, leading tomoremuscle growth.

? Casein proteinprotein powder suitable before bed for overnight muscle recovery.

Read more on supplements for beginners

How often should you eat & what?

Ideally you will need to ensure that you are eating every 3 hours or so, as that is how you will keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders, plus it is how you are going to feed your muscles and keep yourself in a constant anabolic (muscle-building) state.

Bodybuilding For Beginners | Diet & Training Guide | MYPROTEIN™ (4)

?You should aim to eat small and balanced meals every 3 hours or so, although you can include 1 or 2 protein shakes as a meal, as they are great ways of helping you to hit your daily macros.

As a beginner, don’t get too fancy with your diet, so stick with a clean protein source, a complex carbohydrate source, healthy fats, and a serving of fresh veggies with each meal, to help provide you with added nutrients.

Read our Beginners shopping list guide

Will missing meals/ having cheat meals ruin your gains?

No, and no. A lot of bodybuilders drive themselves crazy with their diets, as they obsess over eating every three hours on the dot, and avoid unhealthy junk foods at all costs.

Whilst meal-timing and frequency is important, if you do miss a meal, you aren’t suddenly going to shrink down and lose all of your gains, just like you aren’t suddenly going to gain 20 pounds of fat if you eat a large stuffed crust double cheese pizza for your dinner.

We all have slip-ups from time to time, but if you do miss a meal, or if you are desperately craving a cheat meal, don’t sweat it, just make sure you get right back on track the next day.

(Video) #1 Reason Why You're NOT Building Muscle

?Besides which, if you do miss a meal, a protein bar or shake, will still help to minimise the damage – hence the convenience of them!

Take Home Message

If you’re considering stepping up your training and want to live the bodybuilding lifestyle, take some of the above notes and continue further research on different types of training styles and all things nutrition – here on The Zone!

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.


How often should a beginner bodybuilder train? ›

Between two and three sessions per week is a good ballpark for bodybuilding beginners.

How long are you a beginner in bodybuilding? ›

The classification goes something like this: Beginner lifter: someone who's been lifting for less than six months. Intermediate lifter: someone who's been lifting for six months up to around two years. Advanced lifter: someone who's been lifting for more than two years.

How many days a week should a bodybuilder train? ›

Strength training

You need to be hitting the weights at least three days per week. The research says that at the very least, training a minimum of two days per week is needed to maximize muscle growth.

What foods do bodybuilders eat? ›

Foods to Focus On

Meats, poultry, and fish: Sirloin steak, ground beef, pork tenderloin, venison, chicken breast, salmon, tilapia, and cod. Dairy: Yogurt, cottage cheese, low fat milk, and cheese. Grains: Bread, cereal, crackers, oatmeal, quinoa, popcorn, and rice.

Which muscle should I build first? ›

Work the large muscles first using multi-joint exercises, followed by the smaller muscles using single-joint exercises. Since your small muscles often act as stabilizers for the large muscles, it only makes sense to work the large muscles to fatigue first.

How many hours do bodybuilders sleep? ›

Bodybuilders and athletes in general usually prioritize their sleep in order to get 7–9h daily. It highly depends on the person, but 7–9h of daily sleep have been proved to optimize muscle building.

Can I start bodybuilding at 40? ›

With the right type of training, you can still build muscle and get strong well into your forties, fifties, and beyond. You can start by trying out a new routine, like the Men's Heath MA40 program.

How often do bodybuilders eat? ›

Bodybuilders spend hours at the gym building large amounts of muscle mass, and they support that with regular feedings—this usually means six meal times a day.

What do beginner gains look like? ›

What Are Newbie Gains? Newbie gains refers to the rapid increase in muscle and strength that often occurs when people with little to no previous weightlifting experience start training intensively. Typically, these people also gain very little fat or even lose fat while gaining a considerable amount of muscle.

How many times a day do bodybuilders workout? ›

Most professional bodybuilders workout 7 days a week. They target at least one muscle group every single day and do cardio every other day (on average). Each workout lasts from 60 mins to 4 hours! That's right.

What's a good beginner workout routine? ›

Sample Beginner Total Body Bodyweight Workout
  • 25 jumping jacks.
  • 15 bodyweight squats.
  • 20-30 second plank.
  • Walking lunges — 10 per side.
  • 10 push-ups (on knees if you need to)
  • 30 seconds running in place with high knees.
  • 15 glute bridges.
  • 30 seconds Russian twist.
27 Dec 2021

Do muscles grow on rest days? ›

Downtime between workouts (whether you're lifting, doing cardio or training for a sport) is when our bodies have a chance to actually build muscle. Strenuous workouts cause muscle breakdown, while rest allows our bodies to build it back up.

Do bodybuilders do cardio? ›

Bodybuilders do cardio ranging from supersetting their exercises within their workout to 30-minute power walks post workout. Overall, bodybuilders stay away from cardio that is high-intensity, which would take away from their weight training efforts.

What time do bodybuilders workout? ›

Testosterone levels peak in the morning, which means it is best to workout in the morning for both fat loss and muscle building.

What kills muscle gains? ›

Post Workout Habits That Are Killing Your Gains
  • Not Stretching or Cooling Down. This one tops the list because the majority of us simply NEVER do it. ...
  • You Add Peanut Butter in Your Post Workout Shake. ...
  • You Don't Eat Carbs Post Workout. ...
  • You Eat Like a Stray Dog After Training.

What not to eat when you are building muscle? ›

5 foods to avoid when building muscle
  • 1) Alcohol. ...
  • 2) Sugary drinks and foods. ...
  • 3) Refined carbohydrates. ...
  • 4) Fried foods. ...
  • 5) Branched-chain amino acid supplements. ...
  • 1) Dairy products. ...
  • 2) Lean protein. ...
  • 3) Vegetables of all kinds.
13 Sept 2022

What foods do bodybuilders avoid? ›

  • Are you new to fitness and wish to build muscles like Jeff Seid or Steve Cook? Then this article is a must-read for you. ...
  • Flax seeds. ...
  • Sugar. ...
  • Unhealthy Carbohydrates. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Fried food items. ...
  • Fast food. ...
  • Spicy food.
24 Sept 2020

Which muscle is hardest to build? ›

  • Obliques. Pretty much everyone does the standard ab crunches, but crunches aren't going to develop your obliques. ...
  • Calves. ...
  • Forearms. ...
  • Triceps. ...
  • Lower stomach.

Which body muscle grows fastest? ›

The muscles you train. But if you train evenly I'd say glutes, lats and quads due to them being the largest. Is there no one group of muscles that always grows the fastest? Speaking very generally, the largest muscle groups in the body tend to respond the quickest to training in terms of their development.

Which muscles not to train together? ›

A typical two-day split, for example, works your lower body one day and upper body the next day. Or you can work your pushing muscles — chest, shoulders and triceps — one day, then your pulling muscles — back and biceps — the other day.

What stage of sleep do you build muscle? ›

Sleep helps to release growth hormones during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which helps with muscle repair.

How much protein do I need to build muscle a day? ›

To increase muscle mass in combination with physical activity, it is recommended that a person that lifts weights regularly or is training for a running or cycling event eat a range of 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or 0.5 to 0.8 grams per pound of body weight.

Do naps help muscle growth? ›

Taking a nap after exercise can support muscle recovery. When you sleep, your pituitary gland releases growth hormone. Your muscles need this hormone to repair and build tissue. This is essential for muscle growth, athletic performance, and reaping the benefits of physical activity.

At what age does muscle growth stop? ›

Typically, muscle mass and strength increase steadily from birth and reach their peak at around 30 to 35 years of age. After that, muscle power and performance decline slowly and linearly at first, and then faster after age 65 for women and 70 for men.

What age stop lifting weights? ›

If you are currently in your 50s or 60s and have been lifting weights for many years, then it is likely that you will be able to continue doing so for many years to come. However, if you are in your 70s or older or have not been lifting weights for very long, you may need to start considering stopping.

Is 43 too old to build muscle? ›

You ask yourself, "Is it possible for me to regain the body I once had and put on some muscle at my age?" The simple answer is yes! You can put on muscle after 40, but you will have to take a completely different approach than when you weight trained and dieted as a youth.

Why do bodybuilders eat rice? ›

Rich in carbs, it helps replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores, leading to faster recovery. For many bodybuilders, rice is their primary carb source; they eat in the morning, before and after training, and even before bedtime when bulking up. This grain isn't just versatile but nutritious too.

How many protein shakes a day? ›

If you're of average build and go to the gym regularly, two protein shakes a day is enough to maintain your body mass. But if you're seriously involved in athletic sports, fitness practices and strength exercises, you may need to drink three to four protein shakes daily to sustain your physique and performance.

How long do beginner gains take? ›

Generally speaking, newbie gains can last for the first six months to a year and if done properly, can result in you reaping the highest gains at any point throughout the course of your training.

How fast should I see gains? ›

According to the above-mentioned Japanese study, noticeable gains in muscle mass are seen in about three months of consistent strength training. Some research subjects gained noticeable muscle mass in less than three months, while for other participants, it took a little longer. Three months was the average.

Can you see gains in 2 weeks? ›

If you maximize your growth potential, you can see a difference in muscle within 2 weeks. Two weeks is not a lot of time to add significant muscle to your frame naturally but a difference can be seen with a strict diet and some explosive exercises.

Which muscle I can train everyday? ›

Abs are probably the most obvious entry on this list. Chances are you're already training your abs every day. If you train your abdominal muscles every day, you should target them by dividing them into sections like upper, lower, middle abs and obliques.

Is it OK to train the same muscle everyday? ›

In general, you should not train the same muscle groups every day. Doing so can result in unnecessary fatigue, muscle soreness, and muscular strain.

How many hours did Arnold Schwarzenegger train a day? ›

Arnold Schwarzenegger, 74, works out every day for up to 1.5 hours, cycling and lifting weights. As a professional bodybuilder, he used to work out for five hours a day, he told Insider.

Should you eat before or after a workout? ›

Eat after you exercise

To help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores, eat a meal that contains both carbohydrates and protein within two hours of your exercise session if possible. Consider a snack if your meal is more than two hours away. Good post-workout food choices include: Yogurt and fruit.

How many days a week should I train as a beginner? ›

How much should a beginner workout? As a beginner, you only want to begin working out 1-3 days a week. It is important to provide a chance for your body to adapt and adjust to the new routine. Focus on full-body strength training that starts slow and ramps up over time.

How many times a day should a beginner workout? ›

“The current recommendation is 2-3 days per week, for at least 30 minutes per day. But for someone who is just starting out, we recommend that they start at 1-2 days per week and ramp it up from there.”

How many exercises should I do per muscle group? ›

Ideally, you would train 4-8 different exercises per muscle group in a workout program, with each exercise delivery 2-5 total sets. This would deliver approximately 10-25 total work sets on a weekly basis to a given muscle group and offer significant volume and overload to promote muscle growth.

Should I take protein powder on rest days? ›

In short, yes. Your muscles need protein even on the days you're not spending time in the gym. Your muscles and other tissues are actively recovering on rest days, and recovery can take up to 24-48 hours. Therefore, it's not likely that your protein needs will decrease on rest days.

Do bodybuilders eat fruit? ›

Fruits are natural bodybuilding foods—that's what's trending. Fruits are the best bodybuilding foods, or you can say “Superfoods” in our daily diet. And it's time to jump on the bandwagon for a fruitful year ahead! They are delicious, healthy, and help build muscle.

Do bodybuilders drink coffee? ›

Coffee is low in calories. Each cup has about 10 calories and is loaded with nutrients that support your training goals. That means coffee-loving bodybuilders can drink as much coffee as they want.

Do bodybuilders drink milk? ›

Milk is an excellent addition for bodybuilding routines. It contains high quality and easily absorbable protein, carbohydrates, and micronutrients (calcium, phosphorus, and B vitamins) which are made for muscle building.

How many rest days do bodybuilders take? ›

It is generally recommended that bodybuilders get 1-2 days of rest per week, with a whole week of rest every three months. You can split train and focus on different muscle groups each day, so while you're working on your shoulders, your legs get a rest and can recover adequately.

Should I do cardio or weights first? ›

If your primary goal is to increase your aerobic endurance or lose body fat, then you should perform cardio first. If your primary goal is to increase muscular strength, then do strength training first.

Should I lift weights first thing in the morning? ›

Morning Exercise

Make sure you warm up before doing anything strenuous, especially in the morning. Take it easy on your back for a few hours after rising. Don't hop out of bed and try for a deadlift personal best. Weight training in the morning on an empty stomach is not a good idea because blood glucose can be low.

Should beginners start with strength or hypertrophy? ›

If you are a beginner, you should always train for hypertrophy first. By using the hypertrophy rep range in your early career, you will be building muscle AND gaining strength. Take your time to develop some muscle mass, learn the proper technique, and gain confidence under the bar.

What type of training is best for beginners? ›

Then, prioritize five key strength training exercises for beginners.
  • Squats. Our experts agree: Squats are the best strength training exercises for beginners in terms of bang for your buck. ...
  • Push-ups. Luckily, there are a million push-up variations to meet any beginner at their comfort level. ...
  • Plank. ...
  • Deadlifts. ...
  • Rows.

Should I train full body as a beginner? ›

Full-body training is the best way to develop motor control. It allows beginners to train the same movement patterns multiple times a week, exposing them to a lot of time under tension. Beginners can train movement patterns with high frequency because they will recover quickly from the session.

Should I increase reps or weight first? ›

In general, for a pure strength-building goal, you'll want to reach five to eight reps before you increase your weight. For hypertrophy (building muscle size) aim for 12 to 15 reps.

Does weight or reps go first? ›

As far as the proper order on lifts goes, it depends on your goal. If you want to increase strength or size, do your heaviest weight and lower reps after warming up, when you have the most energy. If you want to build endurance, start with low weights and high reps.

Should beginners do high reps? ›

In general, yes. Absolute beginners would begin by building up muscular endurance which involves a higher rep range and lighter weights. If you are unsure or not able to work with a professional then bias towards bodyweight training such as pullups, pushups, squats, lunges, etc....for several weeks to build a base.

What age is best to start bodybuilding? ›

Start young

Late teens and early twenties are the perfect age to start bodybuilding. Puberty and bodybuilding are closely related because this is the fastest time for muscle growth. Between, 17-25, you will experience testosterone driven growth burst in your muscles.

Who builds muscle fast? ›

How to Build Muscle (Fast)
  1. Increase Your Training Volume. ...
  2. Focus on the Eccentric Phase. ...
  3. Decrease Between-Set Rest Intervals. ...
  4. To Grow Muscle, Eat More Protein. ...
  5. Focus on Calorie Surpluses, Not Deficits. ...
  6. Snack on Casein Before Bed. ...
  7. Get More Sleep. ...
  8. Try Supplementing With Creatine ...
23 Sept 2019

Do beginners grow muscles faster? ›

Newbie Gains Are Greater and Come on Sooner

Period. Moreover, the rate at which newbies make gains is greater than the rate at which non-newbies make gains. This comes down to muscle protein synthesis and how it gets activated to a greater degree for beginners.

Which is the easiest muscle to train? ›

Triceps are on this list for the same reason biceps are on this list. They are easy to train and often work in upper body exercises such as the bench press, push-up, and shoulder press. They are not large muscles, and you don't need to use heavy weights.

How many times a week should a beginner train? ›

“Start low and go slow,” Dr. Higgins said. “The current recommendation is 2-3 days per week, for at least 30 minutes per day. But for someone who is just starting out, we recommend that they start at 1-2 days per week and ramp it up from there.”

What is a good workout schedule? ›

If you want to work out five days per week and are working on both strength and cardiovascular fitness, try three days of strength training, two days of cardio, and two days of active rest. If you want to work out four days a week, think about your goals: If you want to add muscle, cut a cardio day.

What is a perfect workout routine? ›

150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week (for example, 30 minutes on each of five days) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (or an equiva- lent mix of the two). two or more strength training sessions per week, with at least 48 hours in between to allow muscles. to recover.

How do beginners get toned? ›

Weight-bearing exercises are the key to gaining strong, toned muscles, but you don't have to lift a huge barbell to see benefits. Start with simple body weight exercises such as pushups, lunges and squats. Kettlebell swings are also good choices for beginners if you stick to relatively light weights.


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