Best Beginning Bodybuilding Workout Plan with a Complete Guide

beginner bodybuilding workout plan

Hello guys, in today’s articles we’re gonna talk about the beginning bodybuilding workout plan for beginners. This is for you! If you’re starting interested in strength training, you want to build some muscle and you want to make sure you’re doing in the right way that actually sketchy results.

But it’s not necessarily overtaxing your body. Because of the fact, the matter is the way you train at the beginning of your muscle building and strength training journey is different than when you train in an intermediate phase and advanced phase.

So, in today’s article, we will break down the three most important things and what you need to know at the beginning of bodybuilding workouts. We’re gonna talk about the actual training split, how many days per week you should be working out the kind of exercises. We’re gonna touch on nutrition, sleep, and recovery, and we’re gonna talk about supplements. Let’s dive in right now and talk about training!

1. Beginner’s Bodybuilding Workout Plan.

When you’re building muscle and you’re in a beginner phase, you do not need to work out every single day. You don’t need to workout that often. In fact, it’s optimal because your body needs to get good at recovering from workouts. I’d say do strength training three times per week and remember, muscles grow outside of the gym. They don’t grow when you workout!

Working out is the stimulus to get your body increasing protein synthesis. So, I recommend this training split when you’re a beginner something like a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday where you have at least one day often between sessions.

What’s the Best Beginning Bodybuilding Exercise Plan for Beginners?

I recommend you train your full body every single time. These old school full body workout routines three times a week is amazing for beginners, for a couple of reasons. One, yes we want to build muscle. But two, you also have to get a lot of practice in the main lifts because you have just started your journey.

It’s just as important for you to get good at squats, in pull-ups and bench presses, and shoulder presses as it is to actually build the muscle. Exercise motions these big compound motions require some neural learning. Your nervous system has to learn how to activate those specific muscles you got to get your form down.

steve reeves workout
Steve reeves workout

So it’s really important that you get more repetitions in. That’s why it’s better to do three times a week full-body training where you’re training these motions frequently. So the learnings happening as opposed to doing like a chest day. Then your chest is so sore that you’re not going to train chest for another seven days. We need to prioritize learning alongside the getting stronger on these main compound lifts.

How Should I Start My Workout Routine?

So, three days per week full-body strength training, and here’s what I would make it even better. I would say that two of those days, let’s say it’s a Monday, Wednesday, Friday on Monday. Friday, we do classic strength training and I’m gonna get into the exercises and the actual you know kind of way to create your workout.

In the middle of those two days on Wednesday, recommend you do bodyweight, Calisthenics. Things like pull-ups, things like push-ups, things like handstand holds because I want you to start getting strong in a variety of different strength training exercises.

You’d be shocked there are people whose strength trained for ten years who could do a lot of overhead military presses. But can’t do a handstand push-up, why? Because we get good at what we practice. I want you to have a well-rounded strength-training base that involves both the free weights, some machines, and a lot of Calisthenics stuff too.

So personally what how I’d set up your training split full-body strength training on Monday in the gym, or at home with actual weights. Wednesday would be Calisthenics, Friday would be another revisit of that full-body strength training session.

Beginning Bodybuilding Routine Plan.

Let’s break down what those workouts essentially look like. And the way I want you to think about your workouts when you’re in the beginner phase is not about like I need to do these specific exercises because I heard that benchpress is great for a big chest.

Slow-Motion Strength Training.

I want you to think about motions, plains of motions that your body naturally does. So we’re gonna actually break your workout in two different motions. First, we talk about slow-motion strength training.

#1 Bodybuilding Squats.

Well, one primary motion that you know is phenomenal for muscle building is squatting. Squatting! Bending our legs, hinging our hips, whether we’re picking something off the floor like a deadlift. Or we have weight on our back when we’re doing a classic barbell back squat. Squatting is absolutely essential, we’re gonna kick off our workouts with squatting.

beginner bodybuilding workout plan
Bodybuilding squats

I recommend a classic 5×5 set scheme, set and rep scheme here because this enables you to go fairly heavy. So you can actually get used to carrying some load on your back and it gives you lots of different reps. Or every workout on that Monday and Friday will get 25 reps of squats. This could be a barbell back squat, this can be a front squat, it could even be a leg press. Although I would recommend that you try to do some kind of free weight squat.

But if you really feel that leg press is calling to you right now at the beginning of your training session. You might be a little nervous about your form, that’s fine too. Point being is we’re kicking your workout off your strength training workouts with leg motions 5×5, 5 sets of 5 reps. You do a set of 5 reps, you wait for about rest for about two minutes. They knew your next set, then rest, next set, rest.

Two-minute rest in between those sets is important to make sure you’re recovered. So that the first exercise will take you around 10 to 12 minutes. It’ll be the primary focus of your workout is getting that good leg strength as your legs get stronger the rest of your body is taking is stronger. You can build a lot of muscle just getting strong in the back squat alone.

#2 Horizontal Pull.

Now to continue this idea of breaking up your workouts based on body motions. The next thing we’re going to do is a horizontal pull a.k.a the Row. There’s a pulling anytime we’re pulling a bar towards our body, we’re using our back and our biceps. Anytime we’re pushing, we’re using our chest, shoulders, and triceps. So we’re horizontal pull is some kind of row motion, vertical pull, some kind of pull up.

horizontal pull up
Rowing machine workouts

We’re gonna start with a horizontal pull. Any kind of row, this could be a bent-over barbell row, this could be a two-armed dumbbell row, this could be some kind of rowing machine workout. But after the squats, we’re gonna do your rows and I recommend that you do 3 sets of somewhere around 6 to 12 reps.

Honestly, it really doesn’t matter too much, and when you’re at the beginning which particular rep scheme you pick. You can use a little bit of lighter weight and you get more reps to practice. Let’s say you choose a bent-over barbell row for 3 sets of 12 reps. So that would be your second motion.

#3 Horizontal Push.

Your third motion in a beginning bodybuilding workout plan is a horizontal push. This is something like a bench press, this is something like an incline bench press, a dumbbell bench press. You’re pushing something away from your body. This is different from a vertical push like an overhead. That would be a shoulder press. We’ll get to that in just a second but essentially we did a squat, a horizontal pull, a horizontal push. So some kind of pressing motion.

beginning bodybuilding workout plan
Barbell bench press

I would recommend if you’re starting up and your shoulders are nice and healthy that you do learn the barbell or the incline barbell bench press, amazing motion for your chest. I’d say that’s also in the 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps, start light. You’re gonna build strength over time that will be your third exercise of this workout.

#4 Vertical Pull.

Then we’re gonna move on to a vertical pull. This is some kind of pull-up or lat pulldown. I would recommend you do pull-ups any kind of grip, wide, neutral, even chin-ups. One of the best back building exercises something you’re gonna be using for the rest of your strength training career. If you’re not strong enough to do pull-ups yet, that’s fine!

beginning bodybuilding workout plan routine
Lat pulldown exercises

You can start with some kind of lat pulldown machine until you get strong enough. Point being on a vertical pull, 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps again the rep scheme is not super important. What is important is that you’re getting the reps in and you’re getting the volume in.

#5 Vertical Push.
dumbbell shoulder press
Dumbbell shoulder press

Then after that, we’re gonna go to a vertical push. So we want vertical pull then vertical push, some kind of overhead shoulder press. You can do a seated barbell military press, you could do a dumbbell shoulder press, standing or seated. Something where you’re pressing overhead to really engage the shoulders in that plains motion again 3 sets of 6 to 12 reps.

#6 Finish with Some Arm & Ab Exercises

I hope you kind of see the concept here. We’re starting with 5×5 on the squats, then the rest of these motions, the rows, the pushes, the pulls, the presses are all 3 by 6 to 12. Then we’re gonna round out the workout with some arms and some abs, just as a little bit of finisher.

Do a superset of some kind of arm exercise, some kind of bicep curl with maybe a triceps press down, or a close grip pushup. One set of biceps 6 to 12 reps, one set of triceps and you’ll do that superset three times and then you can add throw abs in at the end, some kind of plank hold for one to two minutes or a hanging leg raise.

plank hold
Ab exercises

This kind of accessory stuff at the tail-end is the time where you actually can play around with some different motions. You don’t necessarily have to use the same exercises for your arms and your abs the end the workouts because remember, and this is a key point it’s your strength training.

Your arms are trained in all of these other big motions. There’s some EMG research with actually study the amount of muscle activity and it shows that your biceps get worked harder on chin-ups than almost any other bicep exercise.

#7 Combine with Superset Exercises.

So point being is, you’re gonna get big arms by getting strong on your rows and your presses, etc. But you can do some arm work at the end. You can superset it if you want to save time which again means doing a set of biceps, straight into a set of triceps, and then you rest. No rest in between and then you can even make a circuit between a set of biceps a set of triceps than a core plank hold and you repeat that whole circuit.

superset exercises at home
Superset exercises

That stuff is like up to you, you can play around try some different motions. But here’s, what I do recommend in your 2 strength training workouts per week. Do the same motions, so you do this exact workout. Let’s say you go squat, barbell row, barbell bench press, pull-up, overhead shoulder press, barbell curl, tricep press down and plank hold. You do that workout on Monday, you do that same workout on Friday. Those same exercises because that is a perfect segue into next, the concept of progressive resistance.

Read more: Best Bodybuilding Exercises at Home Without Equipment for Great Gains

Progressive Resistance.

This is a strength training method where the weight you lift will continue to be increased to facilitate your muscle adaptation. This type of exercise is very important to build muscle and become stronger. Over time, your body and muscles will adapt so that you need additional challenges to see growth and improve fitness.

#1 Keep a Log of Your Weight.
bodyweight log tracker
Bodyweight tracker

As you’re beginning, your strength training journey the most important thing is that you’re getting stronger. That’s why it’s called strength training. I want to make sure that you’re logging your weights, you either use it on your phone, take out the notes application on your phone or get a physical journal log.

#2 Increasing the Weight You Lift.
barbell workouts
Increase the weights you lift

At the beginning of bodybuilding exercises, you need a plan to gain weight. Also, increasing your strength is what helps coach your body to build muscle. Here’s the thing when you’re starting your strength training journey, your body will get stronger a lot faster.

This because neurologically your body is going to get a lot more efficient at recruiting the muscle that you have. The concept is, when you begin strength training, it takes a while in the first couple of months of exercise for your body to even get good at using the muscle you have.

#3 Your Efficiency Grow as You Get Stronger.
beginner bodybuilding workout plan routine
Get stronger with strength training

You might be at 30% efficiency, maybe 50% efficiency. So you have 100% of muscle but when you’re recruiting your muscle and exercise, you’re only using 50% of your potential. But as you get stronger, as you get more reps in, as you do more workout, your efficiency goes up.

You may be recruiting after 4 or 5, 6 weeks of strength training 70% of your muscle recruitment. In time as you train for lots of years, you can get up to very high muscle recruitment patterns, and then your body is also building a lot of muscles. You’re gonna get more efficient which is why you’re gonna get stronger quickly which is why you gotta log your weight.

#4 Start Light.
women's bodybuilding
Start with light weights

That’s the concept of progressive resistance. When you hit your rep targets, you increase the weight on your next training session. This almost like begs the point as well as when you’re starting these initial workouts, start light.

You can hit those rep targets and build on a good foundation, a big mistake people make is they start way too heavy and they build on reps of bad form. I wanna make sure your form is good from day one. So the reps that you’re building on are honest and good progress you’re gonna be able to build on a solid foundation.

#5 Calisthenics Workouts

Before we get to number two, the nutrition plan, I want to backtrack because I did say that one day per week, in between those two strength training days, you want to do a Calisthenics workout. I think it’s a great idea and what you should do is a lot of squats, you should do bodyweight squats, you should play around with doing single-leg squats.

Put your leg up on a chair and do some single-leg squats. Try to work on a pistol squat which is where you have you know one leg out in front of the other and you’re kind of squatting down. Build strength in your legs from Calisthenics.

women's beginner bodybuilding workout plan
Calisthenics workouts

So, you start your workout again with some squatting motions, play around with it. Just this doesn’t need to be super complicated. Write down your reps workout like your other two strength training sessions. But start with your legs, do some squats, work both legs for about five minutes or so.

Then you’re gonna move on to either, maybe some pull-ups. Some kind of vertical pulling so you might do a couple of sets of pull-ups. If you can’t do pull-ups yet, get an elastic stretch band and put it around your legs and it can assist you. We have an article on how to do a pull up beginner if you can’t do a pull-up. That shows you these things!

This Calisthenics workout is a great time for you to practice the strength of the pull-up. Do some push-ups, work your chest for 5-10 minutes, set a rep target for yourself maybe you’re saying I want to do 100 pushups this workout. Get them done, change the angles, the grips, play around with it, get strong at that.

#6 Handstand Hold Workouts.

I’d also recommend you do some handstand holds if you can. Learn to kick your feet up on a wall and hold yourself overhead. It helps keep your shoulder stable and that shoulder stability and health. It is gonna be essential as you continue to lift years down the road.

You want a stable shoulder, stable scapula which is your shoulder blade. The stability of that’s gonna ultimately equal the healthier shoulders. Then you talk to lifters has been lifting for 10, 15, or 20 years a lot of my shoulder problems because they didn’t build on a good foundation of scapular stability.

handstand hold exercise
Handstand hold workouts

Handstand holds are gonna be very good for that. That’s what I’d recommend you do it’s a lighter workout. Play with it if you can do it outside even better you’re gonna get some sunshine. But treat those two classic strength training workouts as you’re logged workouts. On the Calisthenic days, find some different exercises, work some core, work some push-ups, work some pull-ups, or work some squats.

2. Beginning Bodybuilding Diet Plan

Now we’re talking about food, sleep, and water. We totally open this discussion with the concept that muscles are built outside of the gym. You get stronger because weight training is the stimulus. But then you need to fuel your body with sleep and nutrition.

Beginning Bodybuilding Meal Plan.

The first thing in the eating plan at the beginning of bodybuilding workout is I want to make sure you eat enough. Many people when they start the strength training workouts as beginners, they’re just not eating enough food and your body’s not going to progress if you’re not eating enough food. I want you to eat around 250 to 500 over that.

Let’s say that you are a 40-year-old man and you have a moderately active job, you might burn 2700 calories a day. For muscle building purposes, you might want to go to 3,000. And you roughly estimate these calories, don’t say you have to track every single calorie but you’ve got to have a ballpark and you weigh yourself regularly. If you’re not gaining weight, increase the food.

daily calorie intake
Bodybuilding daily calorie intake

If you’re gaining weight too fast and I would say more than a pound of the week then scale back the food a little bit. There is a danger when you’re starting off to just eat so much crappy food and then you’re just putting on fat instead of muscles. So you want to keep it in a reasonable target but that’s why I think weighing yourself is really essential when you’re starting strength training want your weight to be going up gradually.

I think a pound a week of quality weight is fantastic and achievable if you’re gaining like 2 or 3 pounds a week. You’re definitely putting on fat so you scale-back and the scales not moving at all, you got to increase your food intake.

Eat at Least 3 Meals a Day.

bodybuilding meal plan for beginners
Bodybuilding meal plan for beginners

One good thing to think about essentially is to make sure that you’re getting at least three meals per day. That’s not to say that you can’t build muscle in minute fasting. But I think when you’re a beginner and your strength training prioritizing enough calories is a really great deal.

Getting at least a breakfast, lunch, and dinner with ideally a snack in between and if each of those meals is around 600 to 700 calories. Then you’re probably going to be around that 2100 to 3000 calorie range which is a good starting point for most people.

Get Enough Sleep.

Sleep absolutely essential. I’m just gonna go flat out and be blunt here if you’re not getting at least six hours. But I would really say at least seven and a half hours of quality sleep. You are shortchanging your muscle-building results. Sleep is essential it’s when your growth hormone rises is when your body recovers and heals from all the hard training you’re doing.

beginner bodybuilding workout plan pdf
Get enough sleep

If you’re undersleeping, your cortisol levels are gonna be high and your muscle-building results are gonna be lower than they could be. So, get the quality sleep in and that might meaning turn off the phone, get rid of the TV at night make sure you have a set bedtime and a set wake-up time. If you have sleeping problems the more you start to strength train it’s gonna help your body get a better Circadian rhythm. You’ll be more tired at night so that’s a really good thing.

Drink More Water.

What I would say is basically drink more water than you’re drinking for most people who want to strength training. They should be drinking around at minimum a half a gallon of water. Maybe up to a gallon and a half of water per day.

And again that depends on how active your job is, how much water you normally have but increasing your water intake is gonna be phenomenal especially during your workouts. It’s gonna help keep your energy levels up and I would throw a little bit of a pinch of some pink Himalayan Sea Salt in your water.

womens bodybuilding drinking water
Drink more water

So I’d say around one-quarter to a one-eighth teaspoon per gallon of water because the pink Himalayan sea salt has all these trace minerals that your body also needs to hydrate. It’s not just water it’s also water plus minerals so that is a great need to get the hydration. That’s why you see a lot of people in the gym carrying around the gallons of water because they know it makes them feel better, perform better, and they’re not getting as dehydrated.

3. Beginning Bodybuilding Supplements.

A lot of guys who are starting make the mistake of thinking they need these fancy muscle building supplements, like a testosterone booster or some kind of fancy pre-workout. All that pretty much is crap.

Get a Quality, Daily Multivitamin.

It’s really not even that effective what you do need though is a quality multivitamin because the process of building muscle requires that you have all these other enzymatic reactions working well. Those enzymatic reactions require the vitamins and minerals that we need every single day. So we’re gonna be eating a lot of food and ideally, it’s quality food.

bodybuilding workout plan daily multivitamin
Bodybuilding multivitamin

But sometimes we’re not able to hit all of our micronutrient targets, meaning vitamins and minerals. That’s why a quality multivitamin is great covers your bases. It’s an insurance policy to make sure that you’re getting your vitamins minerals in. I would take that daily and that’s not getting you out of eating good food. Still want to eat high-quality food but the multivitamin is like covers your basis.

Vitamin D3.

I would say for most guys around 1,000 to maybe up to 5,000 IU’s per day and this depends on where you live, how much sunshine you’re getting. But vitamin D3 is an essential hormone although it’s a vitamin that also acts as a hormone for increasing your immune system. It can boost your testosterone levels naturally, helps you recover from your strength training workouts.

vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 from the sun

It is absolutely foundational, what I’ve even recommended is you don’t need a supplement vitamin D3 if you’re actually getting out in the sun for around 20 minutes per day, ideally in the morning.

Getting direct sunlight your body can make all the vitamin D3 it needs from the sun. But so many of us don’t get out in the sun because we have busy jobs. Or if you have darker pigmented skin, you need even more time in the sun. So, vitamin D3 supplementation is still a good idea but I would also recommend you get out in the sun.

Omega-3.

People often call these fish oils. But they really are special kinds of fats that our body uses as an anti-inflammatory in nature. And as we’re strength training we’re going to start to create a little more inflammation in our joints because we’re using them a little bit more. Fish oils are gonna help control the inflammation. They can help you recover better from the exercise, they’re good for your heart health, and your brain health.

omega-3 for bodybuilding
Omega-3

They’re absolutely fantastic and omega-3s are not just found in fish. They certainly are things like salmon, and sardines are great sources. But if you’re going on a vegan vegetarian style, you can also get this from flax. The omega-3s in plant-based sources are not as bioavailable.

They’re about 10% as bioavailable. But if you’re getting a tablespoon or of flaxseeds, or if you’re having some hemp seeds or you’re eating walnuts in your diet, you can get plenty of omega-3s from plant-based sources. Or you can get a plant-based omega-3 supplement as well, definitely need these in your routine.

Probiotics.

The final plan for the beginning of bodybuilding workout is probiotics. This good digestive got bacteria that line our entire digestive tract and here’s the thing. When most people think about nutrition, they’re just thinking about foods and calories. They’re not thinking about digestion how that food actually broken down and then assimilated into the body.

Probiotics help you digest your foods. They keep your entire gastrointestinal tract in line. They help keep you leaner if you have the right kinds of probiotics, your body burns fat better. And I bet there’s gonna be new some new research in the next few years showing that certain strains of probiotics are associated with better muscle building as well.

probiotics for bodybuilding
Sauerkraut

So, I recommend you take probiotic supplements but also you can be getting this from fermented foods. Things like kefir, which is a fermented yogurt, things like sauerkraut, kimchi, things like natto. Some of these fermented foods, kombucha could be another example. All these fermented foods get more of those in your diet. They will help your muscles building, your health results over the long term.

Creatine Monohydrate.

In the final something that is optional but definitely could be encouraged, I guess would be Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate is an incredibly safe supplement, it actually boosts muscle building and boosts your strength. It’s a good supplement and it’s safe for beginners, intermediates, or advanced training alike. You want to take probably 3 to 5 grams after you exercise with maybe 20 to 25 grams of protein.

creatine monohydrate
Creatine monohydrate

Again, you don’t need to have necessarily had protein powder, you can get all your protein from foods. But it’s a convenient kind of thing, so if there was a post-workout shake which is not necessary for muscle building but it is convenient. I would probably say 25 grams of some kind of protein you love, whether it weighs or plant-based and then around 3 to 5 grams of creatine. That would be your post-workout shake and then you have a meal shortly after.

Read more: Top 8 Leg Workouts with Weights for Mass

The Takeaway.

That is the supplement side of this thing. It is the least important thing we discuss today. If your strength training well and you’re eating the right kinds of foods and you’re sleeping, your hydrating supplements are supplemental. Yes, they will help! I would say, get the multi the D3, the omega-3, and probiotics. But supplements aren’t gonna make you build muscle. It’s all these good principles we’ve already discussed in this beginning bodybuilding workout plan.

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