8 Basic Exercises For Beginner Bodybuilders
Want to bulk up but not sure where to start? If you’re new to the gym and want a proven routine to build muscle, burn fat and fix some common muscular imbalances, then we’ve got a great workout to get you started. It can be a little daunting when you turn up to the gym and everyone around you seems to know exactly what they’re doing. You may still be deciphering the difference between a pec deck machine and a bench press, or a kettlebell from a dumbbell – while all the gym enthusiasts around you are setting their weights and doing their exercises with absolute confidence.
The first thing to remember is that everyone started out where you are now. They’ve all been on the journey you’re embarking on, and most are more than willing to help you out if you’re ever unsure about something. Next thing to remember is that persistence pays. Don’t expect to grow muscles overnight – to build muscle mass safely, you need to take your time and be consistent with your training. That’s where this workout works well. It’s very effective in setting you on the path to real-world results, without overdoing it.
OUR BEGINNER BODYBUILDER ROUTINE
This routine pairs two exercises at a time, working through the major muscle groups. You might want to mix it up with some cardio or other conditioning sessions, too. After this time, your muscles and your mind will be ready for something new. You want to ensure that you are selecting a weight that allows you to control the movement keeping perfect form, and feels like an 8-9 out of ten in terms of difficulty (with 10 being the hardest).
Pay particular attention to the tempo for each exercise, indicated by the four numerals listed next to the sets and reps. The first number is the eccentric (lowering) portion of the lift, the second is the time at the bottom of the movement. For example, a 32X0 would mean lowering slowly for three seconds, pause for two seconds, then explode up (represented by the X) with no rest at the top before repeating the movement.
And remember, if you’re still working out what’s what in the gym, find a friendly instructor to show you how to use each machine safely.
INCLINE MACHINE LEG PRESS (DUCK FOOT STANCE)
Reps: 3 x 12-15, 40X0, 30-60 secs rest
Top tip: Keep your heels in and toes turned out. Drive through your heels and make sure you don’t lock your knees at the top of the movement.
UNILATERAL LYING LEG CURL (FEET PLANTAR-FLEXED AND TURNED IN)
Reps: 3 x 10-12, 30X1, 60-90 secs rest
Top tip: Plantar-flexed means ‘toes pointed’ (doing this, and turning your toes in, helps balance the hamstring muscles). Be sure to squeeze your butt and push your hips into the bench to engage your glutes.
INCLINE PAUSED DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS (NEUTRAL GRIP)
Reps: 3 x 10-12, 31X0, 30-60 secs rest
Top tip: Keep your shoulder blades squeezed together and tucked into your back pocket at the bottom of the movement. There, pause to give your pecs a loaded stretch to improve your posture.
LEAN AWAY LAT PULLDOWN (CLOSE NEUTRAL GRIP)
Reps: 3 x 12-15, 31X0, 60-90 secs rest
Top tip: Pull away and back towards your torso, lifting your sternum to the ceiling.
Remember to pause at the bottom of each rep. This increases innervation, or the mind-muscle connection in the muscle being trained.
STANDING DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS (NEUTRAL GRIP)
Reps: 3 x 10-12, 40X0, 30-60 secs rest
Top tip: Breathe out through your abs and squeeze your glutes to engage your core. Remember, when training the shoulders, keep your neck relaxed and your shoulder blades ‘in your back pocket’.
SEATED CABLE ROWING TO NECK (PRONATED GRIP)
Reps: 3 x 12-15, 30X1, 60-90 secs rest
Top tip: Lean back slightly (we call this outward intention) and focus on the squeeze between your shoulder blades. Relax your neck.
SEATED SCOTT CURL (NEUTRAL GRIP)
Reps: 3 x 10-12, 30X1, 30-60 secs rest
Top tip: For bigger biceps, squeeze your triceps at the bottom of the movement to encourage a stronger contraction of the biceps on each rep.
LYING DUMBBELL TRICEP EXTENSION (NEUTRAL GRIP)
Reps: 3 x 12-15, 31X0, 60-90 secs rest
Top tip: Keep your elbows turned in and up towards the ceiling to get a full stretch on the biceps.