Muscle Building Secrets For Beginner Bodybuilders

By

Vince Del Monte, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, Certified Fitness Trainer
and Nutritionist and author of No Nonsense Muscle
Building.

 

Welcome to the confusing and contradicting world of muscle building!  Nice intro eh?

Building muscle is also not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s also not the hardest.

This article is written to any beginner bodybuilder who is ready to start pumping iron.  Especially if you are a beginner and want to to build muscle, increase your strength, stamina and self- confidence, plus be able to fit into clothes that show off your body, instead of hide it!

 

Building muscle on your body is also a metabolic marker that tricks your body into thinking it’s younger.  Ever seen a really muscular 75 year old guy in your gym?  I bet he looks like he’s in his 50’s.

Building muscle goes far beyond vanity.  Muscle increases your quality of life dramatically, helps you curb excess body fat and decreases health obstacles as you age

Me, Top 3 at the FAME Fitness Model Championships, June 2008, Toronto ONfitness model

#1 Muscle Building Secret: Focus On Progressive Resistance

“If you do the same thing then you’ll get the same thing.”

This sums up bodybuilding very nicely. The number one muscle building secret of weight training is based on the overload principle.

When you increase the amount of weight you lift on a ongoing basis, your muscle fibers adapt to the increased stress by increasing in muscle size and strength.

My favorite technique for beginner bodybuilders is pyramiding.

Sample Muscle Building Routine Using Pyramiding:

Exercise: Squat

Set 1: 12 reps of 95 lbs

Set 2: 10 reps of 115 lbs

Set 3: 8 reps of 135 lbs

Set 4: 6 reps of 185 lbs

Next week….

Exercise: Squat

Set 1: 12 reps of 115 lbs

Set 2: 10 reps of 135 lbs

Set 3: 8 reps of 185 lbs

Set 4: 6 reps of 205 lbs

Pretty simple, right?  Increase the weight every set while naturally having your reps drop.  The progressive resistance occurs each set and the following workout when you start about 10% heavier than you did the previous week.  The example above reflects exaggerated increases but should be the template you follow for each body part and each exercise.

It forces you to increase the amount of weight that you use over a period of time, making your muscle adapt to the ever-greater demands you place on them.

With pyramiding, your muscle are trained at an intensity that is close to it’s force-generating capacity, forcing the muscle-fibers to increase in strength and eventually mass.

Overload is the bottom line for muscle gains and if your program is not using overload as the guiding principle then forget about learning any other muscle building secrets.

A secret to muscle building is recognizing that it’s not an endurance sport.  It is a peak-intensity sport based on the principle of overload.  Your muscles grow when you life more weight than you ever did before, and not from the tend sets you did at a weight you could lift all day without fatigue.

This is another reason I prefer pyramiding for beginners because you must aim for peak-intensity through progressive resistance, and not muscular burnout.

When you have trained a muscle so hard that it can no longer perform at its maximum, either switch to another body part or leave the gym.

If you are having a hard time finding the proper combination of training volume and frequency that allows you to achieve progressive resistance on a continual basis then check out even more of my muscle building secrets at my website.

Vince Del Monte

P.S. Let me know what your #1 muscle building secret is for beginner bodybuilders.  Thanks for sharing.

 

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Comments

40 thoughts on “Muscle Building Secrets For Beginner Bodybuilders

  1. Hello dude,i like Your New website ideal a lot. achieve u allow suggestion as my site? thanks for Your New attention

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  2. While this may be true that progressive resistance is extremely important, my personal opinion is that nothing could be more important than your diet.

    get the carbs, get the protein, get the right amount of calories, and of course good fat from nuts and almonds and fish oil and so on, and mix that with intense workouts and you're good.

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  3. Since I hurt my lower back I have been lowering the weight in squats but I have also lowered my rest periods to make the weight harder to lift. I also bring my legs in tight for squats so it is more difficult. I also do 1-Legged Split Squats with one leg on the bench right after the squats and it just kicks my butt every time! With muscle imbalances, this is a good one to add to your leg routine. I am also going to add a set of side lunges to help out with other stabilizer muscles and my T-Bands.

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  4. Yeah I did a lot of pyramiding when I first started out. Once you start on the big weights though, those pyramiding doesn't always worl out so well. For anyone starting out, make the most of those gains you can make now. They don't last forever. Of course its when they stop that it really gets fun 🙂

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  5. Tal you can't do anything about abs that are uneven.. it's genetics.

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  6. Hi Vince,

    "Let me know what your #1 muscle building secret is for beginner bodybuilders. Thanks for sharing."

    #1 in my oppinion is to start with a workout that aims at the weakest parts of today's body: shoulders and lower back. After a 1-2 week programme especially for those parts, I start teaching the correct technique for free weight compound exercises.

    Regards,
    Max

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  7. My six pack is ugly! its uneven and gross what should i do?

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  8. I am looking for a protein powder, mostly for post workout but also for a quick meal.Should I get prograde protein or prograde workout? please reply

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    • Define PRO GRADE… a good quality whey protein is for pre- durring – and post workout.. the Best thing durring and post work out is BCAA's in addition to your whey protein. Dont forget your pre – durring and post workout carbs for energy for intense work outs and recovery in addition to your protein. To keep as lean as possible limit your carb intake all day except 1 hour before and up to 2 hours after your work out. But only use carbs if you have an intense work out. But you knew that didnt ya?? Use a Casein protein at bed time as it digests very slow and keeps your recovering muscles fed while you sleep.

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  9. Just one caution – don't try to progress too fast. If you add too much weight from one week to the next, you'll likely plateau sooner or even worse, regress. My rule: progress each week in one of two ways:
    a) increase the weight by the smallest amount possible (usually 5 lbs for most exercises, but 2.5 lbs for others)
    b) add at least 1 rep to each set while doing the same weight as the previous week
    Within the same workout, some exercises might progress via method (a) and other exercises progress with method (b).
    But eventually, you will probably start plateauing anyway (for beginners, probably after 10 to 20 weeks, for more advanced lifters maybe every 4 to 6 weeks). At that time, you should switch up your routine. But still use the principle of progression. – Darrin

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  10. Well like I'm young to lift big(just recently became 16)I go for bodyweight exercises and not only they get you real strong,you get good muscle endurance and in my opinion it gives a good starting tone to your muscles on your body. To be honest I gained around 10kg with bodyweight exercises after a year,obviously it wasn't easy like I had kickboxing classes a Bjj at the time.But it worked just have to be patient.When I'll reach adulthood I'll start lifting big weights:3

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    • you raise a very valid point it is not the amount of weight that you push that will help you gain, it is the fact that you are always increasing what you do with the weight, wether it be intensity, repetitions, sets or weight. what counts is the quality in which you work. you need to keep pushing your muscles further and further just because it is heavy does not necessarily mean it will do that if you cant get the full ROM in clean steady repetitions.

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    • 10 Kg is a HUGE amount of weight to gain in a year with any type of work out. If its accurate a low % is actual muscle. 16 is the perfect age to start doing basic multiple joint exercises such as squats, dead lifts, Lat pull downs, seated rows and bench press. If you want large muscular arms then you have to build your core and posterior chain. If you want a large chest you must have a strong back and vise versa.

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  11. Try to train opposing muscles on the same day. A good plan is legs and shoulders one day chest and back another, biceps and triceps on another. You work biceps and triceps to a degree when you work chest and back, so if you try to do either of those (biceps or triceps) on the same day as chest, you would exhaust them early and not be able to work them as hard by themselves. I use a three day a week workout and use the mid days for cardio. Give at least two days between hard workouts to rebuild and recover.

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    • I always get in this debate with people also, however i am in the group that say working your chest with your tri's is a good thing. The reason being is that by the time you finish with your chest your tris are as you say fatigued a bit so you have to work them hard, you may not be lifting as heavy of weight ( this is what a lot of people consider to be working hard ) but you are getting a very full workout on them. Another thing that is often lost in bodybuilding is endurance, working those muscle groups together can help with allowing those muscle groups to last longer. Both are very effective but one is not greater than the other.

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  12. can anybody help me on which muscles to train together and which not to?also how often should i train each muscle? thanks for helping.

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    • That is a very difficult question to answer. it depends on what you are hoping to achieve and people have different opinions on the subject. No exercise is bad exercise but finding a program and sticking to it is key. people who are not a on a program will normally go into a gym, dont work out wrong but dont see results. what they do is say ok today i should workout my legs but i wanna work out my back; never keeping a routine. you need a steady routine to stick to that you do each week for a month or so, and then change it up so you dont plateau. but for general knowledge… back and biceps work together, chest and tris, shoulders and traps, and your legs should never be neglected, most people work them once a week, i like to give em 2, they are the biggest muscles in your body and they should be worked to the same degree.

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    • Never neglect any muscle group as imbalances will occur and these imbalances lead to injury.
      I tend to work my legs purely one day a week and then split a leg and back session, while on other days I hit the other muscle groups. How often you should work each muscle group is entirely up to you and what you want to achieve.

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  13. Lift heavier for sure but eat more too.
    You might know how to build a house (workout program), you might have the tools for it (weights/ gym equipment), but unless you got the timber and tiling (fats, proteins, carbs) your just gonna be a small guy with big intentions. So eat more eggs, veges and meat and save the protein shakes for breakfast, pre and post workout if you take them that is. Eat and rest!! It's inefficient to have more muscle unless you give it purpose and your body can afford to produce it with extra calories you cant trick your body, but you can cleverly manipulate it mwahahahaha!! And sleep is a biggy too =D

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  14. Does this apply to the sixpacquest workouts as well? Keep each workout new and fresh?

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    • follow that program that you are using, but yeah keep everything new and fresh each day, force your body into overdrive.

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  15. Rudy you should use the pyramid example for nearly all your workouts until you reach a plateu.. im sure vince explains how to beat a plateu, so just keep apllying a little more weight each week m8 and concentrate on overloading > i.e Always try and do a little more your next workout add a pound even it will still make a difference overtime.

    cheers.

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  16. Thanks Vince, although not being a beginner myself, i fractured my wrist and was out of the gym for about 4months…

    Thus I really enjoyed this refresher as I have just started again (on Monday) Im actually on my way to buy a wrist guard, looking to regain the 10kgs that i lost.. It’s kind of exciting starting from scratch and feeling muscles
    ache again after every workout 🙂

    btw, just thought i should mention that I was tall and lanky at about 79kg and using your NNMB eating and gym program, i gained 10KG of muscle in 7months… I won’t lie and say it was easy, in fact it pretty much took over my life which is not necessary a good thing… But what I did find out is that ur program was the only one that worked for me…

    Just a heads up for all my fellow genetically thin peeps 😛

    Cheers

    Thanks again

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  17. “If you do the same thing then you’ll get the same thing.” I heard that same thing stated in this way:

    "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you'll always got." Or, as someone once said (Susan Powter??) Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results each time.

    That aside… I started at my local gym December 22nd, 2008 – at a weight of 62kg/136.7lb. It's taken me just on the last 15 months to get to 65kg/143.3lb. I'm 39 on the 13th of this month – not that I look anywhere near my age – But gee… you'd think I'd be able to gain a lot more than that, wouldn't you!!??

    Still… I've lost a substantial amount of fat, and developed a noticeable amount of muscle – not that I've let anyone see. Biggest issue is diet. Surprise, surprise… chocolate/caffeine to be precise. That plus a rather distinct lack of quality sleep. Getting there slowly, but I am getting there!!

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  18. Rudy, just follow the beginner program as it is in the book and focus on lifting a bit heavier every workout.
    If you did deadlift with 150 pounds last week(for 12 reps for example) then try doing 160 pounds for 12 reps the next week. Just follow the reps and sets in the program, but go heavier every week.

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    • Ivan Is right even only adding one to 2 pounds every wokout, your strength will increase and size will follow
      2 pounds every week on a bench or a deadlift over 10 weeks is 20 pound increase thats a good strength gain. Also for strength don't forget to work the supporting muscles of the lift e.g, If you want your bench to increase work on you triceps and external rotators and back, And watch your bench fly through the roof.
      With Mass Gains i Have found that depending on what type muscle fiber you are will really impact your training, i.e if your predomatly fast twitch muscle fiber and your training slow twitch this will hinder your gains in muscle mass, and visa versa.

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  19. Hello,
    Beginner here, so I should use pyramiding in the NNMBP 29 week beginner program ( I’m on week 3), Vince said lift til you can’t lift no more or reach muscular failure within a set so how do I apply this to the Beginner Program.

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  20. Thanks Vince,
    That is really helpful. I’ll apply it to my work out routine.

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  21. Im just 17 and have been working out for over a year and havent seen almost any gains in muscle.. ive tryed putting the weight up but we just cant do that much weight.. what am i doing wrong??

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    • Dear Jamie,
      Dont loose hope,You are doing right just add extra protien in your diet.

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    • jamie, do you have a buddy to workout with? He or she could help you get the weight up and complete a desired number of reps. Making your muscles experience an intensity they never have before, therefore shocking them to grow. Maybe also try to do sets back to back, never giving your muscles a chance to rest. you might not be able to do as many reps as normal but it will fatigue them greater. hope this helps. oh and eat right.

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    • Be sure to be eating LOTS of quality food & protein.

      Weights are only the STIMULUS to build muscle, thats where you have to feed properly and get the grub in ya!

      Be sure to hit the big muscle groups like Legs & back. they are the most important for building muscle. So if you are doing arm curls and push downs in your training forget it and hit some basic heavy lifts.

      Rob King
      http://www.RobKingFitness.com

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    • The other thing that you want to keep in mind is that being young and obviously a hard gainer. at your age with an already high metabolism you need to work out with high intensity ( no down time and little rest times ) the other thing you want to do is eat a little before the workout and get your protein, creatine whatever within the first half hour you are finished your workout. this way your body doesnt burn it off before you can properly use it. There is the other problem, your metabolism is hig so you need to eat that much more, eat, eat, and eat some more (healthy food). Your hard work will begin to show. Also incase you are not follow a specific program to keep you in check and working very specific and driven.

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    • Make sure you are recovering sufficiently between workouts, your muscles are not built in the gym. They are built while at rest after your body has been exposed to a stress like weight lifting. So if you go to the gym and are unable to perform the same weight with either shorter rest periods or greater number of reps, or if you cant add more weight for the same amount of reps you should not weight train that day and try again tomorrow. If this is a common problem you should evaluate if you are consuming enough quality food and if you are getting enough sleep

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    • Make sure you warm up and down properly this helps reduce stiffness so your muscles can recover more rapidly allowing you to spend more time in the gym and try force out those extra reps in the last sets this extra effort will be sure to help

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    • With out knowing what you are presently doing with diet or work outs its impossible to give suggestions. If you cant explain in the room given here then feel free to email me at [email protected]

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  22. Ya ur rigth! it would only do nothing in your dreams of having a big nuscular body and you are only consistently waisting your time in the gym.

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  23. If you are a beginner never forget that form is much more important than weight if you can't do the excercise properly you will never get the gains you want. Also keep your workout structured don't flit about the GYM doing a bit of everything.

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  24. The intro was nice. =)

    According the article I have to say that it is so true. I do progressive stuff but some of my friends just take some weight they are confortable with (never to heavy it could be hard to lift if it would be lol) and they are increasing it slightly every month. And they always stick with 3 sets of 15 reps.

    Sounds good, huh? No it doesn't.

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