Bodybuilding is a skill that requires practice and constant dedication of your time. Bodybuilding is more about following step by step procedures to get very specific results than about just getting in shape. Bodybuilders are even able to compete to see whose work has resulted in the best body by their standards. Although competing is not for everyone, bodybuilding presents a lifestyle changing opportunity that many have enjoyed getting involved in. If you are interested in bodybuilding, here is what you should know to get started!
Bodybuilding requires that specific muscle groups are exercised. Each muscle group has smaller components within it, and all of them are important when it comes to being a successful bodybuilder.
Back: The back muscles are usually one of the strongest muscle groups of the entire body. When bodybuilders work on their back muscles, they are mainly focused on strengthening and growing their latissimus dorsi (or lats) and their trapezius (or traps). When bodybuilders focus on these muscles, they are working to give themselves a wide back and broad shoulders. These traits are a key part of the classic bodybuilder physique. Strengthening their back also allows bodybuilders to lift heavier weights without injury.
Chest: Bodybuilders focus a lot of their work on chest exercises as well. The main purpose of these exercises is to grow their pectoralis muscles. This results in the bodybuilder having a big and firm chest. When exercising the chest, the pecs are not the only muscles being worked. Oftentimes, chest exercises engage the arms as well.
Arms: Arm muscles are probably the first thing most people think of when they think of bodybuilding. Some images of bodybuilders flexing their huge arms are even found in popular culture. When working the arms, bodybuilders need to focus on their biceps, triceps, and deltoids or shoulders. Bodybuilders need to focus on all three of these muscles in order to achieve the big arms that they want. Strong arms are also helpful when it comes to stabilizing the wights being used in other lifts.
Legs: Leg muscles are sometimes the most underappreciated and underworked muscles of the body. Although this is the case, the best bodybuilders recognize the importance of exercising these muscles. When exercising legs, a bodybuilder is trying to grow their quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, and gluteus muscles.
The Split System is the idea that your bodybuilding training should be broken up into specific sections. Most splits will have the bodybuilder exercise specific muscle groups on specific days. When trying to choose which split works best for you, it is best to consider your current skill level and the time you currently have available.
Upper/Lower Split: An Upper/Lower split focuses solely on the upper body then lower body on alternating days. This allows one half of the body to recover when the other half is exercising. This split can be done 2, 4, or 6 days a week depending on how much time you can dedicate to your bodybuilding goals. For this split, you want your upper body days to work out your arms, chest, and back. For your lower body days, you will want to work on your legs and sometimes back.
Push/Pull/Legs Split: This is another popular split. The Push/Pull/Leg split can be done in 3 days, or if repeated, it can be done 6 days per week. On the first day, focus on upper body exercises that mainly trigger your pushing muscles. Push muscles tend to include your chest, triceps, and shoulders. On the second day you will want to focus on upper body exercises that activate the pull muscles. The pull muscles focus more on your back and biceps. On the third day, you will want to work your legs. This split is great for working out more muscle groups, more often while also giving specific muscles more time to recover and grow.
Full Body Split: The Full Body split takes place over 3 days every week. This number tends to stay lower because a full body exercise will workout all of your muscle groups on the same day. In order for the muscles to recover correctly, you can only do these workouts every other day. Full body workouts can vary, but the most important part of them is that they contain sets of at least one pull exercise, one push exercise, and one lower body exercise.
Bodybuilders relay on a combination between compound lifts and isolation lifts. Compound lifts target totally separate muscle groups and make them work simultaneously. These lifts are best for building strength.
Bench Press: A bench press involves the bodybuilder laying horizontally on a bench with a weighted barbell stationed above them. The person then lifts the bar and brings it slowly down to their chest. From there, the bodybuilder pushes the bar back up, and continues the process for a whole set. This mainly targets the bodybuilders chest, but the arms, core and even back are engaged throughout the exercise.
Deadlift: A deadlift starts with the bodybuilder standing over a weighted barbell. They then crouch down and grab the barbell and then lift it up to their hips without bending their backs. Safety is a top priority for this exercise, because without the proper form, lifters can get injured. Deadlifts are considered one of the best compound exercises because they target the back, arms, and hamstrings.
Squat: Although there are many variations of squats, the one most commonly used by bodybuilders involves a weighted barbell being placed on top of the lifter's shoulders. Then, bearing the weight, the bodybuilder squats down until their glutes are passed parallel with the floor. This exercise does the most for your legs, but also requires a lot of work from the arms and shoulders in order to balance the barbell.
Isolation lifts focus on very specific muscles and are usually better for hypertrophy, or muscle growth.
Bicep Curl: This exercise focuses on isolating the bodybuilder's bicep. They hold a dumbbell in their hands and then try to curl it up using their bicep's full range of motion. These can be done from a sitting or standing position.
Dumbell-Fly: A dumbbell fly is one of the best, isolating exercises for the chest. First, the bodybuilder will sit on an inclined weight bench. Then they will hold two dumbbells and spread their arms as if measuring their wingspan. Then the lifter will use their chest strength to bring the dumbbells together in front of them. They will repeat this motion for a full set.
Leg Extension: This exercise will specifically target your leg muscles. It usually requires a specific machine that is often found at most gyms. To use this machine, the bodybuilder will sit on its chair and put their feet behind the machine's weighted rest. Then the bodybuilder will have to extend their legs, bringing the weight of the machine with it.