Bodybuilding for Beginners: A Guide to Strength Training

Posted On Apr 18, 2019 By Tom Holland

A young man performing a one-arm dumbbell row during a bodybuilding workout. Bodybuilding for Beginners: A Guide to Strength Training

So you've decided you want to build some muscle and you're looking for ideas on how to get started with a bodybuilding-style workout program. Awesome. It matters not whether you are male or female, young or not-so-young – all that matters is that you are interested in adding quality lean muscle to your frame. Yes, bodybuilding is for both sexes and all ages. Everyone can benefit from increased muscle mass, aesthetically as well as functionally.

Already know what bodybuilding is and ready to get started?

What Is Bodybuilding?

The short, simple answer: bodybuilding is the act of strengthening the muscles of the body using progressive resistance exercises. Combined with proper nutrition and rest, bodybuilding is a great, full-body form of exercise that drives tremendous results, especially when combined with a cardio routine that matches your end goals.

Bodybuilding workouts generally focus on specific body parts, quite often targeting just a few muscle groups per session. Monday might be back and biceps; Tuesday chest and arms; and Wednesday legs. The goal is to focus on specific muscle groups, breaking down the muscle tissue so that it can rebuild itself bigger and stronger.

The three essential ingredients of bodybuilding: strength training, nutrition, and rest.

Strength training is responsible for creating “micro-tears” within the muscle fibers, leading to muscle growth.

Nutrition provides the adequate fuel for the body, providing the protein and energy necessary to perform the exercises and reap the benefits.

Rest is the stage in which muscle growth actually takes place. Without proper rest, the body cannot grow.

How To Start Bodybuilding

Here are three important things to always remember when beginning a muscle-building bodybuilding program:

  • Use weights that are challenging for the last few repetitions.
  • Form, form, form: Doing the exercise correctly with good form is essential.
  • Give yourself time to see results. It won’t happen overnight.

Bodybuilding Workouts

Bodybuilding Workouts For Arms and Chest

You want to focus on four main muscle groups when targeting the chest and arms: Your pecs (chest), deltoids (shoulders), triceps (back of the upper arm) and biceps (front of the upper arm). Watch this video to see the exercises in action, using Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells:

This bodybuilding workout for beginners consists of four moves:

  1. Chest Press
  2. Overhead Shoulder Press
  3. Bicep Curls
  4. Triceps Extensions

Do 10 reps of each move at a weight where the last few reps are challenging, but still allow you to keep proper form. Stick to 1 set of each move to start with. Once you start feeling like you are completing this workout without much challenge, build in an additional set of each move. After you are doing two sets of each move and the workout is no longer a challenge, increase the weight you are lifting a little bit (2.5 to 5 lbs.) to make sure you are always challenging the muscle. Remember to not go too heavy though so you can ensure you keep your form!

Perform this workout twice a week, giving your muscles plenty of time to recover between workouts. This recovery is when your muscles are reconditioning to be ready for more lifting.

Bodybuilding Workouts For Legs

Bodybuilding is not just about size, but symmetry. This means you want to create balance across your entire body, with no single muscle or muscle groups being too pronounced. Another thing to remember is that the bigger your upper body is, the smaller your lower body will look. Here’s a quick introduction on how to start building stronger legs, using Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells:

The three moves in this workout are:

  • Calf Raises
  • Squats
  • Stationary Lunges

Do 10 reps of each move at a weight where the last few reps are challenging, but still allow you to keep proper form. Stick to 1 set of each move to start with. Once you start feeling like you are completing this workout without much challenge, build in an additional set of each move. After you are doing two sets of each move and the workout is no longer a challenge, increase the weight you are lifting a little bit (2.5 to 5 lbs.) to make sure you are always challenging the muscle. Remember to not go too heavy though so you can ensure you keep your form!

Perform this workout twice a week, giving your muscles plenty of time to recover between workouts. This recovery is when your muscles are reconditioning to be ready for more lifting.

Bodybuilding Workouts For Back

Training your back is important for posture and shoulder health. We can improve this part of our body by performing pulling exercises. This introductory bodybuilding workout targets the back with three tried-and-true exercises, using Bowflex SelectTech Dumbbells:

The exercises in this workout are:

  1. Dumbbell Rows
  2. Bent-Arm Dumbbell Rows
  3. Dumbbell Deadlifts

Each exercise is performed for 10 reps and the circuit is repeated two times through. When you choose a weight for this workout, be sure to choose a weight that is challenging when you do the last few reps of an exercise, but still allows you to maintain proper form. You may find you need to change the weight between exercises, which is okay to do.

Now let's put it all together.

7 Day Bodybuilding Workout Routine


Day 1: Arms and Chest


Day 2: Legs


Day 3: Back


Day 4: Arms and Chest


Day 5: Legs


Day 6: Rest Day


Day 7: Rest Day


Continue this workout routine each week. Slowly increasing the weight you lift. Make sure to choose a weight that is challenging when you do the last few reps of each exercise, but still allows you to maintain proper form. once the weight gets really easy for the last rep, that's when you raise the weight.

If you're looking for a great pair of dumbbells to use for this workout and our other workouts, be sure to check out SelectTech Dumbbells.

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

Snacks are only needed if a regular meal isn’t being consumed within 2 hours pre or postworkout. If workout is longer than 60 minutes or extremely high intensity of 45 minutes, have a post-workout snack within 30 minutes of exercising and don't forget to drink water before, during, and after your workout.

Pre-workout snacks within 1-2 hours of starting exercise = low-fiber; higher carbs/moderate to low protein.

  • 1 small Banana
  • 6oz low-fat or non-fat yogurt
  • 1 slice of whole grain bread or ½ English muffin with ½ tablespoon peanut butter
  • 3 Triscuits + 1 string cheese
  • 1 small apple with 10 almonds

Post-workout snack within 30-45 minutes of workout = balance of protein and carbs.

  • Protein shake. Learn the basics of protein powder.
  • 8oz (1 cup) Chocolate Milk or Meal Replacement Shake
  • Hard-boiled Egg + 1 small fruit
  • ½ Turkey Sandwich
  • 15 Almonds + 1 piece of fruit
  • Pretzels or carrot sticks + 2 tablespoons Hummus
  • 1 Energy Bar
  • ½ cup Yogurt + Apple, Pear, or Berries

Post-workout meal within 2 hrs of workout = balance of protein and carbs.

  • 2 chicken, shrimp, or steak tacos on corn tortillas with 1 cup vegetables or salad
  • Grilled chicken sandwich or wrap with vegetable soup
  • Open-face burger with side salad
  • 3-4 oz pork loin, 2 cups steamed veggies, and ½ baked sweet potato

Want more workout ideas? Check out our other Workouts and visit our YouTube channel.


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