People from all around the world have always admired the classic bodybuilders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. You want to look just like them, but where to start? How much do you workout, what do you eat, and what about supplements? Well if you're looking for an instruction manual, you've found it. I'll go through the fundamentals of being a bodybuilder, and offer you the information you need to get off to a great start. Where you go from there is up to you!
As you would imagine, training is the most important factor for any bodybuilder. If you do not put in the work, you will not grow muscle. Don't get fooled into the latest and greatest pill that says it can put on muscle on with little or no work on your part. That just isn't how it works, and those products will only waste your money. You have to hit the gym on a regular basis and make it part of your life and routine to see noticeable changes.
As an example, here is my routine as a bodybuilder. I go the gym Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I always go at precisely 9pm and always leave there at precisely 10pm. You should always be training hard, and as such, there is no reason to be at the gym for more than an hour. On the same note, if you're there for less than an hour you're not going to realize your maximum potential. After all, if you're going to go, you might as well make it count. Since one hour is seemingly the point of diminishing returns, that is the sweet spot.
As for the actual lifts, those vary from month to month, and sometimes from week to week. What does stay the same for me is the body part being trained. On Monday I always train biceps and triceps, on Tuesday I always train legs, on Thursday I train chest, and on Saturday I train back and shoulders. This gives me an entire week between training the same body part, so I get a well-rounded physique that doesn't lack in any areas. Over time you will want to start bulking up for the winter and slimming down for the summer, and add some more targeted training, but in the beginning this is the ideal routine.
As I stated, I always work the same body parts on the same days every week. The only aspect of my training that does change is the specific lifts that I do on those days. I shoot for 2-3 lifts per muscle group being trained that day. The human body aims to run at maximum efficiency, so if you do the same lifts week after week your body will simply adapt to doing those lifts, and stop producing muscle. Muscle burns a lot of calories everyday, so your body will not produce it if it's not given a good reason to.
As an example: On a specific day, let's say Monday, I will always train biceps and triceps. For four weeks I may do EZ-Bar curls, cable curls, and overhand EZ-Bar curls for biceps, and skull crushers, overhead free-weight extensions, and push-downs for triceps. The next month I may change it up to isolation curls, Olympic bar curls, and pull-ups for biceps, and cable overhead extension, close-grip bench press, and kneeling triceps extensions with a rope for triceps. You get the idea. Just do your research to get a wide range of different lifts in mind, and make sure to alter your specific routine fairly often.
To recap the training aspect of bodybuilding, the ideal frequency for workouts is 4 times per week for an hour to and hour and a half each, depending on intensity. The body parts trained will remain the same from week to week (this will help you develop a routine), but the specific lifts targeting those body parts will change on at least a monthly basis.
Important side note: While the rotation of specific lifts should be constantly evolving, the three big compound lifts can stay in your rotation indefinitely for their respective muscle groups. As long as you're lifting progressively heavier weight, you should continue to see growth. These lifts would be Squats and Deadlifts for legs, and flat (preferably dumbbell) bench presses for chest. These big compound lifts work multiple muscle groups, so your body won't be able to keep up with respect to adaptation.
What to eat:
There is an old bodybuilder adage that says that "you have to eat big to get big" and this statement does have some truth behind it. This portion of bodybuilding can really go two ways. There are some that want to get big and strong, and desire to gain weight in the process. There are also some that wish to get ripped, and lose weight in the process. Either way, the underlying goal is to gain muscle with the underlying goal of either gaining or losing weight. Livestrong.com states that one pound equals roughly 3,500 calories.  This means that when you burn 3,500 more calories than you bring in over any time period you will lose one pound, and if you bring in 3,500 more calories than you're burning over any time period you will gain one pound. Do the math for your own diet and workout regimen and it should tell you how quickly you should be gaining or losing weight.
When to eat:
Your metabolism should always be your main focus when thinking about the big picture of your nutrition. Your body simply will not build new muscle when it does not have a surplus of calories at any given moment. This is why the majority of bodybuilders will eat between 5-7 small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large ones. With 3 large meals you have large spikes and troughs in insulin levels, so your body is constantly reverting back and forth from excess to starvation modes. Eating frequent small meals can smooth out the spikes, and create an environment conducive to growth.
What to take:
Supplementation is the most heavily debated topic in bodybuilding. There are some that keep it simple, and some who swear by a complicated regimen that can get very expensive. The necessities are:
- Whey Protein Powder:
o It's cheapest to buy in large quantities (5 or 10 pounds)
o 5 grams taken per day to delay muscle soreness and maximize strength for better workouts
o To plug any gaps in your nutrition
- Pre-Workout Supplement
o This is debatable, but I swear by them. A pre-workout supplement provides you with a boost in intensity and focus so you can have a better workout every time
When to take it:
- Whey Protein Powder:
o 50 grams in the morning, and 50 grams right after your workout
o 5 grams after your workout (optional: 5 grams in the morning)
o Take in the morning as directed
- Pre-Workout Supplement
o 20 minutes before hitting the gym
Create your own regimen using this guide as a starting point. If you stick to your plan and stay with it you will see results!