Building muscle is not easy.
Training right is the key to gain muscle mass.
If you don’t train right, no amount of supplements, sleeping or eating will build you muscle.
When you are a beginner, picking the best weightlifting workout routine is crucial.
You are the most enthusiastic when you are a beginner and frustration with inferior routines can cost you precious time and effort, even to the point of giving up on building muscle.
How Picking the Wrong Weightlifting Workout Routine Cost Me 4 Years
When I started bodybuilding, I made a costly mistake.
I had no idea how to build muscle so I went to a popular, fancy gym in my area.
I asked them to give me a weightlifting workout routine.
They assigned me a gym instructor. My instructor put me on a bioelectrical impedance body composition monitor to see how much muscle and fat I have in my body.
Not surprisingly, the machine told that I had weak muscles and a lot of extra fat.
The instructor wrote a weightlifting and cardio routine for me and told me to follow this routine 3 days a week for the next 4 months.
The routine stated how much weight I should be lifting for each exercise and my walking speed on the treadmill.
I was happy that I didn’t need to guess these numbers.
Weightlifting was for building muscles, cardio was for fat loss, I figured. That made so much sense at the time.
I went back home with a smile on my face thinking that I did the smartest thing and left it to the professionals who certainly knew what they are doing.
My First Weightlifting Workout Routine
The next Monday I started my workout routine. It went like this:
- 10 minutes walking on the treadmill
- Chest machine weightlifting
- Back machine weightlifting
- Hamstring machine weightlifting
- Quadriceps machine weightlifting
- Triceps machine weightlifting
- Biceps machine weightlifting
- Back extension
- 30 minutes walking on the treadmill
This routine took me 75 minutes to complete. The weights I was lifting were too light, even for my weak muscles.
When I asked my instructor about this, she (yes, a girl) told me that the weights will increase every 4 months.
I followed this routine religiously for exactly one year, slightly increasing the weights every 4 months until my gym subscription ended.
At the end of the year, bioelectrical impedance body composition monitor told me that I gained 6 pounds of fat and 1 pound of muscle during the year.
The results of a year of my committed work were humiliating.
I was disappointed, defeated and angry.
I thought there was something wrong with me.
I didn’t extend my gym subscription and gave up on my dreams of big muscles.
4 Years Without Touching the Weights
I was so frustrated with my first weightlifting routine that I didn’t touch the weights for 4 years.
During these 4 years, I made a lot of improvements to my life. I read lots of books, quit my job, traveled the world and lost weight.
I took up bodyweight training.
Bodyweight training did great things for me and I managed to build some muscle.
But, I envied the men who had bigger muscles.
I finally had some muscle mass but I was small. When I put a shirt on, nobody could tell I was muscular.
My burning desire for building big muscles was still there. I just didn’t know how to build them.
How Picking the Right Weightlifting Workout Routine Changed My Life
After I managed to get lean enough, I decided to give weightlifting another shot.
I read a lot of books and articles about bodybuilding.
Fortunately, I found a gem in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder:
Good early training shows up in the muscles around the spine. There is really no exercise for those muscles; their development is just an indication that you have put in some heavy groundwork, heavy squats and heavy deadlifts, a lot of lifting and rowing. I had done these exercises from the start. I developed strong basic muscles which gave me the powerful look people wanted to see
Arnold said the secret to big muscles is building the muscles around your spine. The way to build these muscles was heavy squats and heavy deadlifts, a lot of lifting and rowing.
This gem I found, would change my life.
Now I knew why my previous weightlifting routine failed. That routine contained none of these exercises.
Having learned the fundamental exercises, I had other questions in my mind.
- How many days a week should I train?
- Which exercises are the best to build muscle other than deadlift and squat?
- In which order should I do the exercises?
- How many sets/reps of each exercise should I do?
- How much should I rest between sets?
- How do I know how much weight I should be lifting?
- How long should I train?
I gathered every information I could get until I figured out the right way to train.
After settling on an efficient routine, I managed to build a body I am proud of, within just 8 months.
Now, my muscles are big and strong. Just as I wanted them to be.
Beginner Weightlifting Workout Routine Checklist
When you are a beginner, it’s hard to pick a weightlifting workout routine because of the flood of information which is bunk or works only for the advanced bodybuilders.
Picking a solid weightlifting routine will save you a lot of time, frustration and effort, especially if you are a beginner.
So, I created a checklist for beginners for picking the right weightlifting workout routine.
Ask these questions before you decide to start a weightlifting routine:
#1) Are compound exercises the staple of the routine?
Compound movements such as deadlifts, squats, and presses allow you to lift the heaviest weight so you can gain muscle mass fast.
Any beginner weightlifting workout routine should include the essential compound exercises.
#2) Is the routine based on the principle of progressive overload?
It’s impossible to build muscle without progressive overload.
Make sure your routine is built for progressive overload.
Any weightlifting routine that ignores this principle will not build you any muscle whatsoever.
#3) Does it include detailed information about the number of sets/reps for each exercise?
The muscle mass you build depends on the number of sets and reps you perform for each exercise.
Different number of sets and reps serve different goals in bodybuilding.
So, make sure your routine contains detailed information about the number of sets and reps for each exercise.
#4) Does it tell you how many days a week you should train and why?
The optimal balance between training and recovery for the best gains should be laid out carefully.
Otherwise, you risk undertraining or doing junk sets which don’t build you any muscle and steal from your recovery time.
#5) Does it include detailed information about the rest intervals between sets per exercise?
Rest intervals between sets matter big time for progressive overload.
Each exercise works different groups of muscles in your body so the rest intervals between sets will be different for every exercise.
Your routine should be providing detailed information on rest intervals because you don’t want to miss out on muscle gains.
#6) Does it show you how you should determine the amount of weight you will be lifting for every exercise?
Lift more weight than you can handle and you risk injury. Lift less and you will not build any muscle.
Your routine should be helping you to find the sweet spot for the best gains without injuring yourself.
#7) Does it contain a detailed day by day workout plan
When you are a beginner, you will not be sure about how to configure your plan for each day and week of your plan.
Your routine should be providing you the exact daily weightlifting plan for every day of your training.
#8) Does it provide exercise descriptions
As a beginner, you will often be confused about how to perform the exercises.
Having detailed descriptions for the correct form of each exercise will save you a lot of headaches during your weightlifting journey.
#9) Is it tried, tested and vouched by credible sources?
You don’t want to be a guinea pig for a weightlifting workout routine that’s not proven to work.
When there are routines that are tried, tested and approved, there’s no need to gamble on a routine that may or may not work.
#10) Does it make outrageous claims?
Beware of routines claiming muscle gains that defy logic. If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.
Life is too short to settle for mediocre results.
Your fastest muscle gains will come when you are a beginner because of the law of diminishing returns.
Don’t waste your best opportunity to build the most muscle mass.
Follow the guidelines in this article for picking the best weightlifting workout routine for beginners and train hard.
Building muscle is an incredibly rewarding experience.
Start today and don’t miss out.