When you’re starting out with bodybuilding … well, you know you’re starting out! That’s the thing. Where do you start?

You see these super-fit, super-toned guys and girls in the gym with their washboard tums and rippling muscles. And, to you, looking like that somehow feels as likely as finding the Holy Grail.

Think again! With dedication, discipline and a few top bodybuilding tips, it could be you turning heads in the gym―and beyond.

We’re not going to tell you that you’ll be giving the Incredible Hulk a run for his money overnight―that’s unlikely without steroids. Well, take it from us, they’re bad news and you don’t need them to look awesome.

Keep hitting that gym armed with the below bodybuilding tips alongside a reasonable amount of patience, and your dream physique could be closer than you think.

Whether you’re male or female, the below bodybuilding tips apply to you. The only question is: How far do you want to take it?

Bodybuilding Tip #1: Choose free weights over machines

Bodybuilding with dumbbells

Ok, resistance machines make working out look easier. That’s because it is, really.

However, with bodybuilding, there are simply no short cuts. Although you can still build muscle using them (and the machines do take some of the hard work out of it) you reap what you sow.

Here’s why:

When you work with free weights (dumbbells, barbells and kettle bells), you use many more supporting muscle groups and you also have to focus more.

You have a wider range of motion, and you’ll become better at balancing and stabilizing… which will be helpful if you don’t like the idea of dropping a 20kg dumbbell on your toe.

Bodybuilding Tip #2: Don’t rush, and don’t get carried away

This tip may well be common sense, but the post-workout endorphin high is pretty compelling, as is the dopamine hit from seeing a bit of muscle definition forming. So it can be temping to start hammering the gym on a daily basis, but this isn’t the way to go about effective bodybuilding.

You’re not going to adorn the cover of Men’s Health or Women’s Fitness by almost killing yourself each week.

What we’re saying is, take your time and allow your body to recover.

Post-workout DOMS is there to tell you that it’s time for your muscles to repair themselves, so give them a chance to do that. Ignore this and you risk fatigue at best, injury at worst.

Ideally you’ll work out at least three times a week, but you’ll cap it at five. As you get fitter (and bigger), your body may allow you to up the frequency without any dramas.

Bodybuilding Tip #3: Train every muscle group weekly

Now that you know how often to train, it’s also important to understand which muscle groups to train and when. For instance, your body won’t recover quickly if you try to work out your whole body in one session.

It’s much smarter to train legs only during one session. The next time you might do arms; the time after, core, and the time after that, back. Then you can repeat this process every week without your entire body getting sore.

This way, while you work out one muscle group, the muscle group you last worked out has enough time to recover.

Bodybuilding Tip #4: Develop a routine and stick with it

Routine is everything when it comes to successful bodybuilding.

First of all, hire a professional personal trainer to teach you the basic bodybuilding exercises to get you started, including number of reps (repetitions) and sets for each exercise.

Personal trainer for bodybuilding

That’s important for two reasons. First, so that you don’t hurt yourself and second, so that you don’t waste your time doing it wrong.

Even the slightest variation from correct posture and movements can lead to muscle wear and tear, and long-term injuries.

Once you have a program, write it down and follow this religiously until you’ve built yourself up as much as that routine will allow for. As you progress and are able to lift the same weights more easily, you will be able to start adding more weight or introducing new exercises into your routine.

Bodybuilding Tip #5: Make sure your diet contains enough protein

Protein diet for bodybuilding

Eating enough protein will greatly benefit your bodybuilding process. If you want to build plenty of lean muscle mass, you’ll need to eat between 1.2 and 1.7 grams of protein for every kilogram of your bodyweight, every day.

That means if you weigh 190lbs, you should be eating between 103 and 147 grams per day. Go for lean protein sources with minimal saturated fat for best results.

If you’re struggling to consume that much protein, you can supplement with a protein shake too.

Finally, remember that even if you follow these bodybuilding tips properly, patience is necessary.

Your desired muscle mass isn’t going to appear overnight, but keep at it and you will eventually see the results you have been craving.

Don’t forget to check out the other articles in our fitness section to keep yourself in tip-top shape all year round!