The most common questions I am asked from skinny guys that are trying to bulk up and develop some muscle tone, is where they should start. Most have the drive and enthusiasm but are unsure of a weight and exercise routine to adopt that will bring success. This simple and easy to follow outline is a brilliant one for those just starting out or for those just simply wanting to add some weight training to their already existing program. I have had low impact sportspeople such as golfers right through to high impact sportspeople adopt this easy to manage routine and reap the rewards.
Always start with an activity that increases heart rate and gets the blood pumping through the body. You can simply do some star jumps or jogging on the spot or use a stationary bike or treadmill for this purpose. These apparatus can also be used on the off days from your weight training if you have the time. Make sure you drink water or a sports drink 15 minutes before you begin and it is imperative that you continue to hydrate during the session. For every 1% body weight lost due to fluid loss through sweating, will cause a 5% decrease in performance. So keep drinking, it will help you get more out of your session!
Not everyone has hours to spend on an exercise program and has the time to complete a lengthy daily routine. However, I would recommend that you go through the process outlined at least 2 to 3 times a week. This program can also be adapted in accordance with the time that you have available to you. It is suitable for both men and women and you will soon discover the appropriate weight loading according to your strength and development. In fact, you will be amazed at your ability to cope with an increase in weight a few weeks after you commence. However, start with light weights which will allow you to adopt the correct techniques.
Starting with the larger muscle groups has always been a common format and one that I would advise. Remember the order; warm up, stretch, chest exercises, shoulders, legs, biceps and triceps. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps for every activity mentioned with a weight that allows you to complete the 10 reps without total exhaustion. Also stretching the specific muscle group you are working on between sets will increase growth as you address the tissue that has been under load. Give yourself about 1 minute rest in between sets. Keep this timing consistent, as well as your routine for the first few weeks so you can better judge your growth and development. I suggest having a training partner to encourage and spot for you for safety reasons.
Ideally you will require some warm up equipment, a weight bench, a long barbell with a variety of weight discs that can be easily changed and at least 2 small dumbells for some one handed lifting exercises and a large exercise ball for seated activities. All of this equipment can be purchased new from most large retail stores or can be found incredibly cheaply at garage sales or in the second hand for sale section of the local newspaper. Try eBay and other online auctions for bargain prices. Larger machines can be inflexible, hard to store and require lots of space. However, if you have the room or already have one they will definitely do the job.
Chest. Start with bench presses using a flat bench, preferably using a spotter to assist you. Follow with flys. Lay flat on the bench with small dumbells in each hand. Raise each above your chest then allow them simultaneously to be lowered to the side level with your chest and below the level of the bench in a wide clapping style motion. Keep the elbow slightly bent. Your grip should not be overly tight. Follow with seated flys. Sit on the exercise ball, keep back straight and lean toward the floor in front of you. Get a dumbell in each hand and at the same time lift them to the side stretching your chest muscles. Don’t jerk the body but rather lift with slightly bent elbows.
Shoulders. Straddle the bench with a longer barbell in your hands. Lift to just below the chin, this is your starting point. Lift the bar past your face and all the way until arms are stretched, then lower to starting point. Next set is the same but done behind the neck. Follow by seated one hand lifts with dumbells from the shoulder, past the ear and all the way to locking point above your head. Lift both at the same time. Next stand with dumbells at your side and lift out in a flapping motion with elbows slightly bent. Lift and lower slowly. Do 3 sets of each exercise. 10 reps each set.
Legs. If you have a stationary bike, start with 1 minute steady pedalling. The sprint for 10 seconds, slow for 10 seconds. Continue this for 2 minutes. Follow with 3 sets of leg raises. If you have a bench with leg raise bar, place the appropriate weights on and complete 3 sets. One facing up and one facing down to work the quads and the hamstrings. Finish with squats. In the first week or so use no weights then progress to holding a weight disc across your chest. After a few weeks, begin to use a barbell resting on your shoulders and gradually increase the weight to a comfortable level. Overloading the bar is not wise and will place unnecessary pressure on your knees. If joint pain is a problem to you I would suggest a supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin. Arthritis sufferers and those that have played a lot of sport swear by it.
Biceps. Start with a longer barbell in a standing position and hold with palms facing forward and bar resting on thighs. Curl the bar up to the chest holding the upper arm by your side and moving the lower arm upward in an arc like shape. Lower down to thighs. Next use single hand dumbells in the same format. You may lift both together or use an alternate action. Try not to swing the down to lift, use the arms.Next set is also using dumbells. Hold them by the side with palms facing in toward the leg so the end of the dumbell is facing straight ahead. Lift together using the same action as previously.
Triceps. Commence with sitting on the floor and placing your hands to the rear of you a little wider than shoulder width and with the fingers pointing forward. Lift your bottom off the ground and bend legs with feet flat. Lower and raise your body using your arms bending and straightening. Next sit on an exercise ball with a dumbell in each hand and lean forward. Move the upper arm to the rear of you and parallel to the ground. Using the lower part of the arm lift the dumbell like a pendulum toward the rear and then lower to perpendicular position. Lift simultaneously. Can also add variety by standing and leaning over the bench and placing 1 knee on the bench. Work 1 arm at a time using the same method outlined above.
After exercise is absolutely crucial and the key that many neglect. What you do after a workout can significantly enhance what you have just done or if you do nothing, can lessen the effectiveness. Regardless of the intensity of the session, your muscles cells will suffer some damage, as this is one aspect that causes growth and toning. Repair, recovery and growth can be sped up remarkably by taking a protein shake within 30-40 minutes after the session. Low fat and low carb shakes are fantastic if you don’t want to build muscle mass but are simply looking for better tone, shape and reducing fat. L Carnitine will assist fat reduction as well. If bulking up is what you want, then a protein shake that is higher in carbs, such as an xtreme mass gainer will do a super job. Adding creatine to the mix will lift the effect even more. Don’t waste your workout. The right supplement is vital.