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Ah, to be a beginner bodybuilder in 2020. First off, I want to congratulate you on deciding to pick up the iron and change your body. It will change your life, too. Second, I want you to know that there’s never been a better time to start weight training, no matter how old you are.
There’s more information than ever on how to train and eat and more ways to become inspired. When I started out in the 1960s, I had nothing but this magazine and its pictures of Reg Park to guide me— and I guess you could say I turned out all right. Imagine what you can do with all of today’s resources at your disposal.
As you begin your journey, I’ll offer the following “advices”— and if you’ve seen Pumping Iron, you know that last word wasn’t a typo.
First, get a picture in your mind of how you want your body to look. Visualization is enormously important in sculpting a physique, because once you know where you want to go, you need only to begin moving in that direction to get there.
If you want big arms, focus on curls. A big chest? Bench presses and flyes. At this stage in your development, stick with the basic exercises. You’ll get more out of squats and chinups than you will from machines. Also, don’t forget to warm up properly and stretch. Don’t let your eagerness to lift heavy weights lead to injury. Keep your reps in the range of eight to 12.
On the nutrition front, don’t fall for diet fads—eat healthy food. You need about one gram of protein per pound of your body weight every day and carbs from rice, potatoes, and vegetables. Let your fats come from big, juicy steaks (at least that’s what I ate!).
I also recommend that you find a training partner. When I was starting out, I was motivated to progress that much faster by having little competitions each workout with friends. Partners keep you accountable, and they make training fun, and don’t be surprised if you meet some of the best friends of your life in the gym.
Remember to stay hungry, and welcome to the brotherhood!