If your ambition is to become a bodybuilder, it involves making a lifestyle change. You'll have to commit to a workout schedule that might seem grueling to you at first. Experienced bodybuilders, whether they're amateurs or pros, each have their own workout schedule that is effective for them. Once you've started your muscle-building workout, you'll know what works for your body and can choose the workout frequency that's right for you.
Bodybuilders who have been working at building and shaping their muscles work out about six times a week. Some might choose to work out six days in a row and take the seventh day as a rest day, while others do a three-day split, working out three days, taking a rest day, working out three more and taking another rest day before starting over. Workouts last anywhere from one to three hours, depending on whether the bodybuilder is in a bulking-up phase or is close to a competition and needs to cut up. The rest days are just as important to a bodybuilder's training as the workout days are, so even for the most intense lifters who can't get enough of the gym, a minimum of one rest day each week is recommended to enhance muscle rebuilding.
If you're just starting out, working out six or seven days a week will be too intense. You have to condition your body to withstand being pushed to the limit before you can jump into a workout that will challenge your muscles on a daily basis. Beginners can work out at least two but not more than four days a week, exercising for 45 to 60 minutes each time. An effective split routine for someone just starting the bodybuilding journey is to work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday and take Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday off. Alternatively, you can work out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, taking Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday as rest days.
When your goal is to bulk up, you should lift fairly heavy to encourage hypertrophy -- stressing your muscles to break them down so that they rebuild larger and stronger. Performing two to three sets of eight to 12 reps while lifting 70 to 85 percent of the maximum weight you can lift with a 30-second rest between sets is a typical formula for a beginner's workout.
You may have heard that you shouldn't train upper- and lower-body muscle groups on the same day. There's a commonsense wisdom to that philosophy, because you've got large muscle groups in both your upper body and your legs, and if you work two large muscle groups on the same day, the group you start with will get the benefit of most of your energy and the other group will get short-changed. Not everyone adheres to that idea, though, and in the end, what muscle groups are trained together depends on what the individual bodybuilder feels works best for him. For a beginner on a three-day split, the common muscle group combinations are chest, shoulders and triceps on the first day, legs on the middle day and back and biceps on the third day. For a four-day split you can divide your leg exercises to give you two leg days and two upper-body days. For example, you can work calves and quads one day and hamstrings and glutes on the next leg day.
Don't Sweat the Cardio
Cardio exercise is always beneficial for your heart, but excessive cardio workouts during a time when you're trying to gain size will work against you and burn off some of the size you're trying to gain. A maximum of 20 minutes on the stair stepper or stationary bike just two or three times a week should be a sufficient workout for heart health purposes without jeopardizing your mass. You can and should increase your cardio workouts when you get to the cutting phase of your training and need to improve muscle definition by burning off the last few ounces of fat.