How To Choose A Bodybuilding Routine – Beginner’s Guide

There is endless amount of bodybuilding routines. Every day there’s new one. Of course, they all promise miracles but rarely something special happens. Here’s a guide that will help you cut through the disinformation and false claims when choosing a bodybuilding plan or coming up with your own.

1.Who’s the source?

The author of the program is very important because everyone has different agenda. For example, if you follow a routine written by the T-Nation employee Christian Thibaudeau you will be advised to buy a lot of useless supplements.  The bodybuilding routines on T-Nation usually come with specific supplement plan which is not only questionable but also immoral and misleading. You have to understand that this sport is monetized mainly through the sale of supplements. That’s why guys like Dave Tate and Jim Wendler advertise the products of T-Nation in their articles. Both of them are experienced powerlifters who know very well that supplements are not important and steroids are NOT “just the finishing touch“.


On the other hand, if you go to guys like Mark Rippetoe he will advise you to do “his” thing which is heavy squatting and overeating. He likes his GOMAD diet but the after results are more than unsatisfying. However, he continues to claim insane muscle mass gains on his program even though most of the people who’ve done it  to the latter end up at higher body fat and with no muscle to show for.

If you go to guys like Pavel Tsatsouline, you will be “milked” in a different way. He will advise you to train with kettlebells and to use some kind of “secret” and “special” Soviet tactics. Of course, this is nothing more than a carefully elaborated marketing plan. There’s nothing special about kettlebells and all of those special tactics are nothing special at all. Tsatsouline and his team are just counting on the general ignorance of the Western population which is somehow supposed to believe that the big bad Russians have some insane underground knowledge about training.

In general, whoever wrote a program has something to sell. Guys like Jeff Seid and Lazar Angelov will advertise any program or product, if they are paid enough to do so. They would not care whether it’s effective or not as long as the financial parameters of the deal are met. They will do just about anything to get their hands on some Federal Reserve Notes.

For the reasons above always try to analyze and question – are there financial reasons behind the bodybuilding routine that’s being advertised to you. If so, what are they and are they a deal breaker.

2.Exaggerated claims

Somehow every bodybuilding routine out there is supposed to transform you into a mutant and help you reach new levels of muscular development. While there’s obviously some truth to it, the end results are artificially boosted. For example, many sites like T-Nation and Bodybuilding.com promote certain programs for natural bodybuilders and yet all the images in the articles are of IFBB bodybuilders who are well known drug users. That’s meant to attack your subconscious and make you believe you can get close to the presented physique naturally. That’s how unrealistic expectations are born. Truth be told, if the routines that were pushed in your face came with REAL before and after pictures, you would no be impressed.

3.Too much bro science

Many of the routines out there are based on bogus research and twisted facts. The so-called experts love to brag about secret stuff like anabolic windows, post workout shakes. pre-workout shakes, growth hormone (GH) release and many other irrelevant subjects that don’t have a saying in the end result. For example, many still believe that after squats and deadlifts the body releases insane amounts of testosterone and GH. This is not the case at all and there’s plenty of evidence that the amount of released hormones is not even close to what’s needed for a visible effect to be seen.

4.Exercise selection

When choosing a bodybuilding routine you have to make exercise selection based on your body structure, injury history and experience. Obviously, if you are a beginner just starting out you don’t have much experience and you will first have to do the different exercises for some time in order to build a base and be able to evaluate how you feel.

You have to make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly and they are not causing you joint pain. As a beginner focus on basic exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, deadlifts…etc. Those exercises are perfectly fine at producing decent results.

You don’t need some sort of secret exercises and equipment. However, like we’ve already said exercises like squats and deadlifts are not magic. They are just compound movements following the bio-mechanics of the body.  If you for some reason cannot do them, don’t sweat it and try to build a bodybuilding routine without being influenced by false dogmas. In general, if a routine consists of too many exercises, it’s either too advanced or marketing propaganda. Stay away from the routines of professional bodybuilders or at least downsize them a little bit.

To summarize: choose your exercises according to your personal needs and physical abilities.

5.Make sure your routine is dynamic

A good program will be built around cycling principles. There will be progressive overload but also time for rest. You cannot keep on adding weight forever. You have to plan deloading phases when you reduce the weight and gradually build up again. We are not robots and there’s no way to perform better and better workout after workout forever. Any program that does that is doomed to fail sooner or later. Keep your bodybuilding routine dynamic.

6.Be realistic

We’ve all been conditioned to expect miracles. After all, even guys like Kali Muscle claim to be natural bodybuilders. However, true natural bodybuilders are not big in general. It’s just not possible regardless of your training. No matter how much you obsess over training, you can’t beat nature. We can’t all be as tall as basketball players. We also can’t have 20 inch lean arms naturally. Sorry.

7.Stay away from cookie cutters and shortcut routines

There are many specialized sites out there meant to sell you cookie cutter routines. They are easy to recognize and consists of one very long page, lots of fake testimonials and at the of the page you see some sort of a price ending at “.99”. The price is also supposed to be a discount. Nothing good will ever come out of those programs. They are made ouf of the same old recycled material. You can have the same information for free.

A good example would be the scam artist Mike Chang and his cookie cutter program called “Six Pack Shortcuts”. It’s a routine based on “whore” marketing and disinformation. It’s not based on any kind of Chinese secrets. Mike Chang’s success is due solely to insane amounts of hype and well paid PR team.

Of course NattyOrNot.com also has routines claiming to help you build more muscle. However, we don’t promote unrealistic expectations. The routines are completely free and we inform that everything you see is just a guideline, and not something set in stone that you have to follow no matter what. No! The bigger arms routines on this site are nothing special – they are just a simple workout for your upper body muscles. No miracles here. Sorry. And since you are going to ask…No! You can’t gain an inch of muscle on your arms in 1 month. Truth be told, for a natural this may take over a year.

8.Most of the testimonials are fake

Every popular bodybuilding routine comes with a large amount of fake testimonials. Many of the before and after photos are taken the same day. It’s amazing what you can achieve with make up, oil and Photoshop. Most of the people who write reviews about bodybuilding routines are either fictional characters or paid to do so.

9.Stay away from routines that come with magic pills.

Unfortunately, there are many bodybuilding routines that come with a shady supplementation plan. Overweight people are often advertised to drink some sort of ancient teas and herbs in order to lose weight. Every day there’s a new “revolutionary” ingredient being found. Stay away from shady web-sites promoting similar products. If a routine is not build around hard work and intelligence, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

10.Don’t take advice from brainwashed people

Many of the people on sites like T-Nation and Bodybuilding.com are brainwashed. Moderators often delete the posts that expose the industry. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU. That’s why most of the popular forums are populated by individuals who believe Layne Norton and CT Fletcher are natural bodybuilders. Don’t take advise from those people. They are either brainwashed or have taken a deal under the table and are paid to tell lies. There are many sellouts in the industry who have rejected their principles in order to buy the newest gadgets. Greed will kill them.

11.Illusion of authority

Many former IFBB pros speculate with their position of authority. Every retired pro has a supplement line. That’s how they make their cash. They speculate with the fact that they have/had an admirable physique. They don’t tell you that much of their muscle mass has been achieved through the use steroids, GH and insulin. They abuse their position of power and create fake illusion of authority. Unfortunately, many bodybuilders are fake inside. The psychological side of bodybuilding is quite interesting and has been partially explained in this post: Bodybuilders Have Small Male Pride

12.Set a goal

Bodybuilding routines build around realistic goals are among the most successful. You will make more progress, if you build a routine around a specific goal. It helps if the goal is not just a broad term such as: I just want to be bigger. An example of specific goal would be: I want to be able to do 20 consecutive pull-ups. You will find that achieving physical goals beyond just muscle growth is much more satisfying.

13. Don’t obsess over minor details

There isn’t a written in stone formula you have to follow. There’s no need to obsess over trivial things like the perfect rep range, the best time to workout, is it better to train my arms in the morning or in the evening… Those minor details should not occupy such a large percentage of your thoughts when selecting a bodybuilding routine.

14.Focus on routines that takes less time

There’s no need to spend a lot of time in the gym. As a recreational lifter stay away from routines that require you to spend half of your day in the gym. There’s no need for it. Less is often more when it comes to natural bodybuilding.

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