Brief, Basic Bodybuilding Routines

These brief, basic bodybuilding routines for novice strength training and bodybuilding can be performed at home.  You only need your bodyweight, a set of gymnastic rings with adjustable measure-marked straps, a rafter or elevated horizontal pull-up bar to which you can attach the rings, and a set of Bodylastics or other graduated elastic exercise bands. 

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Basic Bodybuilding Novice Routine 1

This basic routine is for individuals who have no experience with high intensity training methods, and for individuals who have never had a bodybuilding routine that produced any noticable gains of strength and size.

You will perform this routine thrice weekly on non-consecutive days (i.e. M-W-F, or T-R-S). Two days rest after every third session.  You will do only one set of each exercise with the specified repetitions or load time.  

Continue each set until you reach momentary muscular failure, i.e. unable to maintain the static hold any longer, or to maintain good form as described and complete a full excursion of the movement. 

  1. Fulcrum chin-up on bar or rings (scaled/leg-assisted as needed)
  2. Incline push-up on rings (scale to your ability)
  3. Wall squat static hold
  4. Band-resisted leg flexion (leg curl)
  5. Prone lumbar extension
  6. Abdominal crunch

Wall Squat Static Hold

Continue this routine until you can hold the static wall squat with a 90 degree angle or less at the knee for 120 seconds.  

Basic Bodybuilding Novice Routine 2

You will perform this routine thrice weekly on non-consecutive days (i.e. M-W-F, or T-R-S). Take two days rest after every third session.  Do only one set of each exercise with the specified repetitions or load time. 

Continue each set until you reach momentary muscular failure, i.e. unable to maintain the static hold any longer, or to maintain good form as described and complete a full excursion of the movement. 

  1. Fulcrum pull-up on rings (scale to your ability)
  2. Push-up on rings (scale to your ability)
  3. Rowing on rings (scale to your ability)
  4. Band standing overhead press or pike press
  5. Full range split squat 
  6. Band-resisted leg flexion (leg curl)
  7. Rise on toes, stand on block, negative accentuated (up on both feet, down on one foot, alternate)
  8. Prone lumbar extension
  9. Abdominal crunch alternated session-to-session with side arch-ups

Continue this routine until you can perform  the full range split squat for 20 strict repetitions and 120 seconds of time under load on each leg.  

Basic Bodybuilding Novice Routine 3

You will perform this basic routine thrice weekly on non-consecutive days (i.e. M-W-F, or T-R-S). Take two days rest after every third session.  Do only one set of each exercise with the specified repetitions or load time. 

  1. Fulcrum pull-up on rings (scale to your ability)
  2. Push-up on rings (scale to your ability)
  3. Rowing on rings (scale to your ability)
  4. Band standing overhead press or pike press.
  5. 4-zone split squat
  6. Band-resisted leg flexion (leg curl)
  7. Rise on toes, stand on block, negative accentuated (up on both feet, down on one foot, alternate)
  8. Prone lumbar extension
  9. Abdominal crunch alternated session-to-session with side arch-up

Continue this routine until you can perform 120 seconds time under load (at least 20 repetitions, i.e. 5-10 per zone) on each leg in the 4-zone split squat.  

Performance guidelines are listed in the table below.  

No Single-Joint Upper Arm Exercises

These programs do not contain any single-joint arm exercises (tricep extensions or bicep curls) because research shows that they probably do not contribute to greater results in arm muscle strength and size, but only consume valuable time.1, 2, 3

Notes

1. Gentil P, Soares SR, Pereira MC, da Cunha RR, Martorelli SS, Martorelli AS, Bottaro M. Effect of adding single-joint exercises to a multi-joint exercise resistance-training program on strength and hypertrophy in untrained subjects. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013 Mar;38(3):341-4. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2012-0176. Epub 2013 Mar 18. PubMed PMID: 23537028.

2. de França HS, Branco PA, Guedes Junior DP, Gentil P, Steele J, Teixeira CV. The effects of adding single-joint exercises to a multi-joint exercise resistance training program on upper body muscle strength and size in trained men. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015 Aug;40(8):822-6. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2015-0109. PubMed PMID: 26244600.

3. Gentil P, Soares S, Bottaro M. Single vs. Multi-Joint Resistance Exercises: Effects on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015;6(2):e24057. doi:10.5812/asjsm.24057. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4592763/>