The Smartest Muscle Building Program For Beginners

The Beginners Muscle Building Program

By Vince Del Monte

Bodybuilding has changed my life – for the better.

After I transformed from a 149-pound, lanky, cross country runner to a 190-pound National Fitness Model Champion, I discovered the multitude of positive benefits bodybuilding has to offer.

Whether you want build intimidating muscles, tighten up your midsection or slim down, it’s all possible with a bodybuilding lifestyle and a strength training routine with weights.

Whatever your reasons for wanting an attractive and muscular body, you need to start with a clearly defined program to ensure you get started on the right path. If you’ve a beginner bodybuilder (less than one year of weight training experience) then start following the beginners muscle building workout below.

Good News: The best muscular gains typically come in the first 6-12 months so be prepared to see your body, and your life, change in the very near future.

Bad News: There are no magical short-cuts to muscle growth. Stick to the program below and you’ll be 3-months closer to your goal instead of 3-months further from your goal.

"Skinny Vinny" No Nonsense Muscle Building

“Skinny Vinny” in 1996 at the World Junior Triathlon Championships in Cleveland, Ohio – Proud of my Country, not so proud of my body!

Here are a few pointers to consider before starting:

  • Be realistic but think big. Being realistic does not mean you can’t have big goals. In fact, I recommend you strive for big goals or else what’s the point? Be honest with where you are today and where you can be in three months from now, one year from now and three years from now. Keep focused on your short terms goals and remind yourself that they are moving you closer to your long term goals.
  • Commit yourself to three months before assessing your progress. Let’s fact it, you want results fast and yesterday. So do I. Although it is possible to see over night results, don’t become frustrated during your transformation. Be happy with every gain you make and appreciate that sculpting your body takes time. Change occurs in spurts over a period of time.
  • Training in the gym is only half the battle. Training your muscles in the gym in only half the equation and simply sets your muscles up for the potential to grow. What, how much and when you eat plays another critical factor. When you go to sleep plays another and what supplements you take can influence the rate your physique develops too.

Now that we got that out of the way, you’re ready to get started.

The Beginners Muscle Building Program

The muscle building for beginners consists of 15 exercises, using basic movements, a pyramid rep/set scheme, change in exercise order, training three times per week and followed for three months.

Each workout should start with at least 10 minutes of aerobic exercise like running, skipping, rowing or walking on an incline. Light stretches with some arm circles in both directions are excellent to warm up the shoulder joint and loosen up the connective tissue, tendons and ligaments. Be sure that you’re sweating before you head onto the gym floor.

Day 1 Exercises (Monday) Day 2 Exercises (Wednesday) Day 3 Exercises


1) DB Bench Press 1) Lying Leg Raises 1) 1-Leg Extension
2) Pec-Deck Fly 2) Barbell Shrugs 2) 1-Leg Leg Curl
3) DB Shoulder Press 3) Standing Calf Raise 3) 1-leg Leg Press
4) Rear Delt Fly 4) Chin Up 4) 1-Leg Back Extension
5) Seated Row 5) 1-Arm DB Row 5) Standing DB Shoulder Press
6) Lat Pulldown 6) Incline DB Chest Press 6) Standing Side Lateral Raise
7) Leg Extension 7) Push Up 7) EZ Bar Curl
8) Leg Curl 8) Leg Press 8) Lying Tricep Extension
9) Back Extension 9) Leg Curl 9) Bench Press
10) Leg Press 10) Reverse Lunge 10) Incline Barbell Press
11) DB Bicep Curl 11) Back Extension 11) Close Grip Lat Pulldown
12) Tricep Rope Pressdown 12) Upright Row 12) Wide Grip Seated Row
13) Seated Calf Raise 13) DB Lateral Raise 13) Back Extension
14) DB Shrug 14) Overhead DB Extension 14) 1-Leg Calf Raise
15) Crunches 15) Incline Bicep Curl 15) Lying Leg Raises

The Sets and Reps and Rest

Month 1: Perform 1-2 sets of 15-20 reps increasing the weight each set. Start each workout a little heavier than last workout. Rest for 30-60 seconds max between sets.

Month 2: Perform 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps increasing the weight each set. Start each workout a little heavier than last workout. Rest for 60 seconds between each set.

Month 3: Perform 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps increasing the weight each set. Start each workout a little heavier than last workout. Rest 60-90 seconds between each set.

Vince Del Monte in Nice, France on HoneymoonEnjoying the pool bar in Nice, France a few weeks ago while on my Honeymoon!

Altering The Routine

If you’re finding the routine a little aggressive than you break the workout into two different days and do exercises 1-7 on Monday and Thursday. And do exercises 8-15 on Tuesday and Friday. This would give you a total of four muscle building workouts a week instead of two.

Extra Notes

  • The most important aspect is learning the exercises. Either pick up my own muscle building program and you’ll see how each of these exercises are performed. Or else hire a trainer or train with a friend who can safely coach you through each one. A couple sessions with a professional trainer is a great investment at this stage of the game.
  • Consider stretching in between exercises. This can help improve flexibility, muscle growth and muscle recovery. It will also help you get more “in tune” with the feel of your muscles.
  • Notice that you are changing the order of muscle groups being trained which will prevent muscle imbalances from being performed. The variety of exercise order will give different muscle groups opportunity to train earlier in the workout when they are fresh and can go harder.
  • Really focus on familiarizing yourself with the exercises before lifting any serious weights. The name of the game in bodybuilding is building muscle size and strength, not seeing who can lift the heaviest weights. Lifting heavy weights with bad form is a guaranteed way to injury yourself.
  • If the weights feel extremely heavy one day, don’t panic. Having low energy days and high energy days is normal as you become more familiar with your body, diet and recovery then you’l be able to control your performance more accurately.
  • Don’t train to failure in the first month. Hit your goal reps every time and do extra reps to make the workout tougher. Each month will progress you to heavier weights to be patient and trust the program. It’s very critical to get each movement fixed in your mind and to be a master at it before bumping up the weights and “pushing it.”
  • Sometimes changes to your physique don’t become noticeable until the second or third month. This is when your motivation will skyrocket so trust the program and be confident that a new surge of motivation is just around the corner. This mindset will help you stay positive if your gains are initially slow.
  • Finish each workout with at least another 10 minutes of cardio plus some light stretching on your tighter muscle groups.


At the end of your third month you’ll have laid the foundation of a strong, shapely physique and your mental and physical state should be improving dramatically. At this point in the game it’s time to consider a new program and bigger-picture goals.

It’s critical that you commit to this first three months and not switch your program. The easiest and worst habit you can develop as a beginner is not finishing your first program and turning into a classic “program hopper.”

Understand, there is no perfect product as you learn more about bodybuilding and your own body you’ll be able to develop an instinctive sense as to how to manipulate the training variables and when it’s time to make a change.

Of course, the best place to for fresh and new muscle building information on fine-tuning your workout routine is always!

Until next time,

Vince Del Monte

P.S. If you’re a beginner bodybuilder I would love to meet you and hear your story. What’s your name, where are you from and what has motivated you to start a bodybuilding workout? Leave your comments below.

If you’re not a beginner, please leave your number one piece of advice for our beginner bodybuilder friends. Your knowledge and experience would be very appreciated. Leave your input below. Thanks.

Click the “Like” button below if you enjoyed this information. Thanks

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10 Responses to “The Smartest Muscle Building Program For Beginners”

  1. Sadam Hussain

    Hi Vince Sadam Here.
    Man you are doing a great job.
    i wanna know is this program suitable for the hard-gainers as well????
    Please Do Reply….!!!
    Many Thanks for your time.

  2. Troy

    I didn’t start making gains until I starting eating a crap load of calories a day. Yes, I did gain some fat, but that was only temporary because I just did a cutting phase and now am where I want to be with my body.

    I went from 150 to 210 and then cut down to 190 and I’m good now. Trust me, that first bulk is extremely important to your muscular development. If you’re one of those guys who wants to gain muscle while staying at a low body fat, be prepared for a very hard time and most likely be prepared to be disappointed.

    For skinny guys, it’s almost impossible to gain a huge amount of muscle without gaining some fat. Most people who are ripped AND muscular are the guys who did a bulk and then just cut all the fat afterwards.

  3. Darnel

    The two things i say you absolutely have to have in the gym, is technique and intensity. If you only have one on the floor your are getting 25% of the results. I look at it as a contest against myself, i look to kick my own ass in the gym, and you must do the same, but if you dont use proper technique then you are beating your head against a wall. Among diet and rest, you need all levels of intensity went working out, it is the only way to results.

  4. Finn

    Hey. Cool article. Love your stuff Vince. I’m not sure why but you never mention Fat Gripz. They are the best muscle building tools I ever bought…… apart from your stuff of course :) They go great with your programs. Or you could use a thick bar if you’ve got one.


  5. Tarimin

    Hi, I wanted to know if you have a beginners workout for building muscles with one’s bodyweight only. I have about 80lbs of fat to shed and would like to take advantage of my own body weight right now.


  6. Richard

    Weight training is an individual endeavor. Do the weights in strictly good form and increase the weight slightly each workout. Trying to do the weights that someone else is doing can be very harmful. Set someone else’s weight as a goal and work toward it consistently and safely. Trying too much and failing will lead to discouragement and quitting, injury and delay, or injury and quitting. Work smarter and make gradual progress toward your goal. Your program is just that, YOUR PROGRAM. Lift smart and eat well.

  7. Michael Baggett

    For the beginner my advice would be start simple and keep it simple. I would advise against reading the muscle magazines. I would suggest doing just enough to stimulate growth and eat balanced meals plus a post workout protein/carb drink and get your sleep. Think positive about your workouts believing with every workout you are improving. It is happening inside you if you are working out progressively.

    Construct a basis one set per body part routine and experiment with weights to find the weight you can use up to 12 reps. The weight should be very difficult to lift for the 12th rep. Do your workout every other day or 3 days per week with a day of rest in between. The next workout add just a pound to every exercise and aim for the same reps. Keep records of this simple routine. Get you some large washers at the hardware store that weight about 1/2 lb a piece so you can add one to each end of the barbell. Yeah, go ahead and stick to the barbell for awhile. Take about one minute between your sets and body parts with this simple routine. Change out your weights during this time. Your total time of the workout should be about the same or become slightly less with time. Don’t get bored…One day you will hit a wall and the weights won’t go up but you will show good progress. Change the exercise for each body part and do the progressive thing all over again.

    My thoughts are if you start out with 3 exercises for several sets of them for each body part you will get discouraged for all the work, over train and cheat yourself out of progress. Why do over kill and discourage yourself from training because you feel like you’ve been thrown from a moving truck the day after training? Do enough to grow. You’ll have years to add little by little to your workout and take things as far as you want to go. Don’t worry about what other people think and and copy anybody. People who have done this awhile will be doing a lot more than you. It might be best to keep it to yourself. Be safe, take your time, be disciplined and progressive in your training. Progressive is the key. Your body will reward you.

  8. Hasan

    Hey Vince, this seems like a really good plan, but why are there no dead lifts, squats or any compound movements in this plan at all? surely they are the fastest and most effective way to get stronger and bigger?
    Write back.

  9. grilled cheese sandwich

    2 tips for beginners looking to gain mass- Eat healthy and eat a lot and do not over train.

  10. Alex Allmert - Hardcore Natural Bodybuilding Tips

    You forgot to mention one thing that is crucial…

    A beginner(or someone who took a long brake from working out) makes gains if he sticks to a single program for a couple of months regardless of the program, the body is forced to adapt to the strain that it is forced to go through.

    What you didn’t mention is that doing the same program for too long slows down gains, the body is has adapted to the same old exercises and does not need to change.

    It’s a good idea to change the program when the gains stop, I did that very mistake, I would stick to the same program for almost a year but the results would not come.

    So variety is also a good idea, there has to be a balance between not sticking to a program long enough and grinding through it when there are no more gains.

    -Alex Allmert