Whether you want to compete professionally or simply sculpt a well-muscled physique, becoming a bodybuilder can be a highly rewarding endeavor -- regardless of your gender. According to professional bodybuilder Rebecca Starling, bodybuilding helps you develop a fit mind along with a fit body. However, bodybuilding involves more than lifting weights at the gym: it also requires patience, discipline and a well-designed dietary regimen. With proper planning and dedication, you can set foot into the challenging but rewarding world of bodybuilding.
Acquire a gym membership or invest in a set of free weights to use at home. Bodybuilding requires rigorous strength training sessions, and you will need access to a variety of dumbbells, barbells or weight machines in order to build your physique.
Schedule strength training sessions three times per week, up to one hour per workout, and allow one to two days of rest between sessions. This allows your muscles adequate recovery time and minimizes the risk of overtraining, which can impede your progress as a bodybuilder.
Perform exercises for all major muscle groups -- including the hamstrings, calves, gluteus maximus, quadriceps, shoulders, chest, lats, trapezius, abdominals, triceps and biceps. Targeting all areas of your body ensures your physique will develop proportionately and helps you avoid injury.
Choose weight amounts that make it difficult -- but not impossible -- to perform eight to 12 consecutive repetitions of each exercise. Using challenging weight amounts is key for overloading your muscles, which in turn promotes the growth of lean mass.
Eat ample quantities of protein-rich foods -- including low-fat dairy, fish, lean cuts of meat, egg whites, nuts and legumes -- to help facilitate muscle growth. According to fitness professional Lee Hayward, bodybuilders should consume at least 1 g of protein per pound of body weight on a daily basis, and many bodybuilders strive for even more.
Consume complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, vegetables, whole grain pasta and brown rice, and minimize your intake of simple carbohydrates from sweets and desserts. Complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy for your workouts, and -- according to elitefitness.com -- are less likely to be stored as fat compared to their fast-digesting counterparts.
Eat five to six small meals per day instead of three large ones; avoid going long periods of time without eating. Frequent meals ensure your muscles receive the steady stream of nutrition they need to repair and grow.
Although building lean mass is possible through diet and exercise alone, many bodybuilders choose to supplement their diets with glutamine, multivitamins, creatine or protein powder as a way to enhance muscle growth.
Before embarking on your bodybuilding path, schedule a physical with your doctor to check for any health conditions that could make intense weightlifting dangerous. Avoid a high protein intake if you have kidney or liver disease.