4 Steps To Get Big For Beginners

Bulk Up Huge

Once in awhile someone asks me how to get big and/or stronger because they have no idea where to begin. This gets me thinking about what I would do differently if I could start again at the beginning knowing what I know today. I hope this guide can help you get started.

1) Find a proper gym.

The gym needs to have barbells with good knurling (the rough part of the bar that allows you to get a better grip on it). This allows you to do lifts like barbell rows or deadlifts without having to use wrist straps. Wrist straps will hold back your grip strength if you rely on them too much.

A squat rack or power rack is key. This will allow you to safely do compound lifts like the squat, overhead or military presses and bench presses to start with. More on that later.

Chalk should be allowed. Many gyms don't, but you can usually work around it by sneaking in some and cleaning it up afterwards. The last gym I held a membership at, didn't care that I used it as long as I cleaned up. Fair enough.

2) Start a training program based on compound lifts.


I added about 40lbs to my body weight from using sand filled, vinyl weights at home for about a year. I weighed about 170lbs when I got my first gym membership. They had good barbells, 1 power rack and 2 squat racks but for about a year, I didn't touch them. I was overwhelmed with all this new equipment I had never used before and didn't know where to start. I stuck with machines and dumbbells at first and made some progress. But the real progress came when I started to learn the compound lifts (mainly the barbell squat, deadlift, bench and military press) using that equipment I had been unfamiliar with. I could be further along now if I started out learning proper form on those big lifts right from the beginning.

A beginner training program using compound lifts would look like this:

*Consult your doctor before starting a new training routine. All sets below are after warming up. It's important to focus on your form. Start out light and add weight from there until it's challenging. If you start to break form, it's too heavy.

Day 1 - Bench - Chest & Triceps
  • Barbell Bench - 4 sets, 10 reps
  • Close-Grip Bench - 2 sets, 10 reps
  • Dips - 4 sets, 10 reps

Day 2 - Deadlifts - Back & Biceps
  • Deadlifts - 4 sets, 8 reps
  • Barbell Rows 3 sets, 10 reps
  • Lat Pulldowns 3 sets, 10 reps
  • Bicep Curls 3 sets, 10 reps

Day 3 - Rest

Eat big! Take a nap if you can. The time off from the gym is when your body repairs itself back up bigger and stronger.

Day 4 - Military Press - Shoulders

  • Military Press - 4 sets, 10 reps
  • Side Raises - 3 sets, 10 reps
  • Rear Delt Raises - 3 sets, 10 reps

Day 5 - Squats - Legs
  • Squats - 5 sets, 12 reps
  • Hamstring Curls - 4 sets, 12 reps
  • Weighted Ab Crunch - 3 sets, 8 reps
  • Oblique Raises - 3 sets, 8 reps

Day 6 - Rest

Day 7 - Rest

To progress on this program, add a little bit of weight every now and then when it starts feeling easy or when you can do more reps than before. This is called 'Progressive Overload'.

3) Start a bulking diet.

Bulking Diet

I was lucky enough to read a bulking diet guideline in a bodybuilding magazine near the beginning of my weight training days. I still use it to this day! I didn't have to waste too much time trying to figure out how much food to eat.

As a starting point on a bulking diet, for every pound of body weight, eat at least 1 gram of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrates and 0.5 gram of fats.

This total would be divided up among your meals (and shakes if you choose) throughout the day. My biggest meals are before training and around an hour after training. If you find you're adding more bodyfat than you'd like, cut back the carbohydrates. But if you're on this website reading this, you probably don't care about that. "Not shredded, not concerned."

So for example, say someone starting out weighs 170 lbs.

Protein = 170 grams
Carbohydrates = 510 grams
Fats = 85 grams

Divide those numbers up into 4 or 5 meals and shakes for the day. Cooking and eating that many meals a day takes a lot of time. Supplements like protein and weight gainer powders can help out a lot with saving time. Read my article on how to make your own weight gainer powder here.

If the 170 lbs person in the example goes with 5 meals a day, each one should have about 34g protein, 102g carbs, and 17g fats. I personally never count fats as you can tell by my powergut. I just make sure I get enough protein and carbs by the end of the day.

For a more detailed breakdown of each meal, check out this guide: Powerlifter Diet Plan for Bulking

4) Stay consistent.

Now you have all the basic tools and a plan to start getting big. You have to be consistent with it day in and day out over weeks and months to start seeing some gains. You can make small adjustments here and there but changing a whole plan to the latest training program or diet trend every week won't do any good. It takes a few weeks (6-8) to tell if a plan is working or not. A common mistake that I was guilty of too in the beginning is the "I want all of this now" mentality. Progression in weight training happens over months and years of consistency.

Related Post: Powerlifting for Beginners (and Mistakes to Avoid)

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the tips to get a beautiful beefy body like yours!

Dan said...

You're welcome. More tips to come!

Anonymous said...

I'm just a bit curious: Is there any tips to get a beautiful beefy, fat body like yours in a healthy way?

I mean keeping cholesterol, blood pressure at a reasonable state.

- a fan

gordo said...

Thanks for the tips dude, i will try to do all and will let u know, big hugs!

Dan said...

@ 'a fan'
There are. I have good cholesterol and blood pressure. I get a check up regularly. I also take fish oil supplements and walk 30-60 minutes a day and sometimes more.

A common mindset I find with people trying to get bigger is to be sedentary after weight training and days off. This actually affects your training negatively too because you won't have the cardio strength to get through all the training you need to do at top levels.

Anonymous said...

Good to know about that.
Very useful tips!

And of course, you can have some MuEr (Black fungus) and eggplant as well!
Those are good for health

esforme said...

thanks to your advice

Raymond said...

Good tips and great videos. My gym is the one in my building's clubhouse. Sounds posh and it is very handy. Just pop down and there you are. The only bad thing is that they don't have barbells, just dumbbells. They have them in many weight categories and there are two benches, one with incline. The gym also have chest butterfly machines, latpulls and overhead raises. Will this suffice for powerlifting needs?


Dan said...

Hey Raymond, you can get in some really good training with just dumbbells. You can do dumbbell presses instead of barbell presses and dumbbell lunges to strengthen your legs.

If your goal is to compete in powerlifting then training with a barbell is something you should seriously look into otherwise dumbbells will work just fine for getting bigger and stronger in the meantime.

Raymond said...

Thanks for your advice!


cycloppps said...

Great program. I'm on my third week after 2 weeks of rest following another program. This is short and sweet. Still ramping up the weight. Thanks, all the best to you.

Dan said...

That's awesome Pablo! Keep us up-to-date with your progress.

Unknown said...

I really want to have a body like yours.. I'm really so pumped up now that I had read this I always start weight lifting and ended up stopping since I have no training program to follow.

Thanks for the tips!

Hope to start again next month. :)
Big hugs!

Big D said...

Why wait till next month?

Anonymous said...

hi how long would you do the p4p befor going on to a strength program

Dan said...

P4P is a strength program. If you are gaining from it, I would stick with it and then make little tweaks that you find caters better to your needs. But if you were looking to try out a more advanced powerlifting program, I would suggest to switch when your reps for bench, squat and deadlift all look the same meaning you have really good form.

And just so there's no confusion, the p4p program is this one here: http://www.powerlifter.me/p/powerbuilding-for-powerlifting-program.html

Damo said...

Thanks for all the tips, just on a training gear note would you advise wearing compression shorts, a jock, or regular underwear is cool for beginners with squats, deadlifts etc

Dan said...

Hey Damo, you're welcome.
For what to wear during training, wear whatever you feel comfortable wearing that also gives you good freedom of movement.

Anonymous said...

Hey mate.
I wail be trying this routine after a long time off lifting.looking forward to hopefully seeing some good results. I will be doing it at home though with no squat rack so will not be able to squat heavy. Any ideas how to cater for the lack of heavy squatting? And also what's the difference between side raises and rear dealt raises?? Cheers off the inspiration mate.

Unknown said...

I have really started getting into powerlifting. I used to train for bodybuilding and had to switch up my training and diet to meet my families needs. I am 226 right now and would like to reach 275. my BF is around 20% right now. I really appreciate your sight and am looking for some additional help on what is right for me.

Unknown said...

I really appreciate your website. I used to train for bodybuilding but had to switch things up for my families needs. I am really interested in powerlifting. I am at 226 lbs right now and would like to get up to 275lbs. Any additional tips would be appreciated. I don't know where to start....

Anonymous said...

But I don't want to get big and fat. I want to get big and ripped.

Dan said...

@Anonymous if you're adding on more fat than you want, adjust your diet. Lowering carb intake is a good place to start.

Unknown said...

Hey Dan, I just stumbled across your site today. I was wondering if you could help me? I weigh about 60Kgs so around 130lbs or a bit more. I've lost a couple of KGs over the years since starting training but I dont want to loose any more. I can't seem to find a plan that works. I want to build up my shoulder, chest and arm size. There is practically nothing there but whenever I try to change my diet I just end up with a gut. Don't get me wrong, I don't think there's anything wrong with them it's just I'm 5ft5 and I pack it on really fast cos I'm so short. I really want bigger chest muscles but they are so lacking in any sort of mass. I've tried whey portein and now trying creatine but I dont have a job so I cant afford gym membership nor really a good diet for working out. I end up with alot of carbs cos I'm on a strict shopping budget each week. Cheers, Pauly

Unknown said...

Hey Dan, in the training program here you included weighted ab crunches. I've seen several variations of this, with dumbells, plates, and machines. Any particular way you do it?

Dan said...

Hey Austin, I do them on a bench like in this video

But while holding a 25 or 45lbs plate to my chest