Bodybuilding on a Budget
“Dear Lisa – Hi! I love your blog! I need your advice. I am a single mother studying and have next to no income. Is there anyway to begin bodybuilding at home?”
Good question! The short answer is yes; just know that it will not always be easy. I’m not sure if you want to body build for fun or for a competition, but here are some key components to getting started.
1. Diet. There is a reason why I wrote this first before exercise. It’s the biggest secret to bodybuilding – a bikini body is 90% diet/10% exercise. Typically, you will eat 6 meals per day, spread out every 2-3 hours. Foods will be a combination of proteins (egg whites, fish, chicken, etc.,) complex carbohydrates (brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa,) vegetables (mostly greens,) and healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, etc.) No alcohol. No junk food. No sugar. No processed foods. If you can master the meal plan, you are well on your way. Some articles you may find helpful are: The Secret to Being Thin and The Bikini Diet.
2. Exercise. There are two basic phases – bulking and cutting. “Bulking” is sort of a masculine term that means adding lean muscle mass. This is done through strength training (lifting weights.) Often you will hear bodybuilders refer to a “5-2 split.” That’s fancy for working different muscle groups five days per week and resting for two days. A sample split is: Monday – back/biceps, Tuesday – legs, Wednesday – core, Thursday – chest/triceps, Friday – glutes, Saturday/Sunday – rest.
The “cutting” phase is also known as the “diet down” phase. I’ve heard it called “cutting” because you cut your carbs in the weeks leading to a show and also because you look “cut” or very muscular on show day. In the cutting phase you still do strength training, but you increase your cardio to lose body fat. Here are some articles with strength training workouts you may find helpful: Duda’s Leg Workout, Cardio Routine #1 – Weight Loss.
Can you do a show on your own? Yes. Do I recommend going solo? No. Here are some things to consider:
1. Finances. A show is expensive! Even if you don’t hire a trainer, there are entrance fees, the cost of the posing suit and heels, and spray on tan. If money is tight, consider holding off or saving up. Here is an article you may find helpful: The Real Co$t of Bodybuilding.
2. Time Management. You can expect to workout a minimum of an hour per day, five days per week. Depending upon your weight and body fat, this workout time may increase to two hours per day, plus the time you spend learning the required poses (which are harder than they look.) When you add kids into the mix, it can be a challenge! Some gyms offer childcare, but not all. I do my workouts in the morning, before the kids wake up for school; my husband watches them. My kids are in school now, but when they were home with me all the time and my husband was out of town for business, I did exercise videos and adapted the exercises as best I could with the dumbbells I had at home. Here is an article you may find helpful: There Is EXACTLY Enough Time To Do What’s Important To You.
3. Niche Sport. Bodybuilding is a niche sport and it helps to have guidance from someone who knows what they’re talking about. I recommend finding a trainer who has done at least one competition him/herself. In addition to all the strength training, a good trainer will give you your meal plans (which will change 3-4 times in the 12 weeks leading up to the show,) help you with suit selection (there are certain requirements, so you can’t just buy a cute bathing suit at a local store,) posing techniques (there are mandatory moves for each division,) and tell you where to get your spray on tan (you are under stage lights and the tan makes sure your muscle definition is not washed out under those lights.) Here are some articles you may find helpful: If You Can’t Tone It, Tan It and Sassy Lessons.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way, so if you are extremely motivated to do a show, you will make it happen. Keep in mind there are a ton of shows each year, so there will be lots of opportunities for you to enter one that fits into your schedule and lifestyle.
Even if you are bodybuilding just for you and never step on stage, bodybuilding is a great learning experience, builds confidence, and gets you in the best shape of your life, mentally and physically.
Hope that helps and good luck to you!
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