Stop Being a Program Slut
As someone new to lifting or someone just getting back into it, a big part of development isn't just what you're doing in the gym, but also the habits you create during this time. One of them is the ability to be consistent with a program and not hop around from routine to routine like a clown on a pogo stick when the gains slow down.
Being a beginner is great because it's one of the few times in your lifting life where you can lose fat and gain muscle and strength all at the same time. You don't even have to do things very efficiently either. You could even be one of those idiots that does shoulder presses using the leg press machine and still make some gains.
Of course, that's kind of a problem too, because if a beginner doesn't know any better, he'll blame his program when progress starts to stall a bit. His eventual lack of progress isn't because the routine stopped working, though, it's because his motor skills are improving and his body is adapting to the stimulus. As such, growth slows dramatically.
Newbies, even the ones focused on bodybuilding and pure hypertrophy, still really need to concentrate on developing efficiency in basic exercises and progressive overload (adding more weight). Just doing those things will bring a significant amount of muscular gains. Concentrate on these basic exercises:
- Squat and deadlift: Really, do you have to be told that you need to be doing these foundational exercises?
- Two pressing movements: Everyone loves to bench, so go ahead and choose that as one of them. The second one is the press behind the neck. It will help to establish shoulder mobility that will serve you well for the rest of your days, along with building big shoulders.
- Two pulling movements: One vertical (like pull-ups) and one horizontal (like rows), or some variation of those.
- Lunges: They're a lower body unilateral movement that's great for mobility, stability, and hypertrophy. The walking bodyweight lunge is my favorite and lends itself to building mass through repetitive effort when you get good enough and can do them by the hundreds.
- A curl variation: Not just because curls get the girls, but because the biceps stabilize the elbow joint. And said joint tends to take a beating in virtually all pushing and pulling movements for the upper body.