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If it has been some time since you exercised regularly, there are a few things you should consider prior to starting bodybuilding or embarking on your new fitness program. Some of these are as follows:

Pre-Exercise Screening

The first thing you should do is have a qualified fitness trainer conduct a pre exercise screening assessment. This will generally consist of a questionnaire which is designed to give the trainer visibility of your medical history and current behavioural practices, such as lifestyle and prior exercise history. This is important because in order to provide you with sound advice in accordance with your personal circumstances, and to facilitate your training goals, any injuries, medical conditions, contraindications or family history of health risk factors, need to be addressed.

The pre exercise screening will generally be followed up with both passive and active assessments. Passive assessments consist of resting heart rate, blood pressure, height and weight, girth measurements, skinfolds and a posture profile. Active assessments consist of a sub maximal test of aerobic capacity, a flexibility assessment and a muscular strength or endurance test. Data extrapolated from the assessments will allow the trainer to determine your level of fitness and give you an indication of how you measure up against the rest of the population. This is achieved by comparing your results to that of standardised norm scores.

Goal Setting For Bodybuilding

As with most tasks we undertake, there needs to be a clearly defined end state. This can be achieved by goal setting. Goals can be broken down into short (days or weeks), mid (weeks or months) and long term (months or years). In addition, goals should be SMART:
  • Specific – your goal needs to clearly define the desired outcome: I want to get bigger is not specific. However, I want to put on six kilograms (kg) in 12 weeks and I am going to achieve this by consuming enough calories and the correct ratio of macronutrients to increase my lean body mass by 0.5 kg per week, is.
  • Measurable – this is closely related to the attribute above; however, it includes strategies that will allow you to check whether or not you are moving in the right direction. For example, anthropometric testing such as girth measurements and skinfolds are tools that allow you to determine if you are on the right track.
  • Achievable – this means that your goal should be something that you need to do in order to accomplish it. Furthermore, your goal should not be so easy that it is not challenging, but nor should it be so difficult that it is not achievable.
  • Realistic – this is a big one. Thinking you are going to defeat Jay Cutler at the next Mr Olympia when you’ve just started out, probably isn’t going to happen. Conversely, planning to train smart, compliment your training with the nutrition required to facilitate your goal, and monitoring your progress in order to achieve your mid term goal of putting on six kg in 12 weeks, probably will.
  • Time based – your goal needs to have specific deadlines. Again, this is achieved by having clearly defined short, mid and long term goals.

Considerations For Bodybuilding Success

  • Time – how much time are you prepared to devote to your training? This can be broken down into how many sessions per week, how many sessions per day and how much time per session.
  • Facilities – what facilities are available? Is there a fitness centre close to where you live? If so, how long will it take you to get there? Is public transport available if you don’t have your own means of transportation? Does the centre have the equipment necessary to facilitate your training requirements? What are the opening and closing hours, are they open on weekends, does this fit in with your work, family or life obligations? These are all factors you should consider before handing over your hard earned money.
  • Cost – how much is the centre going to slug you for a monthly, quarterly, biannual or annual membership? What services does the centre offer (i.e. free initial and ongoing fitness appraisals and free program advice)?

Getting Started in Fitness or Bodybuilding Training

Get the tick in the box before you leap into your new fitness program if it has been a while since you exercised last. Have a good think about exactly what it is you want to achieve from your training and set some goals. Do your homework in locating the right fitness centre for you and you may well save yourself a few dollars, in addition to having your friendly neighbourhood fitness professionals actually interested in helping you achieve your goals.

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