Back to Basics

Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee

Back to Basics – bodybuilding basics.When all else fails, you can never go wrong going back to the basics or as they say “Back to the Drawing board.” As we move forward in our life’s quest we must keep things simple and go back to the basics; even when we become more advanced in our experiences and training.

For this topic I will discuss the basics of working out. I have been training for almost thirty years in bodybuilding, power lifting and more recently strong man and wing chung kung fu. I have learned and applied many strategies for building my body for all of these sports. But every so often we must chuck aside all of the complexities of specialized routines and diet programs and go back to the very bare bones basics.

Let us discuss the basics of working out. Weather you are training for muscle building or MMA, mastering the basics will never do you wrong. To begin with, training for bodybuilding is not complex at all if you understand what to do from the very beginning. One very important thing to remember when training to build your body is to master all of the compound exercises. Compound exercises are the multi-joint exercises that work more than one muscle group. These are exercises like:

1) Squats

2) Dead-lifts

3) Bench Press

4) Military Shoulder Press

5) Barbell curls & Dumbbell curls

6) The close grip bench press for triceps

7) Forearm wrist curls and grip work with grippers

8) Neck harness exercises and Neck bridging

9) Basic AB exercises like sit ups and leg raises

10) Calf raises with barbells, dumbbells or standing calf machine

John Doe bodybuilder, who by the way is one of the most knowledgeable and trust worthy guys in bodybuilding, says:

“Keep your training, diet and supplementation basic. There is no secret involved when it comes to building muscle, and sometimes the simplest plans are the most effective.”

Next, once you understand what the basic exercises are pairing the muscle groups along with the basic exercises should be the next basic thing you should do. How do we do this? Well, we must look to the wonderful old school type of training. The golden era of bodybuilding started in the late 1960’s, 1968 to be exact, and throughout the 1970’s. During the time period many of those great champions trained in a very basic and similar fashion, which consisted of working all of the muscle groups twice a week and training anywhere from four times a week to six days a week with Sundays off. The workout program looks like this:

Monday: Chest & Back

Tuesday: Shoulders, Triceps & Biceps

Wednesday: Legs & Calves

And then the cycle would repeat. You would do Mondays workout on Thursday and so fourth. Abdominal exercises would be done anywhere from three times a week to all six days of the program week. This was how many of those great champions trained. Arnold, Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, Dave Draper, and Ric Drasin along with many others trained this way because it worked; just look at the physiques that kind of training produced.


Frank Zane Training
Frank Zane Training

Many of the muscle groups were trained with four to five basic exercises for about 3 to 5 sets for 6 to 10 or 15 reps. The diet they followed was also very basic.

John Doe Bodybuilder says the following:

Basic is best when it comes to diet and supplementation. I can remember trying this diet I saw online one time, and I swear every time I needed to eat, I had to pull the diet back up to see what the hell I was supposed to eat again. There was so much variety in the diet that you couldn’t possibly stick to it unless you had $400 a week for groceries and all the time in the world to live in the kitchen. It was certainly not a realistic approach and after only 1 week into the diet I knew it wasn’t for me. There is so much information available it can become overwhelming and confusing. The way I do things is usually basic. I have found this to be best for me and I have a hunch it’s best for most people too. I too try to keep my daily nutritional intake basic and simple like JD talks about.


(NOTE: Read JD’s article 10 Ways to Get Big and Strong)

To be successful with the basics of bodybuilding training and diet, consistency is key. You must get into the habit of eating the same foods daily; eating four to six meals daily and supplementing daily. This must be done if you hope to be successful in building your body.

Here is a list of the basic muscle building food I shop for and eat daily.

1) Brown rice

2) Potatoes

3) Chicken breasts, legs and thighs

4) whole eggs and liquid egg whites

5) Sirloin Steak

6) Caned Tuna Fish

7) Tilopia and / or Whiting fish

8) Kale, Spinach, Beets, Carrots (I usually juice these and drink them)

9) Met – Rx meal replacement protein drink and whey and milk and egg protein as well.

10) Nut butters

11) cottage cheese

12) beans

13) oat meal

You do not need the Met – Rx because you can make your own protein drinks if you wish. The rest of the food list listed here are what I consider the top affordable muscle building foods that should be consumed on a daily basis.

Remember again that consistency is very vital for success. JD says:

Remember, CONSISTENCY PREVAILS. Develop a schedule for yourself, and make it realistic. Take into consideration work, school, time with family, and other obligations first, then work the gym and diet into your schedule!” Here is another picture of what I eat daily. The picture shows six meals in the form of three solid meals and three Met – Rx protein drink meals. This is very basic and simple for me.

Here is another pick on basic six meals a day menue
Here is another pick on basic six meals a day menu

I try to keep things as simple as possible focusing on the basics and slowly building up from there. Next, I keep my supplement program very basic as well and I only purchase the supplements I use when I can afford them making supplement cycling a must. When I do decide to use some supplementation I use the following:

1) Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder, Unflavored, 300 Gram

2) NOW Foods L-Glutamine Pure Powder, 1-Pound

3) Universal Nutrition Animal Pak Sports Nutrition Supplement, 44-Count

4) Optimum Nutrition Fish Oil, 300 MG, 200 Softgels

5) Now Foods Zinc Gluconate 50mg Tablets, 250-Count

6) NOW Foods Magnesium Capsules, 180 Capsules / 400mg

7) MET-Rx Meal Replacement Powder Boxed – Original Vanilla, 2.54 Ounce, 40-Count Packets

The supplement list provided is the basic one that I use when I can afford to purchase these Items. I usually plan them out for a cycle with the exception of the Met – Rx. I usually purchase the Met-Rx with my food choices. The Met-Rx constitutes two to three of my daily six meal a day meal plan.

By keeping things simple and going back to the basics, you are insuring your success. The basics will always work.

Until next time

God Bless.


2 thoughts on “Back to Basics”

  1. Yes Lewis. After a brief layoff from training the basics come in handy when starting over again. I plan to apply everything mentioned here along with JD’s article.

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