Bodybuilding for Beginners: Goals and Training Motivation

As a beginner to bodybuilding, you are probably wondering: “What is a good goal to set for bodybuilding?” It’s an important question to think about, for certain. To help you consider your goals, here we discuss some of the more common ones among bodybuilders. We also look at how to maintain your training motivation even if you are an intermediate or advanced bodybuilder. After all, maintenance is fuel for achieved goals.

First, it’s important to look at the big picture before you begin bodybuilding.  You’ll need to look at bodybuilding as a lifestyle change and know what you’re in for before you even start. 

That means setting bodybuilding goals.  Your own motivations are the biggest element in the picture. Having a well-defined set of bodybuilding goals, and knowing your motivations behind each one, is the first step.

Let’s first look at what motivated perhaps the most famous bodybuilder of all time, Arnold Schwarzeneggar. His transformation was an incredible display of bodybuilding motivation. WhenArnold began his bodybuilding career, he was just a “98 pound weakling” who eventually earned the Mr. Universe a record-breaking seven times. Also, with the release of his 1973 movie “Pumping Iron,” Schwarzeneggar expanded bodybuilding awareness into every household.

 As a bodybuilding beginner (yes, even ‘the Ahnuld’ was a beginner at one point!) his first exposure to bodybuilding was eye-opening. When he was 13, he played soccer, but felt dissatisfied with a team sport. About this, Schwarzeneggar said: “I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t be personally gratified.” He tried other sports like track and field, and boxing. It was only when his coach suggested he tried weight lifting to strengthen his legs that Arnold found his true vocation.

When he first walked into a gym at the age of 16, he was literally awed. He stated:


“I found myself in a gym, in awe of muscles I had never seen before and of which I didn’t even know the correct name. The bodybuilders were powerful, Herculean. Before my very eyes, my true future opened up; I had found the answer I had been looking for.”


Arnold moved to California and worked a variety of menial jobs including that of street worker.  However – and perhaps partly because of this – he maintained his bodybuilding motivation and devoted all his off-time to it.  His physique started developing. He found that as his muscles grew, so did the respect he was receiving from his peers. His bodybuilding activities started influencing his relationships with other men and, of course, with women too. The rest is history.

 So, what can we learn from Arnold’s story? His bodybuilding motivation came from personal gratification, a quest for both personal and physical power, and respect. Mainly, he kept his eye on the big picture, which for him, translated into big muscles.

Bodybuilding for Beginners: Questions and Answers for Setting Bodybuilding Goals

Arnold found his answer in bodybuilding. And what precedes an answer? That’s right – a question! So, to define your own bodybuilding goals you must first start by asking yourself questions. Questions such as:

 -What do you want to look like when you are at your peak? Why?

 -What body fat percentage do you want to attain? Why?

 -How big do you want your biceps (or quads, etc.) to be? Why?

 -Do you want to win bodybuilding competitions? Why?

 -Do you want to increase stamina? Why?

 -Do you want to use bodybuilding as a springboard for bigger goals, to have a positive impact on the world? Why?

Notice each question is followed by “Why?” This is perhaps the single most important question when determining your bodybuilding goals. The answers to the ‘why’ questions are the key to your bodybuilding motivation, and will help you keep your eye on the big picture.

Bodybuilding is more than just a sport or form of exercise – it is a mind, body, and soul endeavor.  You must do some introspective work in order to define your goal, so that you can achieve it.

If needed, look at pictures of people at their muscle-building peaks.  Form a mental picture of you at your peak, and keep that picture in your mind so you become more focused while bodybuilding. You can also consider the many physical benefits of bodybuilding for beginners, such as:

Bodybuilding for Fitness

People undertake bodybuilding for all sorts of reasons, but fitness is probably the largest one of all.  Fitness means more than just losing weight and having a chiseled body.  It means enjoying a higher quality of living.

Bodybuilding for fitness is a highly worthy goal for beginners. Fitness contributes to a sense of well-being lacking in one that neglects their health. 

Bodybuilding for Increased Stamina

Lifting weights increases the rate of respiration and stimulates the heart to pump faster. As a result, the body’s stamina increases. Therefore, increased stamina is a good goal to aim for when bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding for Fat Loss

When you lift weights, your muscles get stronger and grow. The more muscle you have, the more calories and body fat you will burn at rest. This is why, in order to reduce body fat more effectively and for long term, you have got to gain muscle. Regardless of how heavy the weight is, resistance exercise increases calories burned and contributes to fat loss.

Bodybuilding for Bigger Muscles or More Muscle Definition

Attaining bigger muscles is a common bodybuilding goal for beginners. Bodybuilders incorporate the use of larger amounts of weight to increase muscle mass. Bodybuilders can also use lower amounts of weight with higher reps in order to achieve more muscle definition.


How to Maintain Your Bodybuilding Motivation

If you are an intermediate or advanced bodybuilder that has already established a routine, you might be wondering: “How do I maintain my bodybuilding motivation?” You will be happy to know that whatever reasons compelled you to work out in the first place can continue to motivate you. You must realize though, that it takes just as much mental and physical work to maintain your bodybuilding goals as it does to begin them – if no more so.

First – always first – is the mental aspect. Revisit your goals and motivations that you wrote down when you started your bodybuilding program. You can add new goals, change existing ones, and re-affirm your reasons for achieving them. Every time you work out you must write down exactly what you accomplished and then strive to improve upon it the following week. If you aren’t always improving, then you’re either staying the same or losing gains.

The most powerful muscle-building tool available is a pen and a piece of paper. Every week you should have written down an exact plan of attack ready to be executed. If you want to maintain your training motivation, you absolutely cannot just start throwing weights around aimlessly, without knowing what your motivations are.

For the physical element, the key is to work on a new set of goals after achieving your initial ones. The ultimate deciding factor between success and failure is progression, regardless of what style of training you’re currently using,

Examine your bodybuilding approach closely. If you haven’t been paying laser-like attention to the amount of weight you’ve been using or the number of reps you’ve been performing, and then striving to improve upon those numbers each week, you are ignoring the very foundation of the bodybuilding process and risking your ability to maintain your bodybuilding motivation. Again, a pen and paper is the most important tool you could have in your arsenal.

Remember that muscles grow as they adapt to stress. When you lift weights, you create micro-tears within the muscle tissue. Your body perceives this as a potential threat to its survival and reacts by increasing the size and strength of your muscle fibers in order to protect against a possible future “attack”. Therefore, in order to increase the size and strength of your muscles, you must focus on either lifting more weight or performing an extra rep or two more than your previous workouts. By doing this, your body will continue to adapt and grow to the increasing stress. Your mental stamina will grow as well, taking you ever closer to achieving your bodybuilding goals.