Training with weights is the spark that ignites the whole bodybuilding process. Your muscles grow in order to adapt better to the demands placed upon them by resistance training. By striving to lift more weight each workout, the growth cycle continues. However, the body learns to adapt quickly and before long your gains can plateau despite your best efforts in the gym. It is often at this point that newcomers become disheartened. Experienced lifters know that to continue gaining you have to constantly switch round your training to stimulate new growth. One of the most important things I have learned is to listen to your body. Train hard but stay within your recovery limits. Without chemical enhancement there is only so much punishment your body can take in the gym.

When you put together a training programme, make sure you target all the major muscle groups - do not neglect anything. Compound, multi-joint exercises are great for building mass, but don't forget to include isolation movements which help target specific body parts. As you progress you may develop weak points. This is quite normal as most people have some muscle groups that are more responsive than others. Whilst eliminating weak points can be difficult, you can, as you gain more experience, tailor your routine to emphasise the development of these lagging body parts. This will prove even more critical should you wish to pursue bodybuilding competition, where balance is a much sought after ideal.

The single most important factor to making steady gains is consistency. It takes years of training to develop dense, quality muscle tissue. Be patient, read as much as you can, and don't be afraid to experiment with new approaches as there are plenty of effective ways to build muscle. Whatever approach you use, always warm up properly and use perfect form when training. Whilst it's good to add weight to the bar, you should never risk injuring yourself by handling more weight than you can comfortably manage. Train hard but train smart, and you will enjoy many years of productive bodybuilding and hopefully one day realise your full physical potential.

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