True, monitoring carb intake is one of the best ways to play around with your weight, I don't dispute that. I do it myself, and it can be a powerful tool for people who need to lose a significant amount of weight. But the everyman athlete has no need to go bonkers cutting out all kinds of carbs just for the sake of it, because that sort of eating behavior is not sustainable for an endurance athlete.
It's OK to be a little sore. Your muscles might feel achy or tired the day after a tough training session thanks to DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. When you strength train you're causing microscopic damage to the tissue that will be repaired, that's how you build stronger lean muscle. Speaking of repair and recovery, though, rest days are important. "If you constantly break down muscle without a recovery period, you won’t give the muscle fibers a chance to repair and build back stronger,” explains Davis.
Research confirms that training one limb at a time forces the recruitment of more muscle fibers and produces more force, since a limb working alone requires more effort to move a weight from point A to point B than when it’s working in concert with another limb. Consider the barbell curl: A lifter who can curl a 100-pound barbell for 10 reps can likely perform dumbbell curls with 55 or 60 pounds in each hand because of the resultant increase in muscle fiber recruitment. In addition, unilateral training tends to maximize the number of growth-prone fast-twitch fibers that are called into play.
Most of your workout plan should include exercises that will stretch a minimum of two muscle groups in your body. For instance, the shoulder press will stretch your triceps and shoulders. On the other hand, squat will build your hamstrings and quads. Another important workout is bench press as it will work your chest, triceps, biceps and shoulders.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that resistance training should be progressive in nature (for example, follow the principle of progressive overload - see below for an explanation), individualized, and provide a stimulus to all the major muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominals, and legs). They recommend that beginners do one set of eight to 10 exercises for the major muscle groups, eight to 12 repetitions (reps) to fatigue, two to three days per week (multiple-set regimens may provide greater benefits if time allows). For older and more frail people (approximately 50-60 years of age and above), they suggest that 10-15 repetitions may be more appropriate.
Last, but definitely not the least, your nutrition. You are what you eat! Get enough protein. Get enough carbs, fats and other nutrients to support your body. The question is what is enough. If you are really serious about working out and is training hard then you need to consume about 1-2 gms of protein per pound of your body weight. Again, this is applicable only if you are training hard and lifting heavy. If you are looking to bulk up, then you need to eat a calorie surplus; meaning more carbs and fats. If you are trying to cut down, then eat at a calorie deficit. Try to make sure that your diet contains as much raw food as you can think of. Besides that, cook as much as you can and avoid processed/canned foods as much as possible. Have a cheat meal every week to keep yourself in the game and to not feel like you are punishing yourself.
Get the right gear. While it's probably not the most important thing, if you're trying to be a bodybuilder, you might as well get some clothes and gear that will help to emphasize how jacked up you're getting. Purchase some good posing trunks, tight-fitting muscle shirts, and a good training belt to help keep you secure during your workouts. Weight-lifting gloves are also common.
If you have little experience of weight training and free weights, you may wish to start with the machine leg press instead of the squat, especially if you're not accompanied by a trainer, helper or spotter. Even so, there is no reason to be intimidated by the squat exercise. It need not be done in a squat rack or power cage with the big bar and free weights to begin with, although squatting with the bar alone is a good way to practice form. Dumbbells or small-bar barbells or a Smith machine can provide reassurance for the beginner. The same applies to the racked bench press with heavy bar, which can be substituted with dumbbells or lighter barbells. The key is not to lift too heavy too soon.
At the end of the day, you have to focus on how you feel. “Listen to your body,” says Davis. “It tells you when it needs a day off.” As a rule of thumb, take a rest day if your perceived pain is above a seven on a scale of 10, Davis advises. Or, focus on a different body part (say, if your legs are sore, focus on upper-body moves). Can't stop, won't stop—at least, till your next rest day.
Precision nutrition for exercise can be complex and that’s why exercise physiologists and sports nutritionists are of great value to sporting teams and athletes. Even though keen amateurs and weekend warriors don’t have to worry too much about the split second in a race or the inch of bicep in a bodybuilding competition like the pros do, we can still eat well for our activity by following the basics of sports nutrition. If you need help sorting it all out, consult a doctor or dietitian who has experience working with athletes.
Get enough rest. While some people exert too little effort and easily lose patience, others also try too hard and over-train. You need to rest in between workouts. The muscles you stress during a workout should get about 72 hours of rest so that they can have the opportunity to recover and grow. You also need to get enough sleep very night. That means getting 7 hours of sleep minimum.
JDB, great tip on cardio before weights. Having trained in a boxing gym for years, this is exactly how I would start each training session, even if I was going to focus on weights that day. Use to start off, 3-4 rounds on jump rope in the ring, alternating between fast high knees and then slowing it down. It was all continuous for about 10-12 minutes. Would then continue w basic calisthenics (mountain climbers, bw squats, burpees, etc.) for another 3-4 rounds. This was all done w boxing timer running in background. Would finish “warm-up” w some kind of pull-up/chin-up, dips, and hanging abdominal work. Then it was time for weights. This just overall improved my general conditioning/movement and never felt that my strength diminished when doing this. Actually, felt stronger due to increased blood flow.