In Week 1 you’ll perform three sets of every exercise per workout, which over the course of the week adds up to nine sets total for each bodypart, a good starting volume for your purposes. With the exception of crunches for abs, you’ll do 8–12 reps per set. This rep scheme is widely considered ideal for achieving gains in muscle size (the scientific term is hypertrophy) and is commonly employed by amateur and pro bodybuilders alike.
As a starting point for calorie composition, Pulido recommends dividing up your macro split by taking in close to 1.5 grams of protein and at least 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight. The rest of your daily allowance, which should account for 15-35 percent of your total calorie intake, should go toward dietary fat. "Fats are important for hormone balance, including testosterone production, which is critical for building muscle mass," Pulido says.
Learn them, and 70% of your battle's already been won. These basics are a must for any serious lifter/athlete to build a basic strength and physique base. Similarly, compound/multi-joint movements are always the "bread and butter" for every good training program – learn them, master them, repeat them, and improve them! Keep in mind that sometimes a workout of 10 sets of heavy deadlifts or squats will give you a better workout than any "fancy" leg/back session.
In a study published in the journal Amino Acids, Finnish scientists discovered that weightlifters who consumed whey protein before and immediately after workouts produced more of a compound called cyclin-dependent kinase 2, or CDK2, than those who didn’t take whey. CDK2 is believed to activate muscle stem cells involved in hypertrophy and recovery from intense training. In addition, a 2009 study by Japanese researchers found that consuming whey and glucose prompted larger stores of post-training muscle glycogen (the main energy source for working muscles) than ingesting just glucose. Shoot for 20–30g of fast-digesting whey protein isolate or hydrolysate 30 minutes pre-workout and immediately post-workout.
Warmups are important to get blood flowing to heart, lung, and muscles and lubricating (synovial) fluid loosening the joints ready for action. Each weights exercise should include a warmup with light weights and practicing the same form as for the workout weight. Sixty percent of your workout weight is about right for warmups. Stretching is not so important before exercise and is better performed after exercise. Some light stretches will do no harm.
The Nerd Fitness Beginner Bodyweight workout is a great (free) place to start if you’re looking for a super basic, easy to follow bodyweight routine. This workout from my buddy/fellow Nerd Roman takes you through some very basic movements. Beast Skills and Gymnastics WOD also both offer great tutorials and progressions on how to master bodyweight movements, both basic and advanced.
Train four to five times per week. Although you might be tempted to train seven days a week, or even multiple times per day, this will actually slow down your progress and damage your muscles. Aim for four to five training times per week, varying the types of exercises you do. The human body is highly adaptable, so keeping your muscles guessing is a key aspect of bodybuilding and weightlifting.
What makes Arnold's routine stand out today is the volume and frequency with which he trained every body part. His offseason chest routine consisted of up to 26 working sets on a high-volume day, and he trained his pecs three times a week! Arnold also cycled heavy and light days to work the muscles with different relative intensities and ensure he wasn't overtraining his pecs.
Calorie load the right way. Nutrition is one of the biggest and most important facets of bodybuilding. You can lift seven days a week, train hard, and do all the cardio in the world, but if your nutrition is poor, you will not see rapid and mass gains in muscle size and strength. Learn to eat the right amount of the right kind of calories to gain muscle the way you want.
Milo of Croton, the ancient Greek athlete, strong man, and wrestler, may be credited as the first athlete to use the principle of progressive overload. Legend has it that Milo trained for the Olympics by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day for years prior to the Olympic start date, and by the time the Olympics arrived, the calf had grown to a full-size cow, and Milo was still carrying it on his back! In essence, Milo adapted to the growing weight of the animal by growing stronger himself. That's progressive overload. To follow this model for developing strength and tone, you lift weights that are heavy enough to create muscular fatigue at the 10th to 12th repetition and then when that gets easy, you increase the weight and lift that new weight until you can do it again for 10-12 reps. You can increase the weight every time you get to 10 or 12 reps. Typically every time you add new weight, you lift fewer reps because it's heavier, but then as your muscles grow stronger, you perform more reps.
Weight training and bodybuilding nutrition are sciences like anything else. There's biology and biochemistry and physiology, with rules and a base of evidence. Selling supplements, most of which are not needed, has become such a huge business in the commercial weight training and bodybuilding industry that it is almost impossible to know if you are getting an objective evaluation of a bodybuilding diet.
Use a split system. If you have never trained with weights, or have taken a significant break from weights, I do not recommend training at maximum intensity right away. Training to failure during the first crucial work outs will result in tremendous muscle soreness and you may never return. Start slowly by doing a full-body work out consisting of three or four sets of lighter weights for every major muscle group. After the first couple weeks, you can increase your intensity and move onto a split system. An example of a three-day split might be:
It also assists competitors in maintaining a healthy body fat percentage while training in the offseason. Continuing to perform strength and cardio training during this period will contribute to muscle growth and cardiovascular health. Maintenance of a healthy diet, combined with proper training and rest will provide a strong foundation for the competitor’s next contest.
A well-rounded fitness program includes strength training to improve joint function, bone density, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, as well as aerobic exercise to improve your heart and lung fitness, flexibility and balance exercises. Australia’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines recommend that adults do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.
Cover your basics with a multiple vitamin and mineral formula and essential fatty acids coming from fish oils, flaxseed oil or extra virgin olive oil. Women may wish to add a calcium supplement. For convenience purposes, a meal replacement packet or protein powder is a great way to add valuable calories and nutrients to your diet. For recipes on protein shakes and protein bars, please visit the Healthy Bodybuilding Recipes page.
A brief, fairly unscientific explanation will do for this one. You cannot work the fat off any specific area of your body because, well, you cannot work fat. People mistake that good old muscle burn for something that magically removes adipose proximally from wherever it burns. Those were your oblique abdominals being worked, not the love handles next to them.
BMR can also be estimated simply by multiplying body weight by 10-11 calories per pound or 22-24 kilocalories per kilogram. So, someone weighing 150 pounds has a BMR close to 1,500-1,650 calories per day. If you're pregnant, add 300 calories to your estimated calorie needs (don't take "eating for two" literally!). If you're breastfeeding, add 500 calories.
When lifting it is essential to focus your mind completely on the muscle group you are attempting to work on. This makes sure that you are actually using the target muscle to lift the weight rather than accessory muscles or even momentum. This skill will develop with time, and as you progress in making that mind to muscle connection, your workouts will become much more productive and efficient.