There are so many great strength- and muscle-building exercises to choose from, so picking the 10 best bodybuilding exercises is a tough (and subjective) task. But the following exercises have withstood the test of time, outlasted every fitness fad and trend, and continue to be the most reliable exercises for bodybuilders. Go ahead, ask any hardcore fitness fanatic and chances are, all of these moves are in their regular arsenal.
Focus on form. Good form means you can reap all of the benefits of your workout and avoid injuries at the same time. To maintain proper form, pay attention to your posture (stand tall with chest lifted and abs held tight), move slowly (this ensures you're relying on muscles, not momentum, to do the lifting), and remember to breathe. Many people hold their breath while exerting, but exhaling during the hardest part of the exercise helps fuel the movement.

The low volume bodybuilders would increase the intensity of their workouts by using heavier resistance and pushing a set past the normal limit of failure. Training techniques such as forced reps, rest pause, drop sets and forced negatives would push the muscles to failure and beyond. Because of the extreme high intensity, bodybuilders using these techniques would typically perform half as many sets as the high volume trainers.


You could simply create one plan and eat the same things every day until you get tired of it… you could create a 3-day or 7-day plan and rotate through it… or you could map out a few possible options for each meal that have similar macronutrient profiles (for example, 3 different breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 snacks etc.), and then choose the option you most prefer based on how you feel that day.
Get an even tan. If you have pale skin, it's harder to see your muscles, simply put. Bronzing helps to create a bigger contrast, creating shadows where you muscles are popping. It's just easier and more aesthetic to see your muscles if your skin is a little darker. For that reason, you need to safely tan yourself on a regular basis to make sure your muscles are looking their best.[1]
Research shows that when adding a high-rep set to a traditional low-rep strength scheme, test subjects gained 5% more strength than when they performed only the heavier, low-rep work. While the reason behind this is unclear, researchers speculate that higher reps provided the stimulus based on the higher growth hormone (GH) levels associated with high-rep weight training.
Many trainees like to cycle between the two methods in order to prevent the body from adapting (maintaining a progressive overload), possibly emphasizing whichever method more suits their goals; typically, a bodybuilder will aim at sarcoplasmic hypertrophy most of the time but may change to a myofibrillar hypertrophy kind of training temporarily in order to move past a plateau. However, no real evidence has been provided to show that trainees ever reach this plateau, and rather was more of a hype created from "muscular confusion".[clarification needed][citation needed]
Lastly we come to full-body workouts. The 5 x 5 program could also be considered a full-body workout program to a degree, since you work almost all the major muscle groups with the three exercises you choose. But, true full-body programs will provide one direct exercise for each muscle group - quads, hamstrings, chest, back and shoulders (arms are worked when doing chest and back).
I now know that was a mistake. An eight-week Australian study that found that doing one of four sets of bench presses to failure produced double the strength gains compared to lifters who didn't take any of their sets to failure.[1] But in a follow-up study, the researchers found that doing more than one set to failure on the bench offered no additional strength gains.[2]
Develop your strength training routine. The exercises you perform will depend on your goals for your body and your stage in the training process. It's generally suggested, though, that you stick to the same major compound movements that most bodybuilders use, making this the cornerstone of your strength training. Later you can incorporate isolation exercises and machines into your routine, but right now you should be focused on leaning up and gaining muscle, doing the following exercises:
Visit at least three gyms. Even if you love the first gym you step into, visit at least three gyms to find one that suits all of your needs. Gyms vary widely in the types of amenities and training programs they offer; while one might have all of the equipment you want, another might be more effective for you due to the expertise of its trainers.[2]
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.
To check cardiovascular function you need the following tests: Total cholesterol, LDL/HDL, Triglycerides, C-reactive protein, Homocysteine levels.To check liver function you need: alkaline phosphatase, GGT, SGOT, SGPTTo check kidney function you need: creatinine, BUN, and the creatinine/BUN ratio.For males, a PSA test is also wise to ensure adequate prostate function.
One of the most misunderstood areas for new bodybuilders is nutrition. I talk to guys all the time that have no idea of their daily calorie intake, their daily protein intake, their carbohydrate intake. They have no idea of what types of foods they should be eating, or when they should be eating them. They don't know what supplements do what and what they should using. Let me refer readers to some of my other articles that detail these areas.
Many non-competitive bodybuilders choose not to adopt this conventional strategy, as it often results in significant unwanted fat gain during the "bulking" phase. The attempt to increase muscle mass in one's body without any gain in fat is called clean bulking. Competitive bodybuilders focus their efforts to achieve a peak appearance during a brief "competition season".[citation needed] Clean bulking takes longer and is a more refined approach to achieving the body fat and muscle mass percentage a person is looking for. A common tactic for keeping fat low and muscle mass high would be to have higher calorie and lower calorie days to maintain a balance between gain and loss. Many clean bulk diets start off with a moderate amount of carbs, moderate amount of protein, and a decently low amount of fats. "Gaining lean muscle means going for leaner cuts of meat, like flank steaks and fillets, chicken, and, of course, fish," says White[who?]. "Enjoy your meat with some starch: rice, beans, quinoa, whole-grain couscous, or sweet potato, for example".[20] To maintain a clean bulk it is important to reach calorie goals every day. Macronutrient goals will be different for each person, but, it is ideal to get as close as possible.
The third and final phase of the “25% Stronger” program helps you max out your strength levels by gradually decreasing the volume of your workouts while increasing the amount of weight you move. You’ll begin the last phase at the top end of the strength range (seven reps). Each week, you’ll perform fewer sets and reps - five of five, four of four and finally the last week in which you perform three sets of three - so your body is fresh for the final tests in Week 13.
Perusing Arnold's signature tome requires some effort: The hardback version comes in at an even 800 pages, after all! While it's hefty weight might make it a nice addition to your coffee table, the nuggets of training gold take a little work to find. In the interest of mining the best knowledge from one of the strongest minds in bodybuilding, here are 31 Arnold-approved training tips to help you build your best body ever!
(Note that multiplying your bodyweight by 20 results in a high calorie estimate specific to building mass. Many maintenance calorie estimates are closer to body weight multiplied by 15. If the result of multiplying your bodyweight by 20 seems incredibly high given what you know about your body, you can err on the conservative side and multiply by 16-18.)
A bodybuilding diet aligns with all the general advice for a healthful diet: A balanced mix of macronutrients and plenty of micronutrients from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Even in the bulking phase, the idea is to bulk up by eating more, but sticking with mostly healthy choices. Similarly, in the cutting phase, the goal is to cut out less nutrient-dense foods, not slash calories extremely and give up nutritious foods.

Once you feel comfortably balanced, contract your quadriceps and gluteal muscles and lower your body slowly. When you reach the point where your upper legs are just below parallel to the floor, push back up to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight to protect your lower back, and keep your head up and your eyes fixed ahead as you perform this exercise.

Shorter rest periods have their place — especially if your goal is muscular endurance and fat loss. But longer rest allows you to perform more reps on subsequent sets, and this greater volume, over time, may lead to greater muscle gains in the long run. One convenient way to do this without tacking additional time onto your bodybuilding routine: Perform supersets, which are back-to-back sets of two different exercises that target non-competing muscle groups (e.g., the squat and biceps curl, or the bench press and bent over row).
Set small attainable goals. If you've never lifted weights before, trained at very high intensities or followed a strict diet plan, then going from where you are now to a female bodybuilder is a long road. It will be tough, but see that as a challenge rather than a disadvantage. Set both outcome-based goals such as adding half a pound of muscle a week or competing in a local show in six months. Aim for behavioral goals such as making it to the gym five times per week or sticking to your diet for an entire fortnight.

On January 16, 1904, the first large-scale bodybuilding competition in America took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The competition was promoted by Bernarr Macfadden, the father of physical culture and publisher of original bodybuilding magazines such as Health & Strength. The winner was Al Treloar, who was declared "The Most Perfectly Developed Man in the World".[5] Treloar won a $1,000 cash prize, a substantial sum at that time. Two weeks later, Thomas Edison made a film of Treloar's posing routine. Edison had also made two films of Sandow a few years before. Those were the first three motion pictures featuring a bodybuilder. In the early 20th century, Macfadden and Charles Atlas continued to promote bodybuilding across the world. Alois P. Swoboda was an early pioneer in America.
Warm up prior to and stretch frequently during your workout. Before participating in any athletic activity, you should raise your peripheral body temperature. Get your heart beating and increase the blood flow to your extremities by participating in 5 minutes of a low intensity cardiovascular activity. Following your warm up, stretch your muscles gradually to a point of mild discomfort, not outright pain. Never bounce. Instead, hold stretched positions for about 20 seconds. Rather than limiting yourself to a pre-training stretch, continue to stretch during and after your workout to promote circulation. By increasing blood flow to your muscles, waste products like lactic acid are rapidly removed to help prevent soreness. In addition, more blood-borne nutrients are available for energy and growth.
When the two studies were compared, the strength gains reported in the group that took one set to failure were more impressive than the gains in the group that took multiple sets to failure. A possible reason? Taking just one set to failure may provide enough of a training stimulus without the risk of overreaching, which may occur when too many sets are taken to failure.
You’ll begin the program with a full-body training split, meaning you’ll train all major bodyparts in each workout (as opposed to “splitting up” your training). Train three days this first week, performing just one exercise per bodypart in each session. It’s important that you have a day of rest between each workout to allow your body to recover; this makes training Monday, Wednesday and Friday—with Saturday and Sunday being rest days—a good approach.
In the presence of good nutrition, a novel training stimulus forces the muscle fibers to rebuild themselves and grow stronger and thicker than before. But the impact of the stimulus begins to fade over time as the body adapts, so you have to continue increasing the overload in some way or you simply won't make any further adaptations. You can add more weight, do more reps, or decrease your rest intervals to continue making further gains.
To build extra muscle, you need to eat in excess of what you currently eat, and work out with weights on a regular basis. How much muscle you can gain, how quickly and with what definition is largely determined by your genetics and age. But everyone at almost any age should be able to gain some muscle and strength with weight training. Proper nutrition is a crucial element in the muscle building process.
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.
Most bodybuilders become familiar with their kitchens as a matter of necessity. Whether you can quickly master taste or not, cooking your own food means you know everything going into it. During a cut, where excess salt or sugar in ready meals and takeaways can hinder weight loss, bringing your own food to work will eliminate any risky meal choices.
Weight trainers don’t usually expend the amount of energy in training that endurance athletes do, so they don't have to be as acutely aware of the intake of carbohydrate required to fuel such effort. For example, a marathoner or triathlete may require 7 to 10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight per day (3 to 5 grams per pound). This is a lot of carbohydrates—equivalent to more than 32 slices of bread for a 150-pound athlete.

“The stimulus to put on muscle that won’t be beneficial for running is much higher than people realize, and unless you’re either lifting relatively heavy and frequently and/or eating a hyper caloric diet, you’re unlikely to put on muscle,” says Joe Holder, USATF-certified running coach, Nike+ Run Club coach in New York City. “Just think about strength training one to two times a week, focusing on compound movement patterns, such as a lunge or squat, and shoring up the areas that could lead to increased injury if they are weak, like the hips.” 

Identify your body type and what you are striving for. If you want to get into competitions, then it is important to know your body’s strengths and to be aware of what judges will be looking for. Look into the federation’s guidelines and attend a competition to see what the competitors look like.[4] This will help you to design an effective training program along with the guidance of your trainer.
Muscles don’t grow unless they need to overcome a resistance, and, to a point, the harder you need to contract them, the greater the “mechanical tension” and resulting growth stimulus will be. It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ principle. The most effective way to do that? Grab a weight (or resistance band) and have at it. Research suggests that mechanical tension disturbs the integrity of a muscle, triggering a series of changes that ultimately results in increases in not only size, but also contractile strength and power. In general, the heavier weight you can lift with good form, the more tension you produce, and the more you’ll grow.
In fact, runners need weight training even more than you may realize. “Strength work accomplishes three big goals for runners,” says Jason Fitzgerald, USATF-certified running coach, founder of Strength Running in Denver, Colorado. “It prevents injuries by strengthening muscles and connective tissues; it helps you run faster by improving neuromuscular coordination and power; and it improves running economy by encouraging coordination and stride efficiency.”
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