I recommend a cyclical approach to bulking and cutting to optimize anabolic hormones and minimize unwanted fat accumulation. This could be 16 weeks of above-maintenance intake for lean mass gains, followed by 16 weeks below-maintenance intake for fat loss. Of course, feel free to experiment with what works best for you. When done correctly, this approach will yield considerable lean mass gains while you stay pretty darn lean.
Prepare for the long haul. It's important to know that you're not going to start doing deadlifts one day and wake up the next day bulked up like the Hulkster. Bodybuilding takes a long time for you to see the kind of results you're hoping for, but with the proper time and dedication, you will start seeing those results. This isn't a field for weekenders who love action movies, it's a 24-7 lifestyle. Think you got what it takes? Get training.

Avoid overtraining. Listen to your body. After bad form, overtraining is the most common mistake I see in the gym. If you find you are losing enthusiasm for your work outs, if you are constantly tired, if your progress has slowed or stopped, it's time for a break. If you have been training consistently, I recommend taking a week off every two to three months. You will return to the gym reinvigorated, renewed, and rested. You will not lose strength in one week. Even after a month off, chances are you will surprise yourself by returning to the gym stronger than when you left. Following a break is the ideal time to modify your training program.
After a 5-10-minute full-body warm-up, head into two lighter, high-rep sets of your first exercise - in this case, the bench press. After those two specific warm-up sets, choose a weight you think you can handle for three reps. If you can complete four or more reps, add more weight and try a second set. Perform two sets of specific warm-ups before each exercise.
For lat pull downs, I recommend using an underhand grip (meaning your palms will face you) or a neutral grip (palms face each other… this grip is much less stressful on your elbows/wrists). This is because I’m going to recommend an overhand grip (palms face away from you) during the Upper Body B workout. You’ll see. Also, these are to be done in front of your head… never behind the neck.

Most of the exercises that should make up your initial training are called compound, or basic, exercises. These are exercises that involve more than one muscle group, such as the squat, deadlift and bench press. This is in contrast to isolation exercises which only work one muscle at a time, such as dumbbell flyes (chest), concentration curls (biceps) and side laterals (side deltoid head).
Fat, including the much-maligned saturated fat, is necessary for building a rock-solid physique. It revs up testosterone production, provides necessary calories, and helps your joints endure the heavy lifting needed to spur muscle gains. Aim for at least 0.5g of fat per pound of body weight (90g for a 180-pound man), or 30% of your total daily calories. Divide that into equal thirds from saturated fats found in beef, coconut products, and dairy; monounsaturated fats from almonds, avocado, olive oil, and peanut butter; and fat-burning polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. Avoid the trans-fatty acids found in fried foods.
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.
I know, I know, flat bench press is your favorite lift, or whatever else you prefer, but if your goal is to build up triceps, perhaps you should start with something like dips, or even separate your regimen into a chest day and an arms day. It's simply impossible to improve if you waste all of your energy on your "favorite" lifts while neglecting the muscles that you truly want to bring up.
Some male weight trainers shovel in the protein in the form of shakes, supplements, and the occasional whole turkey without figuring out how much is useful or even how much they are ingesting. The American College of Sports Medicine estimates the requirements for strength trainers at 1.6 to 1.7 grams per kilogram body weight per day (about 0.8 grams per pound).
The Pull-up is performed by hanging from a chin-up bar above head height with the palms facing forward (supinated) and pulling the body up so the chin reaches or passes the bar. The pull-up is a compound exercise that also involves the biceps, forearms, traps, and the rear deltoids. A chin-up (palms facing backwards) places more emphasis on the biceps and a wide grip pullup places more emphasis on the lats. As beginners of this exercise are often unable to lift their own bodyweight, a chin-up machine can be used with counterweights to assist them in the lift.
Great post and video. John I have a question….you mentioned in a previous post about skin care and how important to you it is how your skin looks. I have to say you have great looking skin. A lot of bodybuilders just care about their body but not the skin. I would like to know what do you recommend to get rid of flat moles on the skin? I know the importance of vitamin d and how the sun is the best source however I’m very skin and when I get some sun over time I get a nice color but also flat moles or some freckles. Plus everyone tells me that since I’m fare skin to be careful with getting skin cancer from the sun…Any tips? I want a nice color and clear skin without any flat moles…thank you.
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.

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.


In his phenomenal book "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business," Charles Duhigg dedicates an entire chapter to what he labels the "habit loop." Without giving away any spoilers—I'm not kidding, it's a book that will melt your brain, and you should read it—Duhigg explains that one of the most fail-proof ways to create a habit is to preface the behavior you want to reinforce with a cue.
For lat pull downs, I recommend using an underhand grip (meaning your palms will face you) or a neutral grip (palms face each other… this grip is much less stressful on your elbows/wrists). This is because I’m going to recommend an overhand grip (palms face away from you) during the Upper Body B workout. You’ll see. Also, these are to be done in front of your head… never behind the neck.
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.
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!
Including a small amount of higher sugar and/or higher fat food here and there (I usually try to refrain from using the term “cheat meals” as it wrongly implies that you’re doing something outside the rules) is not going to negatively affect your muscle building or fat burning progress, and it will make your overall eating plan much more enjoyable while still delivering the same results.
The best way to develop muscle strength is for the muscle to contract to its maximum potential at any given time – maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). In resistance training, MVC is measured by the term XRM, where RM is the maximum number of repetitions that can be completed with a given resistance or weight. X is the number of times a certain weight can be lifted before the muscle fatigues.
Order of exercises: Design your plan so that large muscle groups are worked before smaller groups. The theory is that if you fatigue a smaller muscle group first, then the larger group won't work as hard as it can. For example, do bent-over-rows before biceps curls. Biceps work in both exercises, but since the larger and stronger back muscles are used in the rows, they wouldn't get a maximal workout if the biceps are fatigued. Another way to say it is that the biceps become the weakest link in the chain if you work them first.
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Note the flexibility here. If you're an experienced casual lifter starting an organized program, you may be able to kick off with 3 X 12 from the beginning. If you are new to weights and have some fitness issues, you should start with one set and progress slowly. Doing only 1 set of 9 exercises will not take too long, perhaps only 30 minutes with warmup included. Doing an extra 20 minutes or more of cardio before or after weights would be time well spent at this stage. Once you reach full stretch in the program, aerobic training may be better done before weights or at a separate session.
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
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.
The Basic Strength and Muscle program is not just for beginners: you should use it if you want a formalized and precise program following casual experience with weights. As the name implies, it's an all-around program for basic strength and muscle building. This could be used in off-season training if your sport has elements of strength, power and strength endurance, which fits many sports. Consult your coach to ensure it doesn't conflict with other training priorities. Training programs are always most efficient when tailored specifically for individuals and their goals.
The winner of the annual IFBB Mr. Olympia contest is generally recognized as the world's top male professional bodybuilder. The winner of the Women's Physique portion of the competition is widely regarded as the world's top female professional bodybuilder. The title is currently held by Juliana Malacarne, who has won every year since 2014. Since 1950, the NABBA Universe Championships have been considered the top amateur bodybuilding contests, with notable winners such as Reg Park, Lee Priest, Steve Reeves, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Winners generally go on to become professional athletes.
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.
When you combine cardio, weight training, and diet it's a triple threat that can't be ignored. When doing cardio it is extremely important to determine your maximum heart rate (220-age) and then to determine your heart rate zones which is usually 60-90%. (For example a 20 year old: 220-20=200. 200x0.60=120 & 200x0.90=180. Thus, their optimal training range would be 120BPM - 180BPM)
Great post and video. John I have a question….you mentioned in a previous post about skin care and how important to you it is how your skin looks. I have to say you have great looking skin. A lot of bodybuilders just care about their body but not the skin. I would like to know what do you recommend to get rid of flat moles on the skin? I know the importance of vitamin d and how the sun is the best source however I’m very skin and when I get some sun over time I get a nice color but also flat moles or some freckles. Plus everyone tells me that since I’m fare skin to be careful with getting skin cancer from the sun…Any tips? I want a nice color and clear skin without any flat moles…thank you.
Walking into a gym to work-out for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you don't have proper guidance. Many new lifters either find themselves in that situation or are just training at home on some flimsy bench with a bar and a few plates. So, mistakes are common. Mistakes in terms of the exercises you're doing, how long you work out each day, how many days per week, the exercise form you're using, not to mention your eating habits.

You cannot just go in the gym and do whatever you feel at that moment. You need to have a strict routine and follow it closely. Ask a personal trainer or an advanced bodybuilder to provide you with a program that includes the exact exercises you need to do, the number of sets and the number of reps per set. When you set foot in the gym you need to know exactly what you will do in that training session.
In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain an aesthetically pleasing body and balanced physique.[16][17] In prejudging, competitors do a series of mandatory poses: the front lat spread, rear lat spread, front double biceps, back double biceps, side chest, side triceps, Most Muscular (men only), abdominals and thighs. Each competitor also performs a personal choreographed routine to display their physique. A posedown is usually held at the end of a posing round, while judges are finishing their scoring. Bodybuilders usually spend a lot of time practising their posing in front of mirrors or under the guidance of their coach.
In step 3, cut back your energy intake by the 15 percent you added previously. Because you're now not the lean guy you once were, you may have to eventually eat slightly more to maintain that extra muscle, but that comes later. Bodybuilders do this to prepare themselves for competition: They put on muscle and some fat by eating, then they strip off the fat, leaving the muscle to show through. It’s called "cutting."

26. People who tell you that you can’t go wrong with squats is a liar. False advice is everywhere, and this is one big example of them. Squats that are done above parallel are extremely dangerous, and they’re instantly bad for your knees. But, if you’re doing it right, doing 20 rep squats does a lot of burn to your body and will be amazing. Try it for yourself.


Employ proper form. Movements should be accomplished with strict attention to form in order to achieve maximum benefit with minimum risk of injury. Always remember to avoid sharp, jerky repetitions and using momentum to lift a heavier weight. These cheating tactics will not make you grow faster or become stronger, but they will place harmful stresses on your joints. I suggest holding the full contraction for a short pause to accentuate the pump. Concentrate on both the concentric and eccentric phase of the contraction to maximize every repetition. Be certain to flex and extend fully to avoid muscle shortening and weakness at the extremes of the motion range.
You can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you are. So before you conduct any sort of diet overhaul, take a look at the number of calories you currently consume on a day-to-day basis. Apps like MyFitnessPal make this exceedingly easy to do. Your daily caloric intake might surprise you! And once you know how many calories you devour each day, figure out how many calories you ought to be consuming using the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.

The lower volume, high intensity workouts would not use the pyramid system because they were employing less sets for each exercise. The bodybuilders using the low volume workout would do 2-3 light sets at low intensity to warm up the muscles, joints and tendons. When they were fully warmed up, they would use the heaviest weights possible for the required number of sets. They would take the set to failure, often using advanced training techniques such as the rest-pause method, drop sets or forced reps to go beyond normal muscle failure. Because each working set was so intense, the rest periods for this workout would be longer in order to fully recuperate before taking on the next heavy set.
Although muscle stimulation occurs in the gym (or home gym) when lifting weights, muscle growth occurs afterward during rest periods. Without adequate rest and sleep (6 to 8 hours), muscles do not have an opportunity to recover and grow.[citation needed] Additionally, many athletes find that a daytime nap further increases their body's ability to recover from training and build muscles. Some bodybuilders add a massage at the end of each workout to their routine as a method of recovering.[50]

In my business, (I work in a retail vitamin store), I get customers all the time who come in looking for the magic supplement that will pack on pounds of muscle overnight. When I begin to question their training, eating, etc., I discover they've been training maybe 3-4 weeks; they train every day (sometimes I get a guy who says twice a day), they have no clue about protein intake, calorie intake, recovery, and on top of all that, the routine they use is anything but logical for their experience level. This extremely common!


The exercises listed in Week 1 are a collection of basic moves that, while also used by advanced lifters, we feel are suitable for the beginner as well. Notice we’re not starting you off with only machine exercises; a handful of free-weight movements are present right off the bat. Reason being, these are the exercises you need to master for long-term gains in muscular size and strength, so you may as well start learning them now. Carefully read all exercise descriptions before attempting them yourself.


With this in mind, focus less on single-joint movements (sometimes called isolation exercises) in favor of multijoint ones. The bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead press, bent-over row, and power clean are examples of solid multijoint exercises that require several muscle groups to work in coordination. These exercises should form the foundation of your training plan.
This is very important and can be very beneficial for beginners. It allows you to track your progress, see what exercises you enjoy, which ones you are improving the most, and what areas you need the most work on. Your journal should include the date, time of workout, duration of workout, the exercises, sets, reps, rest between sets, meals for the day, and supplements you may be taking.
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.
Take your barbells out for a date for at least three days a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are ideal. Focus on power lifts- the deadlift, squat and bench to build muscle, and burn fat during the process. Have an hour’s warm up session by lifting light weights. You will need to train hard after a month of getting used to the weight lifting session. Push yourself as part of serious training designed to pack on 5 to 10 pounds of additional muscle.
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