A word about dietary supplements: They are big business. Some work, some don't, some affect performance negatively, some are hazardous and some are illegal and will get you banned in international sport. In fact, many are a waste of money and a con. Protein powder supplements, particularly whey-based supplements, do have a role to play for busy weight trainers. But cheaper solutions may be available.
The most important aspect of your bodybuilding diet is calorie intake. To build mass, you need between 20 and 22 calories per pound of body weight each day, according to sports scientist Jim Stoppani. This would mean a 150-pound beginner bodybuilder would need between 3,000 and 3,300 calories per day to gain weight. Stoppani advises reducing your intake slightly on nontraining days, though, as you're less active. On these days, aim for 18 calories per pound, meaning the 150-pound bodybuilder would need 2,700 calories on rest days.
Does this mean that everything is as good as everything else? Of course not. I'm a strength coach, and I believe that a full-body strength program built around compound lifts is the best place for almost everybody to start, no matter what they end up doing months or years later. It's better than so-called fat-loss programs, hypertrophy programs, programs that help add inches to your vertical jump, or ones that promise to turn you into a superhero in eight weeks.
Your lifting form is more important that how much you can lift or how many reps you can do. If you are not lifting with the right form, you are not only just inviting injury, but also hampering progress and possibly gains as well. Advanced body builder will use tricks like partial reps to build up more pump in their muscles. If you are a beginner, you don’t need to. Learn to walk before you learn to fly.
I've been training for 20 years and to commemorate that long training slog, I sat down and compiled my 10 best training tips. After I wrote them down, though, I realized that while they'd no doubt be valuable to the novice trainee, they're probably things that the advanced trainee already knows. So I also compiled a second list to augment the first. The second list gives my best advanced tips. The end result is, I hope, something that's valuable to both levels of trainees.
The benefits of resistance exercise are well documented, and ongoing research continues to prove that it's an important activity for Americans to be engaged in. Long ago in hunter-gatherer societies, humans' muscles got a workout by building shelter, hunting, farming, and all the other manual chores necessary to live. Today, however, we have engineered inactivity into our lives with labor-saving devices to the extent that our muscles rarely need to be pushed very hard. We don't rake leaves or cut grass or shovel snow by hand; we don't climb stairs or even walk in airports (people movers do it for us!); we don't wash our clothes or our dishes or even push a vacuum by hand (Have you seen the robotic vacuum Roomba?), and we spend more and more time in front of our computers and televisions than we do outdoors raking leaves, playing touch football, baseball, soccer, hiking, or participating in any other recreational activities. Research shows that physical inactivity is the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and it's literally killing us.
Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is a nationally-known best-selling author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men", "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women", "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook", and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering". Hugo is also a national level NPC natural bodybuilding champion. Learn more about Hugo Rivera.
Setup: Stand between the cable stacks of a crossover apparatus with the front of your body just behind the plane connecting them (so your body doesn’t get in the way of the cables crossing each other). Cross your arms, each one grabbing the opposite stirrup handle attached to its floor-pulley cable (your hands should face the respective stack). Stand erect, chest high and head aligned with your body (not crooked forward or backward). Hold your shoulders low—don’t shrug.
Action: Start by leaning back slightly—this is the top position of the movement. Next, break your knees slowly and lower your body as far as you can without falling backward. If you feel like you’ve gone too far, you can use your supporting hand to pull yourself back up. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, push yourself back up to the top without “locking out” and repeat.
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.
Usually, people associate the word diet with days of starvation and pain. However, that is not the correct definition of a diet. The word diet refers to the food choices that we make on a daily basis. Even if you don’t think you that you are on a diet, guess what?! You already are following a diet. Whether you eat candy all day every day or oatmeal, that is your diet.
Consume your essential fats: These fats are highly important for general health, muscle protection and for fat loss! A deficiency of these and not only energy levels will suffer but you will also encounter issues gaining muscle and losing fat. Two tablespoons of Flaxseed Oil with any meal or protein shake (except the post workout one as at this time we do not want the fats to slow down the absorption of the nutrients).
One of the most persistent questions floating around the minds of many aspiring bodybuilders is “What is the best way to train to build muscle?”. The answers are as varied as the numerous pieces of gym equipment that occupy any fitness establishment. There are many choices as to the best exercises to use, how many sets and reps, how many days per week to train and what type of program to follow.
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.
Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.
Vertical leg crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands behind your head for support. Extend your legs straight up in the air, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee. Contract your abdominal muscles by lifting your torso toward your knees. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward, and inhale as you return to the starting position.
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.
Assuming that around 80-90% of your diet is comprised of nutrient-dense, “clean” foods (such as lean proteins, minimally refined carbohydrates and healthy fats), the other 10-20% can come from whatever sources you’d like as long as it fits into your overall daily calorie and macronutrient totals. (The only exception here are for foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils, as these should be strictly limited or eliminated altogether)
Carbohydrates play an important role for bodybuilders. They give the body energy to deal with the rigors of training and recovery. Carbohydrates also promote secretion of insulin, a hormone enabling cells to get the glucose they need. Insulin also carries amino acids into cells and promotes protein synthesis. Insulin has steroid-like effects in terms of muscle gains. It is impossible to promote protein synthesis without the existence of insulin, which means that without ingesting carbohydrates or protein—which also induces the release of insulin—it is impossible to add muscle mass. Bodybuilders seek out low-glycemic polysaccharides and other slowly digesting carbohydrates, which release energy in a more stable fashion than high-glycemic sugars and starches. This is important as high-glycemic carbohydrates cause a sharp insulin response, which places the body in a state where it is likely to store additional food energy as fat. However, bodybuilders frequently do ingest some quickly digesting sugars (often in form of pure dextrose or maltodextrin) just before, during, and/or just after a workout. This may help to replenish glycogen stored within the muscle, and to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.