Many aspiring bodybuilders devote all their time and energy to the gym, assuming that the key to strengthening and enlarging muscles is rigorous strength training. Although exercise constitutes a part of the equation, don’t forget about your diet. Without the right fuel, your body can’t turn into the muscle-building machine you’ve been dreaming of. So instead of spending all your time in the gym, head to the grocery store. Then, use our diet tips for bodybuilding to start crafting your meals.
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.
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 may have heard hardcore lifters talk about things like "leg day," but when it comes to a beginner strength workout that's only a few days a week, a full-body workout is often the way to go (rather than splitting your days up by body part). "Full-body workouts maximize your caloric burn and the muscles worked each session," says Davis. The best way to do this is to pair one upper body exercise with one lower body exercise. "This way, the lower body has time to recover while the upper body works and vice-versa," says Davis. You should also aim for a balance between movements that feel like pulling and ones that feel like pushing. For example, Davis suggests pairing these exercises together:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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