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.
Females, in general, carry a higher percentage of body fat than men. To be a successful bodybuilder, it is important to reduce your body fat, especially directly under your skin. Consequently, you should focus on frequent sessions of low to moderate aerobic exercise. During aerobic exercise, the greatest percentage of calories burned are from fat. Female bodybuilders should perform 35 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise, five days a week. To determine the intensity of your aerobic exercise, you need to determine your target heart rate zone. Your training zone is determined by subtracting your age from 220, and multiplying the result by between 50 to 85 percent. For very low intensity training, your heart rate should be kept closer to the 50 percent level for at least 20 minutes. For very high intensity training, your heart rate should be closer to the 85 percent level.

According to muscleandstrength.com, females who are trying to lose fat and develop a lean, strong body, should follow a low carbohydrate diet. Women tend to burn a higher ratio of fat to carbs than men, states muscleandstrength.com. Protein is necessary to develop muscle and should be consumed in small meals throughout the day. The protein you consume should have all nine essential amino acids. Examples of complete proteins are meat, fish, poultry, egg whites, soy and whey. Each small meal should also contain monosaturated fats such as salmon, olives, most nuts and avocados. The carbohydrates you consume, in limited amounts, should be complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates provide you with sustained energy. Examples of complex carbohydrates are fruit, vegetables, whole grain pasta, and beans.
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.
Many aspiring bodybuilders find that they need to increase their calorie intake to increase their body mass. Assuming you’re training hard, you may need to add a mini meal somewhere in your day. Or, you could increase both the frequency and quantity of your meals, eating more meals more often. To hold yourself accountable, keep a log of your meals and count your calories. Especially at the start, this can help you figure out what your new normal should look like.
Weight trainers do not use as much glucose fuel as higher intensity or longer duration aerobic sports like track and endurance running and cycling. But even so, it pays to keep those glycogen stores topped up if you want to be at your best in training. Low numbers of repetitions with heavy weights develop strength, whereas lighter weights and more repetitions build muscle size and endurance. The latter is likely to expend more energy.
People throw around a number of different words they think are “synonyms” when it comes to strength training: weight lifting, resistance training… the list goes on. But really the term “strength training” incorporates body weight exercises, bands, machines, weighted equipment, and essentially anything that isn’t running, swimming, jump roping, or flexibility training (like stretching), according to Men’s Fitness‘ Group Training Director Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S. So it’s not synonymous with weight lifting—it’s an umbrella term that includes it. And while weight lifting is great, there are tons of other strength-training moves that don’t include actual weights that can help you sculpt a strong, muscular upper body.

It’s true that you want to gain some weight, but you want that weight to be muscle mass and not fat! Consume quality food like lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats and stay away from junk food, lots of sweets and fatty foods. The only time when you should consume fast absorbing carbohydrates (usually foods that have a lot of sugar or white flour) is right after your workout. Read more about what to eat to gain muscle in this article.
Here's some simple math that many people still can’t seem to grasp. You’re in the gym for only an hour or so each day, leaving another 22–23 hours in which muscle growth depends solely on what goes in—or stays out of—your piehole. So why is the nutrition side of the mass-gaining equation often marginalized? It’s probably because a bench press is a lot sexier than a spinach salad.
This is a favorite leg developer of old-school bodybuilders. For this squat variation, the bar will be up high on your traps and you will take a narrower stance. This will force your knees over your toes and allow your torso to stay upright, leading to a more quad dominant exercise. While this squat variation is more quad dominant, your glutes and hamstrings will still get a good workout (assuming you squat below parallel.)
I know it is supposed to be about weight training. The most common mistake most people make is not eating after they train or not eating the right thing. This meal should contain a mixture of different types of carbohydrates such as a high-glycemic carbohydrate like glucose, a medium-gylcemic carb like maltodextrin and a limited amount of a low glycemic carbohydrate like fructose.
The lateral raise (or shoulder fly) is performed while standing or seated, with hands hanging down holding weights, by lifting them out to the sides until just below the level of the shoulders. A slight variation in the lifts can hit the deltoids even harder, while moving upwards, just turn the hands slightly downwards, keeping the last finger higher than the thumb. This is an isolation exercise for the deltoids. Also works the forearms and traps.
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.

One scary-sounding study says your health depends on x, but another says it depends on not doing x. One writer says CrossFit kills people, but the people in those pictures all seem ripped and happy. But so does that woman in yoga class. And, let's be honest, so does the Shake Weight guy! So does that online writer guy shouting at you about intermittent fasting, high reps, low reps, high-carb, low-carb, no-carb, steady-state, or HIIT.

You may need to restock your pantry with lots of tuna and whole grains. Rivero shared details of her diet with SimplyShredded.com. A mini-meal may consist of oats and cooked egg whites; sweet potato and tuna; brown rice, chicken and greens; or tilapia and a quarter of an avocado. Figure competitor Ashley Toms, who describes diet as 90 percent of success in bodybuilding, similarly combines chicken, green veggies and steel-cut oats; whey protein shakes and oats; and snacks such as protein shakes or a handful of nuts.
You should also remember to eat a lot of varied fruits, veggies and fiber-rich carbs that won’t compromise your workout. Eat as many green, red and yellow colored veggies to get the highest and balanced amount of nutrition possible. It’s not also wrong to eat sodium-filled snacks once in a while. Never forget to consume the right amount salt. Under-consuming salt could pose a problem.

Do not, under any circumstances, skip rest days. Your body will not be able to build muscle effectively if it does not have time to heal and repair itself. Because building muscle means creating tiny tears in muscle fiber, which then heals, failing to give your body adequate time to repair and rest will mean few gains and the risk of serious injury.


Stress causes trouble for all of us. But for those interested in transforming, high levels of stress can really put a damper on your progress. It can have behavioral implications, such as increasing your risk of overeating and skipping workouts, but it's also just bad for your body on a number of levels. Utilize constructive stress management techniques like journaling, meditating, talking to a friend, or going out for a long drive around the city. Learn what works for you and then put it to use.

For people struggling to really bulk up or put on muscle mass, consuming sources of rich and healthy fats regularly is the key. People who shy away from fat consumption on fear of putting on weight need to know that fat consumption is good for our metabolism, and fat adds mass which can be converted into muscle with regular and intense workouts. Also, diets such as the ketogenic diet involve healthy usage of fats in for weight loss and muscle gain. Healthy fats are a muscle gainer and must be consumed frequently so as to provide the calories and the bulk needed for our body to break down.


The motor proteins actin and myosin generate the forces exerted by contracting muscles. Current recommendations suggest that bodybuilders should consume 25–30% of protein per total calorie intake to further their goal of maintaining and improving their body composition.[30] This is a widely debated topic, with many arguing that 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is ideal, some suggesting that less is sufficient, while others recommending 1.5, 2, or more.[31] It is believed that protein needs to be consumed frequently throughout the day, especially during/after a workout, and before sleep.[32] There is also some debate concerning the best type of protein to take. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, eggs and dairy foods are high in protein, as are some nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils. Casein or whey are often used to supplement the diet with additional protein. Whey protein is the type of protein contained in many popular brands of protein supplements and is preferred by many bodybuilders because of its high Biological Value (BV) and quick absorption rates. Whey protein also has a bigger effect than casein on insulin levels, triggering about double the amount of insulin release.[33] That effect is somewhat overcome by combining casein and whey. Bodybuilders are usually thought to require protein with a higher BV than that of soy, which is additionally avoided due to its claimed estrogenic properties. Still, some nutrition experts believe that soy, flax seeds and many other plants that contain the weak estrogen-like compounds or phytoestrogens, can be used beneficially, as phytoestrogens compete with estrogens for receptor sites in the male body and can block its actions. This can also include some inhibition of pituitary functions while stimulating the P450 system (the system that eliminates hormones, drugs and metabolic waste product from the body) in the liver to more actively process and excrete excess estrogen.[34][35] Cortisol decreases amino acid uptake by muscle, and inhibits protein synthesis.[36]
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Eat the right amounts and types of carbohydrates: To figure out your carbohydrate needs, multiply your lean body mass (fat-free body weight) by 0.8 and that will give you the total grams of carbs you need to consume per day. Divide that number by 3 and that equals the amount of carbohydrate grams you will have for Meal 1, on your meal prior to the workout and on your meal after the workout. Since we are emphasizing fat loss, stick to low glycemic carbohydrates (such as oatmeal, brown rice, grits, and sweet potatoes), except for the post workout meal where a high glycemic carbohydrate such as cream of rice is more desirable.
Various formulae exist for calculating what this starting weight should be, but I find it just as easy to trial different weights until you get to that limit. If you’re new to free weights, this helps familiarization as well. Try an obvious light weight, for you, to warm up and then upgrade to something heavier for the workout set. By the third set, you should have settled on the 12RM weight. If not, just move on and upgrade the weight next session.

Some competitors find themselves bingeing days and even weeks after the contest, which can quickly destroy months of hard work and sacrifice. When someone regularly consumes foods that are high in sugar and fat, they stimulate the release of endorphins in the brain. This can lead to a feeling of euphoria following consumption, creating a persistent craving for these foods. If bingeing continues, insulin levels will remain elevated, resulting in the acquisition of excess body fat.
Fat is your friend! Carbs and protein have only four calories per gram, but a gram of fat provides a whopping nine calories per gram. Fat helps you pack in a lot of extra calories without filling yourself to the brim. Plus, most fats and fatty foods are tasty and easy to eat. Do your best to fill up on unsaturated fats while keeping saturated fats to about 10 percent of your daily caloric intake.
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.
To combat steroid use and in the hopes of becoming a member of the IOC, the IFBB introduced doping tests for both steroids and other banned substances. Although doping tests occurred, the majority of professional bodybuilders still used anabolic steroids for competition. During the 1970s, the use of anabolic steroids was openly discussed, partly due to the fact they were legal.[9] In the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, U.S. Congress placed anabolic steroids into Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In Canada, steroids are listed under Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, enacted by the federal Parliament in 1996.[10]
This period also saw the rise of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and many other sports. In bodybuilding lore, this is partly attributed to the rise of "mass monsters", beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, and Lou Ferrigno in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continuing through the 1980s with Lee Haney, the 1990s with Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Markus Rühl, and up to the present day. Bodybuilders such as Greg Kovacs attained mass and size never seen previously but were not successful at the pro level. Others were renowned for their spectacular development of a particular body part, like Tom Platz or Paul Demayo for their leg muscles. At the time of shooting Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger (while never admitting to steroid use until long after his retirement) said that "you have to do anything you can to get the advantage in competition".[citation needed] He would later say that he does not regret using anything.[8]
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.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that resistance training should be progressive in nature (for example, follow the principle of progressive overload - see below for an explanation), individualized, and provide a stimulus to all the major muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominals, and legs). They recommend that beginners do one set of eight to 10 exercises for the major muscle groups, eight to 12 repetitions (reps) to fatigue, two to three days per week (multiple-set regimens may provide greater benefits if time allows). For older and more frail people (approximately 50-60 years of age and above), they suggest that 10-15 repetitions may be more appropriate.
Since I work out late, I don't want the caffeine but I do want the "volumizing" effects of this drink plus the anabolic effects of the other drink, so I mix Gatorade with a creatine/nitric oxide/glutamine/BCAA powder. This works well and powers me through my workout. After training, within about 20-30 minutes, have a protein shake with fruit mixed in as discussed in the "supplements" section. This further helps recovery and growth.
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.
Another important part of form is using a full range of motion while doing the exercise, meaning you do not stop your bench press half way down. If you cannot complete the full range of motion you are probably using too heavy of a weight. Your motion should also be slow and controlled, avoiding jerking the weights, swinging the weights to get momentum, or bouncing the weights.
Although this might seem callous, similarly take stock of people who could make your transformation more difficult. You need to surround yourself with people who will be supportive, not emotional anchors who drag you down. Especially during the beginning stages of your transformation, you need Adrians, not Paulies. You don't have to break up with anyone; just perform an honest assessment, and then make the most of the people who help you be at your best.
Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers and diet professionals at every level.
People who exercise have different requirements because the more you exercise, the more you have to eat to sustain that level of activity. This also applies to casual exercisers, but it may not apply to you if fat loss is one of the reasons you took up weight training. In this case, you need to create an energy deficit; which means that the energy (or calories) you consume in food is less than the energy you expend in exercise and daily living. Your weight training, in this case, is to assist with fat loss while attempting to maintain muscle.
According to muscleandstrength.com, women should not weight train much differently than men. Instead of using light weights and performing 15 to 20 repetitions, you should lift relatively heavy weights, and keep your repetitions to between six and 12. Your focus should be on using mostly free weights, and performing compound exercises. Compound exercises utilize both your prime mover muscle and stabilizer muscles to execute the lift. Examples of compound exercises are squats, dead lifts, lunges, incline bench press, upright rows and overhead presses. It is also important to get enough rest while you are training, as muscle growth and repair occurs during rest.
What we love about descending sets is that this technique is really useful for hitting all the muscle fiber types in the muscle group being worked. We personally love using it for calves and biceps and it works really well on machine exercises where all you have to do is change the pin, such as: Leg Extensions, Leg Curls, Triceps Pushdowns, Lat Pulldowns, Low Pulley Rows, Calf Raise, etc. You can use this technique more often than the ones we have presented already.
Consume a little more than 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight. Many people will say 1.5-2 grams of protein per lb, but I don't think that much protein is necessary. Amino acids, unlike carbohydrates, cannot be stored by the body for an extended amount of time. If not needed immediately by the body, any excess protein consumed will be turned into glucose, which eventually gets stored as adipose tissue (fat) if not used.
The squat is performed by squatting down with a weight held across the upper back under neck and standing up straight again. This is a compound exercise that also involves the glutes (buttocks) and, to a lesser extent, the hamstrings, calves, and the lower back. Lifting belts are sometimes used to help support the lower back. The freeweight squat is one of 'The Big Three' powerlifting exercises, along with the deadlift and the bench press.[2]
Our body needs a breather. When we rest or when we sleep is the time when our body conducts a synthesis of proteins, that is, the breakdown of proteins which results in the reconstructive process of muscle building and repair. Regular and adequate rest is needed in order to gain muscle. Also, metabolism takes place during the night when we sleep, and fat is burned during this process as well. This makes sleep the most effective tool when it comes to fitness and health, and we must give our mind and body 48 hours of rest before hitting the gym again, as this is the optimum time for muscle recovery.
Find experts you can trust. Your gym should have professional trainers ready to help you achieve your goals because you won’t be able to learn what you need to know quickly. With a fitness trainer, you can get sound advice instead of having to wade through the massive amount of bodybuilding information online. You will need the help of a nutritionist to assist in planning your diet, while a trainer can help you with your workouts. The advantage of getting a pro to help you is that the diet and workout plans can be customized to suit your needs. You don’t have to follow a generic plan.

Now come on. I really shouldn't even have to tell you this one. But you wouldn't believe how many times I'm talking to somebody and they say that they're cutting right now. What's the problem with that? Nothing... except for the fact that after we're finished talking they whip out a ho-ho or something and start scarfing down their junk like no tomorrow. And then they go and tell me it's their dinner!! What's up with that? Either they can't handle the bodybuilding life, or they really, really need to do some serious research.
Eat the right amounts and types of protein: To figure out your protein needs, multiply your total body weight by 1.2 and that will give you the total protein grams you need to consume per day. Divide that number by 6 and that equals the amount of protein grams per meal. Limit your protein sources to lean meats like chicken, turkey, and white fish such as tilapia. Out of the six meals, no more than three should be protein shakes. The post workout meal should be a whey protein powder mixed with the cream of rice as in this manner nutrients will reach the muscles as quickly as possible. In addition to the post-workout meal, no more than two other meals should be liquid ones.
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