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. 

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.
After a muscle has been stressed sufficiently with high-intensity training, you must not train that muscle again too soon so that you allow for the body to respond with a compensatory build up of new muscle tissue. You can measure your progress to determine whether or not you’re allowing enough recovery time for growth to take place simply by taking note whether or not you’re stronger any time you repeat any given workout. Some people have argued this point with me and have stated that there is no relationship between muscle size and strength. If this is the case, and you don’t need to get stronger in order to get bigger, than how exactly should you go about getting bigger? By getting weaker?
(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.)
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.
The exercise order should be maintained as above, busy gyms notwithstanding. This order has been designed with large muscle group, compound exercises first, the smaller muscle isolation exercises following and with alternating ‘push’ and ‘pull’ to achieve a session that alternates muscle groups and modes of action as much as possible to enable maximum rest and recovery of the various muscle groups. Some compromises were required. Don’t get too hung-up if you can’t achieve this sequence. It’s not always possible to access equipment when you want it in gyms. In the scheme of things, it’s not fatal.

"When there is a particular muscle group that I really need to focus on, I like to lift a little lit heavier than usual, lifting roughly 6 working sets for 6 reps each," explains fitness model Tricia Ashley Gutierrez. "Then, if that muscle really needs more work, I like to come back three days later and train that same muscle group using higher-rep isolation movements."


Some bodybuilders use drugs such as anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones to increase muscle hypertrophy. Anabolic steroids cause hypertrophy of both types (I and II) of muscle fibers, likely caused by an increased synthesis of muscle proteins. They also provoke undesired side effects including hepatotoxicity, gynecomastia, acne, the early onset of male pattern baldness and a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy.[42][43][44] Other performance-enhancing substances used by competitive bodybuilders include human growth hormone (HGH), which can cause acromegaly.
Your sweet tooth can completely derail your diet if you aren’t careful. In addition to avoiding obvious sweets like candy, cake, and cookies, remember to watch out for excess sugars in processed foods. For example, you might be surprised how much sugar is in some yogurts, pasta sauces, and cereals. Don’t forget to bypass soda and sugary cocktails and coffee drinks as well. In place of these sweets, as a dessert after your meal, try eating some fruit or a small piece of dark chocolate.
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.
So this month, in keeping with strength-building custom, heavy sets of just five reps on basic, meat-and-potatoes lifts will serve as the backbone of your routine. But a lighter set of 30 reps at the end of each exercise (abs excepted) will provide the additional GH spike needed to boost strength and help you build denser mass. Rest 2-3 minutes between sets, and skip the definitive set of 30 for the final act on abs, for which you’ll perform four straight sets of 20 reps. Make sure you choose a heavy enough weight on that last high-rep set to make the final 5-6 reps challenging and so you elicit the best muscular and hormonal response.
Not every biceps movement was done for 6-8 reps. Arnold identified certain exercises that he called "definition-building movements," which he performed with relatively lighter weights for sets of 8-12 reps. Here, his focus was on squeezing and contracting the muscle, and holding the peak contraction for a long count. Concentration curls, preacher curls, and alternating dumbbell curls were among his favorites.
The bench press or dumbbell bench-press is performed while lying face up on a bench, by pushing a weight away from the chest. This is a compound exercise that also involves the triceps and the front deltoids, also recruits the upper and lower back muscles, and traps. The bench press is the king of all upper body exercises and is one of the most popular chest exercises in the world. It is the final exercise in 'The big 3'.
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.
Increase the frequency of workouts, keeping in mind that each muscle needs at least 48 hours of recovery time. Once you are more experienced, you may like to consider splitting body parts over the different days of the week – for example, chest, shoulders and triceps in session one, back, biceps and abdominal muscles in session two, and legs in session three.

Try incorporating "cyclical dieting" and "re-feeding" days. A possible form of re-feeding would be restricting calories for six days in a week and eating at maintenance on the seventh day—although you could adjust the frequency to meet your needs and re-feed once every two weeks or a couple of times per week. Re-feeding days help boost leptin levels, lower cortisol, and take you out of energy deficit, even if only for a day.
After a tough sweat, it's important to rehydrate your body: "Drink lots of water and thank your body for what it was just able to accomplish," says Davis. A balanced post-workout snack is also a good idea. Go for one with carbs refuel your glycogen stores (one of your body's main energy sources) and about 10 to 20 grams of protein to help build and repair your muscles. "Don’t overcomplicate it," says Davis. If you're lifting and weight loss is one of your goals, though, it's still important to keep calories in mind—a post-workout snack shouldn't be more than 150 to 200 calories. Here's a guide to how many calories you should be eating for weight loss.
In the 1970s, bodybuilding had major publicity thanks to the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, and others in the 1977 docudrama Pumping Iron. By this time, the IFBB dominated the competitive bodybuilding landscape and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) took a back seat. The National Physique Committee (NPC) was formed in 1981 by Jim Manion,[7] who had just stepped down as chairman of the AAU Physique Committee. The NPC has gone on to become the most successful bodybuilding organization in America and is the amateur division of the IFBB. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the decline of AAU-sponsored bodybuilding contests. In 1999, the AAU voted to discontinue its bodybuilding events.
Your legs are even more important if you play sports. Strong legs will help you run faster, become stronger, and most importantly, lower your chance of being injured. I know this first hand. I used to train my legs sparingly because the workouts were so hard. I simply didn't feel like going to the gym on leg days and even if I did, I would just go through the motions and never train at a high enough intensity.
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]
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:
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:
It’s worth reading the introductory weight training information before starting this program, or any program for that matter. The exercises use the standard free weights and equipment found in most gyms. All exercises can be done at home if you have the appropriate home gym equipment. A medical examination and clearance is wise if you've been sedentary for a lengthy period. Take care with injured or dysfunctional joints. Get medical advice before starting weight training if this applies to you.
Exercise tubing consists of elastic tubes with handles that can substitute for free weights or machines to help you build strength and tone. They come in various thicknesses to increase the tension (and are different colors to denote the tension). They have never been tested head-to-head against free weights or machines, but remember that resistance exercise is any activity that causes muscles to contract against external resistance. Tubing does just that.

See what's happening? You'll do 8 reps of incline hammer presses. Then, in drop-set fashion, you'll lower the weight so you can do 8 more reps. Lower it again so you can do a final 8 reps. Immediately go to machine flies where you'll also do 3 drop sets of 8. Follow those up with 3 drop sets of decline dumbbell presses. Each set ends up being 72 reps!
These diet tips for bodybuilding can be misleading if you forget about the importance of preparing your meals in a nutritious way. Although we’ve urged you to eat healthy foods like chicken, eggs, and oatmeal, we don’t recommend that you dine on fried chicken, Scotch eggs, or oatmeal covered in brown sugar. Instead, try to grill, bake, or steam your foods. Avoid large amounts of oil and butter, and steer clear of fried foods and sugary add-ons.
Processed and fried foods will be going bye-bye as part of your bodybuilding program. You'll need five or six small meals each day with lean protein to repair muscles, carbs to fuel your workouts and healthy fats to satisfy hunger. Lebo advises that you create meal plans for your week. Rest your muscles a full 48 hours before working the same muscle group and get plenty of sleep.

Other bodybuilders, such as Casey Viator and Mike Mentzer, used less sets in order to get more recuperation. They would limit the number of sets per exercise to only 3 and would also do less exercises to train each muscle group. This would bring their total number of sets down to 10-12, about half of what the high volume trainers would use. Mentzer was often quoted as only doing a total of 5 sets per muscle group.
Triceps extension, skullcrusher, whatever you want to call it, just make sure you do this move. The triceps extension is an old school, classic triceps isolating exercise. It has been around forever and used by some of the best bodybuilders of all time. It works the triceps from the elbow to the lats. Keep your elbows close together and pointed towards the ceiling. Bring the bar down toward your forehead to maximize triceps activation. The temptation is to flare your elbows out because you can do more weight—don’t!
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:

Without any goals why would you even bother going to the gym? You need something to motivate you, something to aim for, otherwise you may spend a lot of time and effort in the gym for nothing. Having goals can determine what kind of routine you choose, what type of diet you follow, and ultimately is a great way to keep yourself focused. Many common goals include fat loss, weight loss, increase of size, increase of strength, etc.
Take the time to learn the movements and you'll set yourself up for a long career of continued success. Begin with body weight, then progress to a broomstick, and then work your way up to a bar. After that, keep feeding yourself more and more weight. If your technique isn't perfect with no weight, then it makes no sense to keep adding weight to the bar. Once your technique is perfected, the sky's the limit.
Calorie load the right way. Nutrition is one of the biggest and most important facets of bodybuilding. You can lift seven days a week, train hard, and do all the cardio in the world, but if your nutrition is poor, you will not see rapid and mass gains in muscle size and strength. Learn to eat the right amount of the right kind of calories to gain muscle the way you want.

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).
Especially at the start, be realistic with your goals. Avoid extreme diets that severely limit your options, recognizing that these plans are rarely sustainable in the long term. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up from time to time, and be sure to schedule cheat meals into your diet (taking care not to let them stretch out into cheat days or weekends). In addition, instead of avoiding restaurants entirely, go and learn to seek out healthy options. Many restaurants can prepare healthier versions of their menu items when asked. For example, you could request plain grilled chicken or fish, a hefty serving of vegetables, and a side salad.
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.
If you're reading this, you're probably eager to add some muscle to your frame. Whether you're coming off a sharp cut or just want to stack some mass on your body, it helps to have a stockpile of great gains-related tips in your arsenal. Below, you'll find an incredible assortment of muscle-building advice from some of the best athletes on BodySpace.

Isolation exercises are movements which target only one muscle group at a time, movements such as preacher curl, side raises, dumbbell flyes, etc. These exercises do not benefit beginners because isolation exercises are usually meant to further define a muscle, which can be pointless if you do not have any muscle to define, therefore it is important to do compound movements.
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.
Further suggesting that training to failure plays a lesser role in the hypertrophic response is a study that noted that training to failure with light weight did not produce marked strength gains (meaning that failure itself wasn't the most critical factor).[6] In fact, increasing the resistance of the movement recruits more motor units and is correlated with gains in strength and hypertrophy.[6,7]
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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