As you have hopefully passed beyond the need to throw obscene amounts of weight around, it's important to realize that not only will you get better results from training by feel, but you will also tend to put less pressure on your joints. Don't get me wrong, it's still crucial to train to failure in the six to eight rep range using compound lifts. Those types of lifts are important, but they are not the focal point of every routine. Use intensity-building techniques such as rest pauses or dropsets, to recruit more muscle fibers.
Warmups are important to get blood flowing to heart, lung, and muscles and lubricating (synovial) fluid loosening the joints ready for action. Each weights exercise should include a warmup with light weights and practicing the same form as for the workout weight. Sixty percent of your workout weight is about right for warmups. Stretching is not so important before exercise and is better performed after exercise. Some light stretches will do no harm.
If you can't remember the last time you saw your doctor for a complete physical and blood work-up, now is definitely the time. Why? Well, first of all there's all the disclaimer-sounding stuff concerning any outstanding health issues you might not know about. Your doctor could have specific diet or training recommendations that you're better off hearing about now than later. But that's not the only reason.
Find a good gym. You can get started getting into shape and building muscle at home, with a basic home gym set up, but without access to professional gym facilities, it's not possible to become a bodybuilder of the sort that adorns the cover of Muscle & Fitness. If you want to become a competitive bodybuilder, it's important that you find a good gym in your area where you can train. Some of the best bodybuilding gyms in the world include:
Nothing good comes from crash diets. Keep in mind, anytime you restrict calories for more than a day or two, whether through diet, exercise, or both, your metabolism actually slows down to some extent. The effect is more noticeable with long-term diets or drastic calorie reduction. This explains why so many people who follow crash diets end up gaining every ounce—or more—back.
The world of female bodybuilding can be daunting to enter. While the initial images you conjure up may be of bulky, masculine-looking women with ripped muscles, this isn't always the case. In the 1990s, figure and bikini classes were introduced into women's bodybuilding for those who wanted a smaller yet defined and aesthetically-pleasing physique, says trainer Matt Weik of Bodybuilding.com. Before you take the plunge into competing, there are several important factors you should consider.
Perform three weight-training sessions per week, hitting your whole body each time. Base your routine on compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. These burn the most calories, hit more muscles and give the best bang for your buck, claims Rachel Cosgrove, strength coach and co-founder of Results Fitness in California. If you're not sure of any exercise techniques, ask a trainer at your gym for assistance.
Seriously, know your personal limits. I can't tell you how many times I've seen somebody give up too early or get hurt during training or racing because they simply had no idea what their real thresholds were. The whole idea behind training and/or competing is to push your thresholds to the limits to fulfill your potential. If you don't know what your limits are, how can you possibly know what your potential is?
Think of your muscles as a piece of gum, if you try to stretch a cold piece of gum it will break, similar to your muscles, but if you warm up prior to stretch its like stretching a piece of chewed gum. You should also be stretching before and after cardio, as stated above it enables blood to flood your worked muscles to improve healing and the most important reason is to
Is your resting heart rate jacked up today? Are you too sore from your last workout to walk? Did you only sleep a few hours the last night? Skipped breakfast and lunch? Congrats, you just earned yourself a rest day. In other words - go home. You aren't going to get anything but an increased risk of injury by training in any one of these conditions.
Often people make great progress for about the first 3 months and then plateau, usually because their body has become used to the movements and exercises ceasing them from further progression. Your routine should be changed about every 12 weeks (3 months) this keeps you interested at the gym, and constantly shocks your muscles with new exercises which is what will help you continue to grow and improve in the gym.
You may recruit more muscles than just the group you're focused on. Getting back to dumbbell presses, you not only use the pectorals, anterior deltoid (front of the shoulder) and triceps, but you may need other shoulder and back muscles to coordinate and hold your body steady during the exercises. Likewise, if you're doing standing front raises, you will naturally recruit muscles in your abdomen and back to steady your body.
“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.
Start entering regional contests. Open regional bodybuilding contests are the way to crack into the world of competing. Everyone starts at the local level and gradually builds their way up to the national level. If you're in good shape and want to get experience, try competing and see if you've got what it takes to move on to the next level of competition, and maybe even go pro. For a list of amateur competitions in the United States, click here.
So, for example, with the moves above you'd do 15 squats followed by 15 push-ups. Take a little breather then repeat that two more times. Then you move on to your walking lunges and lat pull-downs (and repeat those three times total, too). You can really do anywhere from eight reps to 15 (and even just two sets, if you don't have time for three), but "it’s not a bad idea for beginners to start with a 15-rep range to get comfortable with the exercises," says Davis. And while there's some debate over whether three sets of an exercise is really best, "it’s a great beginner model," says Davis. Don't overcomplicate things when you're just getting started.
Overeat. Increase your daily intake of energy (calories) by about 15 percent. It should not be all protein but the extra protein you consume, either in supplements or protein foods, should be low in fat. Stay close to the current guidelines for protein requirements for weight trainers. Hiring a sports dietitian with some experience in weight training is also an option.
Focus on those exercises, trust me, you won't regret it. Also, don't be afraid to add weight to the bar as well, as long as your form is in check. Overloading the muscles is essential for growth because the body doesn't need to adapt if nothing's changing. Therefore, you must force your body to change by adding weight or another repetition on that exercise that next time it comes around.
Start small and work your way up the ladder one step at a time. If you make too big of goals, you may never reach them, and you may lose motivation and interest, which will ultimately lead to giving up. However, if your goals are attainable, once you do reach them, a never before felt euphoria will rush through your entire body, and you'll finally realize why everybody who is in this is in it. This'll only push you even harder the next time, and the next time, and then the next time, and before you know it you look back at old photos and can't even recognize yourself.
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.
Use a split system. If you have never trained with weights, or have taken a significant break from weights, I do not recommend training at maximum intensity right away. Training to failure during the first crucial work outs will result in tremendous muscle soreness and you may never return. Start slowly by doing a full-body work out consisting of three or four sets of lighter weights for every major muscle group. After the first couple weeks, you can increase your intensity and move onto a split system. An example of a three-day split might be: