(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.)


Arnold sought out alternative exercises that worked a target muscle from slightly different angles. When using dumbbells rather than the barbell on overhead presses, for example, he deliberately lowered the weights several inches below the bottom position of the barbell movement, and he brought them together at the top to elongate the range of motion.
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.
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.
OK. Imagine this: It's the end of the most intense workout you've ever had. It's gone extremely well up to this point. You just need to bust out one more set of deadlifts and then you can call it a day and relax with a nice protein shake. But when you pull the weight off the floor, it falls back down. You think to yourself what's going on, and that you know your legs have enough energy left to pump out a few more. What's the problem?

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.


Now I don't know if Branch is avid in his flexibility routines, but perhaps if he had been just a bit more flexible, maybe his arm could have caught him in a different way, preventing an injury. Flexibility is all about being able to move your body in a variety of different ways to compensate for the many different stimuli that can possibly cause harm to the system as a whole.

One of the most misunderstood areas for new bodybuilders is nutrition. I talk to guys all the time that have no idea of their daily calorie intake, their daily protein intake, their carbohydrate intake. They have no idea of what types of foods they should be eating, or when they should be eating them. They don't know what supplements do what and what they should using. Let me refer readers to some of my other articles that detail these areas.
Eating often will keep you satiated and give your muscles the constant stream of nutrients they need to grow. Not only are hunger pangs a sign that your body may have entered a catabolic state, but when you’re starving you’re more likely to OD on leftover birthday cake at the office. Try to consume eight physique-friendly meals or snacks throughout the day, including your pre-and post-workout fare.
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.

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.


"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."
Exercises in which you pull the weight perpendicularly into your body—often called rows—were a big part of Arnold's back workout. He favored all kinds of variations—seated cables rows, T-bar rows, bent-over barbell rows—but each one was done with high volume and progressively heavier weights. Arnold followed a pyramid scheme in which he increased the weight on successive sets for fewer reps. Only the heaviest sets were taken to muscle failure.
Great post and video. John I have a question….you mentioned in a previous post about skin care and how important to you it is how your skin looks. I have to say you have great looking skin. A lot of bodybuilders just care about their body but not the skin. I would like to know what do you recommend to get rid of flat moles on the skin? I know the importance of vitamin d and how the sun is the best source however I’m very skin and when I get some sun over time I get a nice color but also flat moles or some freckles. Plus everyone tells me that since I’m fare skin to be careful with getting skin cancer from the sun…Any tips? I want a nice color and clear skin without any flat moles…thank you.

And while it’s true that there’s a lot of good information out there, nothing comes even close to having real-life individual attention from a professional. They can ensure you’re using proper form during your bodybuilding exercises, help you stick to a program to meet your unique goals, and give you advice that applies specifically to your body and yours alone.
Along with the basic, compound movements, bodybuilders also added isolation exercises in order to develop their physiques and bring weak parts up to par. They knew, for example, that barbell and dumbbells presses were a great exercise for developing mass and strength in the shoulders but they also needed to add side lateral raises and bent over lateral raises with dumbbells in order to build the side and rear heads of the deltoids. Without this development, the shoulders would not look as impressive. Because there were very few or no machines designed to isolate these muscles, the bodybuilders had to use free weights (barbells and dumbbells) to accomplish their goals. Again, the use of free weights for these movements helped to build more muscle mass and strength.
In 1990, professional wrestling promoter Vince McMahon announced that he was forming a new bodybuilding organization named the World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF). McMahon wanted to bring WWF-style showmanship and bigger prize money to the sport of bodybuilding. A number of IFBB stars were recruited but the roster was never very large and featured the same athletes competing; the most notable winner and first WBF champion was Gary Strydom. McMahon formally dissolved the WBF in July 1992. Reasons for this reportedly included lack of income from the pay-per-view broadcasts of the contests, slow sales of the WBF's magazine Bodybuilding Lifestyles (later WBF Magazine), and the expense of paying multiple six-figure contracts while producing two TV shows and a monthly magazine.
And while it’s true that there’s a lot of good information out there, nothing comes even close to having real-life individual attention from a professional. They can ensure you’re using proper form during your bodybuilding exercises, help you stick to a program to meet your unique goals, and give you advice that applies specifically to your body and yours alone.
When you lose weight, you need to hold onto muscle and bone while shedding fat. This is tricky because the body is not used to breaking down some tissue (fat) and building up other tissue (muscle) at the same time. Breaking down is called catabolism and building up is called anabolism, as in "anabolic steroids." This is a contradictory process. But weight training helps maintain muscle while losing fat.
Any good training regimen needs to include variables that can be toggled to alter training for specific purposes. A weight lifter, for example, would take into consideration their specific exercise techniques, pounds lifted, sets per lift, reps per set, tempo per rep, rest between reps, rest between sets, emphasis between concentric, eccentric, and/or static contractions, number of sets, set order, supersetting, and so on, ad nauseum.
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.
The first option is bodyweight training. With bodyweight training you need minimal equipment (or none at all), and you can train from anywhere.  It doesn’t matter if you’re at home, in a hotel, at a playground, in your office at work,  or traveling around the world, as long as you have enough space to move around, you can get your workout done (and fit it into a busy schedule).

Shorter rest periods have their place — especially if your goal is muscular endurance and fat loss. But longer rest allows you to perform more reps on subsequent sets, and this greater volume, over time, may lead to greater muscle gains in the long run. One convenient way to do this without tacking additional time onto your bodybuilding routine: Perform supersets, which are back-to-back sets of two different exercises that target non-competing muscle groups (e.g., the squat and biceps curl, or the bench press and bent over row).


The Stiff-Legged Deadlift is a deadlift variation that specifically targets the posterior chain. Little to no knee movement occurs in this exercise to ensure hamstring, glute, and spinal erector activation. The bar starts on the floor and the individual sets up like a normal deadlift but the knees are at a 160° angle instead on 135° on the conventional deadlift.
No one wants to see a friend get hurt in the gym, and I consider anyone who lifts a friend in that sense, so don't be afraid to take a plate off of your lifts in order to practice good form. Looking like you can lift more plates in the gym than anyone else isn't really important, and in the long run keeping good form will keep you healthier and more able to continue lifting.
progressive overload principle – to continue to gain benefits, strength training activities need to be done to the point where it’s hard for you to do another repetition. The aim is to use an appropriate weight or resistant force that will challenge you, while maintaining good technique. Also, regular adjustments to the training variables, such as frequency, duration, exercises for each muscle group, number of exercises for each muscle group, sets and repetitions, help to make sure you progress and improve
Resistance training works by causing microscopic damage or tears to the muscle cells, which in turn are quickly repaired by the body to help the muscles regenerate and grow stronger. The breakdown of the muscle fiber is called "catabolism," and the repair and re-growth of the muscle tissue is called "anabolism." You're probably familiar with the term anabolic when used with steroids. Anabolic means to grow, and that's exactly what happens after you break down the muscle fibers with resistance exercise. In fact, many biological processes of growth in the body require some breakdown, or catabolism, prior to re-growth. For instance, bones must be broken down first before calcium and other growth factors repair the bone and make it stronger. With muscles, testosterone, insulin-like growth factor, growth hormone, protein, and other nutrients rush to the muscle after a resistance-exercise session to help repair the muscles to make them stronger. Importantly, your muscles heal and grow when you aren't working out, and so that's why it's necessary to leave time between workouts for recovery.
Unless you do extreme sessions for considerably longer than an hour, include intense cardio or strength-endurance weights programs, or ate poorly in the hours leading up to the session, you probably don't need anything other than water during a workout. Don't let your blood and muscle glucose get too low, or cortisol and other hormones will start to break down your muscle. But you don't need expensive supplements to protect you from catabolic cortisol surges. All you need is carbohydrates from a sports drink, gel, or bar.
The wall sit, also known as a static squat, is performed by placing one's back against a wall with feet shoulder width apart, and lowering the hips until the knees and hips are both at right angles. The position is held as long as possible. The exercise is used to strengthen the quadriceps. Contrary to previous advice in this section, this exercise is NOT good for people with knee problems because the knees bear most of the load, especially when they are held at right angles (90 degrees).[citation needed]
The early stages of your bodybuilding journey are the best time to make strength and size gains. Being new to training, your body responds and adapts rapidly to lifting weights and builds muscle at a faster rate. You can expect a gain of around 1 to 2 pounds per month when exercising properly, notes trainer Barry Lumsden. Getting the best from your training regime also requires a solid diet plan, however.
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.

Keep things simple at dinner and aim for an even distribution of protein, starchy carbs and vegetables. Pick steak, chicken, pork, turkey or fish for your protein, or a soy-based product if you're vegetarian. Pasta, sweet potatoes, couscous, quinoa and buckwheat are all nutrient-dense, high-fiber carb sources. And as for vegetables, anything goes. Consider making double your evening meal to take for lunch the next day.


Train each body part once per week. With the exception of abs, directly training a body part with high intensity more than once a week is usually overtraining. If you are striving for maximum strength gains, power, and muscular growth, high intensity translates to low reps and heavy weight. Three to four sets of three to four different exercises per body part is optimal. Large muscle groups like chest, quads, and glutes do well in a rep range as low as 6 or 7. With smaller groups like biceps and triceps, and difficult to isolate groups like shoulders and back, stay within a more conservative rep range of at least 8 to 10 per set. View exercises for all the muscle groups here.


Milo of Croton, the ancient Greek athlete, strong man, and wrestler, may be credited as the first athlete to use the principle of progressive overload. Legend has it that Milo trained for the Olympics by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day for years prior to the Olympic start date, and by the time the Olympics arrived, the calf had grown to a full-size cow, and Milo was still carrying it on his back! In essence, Milo adapted to the growing weight of the animal by growing stronger himself. That's progressive overload. To follow this model for developing strength and tone, you lift weights that are heavy enough to create muscular fatigue at the 10th to 12th repetition and then when that gets easy, you increase the weight and lift that new weight until you can do it again for 10-12 reps. You can increase the weight every time you get to 10 or 12 reps. Typically every time you add new weight, you lift fewer reps because it's heavier, but then as your muscles grow stronger, you perform more reps.
The snatch is one of the two current olympic weightlifting events (the other being the clean and jerk). The essence of the event is to lift a barbell from the platform to locked arms overhead in a smooth continuous movement. The barbell is pulled as high as the lifter can manage (typically to mid [ chest] height) (the pull) at which point the barbell is flipped overhead. With relatively light weights (as in the "power snatch") locking of the arms may not require rebending the knees. However, as performed in contests, the weight is always heavy enough to demand that the lifter receive the bar in a squatting position, while at the same time flipping the weight so it moves in an arc directly overhead to locked arms. When the lifter is secure in this position, he rises (overhead squat), completing the lift.

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]


Do a single set of repetitions. Theories on the best way to approach weight training abound, including countless repetitions and hours at the gym. But research shows that a single set of exercise with a weight that fatigues your muscle after about 12 to 15 repetitions can build muscle efficiently in most people and can be as effective as three sets of the same exercise.
What can a bodybuilder do to break a plateau? Advanced bodybuilding training techniques are applied on an occasional basis to introduce variety into the bodybuilding routine in order to further stimulate muscle growth. The purpose of such bodybuilding techniques is to take the muscle beyond the point of failure. Muscular failure is the point in which performing another repetition in good form becomes impossible and also the point that stimulates the muscle to grow. Most of these advanced bodybuilding training techniques should only be used sparingly; do not use them on every workout or else you risk overtraining and/or injury. Supersets, tri-sets, and giant-sets, however, are the exception to this rule and can be used on every workout.

For us recreational enthusiasts, there are few things that provide more inspiration than the audible feats of strength that take place in our own gyms every day. The clanging of non-collared plates on a big set of squats. The seismic thud of a stacked set of dumbbells hitting the floor. The primitive, rep-beating grunt of fellow strength-seeking men. It’s this cacophony of iron that pushes us to push ourselves. We want to move more weight - lots more - and we’re ready to put in the work.

Great post and video. John I have a question….you mentioned in a previous post about skin care and how important to you it is how your skin looks. I have to say you have great looking skin. A lot of bodybuilders just care about their body but not the skin. I would like to know what do you recommend to get rid of flat moles on the skin? I know the importance of vitamin d and how the sun is the best source however I’m very skin and when I get some sun over time I get a nice color but also flat moles or some freckles. Plus everyone tells me that since I’m fare skin to be careful with getting skin cancer from the sun…Any tips? I want a nice color and clear skin without any flat moles…thank you.
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]

Rest and recovery: Remember that muscles grow during downtime, not when you train, so allow a day or two between workouts when you first get started so that the muscles can recover and grow. You should show up at your workouts refreshed and at least as strong as the previous workout (there will be days when you aren't stronger, and you should expect them so don't get discouraged when it happens).

Train four to five times per week. Although you might be tempted to train seven days a week, or even multiple times per day, this will actually slow down your progress and damage your muscles. Aim for four to five training times per week, varying the types of exercises you do. The human body is highly adaptable, so keeping your muscles guessing is a key aspect of bodybuilding and weightlifting.
Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.

Training intensity (average weight lifted per day, week, etc.) and relative intensity (percent of your one-rep max) are more critical to making gains in strength and power, especially among experienced trainers.[8-10] Using heavier weights and not consistently training to failure provides adequate stimulus, especially with regard to strength development.[8]
Employ proper form. Movements should be accomplished with strict attention to form in order to achieve maximum benefit with minimum risk of injury. Always remember to avoid sharp, jerky repetitions and using momentum to lift a heavier weight. These cheating tactics will not make you grow faster or become stronger, but they will place harmful stresses on your joints. I suggest holding the full contraction for a short pause to accentuate the pump. Concentrate on both the concentric and eccentric phase of the contraction to maximize every repetition. Be certain to flex and extend fully to avoid muscle shortening and weakness at the extremes of the motion range.
In the 12th week of the program, performing three sets of three on all exercises will provide a barometer with which you can measure your improvement. Then, in the 13th week, you’ll test your three-rep max (3RM) on five major strength lifts. If you performed the 3RM test before you began the program (see “Testing Your 3RM”), you should be looking at roughly a 25% improvement on all five lifts.

After session 12, consider whether you need to increase the weight for any particular exercise. If you can comfortably do more than the RM of 12 exercises, increase the weight by a modest amount, say two pounds or a kilogram for isolation exercise muscles such as triceps and biceps, and 5 pounds or 2.5.kilograms for compound and large muscle group exercises like squats and deadlifts. When using dumbbells, this would apply to each one. Don’t increase the number of sets beyond 3 at this time.
Strength training seeks to make a stronger you, while bodybuilding kicks the goal up several notches -- to make your body a visual statement of rippling muscle and taut sinew. You can become a female bodybuilder and still maintain your femininity and appeal, as demonstrated by bodybuilding icons such as Rachel McLish and Marissa Rivero, successful actresses and beautiful models. To get started, you need mainly to commit to an initial three months of dedicated work, as well as planning and tracking your progress.

Without further ado, here are some of the best 10 training tips you'll ever hear, aggregated by myself from my experience working closely with many practiced health and fitness experts. These tips come from long time bodybuilding coaches, knowledgeable conditioning experts, registered dietitians, physical therapists, experienced personal trainers, and elite multisport coaches, and are good bits of wisdom to keep in your back pocket no matter what your sport or goals.
Several exercises from Week 1 are carried over to Week 2, but one move is added to each bodypart routine—with the exception of abs—so you can train all muscle groups more completely from multiple angles. Chest, for example, includes two exercises: One is a compound movement (dumbbell bench press) that involves multiple joints (both the shoulder and elbow) to work the largest amount of muscle possible, and the other is an isolation exercise (dumbbell flye) that involves only one joint (shoulder) and targets the pecs to a greater extent. (When doing presses for chest, the deltoids and triceps are involved to a degree, meaning presses don’t isolate the pecs as much as flyes do.)
Use protein supplements wisely. Throwing back a protein shake every morning is not a guarantee that your body will build muscle mass. Although protein shakes are not inherently bad, they are also not a magical means of building muscle. If you decide to implement a protein supplement in your diet, make sure the ingredients are high-quality (i.e. not riddled with sugar and empty carbs).[13]
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.
Action: Once you feel comfortably balanced, contract your quadriceps and gluteal muscles and lower your body slowly. When you reach the point where your upper legs are just below parallel to the floor, push back up to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight to protect your lower back, and keep your head up and your eyes fixed ahead as you perform this exercise.
“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.
After 12 weeks in the Beginning Bodybuilding Schedule, it is time to graduate to an Intermediate Routine in order to keep progressing. In this routine, the body is split in two separate days; chest, back and arms on day 1, and shoulders, legs and abs on day 2. Also, a leg extension/leg curl attachment will be required for those working out at home.

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That all sounds ideal, but it doesn’t make the weight room any less scary. To ease your fears, try changing your view on why you’re weight training and what it can do for you. As a runner, you’re training for strength, not to bulk up with massive muscle gains. And because of the amount of miles you’re putting in weekly, the chances that you’d achieve a large increase in muscle mass are pretty low.
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The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance.[19] A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.


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.
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