In his phenomenal book "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business," Charles Duhigg dedicates an entire chapter to what he labels the "habit loop." Without giving away any spoilers—I'm not kidding, it's a book that will melt your brain, and you should read it—Duhigg explains that one of the most fail-proof ways to create a habit is to preface the behavior you want to reinforce with a cue.
Many years ago it was unheard of for women to bodybuild, let alone work out in a gym with weights. What a bunch of rubbish! Times have changed drastically, and for the better, I must say. If you’re female and want to get your groove on, look no further than your own living quarters. With the right tutelage, you can be carved up and turning heads in no time!
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.
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.
Learn to isolate specific muscles. Steady, controlled movements are the key to learning what it "feels like" to work a specific muscle or muscle group. It takes about three weeks for the novice to maximize the neuromuscular coordination necessary to identify and fully recruit muscle fibers from individual muscle groups. At this stage, you will be able to efficiently target these groups and minimize cheating with sympathetic muscles. This will also enable you to use virtually any unfamiliar piece of gym equipment (and invent your own exercises) simply by duplicating the appropriate "feel" when trying a new exercises for the same body part.
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.
Compound exercises are the large-scale exercises which involve more than one large muscle group. Working with compound exercises results in extensive workload on two or more muscle groups and hence, growth in two areas instead of one, which is the case in isolation exercises. Exercises such as deadlifts, squats, bench presses, rows, and pull-downs are compound exercises. The added benefit of working out using compounds is that it saves the time of working on two areas of the body using two different exercises. Intensity and form are key in these workouts, and with the right practice, you will find gains in no time.
With this in mind, focus less on single-joint movements (sometimes called isolation exercises) in favor of multijoint ones. The bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead press, bent-over row, and power clean are examples of solid multijoint exercises that require several muscle groups to work in coordination. These exercises should form the foundation of your training plan.
In the 60’s most workouts were geared for 3 days a week. Upper body was done on one day and lower on the next. The gains came pretty good because there was enough rest time in-between the workouts and body parts. The sets and reps were 3 sets per exercise with 8 to 10 reps. This was very basic, but worked for most people, as it wasn’t over training.
Arnold wrote that he always included at least one dumbbell movement in his routine. By supinating his hand (turning it upward as he curled), he felt he got a greater "peaking" effect because the brachialis is recruited into the motion when the hand starts in the neutral position. Arnold performed supinating dumbbell curls simultaneously and with alternating reps. The latter allows more body English and a bit of rest between reps.
In the third week of the program we step it up to a three-day training split: Train all “pushing” bodyparts (chest, shoulders, triceps) on Day 1; hit the “pulling” bodyparts (back, biceps) and abs on Day 2; and work your lower body (quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves) on Day 3. As in Week 2, you train each bodypart twice a week, so you’ll hit the gym six days this week.
Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.
For the leg curls, I’d recommend using a different type of leg curl machine than you used in the Lower Body A workout, assuming your gym actually has more than 1 type of leg curl machine. If your gym only has one kind, do it one leg at a time in the A workout, and both legs together in this workout. Or, if preferred, hyperextensions would be fine here as well.
The Old School bodybuilders would split the body up in several muscle groups in order to work each muscle group adequately. A six day split would separate the muscle groups into three separate days and each muscle group would be trained twice a week. For example, bodybuilders would train chest and back on Monday and Thursdays, legs and abdominals on Tuesday and Friday and shoulders and arms on Wednesday and Saturday.
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: