Order of exercises: Design your plan so that large muscle groups are worked before smaller groups. The theory is that if you fatigue a smaller muscle group first, then the larger group won't work as hard as it can. For example, do bent-over-rows before biceps curls. Biceps work in both exercises, but since the larger and stronger back muscles are used in the rows, they wouldn't get a maximal workout if the biceps are fatigued. Another way to say it is that the biceps become the weakest link in the chain if you work them first.
Warm up with ten minutes of aerobic exercise. This can be with treadmill walking or jogging, stationary bicycle, cross-trainer or stepper machines. Extend this to 30 minutes depending on requirements for fat loss. In any case, we recommend at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise at moderate intensity three times each week for all weight trainers in order to promote aerobic fitness. It need not be done at the same time as the weights session.
Attend local competitions. When you are just starting out, visiting local competitions will be helpful for a few reasons: you will be able to get a feel for competitions and what will be expected of you, you will be exposed to your potential competitors, and you will be able to speak with like-minded men and women who also enjoy the sport. You can make connections at a competition you might not be able to make at your local gym.
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.
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?
The Old School bodybuilders didn’t have as many choices as today’s bodybuilder has. The gyms back in the 1970’s and ’80’s were typically smaller, hardcore gyms designed to appeal to the serious trainer. Most gym members were bodybuilders, powerlifters and others who were trying to get big and strong. Those establishments were equipped with plenty of free weights such as barbells, dumbbells, benches and some cable machines. However, cardio equipment like treadmills, stair masters and elliptical machines were not yet available. Also, many of the fancier machines, that help to isolate and “tone” muscles, were also a thing of the future.
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.
One bodybuilding “secret” that works amazingly well is to simply practise posing your muscles. Provided that you are lean enough in the first place rapid definition can be gained by simply flexing your muscles as hard as you can, as often as you can. Try this little experiment – every day contract the quadriceps muscles in your right thigh as hard as you can for 20 sets of 15 seconds. Take a photo on the first day, and then a photo after day 10. You will be amazed at the difference. Send in your before and after shots to [email protected] and the best example of this I will post up on my main Ultimate Performance website and/or in a follow up article to this one if the Editor allows it.
Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is a nationally-known best-selling author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men", "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women", "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook", and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering". Hugo is also a national level NPC natural bodybuilding champion. Learn more about Hugo Rivera.
This meal could be further enhanced by containing BCAAs , Glutamine and ribose. My post workout shake consists 1 serving of Pro Blend 55, 12 BCAA blend caps, 20 grams of Glutamine, 5 grams of ribose mixed with 8oz grape juice, 1/2 cup maltodextrin, and 1/8 cup fructose. I make this from ingredients that anyone could get at just about any health food store.
Whey protein has been proven extremely effective when consumed before and after your workouts by people everywhere. After a year or so, you can look into creatine products. Supplements do not replace real food, so eat as much as you can and you can "supplement" your diet with some protein shakes and a multi. Eat as much lean meat as you can and consume some quality carbohydrates in your diet as well.
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).
Avoid overtraining. Listen to your body. After bad form, overtraining is the most common mistake I see in the gym. If you find you are losing enthusiasm for your work outs, if you are constantly tired, if your progress has slowed or stopped, it's time for a break. If you have been training consistently, I recommend taking a week off every two to three months. You will return to the gym reinvigorated, renewed, and rested. You will not lose strength in one week. Even after a month off, chances are you will surprise yourself by returning to the gym stronger than when you left. Following a break is the ideal time to modify your training program.
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.
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.
Major variants: incline ~ (more emphasis on the upper pectorals), decline ~ (more emphasis on the lower pectorals), narrow grip ~ (more emphasis on the triceps), push-up (face down using the body weight), neck press (with the bar over the neck, to isolate the pectorals), vertical dips (using parallel dip bars) or horizontal dips (using two benches with arms on the near bench and feet on the far bench, and dropping the buttocks to the floor and pushing back up.)
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.
Focus on form. Good form means you can reap all of the benefits of your workout and avoid injuries at the same time. To maintain proper form, pay attention to your posture (stand tall with chest lifted and abs held tight), move slowly (this ensures you're relying on muscles, not momentum, to do the lifting), and remember to breathe. Many people hold their breath while exerting, but exhaling during the hardest part of the exercise helps fuel the movement.
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.
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.
One of the reasons why I love this specific routine so much is that is it easy for beginners. It does not have you doing a thousand reps and burning you out! Instead, you might notice the reps being a little lower than what you are probably used to and that is because the goal is to gain muscle-not worrying about endurance much. Also, you train 4 days per week-that screams “DO-ABLE” to me! You have two designated days where you work your upper body and the same goes for lower body.
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.