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.
Squat all the way to the ground, touch the bar to your chest on bench presses and lock out fully, and do chin-ups all the way up and all the way down. Hypertrophy is much greater when you use a full range of motion as opposed to partial-range movements. I've been training this way since the beginning, thanks to being taught the basics from my Olympic lifting coaches. I've always done full ROM and I credit it, partly at least, with never having any serious injuries.
Setup: In case the name of this one throws you off a bit, be warned that this exercise is definitely not for sissies—and you might be sore for a few days after you’ve done it. First, hang on to something fixed, like a squat rack, to keep steady during the exercise. Stand on the balls of your feet with your feet positioned slightly wider than shoulder width apart. If you have trouble keeping your balance, put a couple of five-pound plates under your heels. Keep your upper legs and torso in a straight line, from your shoulders to your knees.
I know, I know, flat bench press is your favorite lift, or whatever else you prefer, but if your goal is to build up triceps, perhaps you should start with something like dips, or even separate your regimen into a chest day and an arms day. It's simply impossible to improve if you waste all of your energy on your "favorite" lifts while neglecting the muscles that you truly want to bring up.
Competing in a bodybuilding contest can be a source of immense physiological and emotional stress. As one of the most demanding activities one can engage in, it requires extreme control, discipline, and motivation to even be competitive in the sport. To recover from this stress and bring the body back into balance, attention to proper nutrition and supplementation is critical.
What we love about descending sets is that this technique is really useful for hitting all the muscle fiber types in the muscle group being worked. We personally love using it for calves and biceps and it works really well on machine exercises where all you have to do is change the pin, such as: Leg Extensions, Leg Curls, Triceps Pushdowns, Lat Pulldowns, Low Pulley Rows, Calf Raise, etc. You can use this technique more often than the ones we have presented already.
You can use your own body weight for resistance exercise. Pushups, sit-ups, chin-ups, squat thrusts, lunges, and step-ups are just some of the exercises that you can do to strengthen your body. The advantage of these exercises is that you can do most of them anywhere, and even though you can't change your body weight to increase or decrease the resistance, there are some things you can do to increase the resistance. Here are some suggestions.
Familiarize yourself with important muscle groups and basic anatomy. Bodybuilders are part athletes and part artists. Like a sculptor uses clay or marble, a bodybuilder uses sweat and determination to train the muscles and sculpt the body into a particular physique. Planning what you want to get out of bodybuilding, how you want to shape your body, is a big part of the process. Get the following textbooks to do your research on the body:
If like most people you are eating once or twice a day or relying on fast foods to get by, then a bodybuilding diet may be absolutely different to what you are used to. If this is the case, then it is best to follow the steps provided in my article Easing Into A Bodybuilding Diet so that you slowly start changing your eating habits into the ones required to be successful at bodybuilding.
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.
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.
No matter if you overindulge on the weekends or just have a couple of drinks in the evening, alcohol is still a toxin. It will negatively affect your ability to burn fat and recover from workout sessions—this much is known. So as much as possible, remove alcohol from the picture, at least during your transformation. Many, many people have discovered after going dry for a few weeks that it was the missing piece of the puzzle for them.
Change things up. After six or more weeks of consistent strength training, which is about the amount of time it takes to start seeing improvement in your body, you can change your routine to make it more difficult. Lifting the same weights for the same exercises every week will keep your body in the same place. You can modify weights or repetitions, choose different exercises, or change the order in which you do them. You only have to make one change at a time to make a difference, although more is often better.
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.
As an example, few beginners enjoy leg day, and the one exercise they steer clear of the most is the squat. Leg extensions, on the other hand, well, they aren't so bad. But which one delivers more bang for your buck? That's easy: multijoint, free-weight exercises like the squat have been proven to be superior to single-joint moves and machine work. Multijoint moves have been linked to a greater release of muscle-building hormones like testosterone and growth hormone. Moreover, if you've avoided them until now, your muscles are likely to respond to a growth spurt.
Train to muscular fatigue. Many people approach an exercise with a preconceived notion of the exact number of repetitions they will do for each set. (Ten seems to be a popular choice.) These misguided souls are training inefficiently and will never reach their full potential. When performing an exercise, your goal is not a certain number of repetitions. Do not start your set saying, "I'm going to do X number of reps." Depending on the muscle group and your particular athletic objectives, you will probably want to stay within a certain range of repetitions. However, your goal is to fatigue the muscle by performing each exercise (with good form) until you no longer can.
The high levels of muscle growth and repair achieved by bodybuilders require a specialized diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require more calories than the average person of the same weight to provide the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase muscle mass. In preparation of a contest, a sub-maintenance level of food energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to build muscle. The ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.
It's never too late to start. In one study of elderly men and women (mean age 87) who lifted weights three times per week for 10 weeks, strength increased a whopping 113%! The improvement in strength enabled the elderly participants to also walk faster (12% faster than before the study), climb 28% more stairs, and it even caused the muscles in their thighs to increase by more than 2.5%.
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.)
Arnold wasn't just concerned with feeling the weight; he wanted to make sure the load induced muscle failure at a target range: "I make a point of never doing fewer than six repetitions per set with most movements," he notes," and nothing higher than 12. The rule applies to most body parts, including calves." Make sure to choose the right weight to fail within that rep range.
Increase carbs over the weekend: Increase the quantities of carbohydrates over the weekend to 1.3 times your lean body mass (fat-free bodyweight) in order to prevent your metabolism from getting used to the diet. This time, divide that number by 5 and consume the carbohydrates over Meals 1-5. Try to ensure that Meal 5 is no later than 6 p.m. so that no starchy carbs are consumed after that time.
You will have to bid adieu to your favourite processed and fried foods as a part of your bodybuilding program. Consume five or six small meals each day with lean protein to repair muscles, carbs to fire your workouts and healthy fats to meet hunger. It is advisable that you create meal plans for your week. You should also rest your muscles for a full 48 hours before working the same muscle group and get plenty of sleep.
Simply stated, this means that if you perform an exercise using a complete range of motion, you can achieve a maximal effect in the process of muscle breakdown. Stressing the muscle over a long range of motion not only breaks down a much more significant amount of tissue, it also can help lead to more flexibility in the joints associated with the lifts.
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.
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. Other performance-enhancing substances used by competitive bodybuilders include human growth hormone (HGH), which can cause acromegaly.
You can stick to natural supplementation with things like a protein powder and creatine if you're looking for faster gains. Now don't think I mean faster like 10x faster, I just mean slightly faster, but usually worth it for the cost. But don't go overboard on supplements either. A few basics should do. I recommend a protein, creatine, EFA's (essential fatty acids), a multivitamin, and amino acids. Once you become more experienced a pre-workout N.O. product could be a valuable addition as well.
Fat, including the much-maligned saturated fat, is necessary for building a rock-solid physique. It revs up testosterone production, provides necessary calories, and helps your joints endure the heavy lifting needed to spur muscle gains. Aim for at least 0.5g of fat per pound of body weight (90g for a 180-pound man), or 30% of your total daily calories. Divide that into equal thirds from saturated fats found in beef, coconut products, and dairy; monounsaturated fats from almonds, avocado, olive oil, and peanut butter; and fat-burning polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. Avoid the trans-fatty acids found in fried foods.
On January 16, 1904, the first large-scale bodybuilding competition in America took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The competition was promoted by Bernarr Macfadden, the father of physical culture and publisher of original bodybuilding magazines such as Health & Strength. The winner was Al Treloar, who was declared "The Most Perfectly Developed Man in the World". Treloar won a $1,000 cash prize, a substantial sum at that time. Two weeks later, Thomas Edison made a film of Treloar's posing routine. Edison had also made two films of Sandow a few years before. Those were the first three motion pictures featuring a bodybuilder. In the early 20th century, Macfadden and Charles Atlas continued to promote bodybuilding across the world. Alois P. Swoboda was an early pioneer in America.
Instead, start with heavier weights for low-to-moderate reps. Done early in your workouts, when fatigue hasn't yet set in, this protocol can induce muscle growth via both mechanical tension and muscle damage. Those mechanisms are far less stimulated when using lighter weights than when training for a muscle pump. However, higher reps are superior for driving fluids into the muscle, which increases metabolic stress. All three mechanisms are believed to contribute to muscle growth.
Reverse crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head or extend them out flat to your sides—whatever feels most comfortable. Crossing your feet at the ankles, lift your feet off the ground to the point where your knees create a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, press your lower back on the floor as you contract your abdominal muscles. Your hips will slightly rotate, and your legs will reach toward the ceiling with each contraction. Exhale as you contract, and inhale as you return to the starting position.