The third and final phase of the “25% Stronger” program helps you max out your strength levels by gradually decreasing the volume of your workouts while increasing the amount of weight you move. You’ll begin the last phase at the top end of the strength range (seven reps). Each week, you’ll perform fewer sets and reps - five of five, four of four and finally the last week in which you perform three sets of three - so your body is fresh for the final tests in Week 13.
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.
If your goal is to pack pounds of pure muscle onto your frame, you can't be eating "empty" calories that do nothing but add mass to your waistline. You need to carefully select the right foods and supplements and incorporate them into your daily diet. By adding the muscle-builders mentioned, there is no doubt that you will be on the right path to achieving the physique of your dreams.
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.
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.
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.
You cannot just go in the gym and do whatever you feel at that moment. You need to have a strict routine and follow it closely. Ask a personal trainer or an advanced bodybuilder to provide you with a program that includes the exact exercises you need to do, the number of sets and the number of reps per set. When you set foot in the gym you need to know exactly what you will do in that training session.
Resistance training or lifting weights is a common practice in the world of people who want to get bigger and stronger. To someone who wants to lose weight, it could seem almost counterproductive to put on muscle weight when your true goal is to lose weight. The truth of the matter is that you want to lose fat, and putting on muscle can help you accomplish that goal.
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.
Various formulae exist for calculating what this starting weight should be, but I find it just as easy to trial different weights until you get to that limit. If you’re new to free weights, this helps familiarization as well. Try an obvious light weight, for you, to warm up and then upgrade to something heavier for the workout set. By the third set, you should have settled on the 12RM weight. If not, just move on and upgrade the weight next session.
The Nerd Fitness Beginner Bodyweight workout is a great (free) place to start if you’re looking for a super basic, easy to follow bodyweight routine. This workout from my buddy/fellow Nerd Roman takes you through some very basic movements. Beast Skills and Gymnastics WOD also both offer great tutorials and progressions on how to master bodyweight movements, both basic and advanced.
Working out at a gym. This is good option for beginners and experienced lifters. The gym has a wide variety of machines and dumbbells, so you get to see and try out all the different options. Plus, gyms have trainers, and if you're a beginner, it can be very helpful to have a trainer plan a program for you and take you through it to teach you how to lift. Most gyms have introductory sessions, and these are a good idea if you're new to lifting. Once you get the hang of it, you can explore it on your own with confidence.

Doing at least eight sets per muscle is enough to get some muscle growth but, it can depend on how many reps you're doing. Eight to twelve reps is great, while doing any more may be unnecessary, depending on your body type. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to do 25 sets for squats and about 10 reps, whereas his friend Franco Columbu only did five sets of squats and 10 reps.
If you're prone to berating yourself for poor food choices or the way you look, now's the time to make a concerted effort to replace this negative self-talk with more positive statements. Every time a negative statement comes to mind, replace it with two positive affirmations about what you're doing well. This could be something like, 'I chose a healthy chicken salad at lunch today,' or "I drank 10 glasses of water today."
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This is very important and can be very beneficial for beginners. It allows you to track your progress, see what exercises you enjoy, which ones you are improving the most, and what areas you need the most work on. Your journal should include the date, time of workout, duration of workout, the exercises, sets, reps, rest between sets, meals for the day, and supplements you may be taking.
Rep schemes remain in the hypertrophy range this week, but overall volume increases by adding more sets to individual exercises: up to five sets per move for larger bodyparts, and even 10 sets of calf raises on Thursday. This bump in volume will ensure that your muscles are overloaded sufficiently to continue the growth they’ve already begun experiencing in the first three weeks. Completion of this four-week program now entitles you to go to the next stage.
Note the flexibility here. If you're an experienced casual lifter starting an organized program, you may be able to kick off with 3 X 12 from the beginning. If you are new to weights and have some fitness issues, you should start with one set and progress slowly. Doing only 1 set of 9 exercises will not take too long, perhaps only 30 minutes with warmup included. Doing an extra 20 minutes or more of cardio before or after weights would be time well spent at this stage. Once you reach full stretch in the program, aerobic training may be better done before weights or at a separate session.
If you're always lifting in the same rep range from workout to workout, it's time for a change. In fact, you can even work in multiple rep ranges and intensities in the same workout. "I prefer to hit the basic compound movements such as squats, presses, and deadlifts using a 5-8 rep range," says Honn, "and then move to a higher 8-12 rep range for accessory moves."
The benefits of resistance exercise are well documented, and ongoing research continues to prove that it's an important activity for Americans to be engaged in. Long ago in hunter-gatherer societies, humans' muscles got a workout by building shelter, hunting, farming, and all the other manual chores necessary to live. Today, however, we have engineered inactivity into our lives with labor-saving devices to the extent that our muscles rarely need to be pushed very hard. We don't rake leaves or cut grass or shovel snow by hand; we don't climb stairs or even walk in airports (people movers do it for us!); we don't wash our clothes or our dishes or even push a vacuum by hand (Have you seen the robotic vacuum Roomba?), and we spend more and more time in front of our computers and televisions than we do outdoors raking leaves, playing touch football, baseball, soccer, hiking, or participating in any other recreational activities. Research shows that physical inactivity is the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and it's literally killing us.
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.
One aspect many new bodybuilders look into is protein shakes. These are a quick and convenient way to take in more protein and calories, but they aren't necessary. If you have a hectic lifestyle and can't always make time to eat a meal, a shake may be useful. But otherwise, you should be able to get all your protein and calories from whole foods. When pushed for time, trainer Nate Green recommends a simple, healthy, high-calorie shake consisting of almond milk, bananas, whey protein powder, coconut and a greens supplement. Have one or two of these per day if you can't fit in solid meals. Adjust meal serving sizes to fit your calorie needs and aim to split these calories among three meals plus a couple of snacks. Should you find you're struggling to hit your calorie goal, add in more calorie-dense foods such as nuts, nut butters, dried fruit, whole milk and olive oil.
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.
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