Where you go from here is up to you. With 25% more strength, you’re no doubt carrying more muscle. Maybe it’s time to step into a cutting cycle after a week or two off. Or, if you feel like this methodology set you on the path to even greater gains, you can always start the program over, perhaps aiming to add even more strength and size to your new physique.
Attract sponsors to go pro. The more competitions you win and the more your physique starts to speak for itself, you'll need to start attracting sponsors, essentially going pro. This means that you'll be able to make money to train full time, without having to worry (at least as much) about doing other things to fund your bodybuilding. This is the dream that every bodybuilder works toward, and it'll only be available to a select few, with the genetics and the effort to make their bodies into Olympia-level physiques. Keep working toward this.
To know how far 12 weeks of hardcore training have taken you, you’ll need to know where you began. In “Week 0” - a single workout to be performed one full week before taking on the rest of the program - devote an entire gym session to finding your three-rep max on five multijoint lifts. Your performance will provide you with a fair assessment of your strength so you can accurately measure your gains at the end of the program (Week 13).
These diet tips for bodybuilding can be misleading if you forget about the importance of preparing your meals in a nutritious way. Although we’ve urged you to eat healthy foods like chicken, eggs, and oatmeal, we don’t recommend that you dine on fried chicken, Scotch eggs, or oatmeal covered in brown sugar. Instead, try to grill, bake, or steam your foods. Avoid large amounts of oil and butter, and steer clear of fried foods and sugary add-ons.
The amount of exercises and sets a bodybuilder would use would vary among each individual. Some bodybuilders, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva, would do multiple exercises and sets for each muscle group to insure that the muscle was being properly trained from each angle. They would normally do up to 5 sets per exercise and 4-5 exercises for each muscle group for a total of 20-25 sets for each body part.
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]
“Regardless of whether volitional failure is achieved through heavy weights or high reps, you’ll hit your type II muscle fibers, which have the greatest growth potential,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Openfit’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content. “But those lighter weight/higher rep sets will also nail your smaller type I muscle fibers, which studies have shown to have growth potential as well.”
Site enhancement oil, often called "santol" or "synthol" (no relation to the Synthol mouthwash brand), refers to oils injected into muscles to increase the size or change the shape. Some bodybuilders, particularly at the professional level, inject their muscles with such mixtures to mimic the appearance of developed muscle where it may otherwise be disproportionate or lagging.[54] This is known as "fluffing".[55][56] Synthol is 85% oil, 7.5% lidocaine, and 7.5% alcohol.[55] It is not restricted, and many brands are available on the Internet.[57] The use of injected oil to enhance muscle appearance is common among bodybuilders,[58][59] despite the fact that synthol can cause pulmonary embolisms, nerve damage, infections, sclerosing lipogranuloma,[60] stroke,[55] and the formation of oil-filled granulomas, cysts or ulcers in the muscle.[59][61][62] Rare cases might require surgical intervention to avoid further damage to the muscle and/or to prevent loss of life.[63]
As a certified personal trainer in both commercial gyms and private settings since 2002, and as an assistant coach with the de facto gold standard multisport company in Boise, Idaho, Performance High, LLC., I have been afforded much exposure to the many different fitness communities, from bodybuilders to weekend warriors to enduroletes, whose personalities are all as diverse as their fitness goals.
Be patient! Too many people want it all right now so they become frustrated if they haven’t built their dream body within a few months of training. When such a point is reached, many bodybuilders either quit altogether, or turn to dangerous drugs such as steroids, or synthetic hormones in order to speed up the process. Steroids are insidious. They may produce rapid gains in the short term, however, the compromises are extraordinary and should be very carefully considered. The steroid users that I knew 15 years ago that I wished I could look like are now either dead or out of shape dealing with severe health problems. If you love bodybuilding like I do, then you will want to be able to do it, and enjoy it from now until well into your golden years of life. Don’t get discouraged when progress doesn’t seem to be coming quickly enough. I’ve been there before, so I know how it feels. I can tell you from experience that if you are persistent it will pay off eventually. It took me 26 years to put on 40 lbs of muscle! That averages out to roughly 1.5 pounds of muscle gained each year!
It's OK to be a little sore. Your muscles might feel achy or tired the day after a tough training session thanks to DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. When you strength train you're causing microscopic damage to the tissue that will be repaired, that's how you build stronger lean muscle. Speaking of repair and recovery, though, rest days are important. "If you constantly break down muscle without a recovery period, you won’t give the muscle fibers a chance to repair and build back stronger,” explains Davis.
Protein provides the amino acids used to build muscle. Shoot for 1–1.5g of protein per pound of body weight, or 180–270g a day for a 180-pounder. Top protein picks include dairy, eggs, poultry, red meat, and seafood. These foods offer a wealth of complete protein, providing your muscles with the aminos necessary for recovery and growth. You may supplement with whey, casein, and soy protein powders as well. And don’t overlook plant-based protein sources such as quinoa, beans, and hemp seeds.
Muscle, unlike flab, is a metabolically active tissue, and you need to put away plenty of calories to keep it growing. Eat too few calories and you’ll whittle it away. When mass gain is the goal, aim to consume about 20 calories per pound of body weight each day (about 3,600 calories for a 180-pound guy). If you find that 20 calories per pound packs on mass and fat, drop to 16–18 calories. But this doesn’t mean you’ve got the green light to pound pizza. Quality matters too, so keep it clean.

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.

The exercise order should be maintained as above, busy gyms notwithstanding. This order has been designed with large muscle group, compound exercises first, the smaller muscle isolation exercises following and with alternating ‘push’ and ‘pull’ to achieve a session that alternates muscle groups and modes of action as much as possible to enable maximum rest and recovery of the various muscle groups. Some compromises were required. Don’t get too hung-up if you can’t achieve this sequence. It’s not always possible to access equipment when you want it in gyms. In the scheme of things, it’s not fatal.

Rather than hide the glaring weakness, he famously cut off the lower half of his pants and wore shorts to constantly remind himself of his weakness and redouble his efforts to bring them up. He trained calves more frequently, early in his workouts when he was fresh, and sometimes between sets for larger body parts, a strategy that helped him claim the world's biggest bodybuilding title.


Rather than hide the glaring weakness, he famously cut off the lower half of his pants and wore shorts to constantly remind himself of his weakness and redouble his efforts to bring them up. He trained calves more frequently, early in his workouts when he was fresh, and sometimes between sets for larger body parts, a strategy that helped him claim the world's biggest bodybuilding title.
JDB, great tip on cardio before weights. Having trained in a boxing gym for years, this is exactly how I would start each training session, even if I was going to focus on weights that day. Use to start off, 3-4 rounds on jump rope in the ring, alternating between fast high knees and then slowing it down. It was all continuous for about 10-12 minutes. Would then continue w basic calisthenics (mountain climbers, bw squats, burpees, etc.) for another 3-4 rounds. This was all done w boxing timer running in background. Would finish “warm-up” w some kind of pull-up/chin-up, dips, and hanging abdominal work. Then it was time for weights. This just overall improved my general conditioning/movement and never felt that my strength diminished when doing this. Actually, felt stronger due to increased blood flow.
If a bodybuilder needed more recuperation time and could not recover adequately in order to train six days in a row, they could train more muscle groups in one workout. This would allow for more rest days so the body could recuperate better. For example, bodybuilders could train the chest, shoulders, triceps and calves on Monday and Thursday and their legs, back and biceps on Tuesday and Friday. By training all their muscle groups in a two day split instead of three, this would allow them three days of rest each week.
Precision nutrition for exercise can be complex and that’s why exercise physiologists and sports nutritionists are of great value to sporting teams and athletes. Even though keen amateurs and weekend warriors don’t have to worry too much about the split second in a race or the inch of bicep in a bodybuilding competition like the pros do, we can still eat well for our activity by following the basics of sports nutrition. If you need help sorting it all out, consult a doctor or dietitian who has experience working with athletes.
Arnold used single-joint movements to complement overhead presses and isolate each delt head individually. Here, too, he sought subtle differences that would, over time, build better overall size. For example, the cable lateral raise in front of the body has a slightly different feel than when the cable runs behind you. Knowing how to do a given movement pattern on different pieces of equipment is, according to Arnold, essential for a bodybuilder to take his physique to the next level.
Try incorporating "cyclical dieting" and "re-feeding" days. A possible form of re-feeding would be restricting calories for six days in a week and eating at maintenance on the seventh day—although you could adjust the frequency to meet your needs and re-feed once every two weeks or a couple of times per week. Re-feeding days help boost leptin levels, lower cortisol, and take you out of energy deficit, even if only for a day.
Stand with a micro bend in knees and feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Grab dumbbells and hinge at hips so they hang in front of shins, palms facing you. Brace core and lift weights by squeezing glutes, thrusting hips forward, and pulling torso back and up. Focus on just hinging at the hips, not squatting. Repeat for 3 sets of 12 reps.

Dumbbells. I prefer solid dumbbells since the plate-loading type can be tedious to change repeatedly. Dumbbells cost anywhere from 50 cents to $1 per pound. Solid hex dumbbells are what I recommend because they are inexpensive, and they don't roll around like round dumbbells. You might also decide to purchase a bench. Look for an adjustable bench that is well constructed. It should not rock and should feel solid when you lie down on it. If you decide to purchase a bar for the bench press, then you will need uprights on your bench. I don't recommend this for beginners due to safety issues (unless you have a spotter); you can always do dumbbell presses to get you started. If you decide to go with a bar and plates, then look for a 35- to 45-pound bar with collars to lock the plates in place, and then you need to buy plates to load the bar. Figure to shoot for a bench press of up to 100 pounds, so you will need to purchase plates for at least that amount. You can start with two 25-pound plates, four 10-pound plates, and four 5-pound plates. That will get most beginners started.
6. Learn about the right forms to do the exercises. Find a reliable exercise guidebook online or in fitness stores and read, follow and stick to its step-by-step guides. You can also watch reliable exercise videos about form online. With all the complete information available for free, you have no reason to not learn about the right deadlift form and squats.

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]
When lifting it is essential to focus your mind completely on the muscle group you are attempting to work on. This makes sure that you are actually using the target muscle to lift the weight rather than accessory muscles or even momentum. This skill will develop with time, and as you progress in making that mind to muscle connection, your workouts will become much more productive and efficient.

One of the basic tenets of weight lifting: you must either add weight, add sets, increase intensity or decrease rest time to encourage continued progress. At this stage, adding weight makes the most sense and will be recommended throughout the first 6 months or so. But by the very nature of acquiring experience, you'll also be adding sets. Decreasing rest time and the use of intensity techniques is used as you reach strength plateaus, when you are more advanced.
Overload Management. The basis of strength and conditioning is progressive overload. It takes some skill to judge the point at which overload—increasingly heavier weight—is building capacity yet not making you too sore, ill or fatigued to continue. That’s why it’s very important to start slowly and build. When in doubt, take a rest, miss a session but don’t alter the program detail, the reps, and sets, if you can help it. The squat and deadlift can be very taxing, so be careful not to lift too heavy for a start.

As a result, the Old School bodybuilding meant relying on the basic movements using primarily barbells and dumbbells to develop their physiques. This lack of variety turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the free weights helped to build greater muscle mass and strength compared to the more sophisticated equipment that was yet to come. Barbells and dumbbells required to body to utilize greater coordination and balance in order to perform the movements. The result was increased strength and size, much more pronounced than when machines are used.


That’s it for Basic Strength and Muscle. Novices and casual exercisers can expect a 20-40 percent increase in strength and some muscle size and muscle endurance enhancement. You could continue with this program beyond the 18 weeks by increasing the weight load as strength and capability improves. However, further progress may depend on alterations in exercise variety, frequency and timing. The next phase should be an intermediate program designed to enhance the progress you’ve already made.
Site enhancement oil, often called "santol" or "synthol" (no relation to the Synthol mouthwash brand), refers to oils injected into muscles to increase the size or change the shape. Some bodybuilders, particularly at the professional level, inject their muscles with such mixtures to mimic the appearance of developed muscle where it may otherwise be disproportionate or lagging.[54] This is known as "fluffing".[55][56] Synthol is 85% oil, 7.5% lidocaine, and 7.5% alcohol.[55] It is not restricted, and many brands are available on the Internet.[57] The use of injected oil to enhance muscle appearance is common among bodybuilders,[58][59] despite the fact that synthol can cause pulmonary embolisms, nerve damage, infections, sclerosing lipogranuloma,[60] stroke,[55] and the formation of oil-filled granulomas, cysts or ulcers in the muscle.[59][61][62] Rare cases might require surgical intervention to avoid further damage to the muscle and/or to prevent loss of life.[63]
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