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.
The United States Army is about to undertake a dramatic and unprecedented overhaul to the way it tests, and promotes, military fitness. The man who headed the research into the new standards talks with us about how and why, as well as the future of Army nutrition and how the Army plans to circulate 80,000 kettlebells to bases around the globe. January 22, 2019 • 43 min read
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.
It also assists competitors in maintaining a healthy body fat percentage while training in the offseason. Continuing to perform strength and cardio training during this period will contribute to muscle growth and cardiovascular health. Maintenance of a healthy diet, combined with proper training and rest will provide a strong foundation for the competitor’s next contest.
Overtraining occurs when a bodybuilder has trained to the point where his workload exceeds his recovery capacity. There are many reasons why overtraining occurs, including lack of adequate nutrition, lack of recovery time between workouts, insufficient sleep, and training at a high intensity for too long (a lack of splitting apart workouts). Training at a high intensity too frequently also stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) and can result in a hyperadrenergic state that interferes with sleep patterns.[51] To avoid overtraining, intense frequent training must be met with at least an equal amount of purposeful recovery. Timely provision of carbohydrates, proteins, and various micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, even nutritional supplements are acutely critical. A mental disorder informally called “bigorexia” (by analogy with anorexia) may be held accountable of some people overtraining. Sufferers feel as if they are never big enough or muscular enough, which forces them to overtrain in order to try and reach their goal physique.[52]
Choose your favourite cardio exercises like spinning, outdoor biking, running, hill sprints, or swimming, whatever it is, hit it hard. Literally! Experts advise to perform HIIT, high-intensity interval training, to burn fat in a time-efficient manner. A 3-to-1 rest-to-work ratio is effective. It means you can, for example, go hard as you can on a hill sprint for 30 seconds, walk or jog back down the slope for 90 seconds, and repeat four times for an intense 10-minute training session. 

Sometimes these do-it-yourself bodybuilding diets can lead to unhealthy habits, as in this case study about over-consuming protein and this one about over-supplementing. Consuming too much of certain macronutrients (such as protein) or micronutrients (such as zinc) can lead to health risks, sometimes long-lasting ones. And eating an unbalanced diet can affect sports performance, which does not help you reach your goals. Talk to your physician or a qualified nutritionist about any supplements you plan to take.

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.


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.
You should also remember to eat a lot of varied fruits, veggies and fiber-rich carbs that won’t compromise your workout. Eat as many green, red and yellow colored veggies to get the highest and balanced amount of nutrition possible. It’s not also wrong to eat sodium-filled snacks once in a while. Never forget to consume the right amount salt. Under-consuming salt could pose a problem.

In the realm of fitness, three-month workout programs dominate the landscape. You’ve even seen plenty of them in our magazine over the years. Are they effective? Absolutely. But we’re going to let you in on an interesting secret: It doesn’t necessarily take 8 or 12 weeks to get your feet wet in the gym. Not that you’ll be a seasoned vet after four weeks, but if you can just get that first month under your belt, you’ll get yourself over the proverbial hump, where so many fail and give up, and set the stage for a lifetime of muscle gains.

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.


Now come on. I really shouldn't even have to tell you this one. But you wouldn't believe how many times I'm talking to somebody and they say that they're cutting right now. What's the problem with that? Nothing... except for the fact that after we're finished talking they whip out a ho-ho or something and start scarfing down their junk like no tomorrow. And then they go and tell me it's their dinner!! What's up with that? Either they can't handle the bodybuilding life, or they really, really need to do some serious research.
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.
Eat the right amounts and types of protein: To figure out your protein needs, multiply your total body weight by 1.2 and that will give you the total protein grams you need to consume per day. Divide that number by 6 and that equals the amount of protein grams per meal. Limit your protein sources to lean meats like chicken, turkey, and white fish such as tilapia. Out of the six meals, no more than three should be protein shakes. The post workout meal should be a whey protein powder mixed with the cream of rice as in this manner nutrients will reach the muscles as quickly as possible. In addition to the post-workout meal, no more than two other meals should be liquid ones.
To combat steroid use and in the hopes of becoming a member of the IOC, the IFBB introduced doping tests for both steroids and other banned substances. Although doping tests occurred, the majority of professional bodybuilders still used anabolic steroids for competition. During the 1970s, the use of anabolic steroids was openly discussed, partly due to the fact they were legal.[9] In the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, U.S. Congress placed anabolic steroids into Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In Canada, steroids are listed under Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, enacted by the federal Parliament in 1996.[10]
Figure out how to pay the bills. Bodybuilders don't make lots of money, so the idea of becoming a professional bodybuilder is a lot like the idea of become a professional poet or professional painter: it'll take a lot of your heart and soul, but you'll also need to figure out how to take care of the practical details. You've got to support your bodybuilding with some other kind of work to pay the bills.
According to muscleandstrength.com, women should not weight train much differently than men. Instead of using light weights and performing 15 to 20 repetitions, you should lift relatively heavy weights, and keep your repetitions to between six and 12. Your focus should be on using mostly free weights, and performing compound exercises. Compound exercises utilize both your prime mover muscle and stabilizer muscles to execute the lift. Examples of compound exercises are squats, dead lifts, lunges, incline bench press, upright rows and overhead presses. It is also important to get enough rest while you are training, as muscle growth and repair occurs during rest.

The use of cardio exercise to get into shape was surprisingly nearly non-existent in the time period from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. As mentioned before, gyms were well equipped with barbells, dumbbells and heavy, basic machines. Cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills, stair masters and elliptical machines were not developed yet. Some gyms would have a couple stationary bikes included in the establishment but they were not nearly as comfortable or as advanced as the equipment that frequents health clubs today.

You can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you are. So before you conduct any sort of diet overhaul, take a look at the number of calories you currently consume on a day-to-day basis. Apps like MyFitnessPal make this exceedingly easy to do. Your daily caloric intake might surprise you! And once you know how many calories you devour each day, figure out how many calories you ought to be consuming using the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.
Rest and recovery: Remember that muscles grow during downtime, not when you train, so allow a day or two between workouts when you first get started so that the muscles can recover and grow. You should show up at your workouts refreshed and at least as strong as the previous workout (there will be days when you aren't stronger, and you should expect them so don't get discouraged when it happens).

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.


To quote America’s foremost food writer, Michael Pollan, “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” Protein powders notwithstanding, this is great advice. Whole foods like lean meats, nuts, seeds, and vegetables contain more of the nutrients muscles crave, and deliver a steadier supply of amino acids and blood glucose to muscles than the nutritional dreck found in the middle aisles of your local supermarket.

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.
Especially at the start, be realistic with your goals. Avoid extreme diets that severely limit your options, recognizing that these plans are rarely sustainable in the long term. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up from time to time, and be sure to schedule cheat meals into your diet (taking care not to let them stretch out into cheat days or weekends). In addition, instead of avoiding restaurants entirely, go and learn to seek out healthy options. Many restaurants can prepare healthier versions of their menu items when asked. For example, you could request plain grilled chicken or fish, a hefty serving of vegetables, and a side salad.
Muscle growth is more difficult to achieve in older adults than younger adults because of biological aging, which leads to many metabolic changes detrimental to muscle growth; for instance, by diminishing growth hormone and testosterone levels. Some recent clinical studies have shown that low-dose HGH treatment for adults with HGH deficiency changes the body composition by increasing muscle mass, decreasing fat mass, increasing bone density and muscle strength, improves cardiovascular parameters, and affects the quality of life without significant side effects.[45][46][unreliable medical source?][47]
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]
Training to a point of momentary muscle failure, at which completion of another repetition on any given set is impossible despite your greatest effort, is the only way to force the body to resort to its biochemical resources sufficiently to stimulate real growth! One of the biggest mistakes I see being made in the gym is when certain individuals will end a set of an exercise just because an arbitrary number of repetitions has been completed.This will do very little to stimulate muscle growth. A set should be terminated only when your muscles have been forced to the point of it being inconceivable to produce 1 more repetition within a working set. I use the word forced because obviously, you know muscle growth doesn’t come easy and literally needs to be forced! Any degree of effort in a set that is less than 100% may yield a bodybuilder some results, but never to the same extent that all out maximum effort will.

Arnold sought out alternative exercises that worked a target muscle from slightly different angles. When using dumbbells rather than the barbell on overhead presses, for example, he deliberately lowered the weights several inches below the bottom position of the barbell movement, and he brought them together at the top to elongate the range of motion.

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.
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.
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