Do not, under any circumstances, skip rest days. Your body will not be able to build muscle effectively if it does not have time to heal and repair itself. Because building muscle means creating tiny tears in muscle fiber, which then heals, failing to give your body adequate time to repair and rest will mean few gains and the risk of serious injury.
Traumatic-sounding, but true: muscle damage — or more specifically, the micro-trauma to muscle and connective tissue that’s a natural consequence of resistance training — touches off a regenerative process that can stimulate the production of new muscle cells. Research shows that eccentric movements (e.g., the lowering phase of a bicep curl), which require a muscle to lengthen under tension, produce greater micro-trauma than concentric movements (e.g., the lifting phase of a bicep curl), which require it to contract.
If you're reading this, you're probably eager to add some muscle to your frame. Whether you're coming off a sharp cut or just want to stack some mass on your body, it helps to have a stockpile of great gains-related tips in your arsenal. Below, you'll find an incredible assortment of muscle-building advice from some of the best athletes on BodySpace.
Do a single set of repetitions. Theories on the best way to approach weight training abound, including countless repetitions and hours at the gym. But research shows that a single set of exercise with a weight that fatigues your muscle after about 12 to 15 repetitions can build muscle efficiently in most people and can be as effective as three sets of the same exercise.
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.
For elite athletes, sports nutritionists and coaches take eating very seriously, because a few fractions of a second in a sprint or a few seconds in longer races can mean the difference between a gold medal and a “thank you for coming.” Even in the amateur ranks, you can maximize your workout by eating in a way that makes the most of your hard work. Meal timing is an important part of this.
Your lifting form is more important that how much you can lift or how many reps you can do. If you are not lifting with the right form, you are not only just inviting injury, but also hampering progress and possibly gains as well. Advanced body builder will use tricks like partial reps to build up more pump in their muscles. If you are a beginner, you don’t need to. Learn to walk before you learn to fly.
Warm up prior to and stretch frequently during your workout. Before participating in any athletic activity, you should raise your peripheral body temperature. Get your heart beating and increase the blood flow to your extremities by participating in 5 minutes of a low intensity cardiovascular activity. Following your warm up, stretch your muscles gradually to a point of mild discomfort, not outright pain. Never bounce. Instead, hold stretched positions for about 20 seconds. Rather than limiting yourself to a pre-training stretch, continue to stretch during and after your workout to promote circulation. By increasing blood flow to your muscles, waste products like lactic acid are rapidly removed to help prevent soreness. In addition, more blood-borne nutrients are available for energy and growth.
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 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.
Aside from that point, weight lifting is said to elevate your metabolism for up to 48 hours after the fact, meaning that not only are you burning calories while lifting, but also for hours and hours afterwards, meaning that the lifting takes sort of a precedence over the cardio, since cardio tend to only burn calories while the cardio is being performed. This is assuming that the cardio is of low to moderate intensity because it is also suggested that very high intensity cardio can cause this same prolonged raised metabolic effect.
Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
A good pair of legs is as important to the body as a good set of wheels is to a car. But like a quality set of wheels, strong, healthy legs come at a high price. So, don’t take the following powerful legs exercises — especially the sissy squat—lightly. Because this is an incredibly intense workout that will turn your thighs into killer wheels. Serious focus and intensity are required.
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.
An obvious one I know, but many misjudge this. If you have two weeks to get ready for the beach then the quickest way to drop fat (and subcutaneous water that can blur muscle definition) is to drop your daily carbohydrate intake to 50 grams of fibrous carbohydrates. So say hello to broccoli, cauliflower and kale, and kiss goodbye to breads, cereals, fruit, rice and pasta. Where people go badly wrong when dropping carbs is that they simply switch to eating lean proteins and don’t replace some of the lost carb calories with calories from fat. This inevitably leads to an energy crash and the subsequent blowing of the diet because the trainee simply runs out of steam and willpower. A few whole eggs, a piece of steak and plenty of supplemental Omega 3s (I prefer 10 grams a day for carbohydrate tolerant individuals, more if there appears to be insulin resistance) work wonders.
To gain mass, you must eat plenty of carbohydrates: 2-3g per pound of body weight. Carbs contain the calories required for growth, and glycogen to fuel intense lifting. Good options for most meals are brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. However, in your first meal of the day and your post-workout snack—when an insulin spike is needed to channel amino acids into muscles—you want fast-digesting carbs such as fruit, white potatoes, or white rice.
People who exercise have different requirements because the more you exercise, the more you have to eat to sustain that level of activity. This also applies to casual exercisers, but it may not apply to you if fat loss is one of the reasons you took up weight training. In this case, you need to create an energy deficit; which means that the energy (or calories) you consume in food is less than the energy you expend in exercise and daily living. Your weight training, in this case, is to assist with fat loss while attempting to maintain muscle.
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.
A good pair of legs is as important to the body as a good set of wheels is to a car. But like a quality set of wheels, strong, healthy legs come at a high price. So, don’t take the following powerful exercises—especially the sissy squat—lightly. Because this is an incredibly intense workout that will turn your thighs into killer wheels. Serious focus and intensity are required.
Below are nine weight training exercises that are the most beneficial for runners according to Holder and Fitzgerald. To build your own workout, you can focus on one area (upper body, lower body, or core) and create a circuit of three moves. Or you can choose one to three moves from each area (upper body, lower body, core) for a total-body routine. Each move is demonstrated by Christi Marraccini, Head GO Coach at NEO U in New York City.
Focus on those exercises, trust me, you won't regret it. Also, don't be afraid to add weight to the bar as well, as long as your form is in check. Overloading the muscles is essential for growth because the body doesn't need to adapt if nothing's changing. Therefore, you must force your body to change by adding weight or another repetition on that exercise that next time it comes around.
For some guys, the answer to the exercise question will always be that they're looking to put on muscle. Whether you have a very specific goal, like getting into figure contests and bodybuilding, or you just want to fill out a t-shirt, you have to start somewhere, even if you've always struggled to add and keep weight onto a skinny frame in the past.
“Imagine you've fasted for over eight hours,” he says. “At breakfast, you're firing your metabolism off really high. If you don't eat for another five hours, your metabolism starts to slow right down and you have to try and kickstart it again with your next meal. If you eat every two and a half to three hours, it's like chucking a log on a burning fire.”
Processed and fried foods will be going bye-bye as part of your bodybuilding program. You'll need five or six small meals each day with lean protein to repair muscles, carbs to fuel your workouts and healthy fats to satisfy hunger. Lebo advises that you create meal plans for your week. Rest your muscles a full 48 hours before working the same muscle group and get plenty of sleep.
After a 5-10-minute full-body warm-up, head into two lighter, high-rep sets of your first exercise - in this case, the bench press. After those two specific warm-up sets, choose a weight you think you can handle for three reps. If you can complete four or more reps, add more weight and try a second set. Perform two sets of specific warm-ups before each exercise.
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.
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.
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 deadlift is performed by squatting down and lifting a weight off the floor with the hand until standing up straight again. Grips can be face down or opposing with one hand down and one hand up, to prevent dropping. Face up should not be used because this puts excess stress on the inner arms. This is a compound exercise that also involves the glutes, lower back, lats, trapezius (neck) and, to a lesser extent, the hamstrings and the calves. Lifting belts are often used to help support the lower back. The deadlift has two common variants, the Romanian deadlift and the straight-leg-deadlift. Each target the lower back, glutes and the hamstrings differently.
If you decide to join a gym, know that you're not expected to know how all of the equipment works right off the bat—or what to do with it. Be sure to take advantage of the free orientation so you can learn how to properly use everything that's offered and set up a basic strength-training program. At the gym, machines are preferred for beginners, because they're quite safe: Most require little coordination and offer more stability than free weights while performing the movements.