General nutrition: Experts advise sticking with healthy, nutrient-rich foods as part of a weight-gaining diet (rather than loading up on caloric, but not nutritious, foods such as candy, chips, and soda). They may also suggest eating five or six smaller meals a day rather than three larger ones. All of this is similar to the advice for the bulking phase of the bodybuilding diet.
Anaerobic exercise, and aerobic exercise are opposites, so therefore should be treated as opposites. In the world of exercise science the definition of anaerobic refers to exercise that is of high intensity, but short of duration. Opposite to that, the definition of aerobic refers to exercise that is low in intensity, but long in duration. This is why you shouldn’t perform your cardio intensely. If you’re doing your cardio, and you’re gasping for air to the point where you can’t carry on a conversation with someone, then that means your body is burning mostly sugar, and not fat because there is not enough oxygen present to burn fat. In other words, by performing cardio intensely, you have actually made the exercise anaerobic, so you will be drawing from into the same recovery subsystems that support your weight training, and consequently will short circuit maximum muscle growth.
If you're 12 weeks out from a competition, you want to maintain as much muscle as possible while torching fat from every angle. This means low-intensity cardio – high intensity cardio speeds up your metabolism and burns fat very quickly, so you run the risk of burning muscle too, Terry says – either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or immediately after your weights session, once you’ve depleted those glycogen levels.
The Stiff-Legged Deadlift is a deadlift variation that specifically targets the posterior chain. Little to no knee movement occurs in this exercise to ensure hamstring, glute, and spinal erector activation. The bar starts on the floor and the individual sets up like a normal deadlift but the knees are at a 160° angle instead on 135° on the conventional deadlift.
You need to eat sufficient food and carbohydrate to sustain your activities. Too little carbohydrate, and your body will break down your muscle for glucose and reverse all those hard-gotten gains. Don’t believe advice that says carbohydrates are fattening. Instead, modify your carbohydrate intake for the better by avoiding refined flours, sugars, sweets and other quickly absorbed or processed carbohydrates when you are not exercising intensely.
At the end of the day, you have to focus on how you feel. “Listen to your body,” says Davis. “It tells you when it needs a day off.” As a rule of thumb, take a rest day if your perceived pain is above a seven on a scale of 10, Davis advises. Or, focus on a different body part (say, if your legs are sore, focus on upper-body moves). Can't stop, won't stop—at least, till your next rest day.
Most bodybuilders become familiar with their kitchens as a matter of necessity. Whether you can quickly master taste or not, cooking your own food means you know everything going into it. During a cut, where excess salt or sugar in ready meals and takeaways can hinder weight loss, bringing your own food to work will eliminate any risky meal choices.
Nutrition is important but I find that most people over-obsess about their diets. I hear people fretting over stuff like; Should I eat a chicken breast or a fillet of salmon? A handful of almonds, or a teaspoon of peanut butter? Broccoli, or spinach? brown rice, or yams? A half cup of yogurt, or a half cup of cottage cheese? High carb, or low carb? As much widespread confusion that exists regarding diets that should be followed in order to burn fat, the premise of the whole issue is actually very simple. Regardless of what you eat, as long as you take in fewer calories than you need in order to meet metabolic and physical activity energy requirements, you will lose fat. Some people have made great progress in fat loss simply by taking my advice and eating what they normally eat, but just eat 1/3 less of everything with the exception of green vegetables which are actually negative calorie food items that you can eat as much as you want off. Don’t complicate your nutrition and make it more difficult than it needs to be. Fats don’t make you fat, and carbohydrates don’t make you fat. Calories consumed beyond the body’s maintenance and growth needs make you fat.
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.
Is your resting heart rate jacked up today? Are you too sore from your last workout to walk? Did you only sleep a few hours the last night? Skipped breakfast and lunch? Congrats, you just earned yourself a rest day. In other words - go home. You aren't going to get anything but an increased risk of injury by training in any one of these conditions.
Several exercises from Week 1 are carried over to Week 2, but one move is added to each bodypart routine—with the exception of abs—so you can train all muscle groups more completely from multiple angles. Chest, for example, includes two exercises: One is a compound movement (dumbbell bench press) that involves multiple joints (both the shoulder and elbow) to work the largest amount of muscle possible, and the other is an isolation exercise (dumbbell flye) that involves only one joint (shoulder) and targets the pecs to a greater extent. (When doing presses for chest, the deltoids and triceps are involved to a degree, meaning presses don’t isolate the pecs as much as flyes do.)
You can reduce frequency. This would definitely be my first choice. If you’re using the 4 day upper/lower split, just switch to the 3 day version. The slightly lowered frequency/extra day of rest between each workout should GREATLY improve any recovery related issues you may have. If you’re already using the 3 day version and it still seems like it’s too much for you, see below.
Register with the IFBB to compete at the national level. The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) governs all national and international bodybuilding competitions, including the Arnold Classic, Mr. Olympia, and a variety of regional championships. If you want to become a pro and compete at the national level, you need to register with the IFBB and compete.
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.
Prepare for the long haul. It's important to know that you're not going to start doing deadlifts one day and wake up the next day bulked up like the Hulkster. Bodybuilding takes a long time for you to see the kind of results you're hoping for, but with the proper time and dedication, you will start seeing those results. This isn't a field for weekenders who love action movies, it's a 24-7 lifestyle. Think you got what it takes? Get training.
Other bodybuilders, such as Casey Viator and Mike Mentzer, used less sets in order to get more recuperation. They would limit the number of sets per exercise to only 3 and would also do less exercises to train each muscle group. This would bring their total number of sets down to 10-12, about half of what the high volume trainers would use. Mentzer was often quoted as only doing a total of 5 sets per muscle group.
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.