OK. Imagine this: It's the end of the most intense workout you've ever had. It's gone extremely well up to this point. You just need to bust out one more set of deadlifts and then you can call it a day and relax with a nice protein shake. But when you pull the weight off the floor, it falls back down. You think to yourself what's going on, and that you know your legs have enough energy left to pump out a few more. What's the problem?
Set small attainable goals. If you've never lifted weights before, trained at very high intensities or followed a strict diet plan, then going from where you are now to a female bodybuilder is a long road. It will be tough, but see that as a challenge rather than a disadvantage. Set both outcome-based goals such as adding half a pound of muscle a week or competing in a local show in six months. Aim for behavioral goals such as making it to the gym five times per week or sticking to your diet for an entire fortnight.

How you eat to recover from exercise is one of the most important principles in exercise nutrition. Glucose, or glycogen, is the athlete’s and exerciser’s main fuel. You get it from carbohydrate foods and drinks. If you don’t refuel sufficiently after each session, glucose stores in muscle can get depleted. This can lead to fatigue, poor performance, and even immune system suppression and infection. What's more, inadequate refueling after your session won't take advantage of that hard muscle work by giving those muscles an anabolic boost that repairs and builds.
I've been training for 20 years and to commemorate that long training slog, I sat down and compiled my 10 best training tips. After I wrote them down, though, I realized that while they'd no doubt be valuable to the novice trainee, they're probably things that the advanced trainee already knows. So I also compiled a second list to augment the first. The second list gives my best advanced tips. The end result is, I hope, something that's valuable to both levels of trainees.

If you’re constantly depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy most, there’s a much greater chance that you’ll simply become discouraged and quit. Figure out what you need in terms of overall daily calories and macronutrients (the level of detail that you apply here is dependent on your individual goals and situation), and then allocate a small percentage of that to allow for the foods you crave most.
Setup: Stand between the cable stacks of a crossover apparatus with the front of your body just behind the plane connecting them (so your body doesn’t get in the way of the cables crossing each other). Cross your arms, each one grabbing the opposite stirrup handle attached to its floor-pulley cable (your hands should face the respective stack). Stand erect, chest high and head aligned with your body (not crooked forward or backward). Hold your shoulders low—don’t shrug.
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.
How you eat to recover from exercise is one of the most important principles in exercise nutrition. Glucose, or glycogen, is the athlete’s and exerciser’s main fuel. You get it from carbohydrate foods and drinks. If you don’t refuel sufficiently after each session, glucose stores in muscle can get depleted. This can lead to fatigue, poor performance, and even immune system suppression and infection. What's more, inadequate refueling after your session won't take advantage of that hard muscle work by giving those muscles an anabolic boost that repairs and builds.
Define your goals. For most beginners, the goals are typically to tone up and get stronger. The good news is that any lifting will give you both, and you can expect strength gains in just a few weeks. Tone comes later, and how much muscle you see depends on how much excess body fat you have. For instance, if you have lots of excess fat on the back of your arms, then you won't see the triceps muscles right away; likewise, if you have excess fat on your belly, then you won't see six-pack abs until you reduce or eliminate the fat.
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]
“Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips, feet facing forward. Look straight ahead with your arms out in front of your body. With chest out, shoulders back, and abs tight, slowly lower your butt down as far as you can. Make sure your knees do not push forward past your toes. Weight should be in your heels, not your toes. Return to starting position, without rounding your back as you stand, and complete 15-20 reps.”
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.

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.


Our body needs a breather. When we rest or when we sleep is the time when our body conducts a synthesis of proteins, that is, the breakdown of proteins which results in the reconstructive process of muscle building and repair. Regular and adequate rest is needed in order to gain muscle. Also, metabolism takes place during the night when we sleep, and fat is burned during this process as well. This makes sleep the most effective tool when it comes to fitness and health, and we must give our mind and body 48 hours of rest before hitting the gym again, as this is the optimum time for muscle recovery.
Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.
You can train long, or you can train intensely, but you can’t do both. For every set completed, more, and more of the body’s limited reserve of biochemical resources are used up in an attempt to merely recover from, or compensate for the exhaustive effects of the workout, leaving that much less left over for over-compensation in the form of more muscle mass. Long, drawn out training sessions decrease growth hormone, and testosterone levels, while increasing cortisol levels. This hormonal shift creates a very catabolic environment in the body that will result in muscle loss and a reduced basal metabolic rate. If it’s taking you several hours to get through a workout then you’re wasting your time. I suggest never allowing any lifting session to exceed 45 minutes in duration.
Training intensely is the key to stimulating muscle growth but don’t mistake volume for intensity. All too often, people trying to achieve a higher level of intensity in their training make the mistake of assuming that increasing volume and duration are effective methods of boosting training intensity. Let me make this perfectly clear. Volume and frequency have absolutely nothing to do with intensity! High volume training sessions can actually be counter-productive. So how do you effectively increase intensity? A. By progressively increasing the amount of weight that you use. B. By progressively decreasing the amount of time it takes you to perform a particular amount of work. (For example, I have made some of my best muscle gains from workouts that lasted no longer than 30 minutes.) C. By working your muscles at the capacity of nothing less than 100% on every set.
Assuming that around 80-90% of your diet is comprised of nutrient-dense, “clean” foods (such as lean proteins, minimally refined carbohydrates and healthy fats), the other 10-20% can come from whatever sources you’d like as long as it fits into your overall daily calorie and macronutrient totals. (The only exception here are for foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils, as these should be strictly limited or eliminated altogether)
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.
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.
You may need to restock your pantry with lots of tuna and whole grains. Rivero shared details of her diet with SimplyShredded.com. A mini-meal may consist of oats and cooked egg whites; sweet potato and tuna; brown rice, chicken and greens; or tilapia and a quarter of an avocado. Figure competitor Ashley Toms, who describes diet as 90 percent of success in bodybuilding, similarly combines chicken, green veggies and steel-cut oats; whey protein shakes and oats; and snacks such as protein shakes or a handful of nuts.
You can train long, or you can train intensely, but you can’t do both. For every set completed, more, and more of the body’s limited reserve of biochemical resources are used up in an attempt to merely recover from, or compensate for the exhaustive effects of the workout, leaving that much less left over for over-compensation in the form of more muscle mass. Long, drawn out training sessions decrease growth hormone, and testosterone levels, while increasing cortisol levels. This hormonal shift creates a very catabolic environment in the body that will result in muscle loss and a reduced basal metabolic rate. If it’s taking you several hours to get through a workout then you’re wasting your time. I suggest never allowing any lifting session to exceed 45 minutes in duration.
The high levels of muscle growth and repair achieved by bodybuilders require a specialized diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require more calories than the average person of the same weight to provide the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase muscle mass. In preparation of a contest, a sub-maintenance level of food energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to build muscle.[24] The ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.[25]
It’s worth reading the introductory weight training information before starting this program, or any program for that matter. The exercises use the standard free weights and equipment found in most gyms. All exercises can be done at home if you have the appropriate home gym equipment. A medical examination and clearance is wise if you've been sedentary for a lengthy period. Take care with injured or dysfunctional joints. Get medical advice before starting weight training if this applies to you.
Train each body part once per week. With the exception of abs, directly training a body part with high intensity more than once a week is usually overtraining. If you are striving for maximum strength gains, power, and muscular growth, high intensity translates to low reps and heavy weight. Three to four sets of three to four different exercises per body part is optimal. Large muscle groups like chest, quads, and glutes do well in a rep range as low as 6 or 7. With smaller groups like biceps and triceps, and difficult to isolate groups like shoulders and back, stay within a more conservative rep range of at least 8 to 10 per set. View exercises for all the muscle groups here.
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.
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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.
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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.


The pyramid system of training was in vogue during those days. Bodybuilders using multiple sets per exercise would typically warm up with a light weight and gradually increase the resistance over the 4-5 sets so they were using their heaviest weights for the last sets. As mentioned above, the bodybuilders would start training faster while still using heavy weights as the contest got closer. This would increase the intensity of the workout while still using the same weights because of the decreased rest periods.

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.
Here's one for those of you who still compete. One of the most important things about professional bodybuilding is the way you present all that hard work and sacrifice when you get on stage. You want to pose in a way that hides your flaws and accentuates your strengths. If you want to see those flaws and strengths clearly, take pictures of your poses and when you look at them, cover your face. Sounds silly but it allows you to be more objective. Now, you may want to enlist the help of a credible posing coach to hone in your routine.
Using these will make your exercises harder, more stimulating, muscle fiber-wise, and more interesting. For example: Do three 12-rep sets of squats. Do the first 4 reps using a pause at the bottom, then do the next 4 reps using a five-second negative. Finish the set up with 4 "normal" reps. Or do three 10-rep sets of chin-up. Do the first 5 reps with a 3-second pause at the top and a 3-second eccentric. Do the second 5 reps explosively.

Due to the growing concerns of the high cost, health consequences, and illegal nature of some steroids, many organizations have formed in response and have deemed themselves "natural" bodybuilding competitions. In addition to the concerns noted, many promoters of bodybuilding have sought to shed the "freakish" perception that the general public has of bodybuilding and have successfully introduced a more mainstream audience to the sport of bodybuilding by including competitors whose physiques appear much more attainable and realistic.
In contrast to strongman or powerlifting competitions, where physical strength is paramount, or to Olympic weightlifting, where the main point is equally split between strength and technique, bodybuilding competitions typically emphasize condition, size, and symmetry. Different organizations emphasize particular aspects of competition, and sometimes have different categories in which to compete.
Bodybuilders often split their food intake into 5 to 7 meals of equal nutritional content and eat at regular intervals (e.g. every 2 to 3 hours). This approach serves two purposes: to limit overindulging in the cutting phase, and to allow for the consumption of large volumes of food during the bulking phase. Eating more frequently does not increase basal metabolic rate when compared to 3 meals a day.[citation needed] While food does have a metabolic cost to digest, absorb, and store, called the thermic effect of food, it depends on the quantity and type of food, not how the food is spread across the meals of the day. Well-controlled studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly labeled water have demonstrated that there is no metabolic advantage to eating more frequently.[38][39][40]
The wall sit, also known as a static squat, is performed by placing one's back against a wall with feet shoulder width apart, and lowering the hips until the knees and hips are both at right angles. The position is held as long as possible. The exercise is used to strengthen the quadriceps. Contrary to previous advice in this section, this exercise is NOT good for people with knee problems because the knees bear most of the load, especially when they are held at right angles (90 degrees).[citation needed]

The above routine is useful as discussed, and should be used for the first month, to allow the development of good form, rep performance and getting a feel for what exercise works what muscles. By the start of the second month, you should use a split routine, this will allow you to train harder and to use more exercises, and this type of routine enhances recovery significantly.
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Use a split system. If you have never trained with weights, or have taken a significant break from weights, I do not recommend training at maximum intensity right away. Training to failure during the first crucial work outs will result in tremendous muscle soreness and you may never return. Start slowly by doing a full-body work out consisting of three or four sets of lighter weights for every major muscle group. After the first couple weeks, you can increase your intensity and move onto a split system. An example of a three-day split might be:
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