Change things up. After six or more weeks of consistent strength training, which is about the amount of time it takes to start seeing improvement in your body, you can change your routine to make it more difficult. Lifting the same weights for the same exercises every week will keep your body in the same place. You can modify weights or repetitions, choose different exercises, or change the order in which you do them. You only have to make one change at a time to make a difference, although more is often better.
Weight training and bodybuilding nutrition are sciences like anything else. There's biology and biochemistry and physiology, with rules and a base of evidence. Selling supplements, most of which are not needed, has become such a huge business in the commercial weight training and bodybuilding industry that it is almost impossible to know if you are getting an objective evaluation of a bodybuilding diet.
Forget your typical lunch of a sandwich and chips and opt instead for a calorie- and protein-packed healthy lunch. Precooked brown rice or noodles with a piece of baked salmon, vegetables and olive oil can be made in advance and stored in a container until you're ready to eat it. If you'd rather go for a more traditional office-type lunch, have two to three whole-grain wraps filled with turkey or ham, plenty of salad and grated cheese, served with a piece or two of fruit and a handful of unsalted nuts.
Eat plenty of carbs. Although a high-protein diet is a must for bodybuilding, you should not eschew carbs altogether, as your body needs carbohydrates to build and process energy. Instead, make sure you are eating carbs wisely; a doughnut and a bowl of quinoa are not equals. When implementing carbs, aim for whole-grain, high-quality carbohydrates, including grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley.
A bodybuilding diet aligns with all the general advice for a healthful diet: A balanced mix of macronutrients and plenty of micronutrients from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Even in the bulking phase, the idea is to bulk up by eating more, but sticking with mostly healthy choices. Similarly, in the cutting phase, the goal is to cut out less nutrient-dense foods, not slash calories extremely and give up nutritious foods.
According to muscleandstrength.com, females who are trying to lose fat and develop a lean, strong body, should follow a low carbohydrate diet. Women tend to burn a higher ratio of fat to carbs than men, states muscleandstrength.com. Protein is necessary to develop muscle and should be consumed in small meals throughout the day. The protein you consume should have all nine essential amino acids. Examples of complete proteins are meat, fish, poultry, egg whites, soy and whey. Each small meal should also contain monosaturated fats such as salmon, olives, most nuts and avocados. The carbohydrates you consume, in limited amounts, should be complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates provide you with sustained energy. Examples of complex carbohydrates are fruit, vegetables, whole grain pasta, and beans.
Stress causes trouble for all of us. But for those interested in transforming, high levels of stress can really put a damper on your progress. It can have behavioral implications, such as increasing your risk of overeating and skipping workouts, but it's also just bad for your body on a number of levels. Utilize constructive stress management techniques like journaling, meditating, talking to a friend, or going out for a long drive around the city. Learn what works for you and then put it to use.
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.
If you're always lifting in the same rep range from workout to workout, it's time for a change. In fact, you can even work in multiple rep ranges and intensities in the same workout. "I prefer to hit the basic compound movements such as squats, presses, and deadlifts using a 5-8 rep range," says Honn, "and then move to a higher 8-12 rep range for accessory moves."