Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers and diet professionals at every level.
The third and final phase of the “25% Stronger” program helps you max out your strength levels by gradually decreasing the volume of your workouts while increasing the amount of weight you move. You’ll begin the last phase at the top end of the strength range (seven reps). Each week, you’ll perform fewer sets and reps - five of five, four of four and finally the last week in which you perform three sets of three - so your body is fresh for the final tests in Week 13.

This period also saw the rise of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and many other sports. In bodybuilding lore, this is partly attributed to the rise of "mass monsters", beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, and Lou Ferrigno in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continuing through the 1980s with Lee Haney, the 1990s with Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Markus Rühl, and up to the present day. Bodybuilders such as Greg Kovacs attained mass and size never seen previously but were not successful at the pro level. Others were renowned for their spectacular development of a particular body part, like Tom Platz or Paul Demayo for their leg muscles. At the time of shooting Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger (while never admitting to steroid use until long after his retirement) said that "you have to do anything you can to get the advantage in competition".[citation needed] He would later say that he does not regret using anything.[8]
Place your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder width apart and extend your legs behind you. Brace your core and lower your body until your chest is just above the floor. Take two seconds to lower down and two seconds to press back up. Remember to keep your back flat throughout the movement, your elbows close to the sides of your torso, and to fully extend your elbows at the top of the pushup.

Transformations have both physique and performance dimensions, so it's OK to have goals in both areas. Losing weight, gaining muscle, and looking good in the mirror are examples of the former; squatting 10 more pounds, running a mile in under 10 miles, or finally getting your toes up to that bar are examples of the latter. Having both types of goals will help keep you motivated even if one goal starts to slow in progress.
Last, but definitely not the least, your nutrition. You are what you eat! Get enough protein. Get enough carbs, fats and other nutrients to support your body. The question is what is enough. If you are really serious about working out and is training hard then you need to consume about 1-2 gms of protein per pound of your body weight. Again, this is applicable only if you are training hard and lifting heavy. If you are looking to bulk up, then you need to eat a calorie surplus; meaning more carbs and fats. If you are trying to cut down, then eat at a calorie deficit. Try to make sure that your diet contains as much raw food as you can think of. Besides that, cook as much as you can and avoid processed/canned foods as much as possible. Have a cheat meal every week to keep yourself in the game and to not feel like you are punishing yourself.
It's never too late to start. In one study of elderly men and women (mean age 87) who lifted weights three times per week for 10 weeks, strength increased a whopping 113%! The improvement in strength enabled the elderly participants to also walk faster (12% faster than before the study), climb 28% more stairs, and it even caused the muscles in their thighs to increase by more than 2.5%.
Get enough rest. While some people exert too little effort and easily lose patience, others also try too hard and over-train. You need to rest in between workouts. The muscles you stress during a workout should get about 72 hours of rest so that they can have the opportunity to recover and grow. You also need to get enough sleep very night. That means getting 7 hours of sleep minimum.
Precision nutrition for exercise can be complex and that’s why exercise physiologists and sports nutritionists are of great value to sporting teams and athletes. Even though keen amateurs and weekend warriors don’t have to worry too much about the split second in a race or the inch of bicep in a bodybuilding competition like the pros do, we can still eat well for our activity by following the basics of sports nutrition. If you need help sorting it all out, consult a doctor or dietitian who has experience working with athletes.

Various formulae exist for calculating what this starting weight should be, but I find it just as easy to trial different weights until you get to that limit. If you’re new to free weights, this helps familiarization as well. Try an obvious light weight, for you, to warm up and then upgrade to something heavier for the workout set. By the third set, you should have settled on the 12RM weight. If not, just move on and upgrade the weight next session.
The bulk of the workout should consist of basic compound lifts, like the traditional barbell squat for quads. If you stop progressing in strength gains on leg exercises, you are most likely overtraining. In that case, give yourself more time between the leg days and cut back on the volume. Also, to speed up recovery, always stretch before and after your workouts.
In natural contests, the testing protocol ranges among organizations from lie detectors to urinalysis. Penalties also range from organization to organization from suspensions to strict bans from competition. It is also important to note that natural organizations also have their own list of banned substances and it is important to refer to each organization's website for more information about which substances are banned from competition. There are many natural bodybuilding organizations; some of the larger ones include: MuscleMania, Ultimate Fitness Events (UFE), INBF/WNBF, and INBA/PNBA. These organizations either have an American or worldwide presence and are not limited to the country in which they are headquartered.

Your sweet tooth can completely derail your diet if you aren’t careful. In addition to avoiding obvious sweets like candy, cake, and cookies, remember to watch out for excess sugars in processed foods. For example, you might be surprised how much sugar is in some yogurts, pasta sauces, and cereals. Don’t forget to bypass soda and sugary cocktails and coffee drinks as well. In place of these sweets, as a dessert after your meal, try eating some fruit or a small piece of dark chocolate.
Major variants: reverse ~ (curling the pelvis towards the shoulders), twisting ~ or side ~ (lifting one shoulder at a time; emphasis is on the obliques), cable ~ (pulling down on a cable machine while kneeling), sit-up ~ (have [chest] touch your knees), vertical crunch (propping up to dangle legs and pulling knees to the [ chest] or keeping legs straight and pulling up legs to a 90 degree position). Reverse hanging crunch (using gravity boots or slings to hang head down and pulling to a 90 or 180 degree form)
After session 12, consider whether you need to increase the weight for any particular exercise. If you can comfortably do more than the RM of 12 exercises, increase the weight by a modest amount, say two pounds or a kilogram for isolation exercise muscles such as triceps and biceps, and 5 pounds or 2.5.kilograms for compound and large muscle group exercises like squats and deadlifts. When using dumbbells, this would apply to each one. Don’t increase the number of sets beyond 3 at this time.

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.

Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.

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.

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.

Perusing Arnold's signature tome requires some effort: The hardback version comes in at an even 800 pages, after all! While it's hefty weight might make it a nice addition to your coffee table, the nuggets of training gold take a little work to find. In the interest of mining the best knowledge from one of the strongest minds in bodybuilding, here are 31 Arnold-approved training tips to help you build your best body ever!
Setup: In case the name of this one throws you off a bit, be warned that this exercise is definitely not for sissies—and you might be sore for a few days after you’ve done it. First, hang on to something fixed, like a squat rack, to keep steady during the exercise. Stand on the balls of your feet with your feet positioned slightly wider than shoulder width apart. If you have trouble keeping your balance, put a couple of five-pound plates under your heels. Keep your upper legs and torso in a straight line, from your shoulders to your knees.
Stand with a micro bend in knees and feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Grab dumbbells and hinge at hips so they hang in front of shins, palms facing you. Brace core and lift weights by squeezing glutes, thrusting hips forward, and pulling torso back and up. Focus on just hinging at the hips, not squatting. Repeat for 3 sets of 12 reps.
For incline pressing, I recommend incline dumbbell presses. Technically any type of incline press will do here. Barbell, dumbbell, machine (Hammer Strength makes an incline chest press that I love). But, my first choice recommendation would definitely be for the incline dumbbell press (in which case be sure to set the bench to a 30 degree incline or slightly less, not more).

For incline pressing, I recommend incline dumbbell presses. Technically any type of incline press will do here. Barbell, dumbbell, machine (Hammer Strength makes an incline chest press that I love). But, my first choice recommendation would definitely be for the incline dumbbell press (in which case be sure to set the bench to a 30 degree incline or slightly less, not more).
Many aspiring bodybuilders devote all their time and energy to the gym, assuming that the key to strengthening and enlarging muscles is rigorous strength training. Although exercise constitutes a part of the equation, don’t forget about your diet. Without the right fuel, your body can’t turn into the muscle-building machine you’ve been dreaming of. So instead of spending all your time in the gym, head to the grocery store. Then, use our diet tips for bodybuilding to start crafting your meals.
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
Vertical leg crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands behind your head for support. Extend your legs straight up in the air, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee. Contract your abdominal muscles by lifting your torso toward your knees. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward, and inhale as you return to the starting position.

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.


This meal could be further enhanced by containing BCAAs , Glutamine and ribose. My post workout shake consists 1 serving of Pro Blend 55, 12 BCAA blend caps, 20 grams of Glutamine, 5 grams of ribose mixed with 8oz grape juice, 1/2 cup maltodextrin, and 1/8 cup fructose. I make this from ingredients that anyone could get at just about any health food store.
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.

Visit at least three gyms. Even if you love the first gym you step into, visit at least three gyms to find one that suits all of your needs. Gyms vary widely in the types of amenities and training programs they offer; while one might have all of the equipment you want, another might be more effective for you due to the expertise of its trainers.[2]
But regular unilateral work provides yet another advantage for building strength: core training. In the one-arm overhead dumbbell press, for example, the imbalance in weight distribution causes your core to work overtime in an effort to stabilize your torso. And the stronger your core grows over time, the more effective - as well as injury-free - you’re likely to be on bigger lifts such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses.
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]
Only at the advanced bodybuilding stage should you consider using some advanced supplementation like creatine and glutamine. These supplements work best on a body that has gone through the proper beginner and intermediate stages and that is also being trained to the maximum, is fed properly, and rested well. Also, ensure that you are using the right basic bodybuilding supplements as well. Many times, as bodybuilders get more advanced, they forget to take their basic supplements, such as multiple vitamins and minerals.
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.
Of all our diet tips for bodybuilding, consuming more protein is amongst the most important. Use a variety of protein sources to obtain your daily recommended amount, focusing on whole foods like poultry, dairy, eggs, fish, and lean meat. Unfortunately, greasy hamburgers and fattier cuts of meat like prime rib don’t count. To supplement your meals, use a quick and convenient protein powder. You can add it into your breakfast, bake it into granola bars, or perhaps prepare a post-workout shake.
“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.

Calorie load the right way. Nutrition is one of the biggest and most important facets of bodybuilding. You can lift seven days a week, train hard, and do all the cardio in the world, but if your nutrition is poor, you will not see rapid and mass gains in muscle size and strength. Learn to eat the right amount of the right kind of calories to gain muscle the way you want.


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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