When you start resistance training, most of your initial increase in strength is due to a phenomenon called neural adaptation. This means that the nerves servicing the muscles change their behaviour. The nerves are thought to fire more frequently (prompting increased muscle contraction) and more motor units are recruited to perform the contraction (a motor unit is the nerve cell and its associated muscle fibres). This means you become stronger, but the muscles remain the same size – you’ve hit the plateau.
In the 12th week of the program, performing three sets of three on all exercises will provide a barometer with which you can measure your improvement. Then, in the 13th week, you’ll test your three-rep max (3RM) on five major strength lifts. If you performed the 3RM test before you began the program (see “Testing Your 3RM”), you should be looking at roughly a 25% improvement on all five lifts.
There are so many great strength- and muscle-building exercises to choose from, so picking the 10 best bodybuilding exercises is a tough (and subjective) task. But the following exercises have withstood the test of time, outlasted every fitness fad and trend, and continue to be the most reliable exercises for bodybuilders. Go ahead, ask any hardcore fitness fanatic and chances are, all of these moves are in their regular arsenal.
The Old School bodybuilders would split the body up in several muscle groups in order to work each muscle group adequately. A six day split would separate the muscle groups into three separate days and each muscle group would be trained twice a week. For example, bodybuilders would train chest and back on Monday and Thursdays, legs and abdominals on Tuesday and Friday and shoulders and arms on Wednesday and Saturday.
Grab a barbell with an overhand grip and hold it at shoulder height. Keep your elbows up high and your upper arm parallel to the ground. Slightly bend your knees and drop down while keeping your torso upright and avoiding leaning forward. Explosively extend your knees and hips as you drive the barbell overhead and stand up tall. Slowly lower the barbell back to your shoulders before repeating.
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.
There are so many different supplement companies out there with so many different products. Magazines advertise countless products and are endorsed by numerous massive bodybuilders. Maybe the supplements work, maybe they don't. Let's just focus on the essentials that are proven time and time again by people like you and me and spare your wallet in the meantime.
Unless you do extreme sessions for considerably longer than an hour, include intense cardio or strength-endurance weights programs, or ate poorly in the hours leading up to the session, you probably don't need anything other than water during a workout. Don't let your blood and muscle glucose get too low, or cortisol and other hormones will start to break down your muscle. But you don't need expensive supplements to protect you from catabolic cortisol surges. All you need is carbohydrates from a sports drink, gel, or bar.

Lower weights typically result in a higher RM – for example, the same person could lift a 35 kg weight about 12 times before muscle fatigue sets in. MVC principles can help you gain the most benefit from your workouts. A good rule of thumb is to only increase the weight between two and10 per cent once you can comfortably do two repetitions above the maximum. 


One of the reasons why I love this specific routine so much is that is it easy for beginners. It does not have you doing a thousand reps and burning you out! Instead, you might notice the reps being a little lower than what you are probably used to and that is because the goal is to gain muscle-not worrying about endurance much. Also, you train 4 days per week-that screams “DO-ABLE” to me! You have two designated days where you work your upper body and the same goes for lower body.

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.
Many years ago it was unheard of for women to bodybuild, let alone work out in a gym with weights. What a bunch of rubbish! Times have changed drastically, and for the better, I must say. If you’re female and want to get your groove on, look no further than your own living quarters. With the right tutelage, you can be carved up and turning heads in no time!
Bodybuilding became more popular in the 1950s and 1960s with the emergence of strength and gymnastics champions, and the simultaneous popularization of bodybuilding magazines, training principles, nutrition for bulking up and cutting down, the use of protein and other food supplements, and the opportunity to enter physique contests. The number of bodybuilding organizations grew, and most notably the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) was founded in 1946 by Canadian brothers Joe and Ben Weider. Other bodybuilding organizations included the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), National Amateur Bodybuilding Association (NABBA), and the World Bodybuilding Guild (WBBG). Consequently, the male-dominated contests grew both in number and in size. Besides the many "Mr. XXX" (insert town, city, state, or region) championships, the most prestigious titles[according to whom?] were Mr. America, Mr. World, Mr. Universe, Mr. Galaxy, and ultimately Mr. Olympia, which was started in 1965 by the IFBB and is now considered the most important bodybuilding competition in the world.
“Regardless of whether volitional failure is achieved through heavy weights or high reps, you’ll hit your type II muscle fibers, which have the greatest growth potential,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Openfit’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content. “But those lighter weight/higher rep sets will also nail your smaller type I muscle fibers, which studies have shown to have growth potential as well.”

When trying to gain mass, eat two breakfasts. To restock liver glycogen and put the brakes on the catabolism that chips away at your muscle overnight, down two scoops of whey protein along with a fast-digesting carb such as Vitargo or white bread immediately upon waking. One of our favorite morning shakes is two cups of coffee, two scoops of whey, and two to three tablespoons of sugar. About 60 minutes later, follow up with a wholefoods breakfast that boasts quality protein—such as Canadian bacon or eggs—and slowerburning carbs, such as oatmeal.
You've been surfing Bodybuilding.com for weeks, looking at the incredible transformations that other people have experienced and the plans that got them there. Now, you think it might be your turn. You've been peeking into training systems like LiveFit and Kris Gethin's Hardcore Daily Trainer, and thinking a lot about time: Is 12 weeks as long as it sounds? Is it long enough to make a genuine change?
Be patient! Too many people want it all right now so they become frustrated if they haven’t built their dream body within a few months of training. When such a point is reached, many bodybuilders either quit altogether, or turn to dangerous drugs such as steroids, or synthetic hormones in order to speed up the process. Steroids are insidious. They may produce rapid gains in the short term, however, the compromises are extraordinary and should be very carefully considered. The steroid users that I knew 15 years ago that I wished I could look like are now either dead or out of shape dealing with severe health problems. If you love bodybuilding like I do, then you will want to be able to do it, and enjoy it from now until well into your golden years of life. Don’t get discouraged when progress doesn’t seem to be coming quickly enough. I’ve been there before, so I know how it feels. I can tell you from experience that if you are persistent it will pay off eventually. It took me 26 years to put on 40 lbs of muscle! That averages out to roughly 1.5 pounds of muscle gained each year!

If your goal is to pack pounds of pure muscle onto your frame, you can't be eating "empty" calories that do nothing but add mass to your waistline. You need to carefully select the right foods and supplements and incorporate them into your daily diet. By adding the muscle-builders mentioned, there is no doubt that you will be on the right path to achieving the physique of your dreams.
Arnold frequently supersetted biceps and triceps movements—or, in other words, performed exercises back to back—to bring an enormous amount of blood into his arms. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients critical for growth, but these supersets also enabled Arnold to achieve his ultimate training goal: a killer pump. Supersetting a smaller muscle group like arms is easier than a larger one like legs, though Arnold often did that pre-contest as well.

This is how the NPC differs from the NANBF. The NANBF takes a more direct approach by taking urine samples from all competitors that are tested for steroids and any other substances on the banned list. The NANBF also differs from the NPC when it comes to judging. The criteria for certain poses differs from organization to organization. The NANBF even has an elevated calf pose which is unique for their competitions.[citation needed]
To build extra muscle, you need to eat in excess of what you currently eat, and work out with weights on a regular basis. How much muscle you can gain, how quickly and with what definition is largely determined by your genetics and age. But everyone at almost any age should be able to gain some muscle and strength with weight training. Proper nutrition is a crucial element in the muscle building process.
Seriously, know your personal limits. I can't tell you how many times I've seen somebody give up too early or get hurt during training or racing because they simply had no idea what their real thresholds were. The whole idea behind training and/or competing is to push your thresholds to the limits to fulfill your potential. If you don't know what your limits are, how can you possibly know what your potential is?

If you have little experience of weight training and free weights, you may wish to start with the machine leg press instead of the squat, especially if you're not accompanied by a trainer, helper or spotter. Even so, there is no reason to be intimidated by the squat exercise. It need not be done in a squat rack or power cage with the big bar and free weights to begin with, although squatting with the bar alone is a good way to practice form. Dumbbells or small-bar barbells or a Smith machine can provide reassurance for the beginner. The same applies to the racked bench press with heavy bar, which can be substituted with dumbbells or lighter barbells. The key is not to lift too heavy too soon.

This is very important and can be very beneficial for beginners. It allows you to track your progress, see what exercises you enjoy, which ones you are improving the most, and what areas you need the most work on. Your journal should include the date, time of workout, duration of workout, the exercises, sets, reps, rest between sets, meals for the day, and supplements you may be taking.


You should also have everything you need for simple workouts. Especially if you plan to hit the gym nearly every day, it's a good idea to have some equipment for those rainy days when leaving the house isn't an option. And let's face it: Buying some basic workout items will make your jump into the fitness world more fun. This might sound trivial, but having clothes you like can influence your desire to train.
Arnold wrote that he always included at least one dumbbell movement in his routine. By supinating his hand (turning it upward as he curled), he felt he got a greater "peaking" effect because the brachialis is recruited into the motion when the hand starts in the neutral position. Arnold performed supinating dumbbell curls simultaneously and with alternating reps. The latter allows more body English and a bit of rest between reps.
A brief, fairly unscientific explanation will do for this one. You cannot work the fat off any specific area of your body because, well, you cannot work fat. People mistake that good old muscle burn for something that magically removes adipose proximally from wherever it burns. Those were your oblique abdominals being worked, not the love handles next to them.
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.
One of the reasons why I love this specific routine so much is that is it easy for beginners. It does not have you doing a thousand reps and burning you out! Instead, you might notice the reps being a little lower than what you are probably used to and that is because the goal is to gain muscle-not worrying about endurance much. Also, you train 4 days per week-that screams “DO-ABLE” to me! You have two designated days where you work your upper body and the same goes for lower body.
The Nerd Fitness Beginner Bodyweight workout is a great (free) place to start if you’re looking for a super basic, easy to follow bodyweight routine. This workout from my buddy/fellow Nerd Roman takes you through some very basic movements. Beast Skills and Gymnastics WOD also both offer great tutorials and progressions on how to master bodyweight movements, both basic and advanced.
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]
Liz Neporent, an exercise physiologist and the president of Wellness 360, a New York City-based corporate-wellness-consulting company, suggests the following seven exercises, which work most of the major muscles in your body. Do one to three sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of the exercises, resting no more than 45 seconds between sets to keep the workout challenging.
As an example, let's say someone's goal is to go to the gym three days per week before work. A basic cue would be to place their gym clothes, post-training shake, and shoes next to their bed the night prior so those items are the first thing the person sees—or maybe trips over—when they wake up. The theory is that the cues will create a routine, and eventually, the person won't need the cue.
© 2019 Condé Nast. All rights reserved. Use of and/or registration on any portion of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 5/25/18) and  Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement  (updated 5/25/18). SELF may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. Your California Privacy Rights. SELF does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.   The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Ad Choices 
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.[2]
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.
Since putting this workout routine out there back in 2010, I’ve gotten tons of feedback from literally thousands of people. Many just wanted to tell me (and show me) how well it has worked for them (which is awesome). Others, however, still had additional questions and wanted more details. Not just about this workout, but about building muscle in general.
Unfortunately, many people haven't gotten the message that strong is in. Indeed, statistics on strength training are grim: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 30 percent of American adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights or doing push-ups at least twice a week—the recommendations set out by the government. 
Although muscle stimulation occurs in the gym (or home gym) when lifting weights, muscle growth occurs afterward during rest periods. Without adequate rest and sleep (6 to 8 hours), muscles do not have an opportunity to recover and grow.[citation needed] Additionally, many athletes find that a daytime nap further increases their body's ability to recover from training and build muscles. Some bodybuilders add a massage at the end of each workout to their routine as a method of recovering.[50]

Different exercises will require different weights, but there are some markers that can help guide you towards the right resistance, whether you're using dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell. Go for a weight that feel heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you sacrifice your form. For example, if you're doing 15 reps, you should feel pretty fatigued by the time you hit rep 15. If you can breeze through all your reps, though, that's a sign you should up the weight.

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.
People throw around a number of different words they think are “synonyms” when it comes to strength training: weight lifting, resistance training… the list goes on. But really the term “strength training” incorporates body weight exercises, bands, machines, weighted equipment, and essentially anything that isn’t running, swimming, jump roping, or flexibility training (like stretching), according to Men’s Fitness‘ Group Training Director Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S. So it’s not synonymous with weight lifting—it’s an umbrella term that includes it. And while weight lifting is great, there are tons of other strength-training moves that don’t include actual weights that can help you sculpt a strong, muscular upper body.
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.
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]
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.
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:
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.
After a muscle has been stressed sufficiently with high-intensity training, you must not train that muscle again too soon so that you allow for the body to respond with a compensatory build up of new muscle tissue. You can measure your progress to determine whether or not you’re allowing enough recovery time for growth to take place simply by taking note whether or not you’re stronger any time you repeat any given workout. Some people have argued this point with me and have stated that there is no relationship between muscle size and strength. If this is the case, and you don’t need to get stronger in order to get bigger, than how exactly should you go about getting bigger? By getting weaker?
You can use your own body weight for resistance exercise. Pushups, sit-ups, chin-ups, squat thrusts, lunges, and step-ups are just some of the exercises that you can do to strengthen your body. The advantage of these exercises is that you can do most of them anywhere, and even though you can't change your body weight to increase or decrease the resistance, there are some things you can do to increase the resistance. Here are some suggestions.
22. The muscle building topics and guides you read today are not written in black and white. You should learn how to balance what you read by sticking to what the pro lifters are reading and using in their workouts. Also, you should remember that although there’s a lot of science in bodybuilding, most of it is still an art because it’s not always black and white.
This is a favorite leg developer of old-school bodybuilders. For this squat variation, the bar will be up high on your traps and you will take a narrower stance. This will force your knees over your toes and allow your torso to stay upright, leading to a more quad dominant exercise. While this squat variation is more quad dominant, your glutes and hamstrings will still get a good workout (assuming you squat below parallel.)
If you want to improve your shoulder width, prioritize this workout, swapping it for your regular shoulder sessions every third deltoid workout. Or, depending on present development, do it every other workout as needed. Use the sequence of exercises prescribed here: Their purpose is for progressive prioritization, from heavy weight for strength and muscle-group size to higher reps for isolated muscle size and deltoid striations that draw the onlooker’s eye to those points located at the maximum width of the shoulder girdle.
22. The muscle building topics and guides you read today are not written in black and white. You should learn how to balance what you read by sticking to what the pro lifters are reading and using in their workouts. Also, you should remember that although there’s a lot of science in bodybuilding, most of it is still an art because it’s not always black and white.

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.
The third type of volume training program that's catching on rather rapidly is the FST-7 Training Program. This training program doesn't specifically lay out all the exercises you need to perform in a given session nor does it specifically state that you must divide the body up into a certain protocol (upper body and lower body or chest/back, legs and shoulder for example), but rather gives you guidelines as to what you should be doing on the last exercise for each body part worked that session.
In recent years, the related areas of fitness and figure competition have increased in popularity, surpassing that of female bodybuilding, and have provided an alternative for women who choose not to develop the level of muscularity necessary for bodybuilding. McLish would closely resemble what is thought of today as a fitness and figure competitor, instead of what is now considered a female bodybuilder. Fitness competitions also have a gymnastic element to them. A study by the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that female bodybuilders who are taking anabolic steroids are more likely to have qualified for substance dependence disorder, to have been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, or to have a history of sexual abuse.[14]
26. People who tell you that you can’t go wrong with squats is a liar. False advice is everywhere, and this is one big example of them. Squats that are done above parallel are extremely dangerous, and they’re instantly bad for your knees. But, if you’re doing it right, doing 20 rep squats does a lot of burn to your body and will be amazing. Try it for yourself.
When lifting it is essential to focus your mind completely on the muscle group you are attempting to work on. This makes sure that you are actually using the target muscle to lift the weight rather than accessory muscles or even momentum. This skill will develop with time, and as you progress in making that mind to muscle connection, your workouts will become much more productive and efficient.
×