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.
Whatever approach you take, try to do even the littlest bit more than you did last workout. It won’t be possible every day, but over time, these small increases will add up. And don’t become discouraged if gains come slower as you get older; around age 30, you’re paddling against a slow tide of gradual muscle loss that makes gaining strength and muscle tougher than when you were younger.
Stretching after each lifting session is extremely important in preventing injury. Flexibility allows your body to become much more able to handle the odd assortment of stresses that are placed upon it each day. I'm sure that the more hardcore of us bodybuilding fans heard that Branch Warren recently slipped and fell, landing on his outstretched hand and tearing his triceps in the process.
Strength training seeks to make a stronger you, while bodybuilding kicks the goal up several notches -- to make your body a visual statement of rippling muscle and taut sinew. You can become a female bodybuilder and still maintain your femininity and appeal, as demonstrated by bodybuilding icons such as Rachel McLish and Marissa Rivero, successful actresses and beautiful models. To get started, you need mainly to commit to an initial three months of dedicated work, as well as planning and tracking your progress.
You can stick to natural supplementation with things like a protein powder and creatine if you're looking for faster gains. Now don't think I mean faster like 10x faster, I just mean slightly faster, but usually worth it for the cost. But don't go overboard on supplements either. A few basics should do. I recommend a protein, creatine, EFA's (essential fatty acids), a multivitamin, and amino acids. Once you become more experienced a pre-workout N.O. product could be a valuable addition as well.
Focus on those exercises, trust me, you won't regret it. Also, don't be afraid to add weight to the bar as well, as long as your form is in check. Overloading the muscles is essential for growth because the body doesn't need to adapt if nothing's changing. Therefore, you must force your body to change by adding weight or another repetition on that exercise that next time it comes around.
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)
Increase carbs over the weekend: Increase the quantities of carbohydrates over the weekend to 1.3 times your lean body mass (fat-free bodyweight) in order to prevent your metabolism from getting used to the diet. This time, divide that number by 5 and consume the carbohydrates over Meals 1-5. Try to ensure that Meal 5 is no later than 6 p.m. so that no starchy carbs are consumed after that time.
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. The ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.
Rather than hide the glaring weakness, he famously cut off the lower half of his pants and wore shorts to constantly remind himself of his weakness and redouble his efforts to bring them up. He trained calves more frequently, early in his workouts when he was fresh, and sometimes between sets for larger body parts, a strategy that helped him claim the world's biggest bodybuilding title.
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.
The vast majority of injuries are due to improper form. Spend time learning the basic compound movements properly. There are countless sources of instructional words of wisdom and video on the internet but they can't beat having an educated trainer walk through the motion(s). Starting off right will not only improve progression, it will prevent injury.
Believe me, whatever you're doing, you can do more. And no, you won't overtrain; you'll just advance faster when you push your limits. I used to think squatting 405 pounds for 10 reps was great. Now I can do 405 for 25 reps and it's okay, but I know I'm going to get up to 35 reps. Don't be afraid of more weight and more sets; just push a little more each and every workout (even adding 2.5 pounds is great). The greatest athletes in the world have done things that everyone thinks are crazy, but these are the same people breaking world records. Trust me, you can always do more. Train hard, train harder!
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.
As you have hopefully passed beyond the need to throw obscene amounts of weight around, it's important to realize that not only will you get better results from training by feel, but you will also tend to put less pressure on your joints. Don't get me wrong, it's still crucial to train to failure in the six to eight rep range using compound lifts. Those types of lifts are important, but they are not the focal point of every routine. Use intensity-building techniques such as rest pauses or dropsets, to recruit more muscle fibers.
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.
You cannot just go in the gym and do whatever you feel at that moment. You need to have a strict routine and follow it closely. Ask a personal trainer or an advanced bodybuilder to provide you with a program that includes the exact exercises you need to do, the number of sets and the number of reps per set. When you set foot in the gym you need to know exactly what you will do in that training session.
One of the most misunderstood areas for new bodybuilders is nutrition. I talk to guys all the time that have no idea of their daily calorie intake, their daily protein intake, their carbohydrate intake. They have no idea of what types of foods they should be eating, or when they should be eating them. They don't know what supplements do what and what they should using. Let me refer readers to some of my other articles that detail these areas.