Dumbbells. I prefer solid dumbbells since the plate-loading type can be tedious to change repeatedly. Dumbbells cost anywhere from 50 cents to $1 per pound. Solid hex dumbbells are what I recommend because they are inexpensive, and they don't roll around like round dumbbells. You might also decide to purchase a bench. Look for an adjustable bench that is well constructed. It should not rock and should feel solid when you lie down on it. If you decide to purchase a bar for the bench press, then you will need uprights on your bench. I don't recommend this for beginners due to safety issues (unless you have a spotter); you can always do dumbbell presses to get you started. If you decide to go with a bar and plates, then look for a 35- to 45-pound bar with collars to lock the plates in place, and then you need to buy plates to load the bar. Figure to shoot for a bench press of up to 100 pounds, so you will need to purchase plates for at least that amount. You can start with two 25-pound plates, four 10-pound plates, and four 5-pound plates. That will get most beginners started.
In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain an aesthetically pleasing body and balanced physique.[16][17] In prejudging, competitors do a series of mandatory poses: the front lat spread, rear lat spread, front double biceps, back double biceps, side chest, side triceps, Most Muscular (men only), abdominals and thighs. Each competitor also performs a personal choreographed routine to display their physique. A posedown is usually held at the end of a posing round, while judges are finishing their scoring. Bodybuilders usually spend a lot of time practising their posing in front of mirrors or under the guidance of their coach.
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.

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. 

Pick your favorite form of cardio -- spinning, outdoor biking, running, hill sprints, swimming -- and hit it hard. Literally. Brian Lebo of the Athletic Performance Training Center in Ohio advises HIIT, high-intensity interval training, as your way to burn fat in a time-efficient manner. Lebo advises a 3-to-1 rest-to-work ratio. In practical terms, this means you can for example go hard as you can on a hill sprint for 30 seconds, walk or jog back down the slope for 90 seconds, and repeat four times for an intense 10-minute training session.
These diet tips for bodybuilding can be misleading if you forget about the importance of preparing your meals in a nutritious way. Although we’ve urged you to eat healthy foods like chicken, eggs, and oatmeal, we don’t recommend that you dine on fried chicken, Scotch eggs, or oatmeal covered in brown sugar. Instead, try to grill, bake, or steam your foods. Avoid large amounts of oil and butter, and steer clear of fried foods and sugary add-ons.

You can't scroll through Instagram without clocking a mammoth cheat day feast, but are real-life bodybuilders consuming such a crazy amount of calories every couple of weeks? Not quite. When he’s dieting for a competition, Terry incorporates ‘re-feed days’ into his schedule. This means he eats the exact same food, but essentially doubles the portion sizes.


Many aspiring bodybuilders find that they need to increase their calorie intake to increase their body mass. Assuming you’re training hard, you may need to add a mini meal somewhere in your day. Or, you could increase both the frequency and quantity of your meals, eating more meals more often. To hold yourself accountable, keep a log of your meals and count your calories. Especially at the start, this can help you figure out what your new normal should look like.

Pick your favorite form of cardio -- spinning, outdoor biking, running, hill sprints, swimming -- and hit it hard. Literally. Brian Lebo of the Athletic Performance Training Center in Ohio advises HIIT, high-intensity interval training, as your way to burn fat in a time-efficient manner. Lebo advises a 3-to-1 rest-to-work ratio. In practical terms, this means you can for example go hard as you can on a hill sprint for 30 seconds, walk or jog back down the slope for 90 seconds, and repeat four times for an intense 10-minute training session.
Here's some simple math that many people still can’t seem to grasp. You’re in the gym for only an hour or so each day, leaving another 22–23 hours in which muscle growth depends solely on what goes in—or stays out of—your piehole. So why is the nutrition side of the mass-gaining equation often marginalized? It’s probably because a bench press is a lot sexier than a spinach salad.

Anaerobic exercise, and aerobic exercise are opposites, so therefore should be treated as opposites. In the world of exercise science the definition of anaerobic refers to exercise that is of high intensity, but short of duration. Opposite to that, the definition of aerobic refers to exercise that is low in intensity, but long in duration. This is why you shouldn’t perform your cardio intensely. If you’re doing your cardio, and you’re gasping for air to the point where you can’t carry on a conversation with someone, then that means your body is burning mostly sugar, and not fat because there is not enough oxygen present to burn fat. In other words, by performing cardio intensely, you have actually made the exercise anaerobic, so you will be drawing from into the same recovery subsystems that support your weight training, and consequently will short circuit maximum muscle growth.
Arnold included basic multijoint movements in his routine that hit the pecs from a variety of angles. "I knew the routine had to be basic and very heavy," he wrote. Basic, for Arnold, meant sticking to flat, incline, and decline benches while occasionally training like a powerlifter rather than trying a multitude of machines or using trendy techniques. Arnold saved pumping sets for the end of his workout.
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.
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.

Sean Nalewanyj is a best-selling fitness author, natural bodybuilder and success coach who has been publishing science-based, no B.S muscle building and fat loss information online since 2005. Through the comprehensive free content found in his Articles, YouTube Channel, Facebook Page and online newsletters, Sean has helped hundreds of thousands of average, everyday people from all over the world build muscle, lose fat and completely transform their bodies and lives. Read More...


Use protein supplements wisely. Throwing back a protein shake every morning is not a guarantee that your body will build muscle mass. Although protein shakes are not inherently bad, they are also not a magical means of building muscle. If you decide to implement a protein supplement in your diet, make sure the ingredients are high-quality (i.e. not riddled with sugar and empty carbs).[13]

There are some things on here that you can do from home if you own the equipment, such as I do, but there are some things you cannot do without going to a gym… because who really owns a Leg press in their home? That is why there are alternatives to almost ANY exercises such as using resistance bands instead of cables for the cable curls, etc. Tweak the program to best suit your needs!
This program isn’t just for the true beginner who has never touched a weight before; it’s also suitable for anyone who has taken an extended leave of absence from training. How long has it been since you went to the gym regularly? Six months? A year? Five years? No worries: The following routines will get you back on track in—you guessed it—just four short weeks. Let’s get to work.
Consume your essential fats: These fats are highly important for general health, muscle protection and for fat loss! A deficiency of these and not only energy levels will suffer but you will also encounter issues gaining muscle and losing fat. Two tablespoons of Flaxseed Oil with any meal or protein shake (except the post workout one as at this time we do not want the fats to slow down the absorption of the nutrients).
Rest and recovery: Remember that muscles grow during downtime, not when you train, so allow a day or two between workouts when you first get started so that the muscles can recover and grow. You should show up at your workouts refreshed and at least as strong as the previous workout (there will be days when you aren't stronger, and you should expect them so don't get discouraged when it happens).

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.

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.
You can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you are. So before you conduct any sort of diet overhaul, take a look at the number of calories you currently consume on a day-to-day basis. Apps like MyFitnessPal make this exceedingly easy to do. Your daily caloric intake might surprise you! And once you know how many calories you devour each day, figure out how many calories you ought to be consuming using the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.
You can't scroll through Instagram without clocking a mammoth cheat day feast, but are real-life bodybuilders consuming such a crazy amount of calories every couple of weeks? Not quite. When he’s dieting for a competition, Terry incorporates ‘re-feed days’ into his schedule. This means he eats the exact same food, but essentially doubles the portion sizes.
Many aspiring bodybuilders find that they need to increase their calorie intake to increase their body mass. Assuming you’re training hard, you may need to add a mini meal somewhere in your day. Or, you could increase both the frequency and quantity of your meals, eating more meals more often. To hold yourself accountable, keep a log of your meals and count your calories. Especially at the start, this can help you figure out what your new normal should look like.
Since fasting is a requirement of Ramadan, it’s a great idea to take the opportunity to lose fat during this period of time. Intermittent fasting is an awesome practice that allows an individual to eat during a specific time window which helps to burn fat. With the sunrise to sunset fasting in effect, it’s a perfect period of time to embrace intermittent fasting.
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.
Competing in a bodybuilding contest can be a source of immense physiological and emotional stress. As one of the most demanding activities one can engage in, it requires extreme control, discipline, and motivation to even be competitive in the sport. To recover from this stress and bring the body back into balance, attention to proper nutrition and supplementation is critical.
Including a small amount of higher sugar and/or higher fat food here and there (I usually try to refrain from using the term “cheat meals” as it wrongly implies that you’re doing something outside the rules) is not going to negatively affect your muscle building or fat burning progress, and it will make your overall eating plan much more enjoyable while still delivering the same results.
As an example, few beginners enjoy leg day, and the one exercise they steer clear of the most is the squat. Leg extensions, on the other hand, well, they aren't so bad. But which one delivers more bang for your buck? That's easy: multijoint, free-weight exercises like the squat have been proven to be superior to single-joint moves and machine work. Multijoint moves have been linked to a greater release of muscle-building hormones like testosterone and growth hormone. Moreover, if you've avoided them until now, your muscles are likely to respond to a growth spurt.
The benefits of resistance exercise are well documented, and ongoing research continues to prove that it's an important activity for Americans to be engaged in. Long ago in hunter-gatherer societies, humans' muscles got a workout by building shelter, hunting, farming, and all the other manual chores necessary to live. Today, however, we have engineered inactivity into our lives with labor-saving devices to the extent that our muscles rarely need to be pushed very hard. We don't rake leaves or cut grass or shovel snow by hand; we don't climb stairs or even walk in airports (people movers do it for us!); we don't wash our clothes or our dishes or even push a vacuum by hand (Have you seen the robotic vacuum Roomba?), and we spend more and more time in front of our computers and televisions than we do outdoors raking leaves, playing touch football, baseball, soccer, hiking, or participating in any other recreational activities. Research shows that physical inactivity is the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and it's literally killing us.

Let's face it, injury risk increases with age. Furthermore, when you’re injured, it takes longer for you to recover and eight weeks out of commission is a lot more of a life-altering event now than it was in your 20s. When something hurts, the wrong kind of hurt, either train around it by doing exercises that do not cause more pain, or take off all together.
Note the flexibility here. If you're an experienced casual lifter starting an organized program, you may be able to kick off with 3 X 12 from the beginning. If you are new to weights and have some fitness issues, you should start with one set and progress slowly. Doing only 1 set of 9 exercises will not take too long, perhaps only 30 minutes with warmup included. Doing an extra 20 minutes or more of cardio before or after weights would be time well spent at this stage. Once you reach full stretch in the program, aerobic training may be better done before weights or at a separate session.
The first option is bodyweight training. With bodyweight training you need minimal equipment (or none at all), and you can train from anywhere.  It doesn’t matter if you’re at home, in a hotel, at a playground, in your office at work,  or traveling around the world, as long as you have enough space to move around, you can get your workout done (and fit it into a busy schedule).
You can't scroll through Instagram without clocking a mammoth cheat day feast, but are real-life bodybuilders consuming such a crazy amount of calories every couple of weeks? Not quite. When he’s dieting for a competition, Terry incorporates ‘re-feed days’ into his schedule. This means he eats the exact same food, but essentially doubles the portion sizes.

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.
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.
Muscles don’t grow unless they need to overcome a resistance, and, to a point, the harder you need to contract them, the greater the “mechanical tension” and resulting growth stimulus will be. It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ principle. The most effective way to do that? Grab a weight (or resistance band) and have at it. Research suggests that mechanical tension disturbs the integrity of a muscle, triggering a series of changes that ultimately results in increases in not only size, but also contractile strength and power. In general, the heavier weight you can lift with good form, the more tension you produce, and the more you’ll grow.
Along with the basic, compound movements, bodybuilders also added isolation exercises in order to develop their physiques and bring weak parts up to par. They knew, for example, that barbell and dumbbells presses were a great exercise for developing mass and strength in the shoulders but they also needed to add side lateral raises and bent over lateral raises with dumbbells in order to build the side and rear heads of the deltoids. Without this development, the shoulders would not look as impressive. Because there were very few or no machines designed to isolate these muscles, the bodybuilders had to use free weights (barbells and dumbbells) to accomplish their goals. Again, the use of free weights for these movements helped to build more muscle mass and strength.
In either phase, don’t exceed 1 gram per pound of body weight of protein (2.2 grams/kilogram). A little more probably won’t hurt a healthy person, but chances are, based on the science of protein requirements for athletes, it won’t help either. It will only cost you in expensive supplements or food. Any hint of kidney disease and you would need to be cautious about excessive protein intake. Consult your doctor for advice if this applies.
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