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.
If you decide to join a gym, know that you're not expected to know how all of the equipment works right off the bat—or what to do with it. Be sure to take advantage of the free orientation so you can learn how to properly use everything that's offered and set up a basic strength-training program. At the gym, machines are preferred for beginners, because they're quite safe: Most require little coordination and offer more stability than free weights while performing the movements.
I recommend a cyclical approach to bulking and cutting to optimize anabolic hormones and minimize unwanted fat accumulation. This could be 16 weeks of above-maintenance intake for lean mass gains, followed by 16 weeks below-maintenance intake for fat loss. Of course, feel free to experiment with what works best for you. When done correctly, this approach will yield considerable lean mass gains while you stay pretty darn lean.
If you're prone to berating yourself for poor food choices or the way you look, now's the time to make a concerted effort to replace this negative self-talk with more positive statements. Every time a negative statement comes to mind, replace it with two positive affirmations about what you're doing well. This could be something like, 'I chose a healthy chicken salad at lunch today,' or "I drank 10 glasses of water today."
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?
Should you do cardio when you want to lose weight and get lean? Well it depends on your individual situation and body type. You’re going to hear mixed reviews and opinions on whether or not you should do cardio for fat loss. Some trainers say cardio is a waste of time and that you should only focus on strength training workouts. While other trainers recommend doing cardio on a regular basis.
Coming home ravenous after a ballsout training session and having nothing ready to eat can send you on a hunt for the nearest bag of Doritos. But having a stockpile of protein-packed foods that can be reheated easily guarantees you’ll make healthy choices and get the nutrients your muscles need. Use the weekend to rustle up big batches of chicken, chili, stews, hard-boiled eggs, and rice, which will keep in the fridge or freezer the whole week.
The rest period between sets is variable according to your goals. For strength rather than muscle size (hypertrophy), longer rests are required—preferably about two minutes or more. For hypertrophy and elements of muscle endurance, shorter rest usually works best—around 45-90 seconds. Considering that this program is designed for a combination of strength and muscle building, you will rest for one minute if possible. Longer rests between sets are sometimes problematic in busy gyms but a longer interval than one minute is fine if that's what you require to continue.
For people struggling to really bulk up or put on muscle mass, consuming sources of rich and healthy fats regularly is the key. People who shy away from fat consumption on fear of putting on weight need to know that fat consumption is good for our metabolism, and fat adds mass which can be converted into muscle with regular and intense workouts. Also, diets such as the ketogenic diet involve healthy usage of fats in for weight loss and muscle gain. Healthy fats are a muscle gainer and must be consumed frequently so as to provide the calories and the bulk needed for our body to break down.
The “one set to failure” approach — doing a single, all-out set of an exercise instead of multiple ones — has long been a popular, timesaving strategy among bodybuilders. And recent studies suggest that it can be effective for building muscle. But research (including this study) comparing lifters who performed just one set per exercise with those who performed three to five, suggests that, in general, more sets wins for muscle building.
Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger famously (and colorfully) stated the intense joy of achieving a great pump, bodybuilders have sought it like the holy grail in their training. But make no mistake: The pump is a result of higher-rep training, especially when combined with advanced training techniques that thoroughly exhaust a muscle. That's best left for the end of your workout. The fact is, you don't want to use that style of training to start your body-part training.
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!
True, monitoring carb intake is one of the best ways to play around with your weight, I don't dispute that. I do it myself, and it can be a powerful tool for people who need to lose a significant amount of weight. But the everyman athlete has no need to go bonkers cutting out all kinds of carbs just for the sake of it, because that sort of eating behavior is not sustainable for an endurance athlete.
This no-holds-barred quest for growth is based on the principle of four: performing four exercises and adding four extra reps to each exercise after the first. Because each lift changes the area of the muscle that receives the most stimuli, the ever-increasing reps shift the demands of the muscle from strength to hypertrophy to endurance to a skin-stretching crescendo that flushes the muscle and celebrates the pump.
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.
An obvious one I know, but many misjudge this. If you have two weeks to get ready for the beach then the quickest way to drop fat (and subcutaneous water that can blur muscle definition) is to drop your daily carbohydrate intake to 50 grams of fibrous carbohydrates. So say hello to broccoli, cauliflower and kale, and kiss goodbye to breads, cereals, fruit, rice and pasta. Where people go badly wrong when dropping carbs is that they simply switch to eating lean proteins and don’t replace some of the lost carb calories with calories from fat. This inevitably leads to an energy crash and the subsequent blowing of the diet because the trainee simply runs out of steam and willpower. A few whole eggs, a piece of steak and plenty of supplemental Omega 3s (I prefer 10 grams a day for carbohydrate tolerant individuals, more if there appears to be insulin resistance) work wonders.
The amount of exercises and sets a bodybuilder would use would vary among each individual. Some bodybuilders, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva, would do multiple exercises and sets for each muscle group to insure that the muscle was being properly trained from each angle. They would normally do up to 5 sets per exercise and 4-5 exercises for each muscle group for a total of 20-25 sets for each body part.
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.