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. 

Some bodybuilders use drugs such as anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones to increase muscle hypertrophy. Anabolic steroids cause hypertrophy of both types (I and II) of muscle fibers, likely caused by an increased synthesis of muscle proteins. They also provoke undesired side effects including hepatotoxicity, gynecomastia, acne, the early onset of male pattern baldness and a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy.[42][43][44] Other performance-enhancing substances used by competitive bodybuilders include human growth hormone (HGH), which can cause acromegaly.
If like most people you are eating once or twice a day or relying on fast foods to get by, then a bodybuilding diet may be absolutely different to what you are used to. If this is the case, then it is best to follow the steps provided in my article Easing Into A Bodybuilding Diet so that you slowly start changing your eating habits into the ones required to be successful at bodybuilding.
Simply stated, this means that if you perform an exercise using a complete range of motion, you can achieve a maximal effect in the process of muscle breakdown. Stressing the muscle over a long range of motion not only breaks down a much more significant amount of tissue, it also can help lead to more flexibility in the joints associated with the lifts.
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.
2) Make your own home gym. In talking to thousands of trainees, it seems like the majority is better served by attending a health club as most people do not have the motivation to workout at home. However, if you are like me and like to workout in total solitude, this may be the best option for you. The advantages are obvious: no fees, no crowds, you can superset alot (move from one exercise to the next with no rest), and workout anytime. Disadvantages are that you have no one to spot you so you need to be very careful with what you are doing.

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If you’re constantly depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy most, there’s a much greater chance that you’ll simply become discouraged and quit. Figure out what you need in terms of overall daily calories and macronutrients (the level of detail that you apply here is dependent on your individual goals and situation), and then allocate a small percentage of that to allow for the foods you crave most.
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.
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:
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.
Usually, people associate the word diet with days of starvation and pain. However, that is not the correct definition of a diet. The word diet refers to the food choices that we make on a daily basis. Even if you don’t think you that you are on a diet, guess what?! You already are following a diet. Whether you eat candy all day every day or oatmeal, that is your diet.
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.
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.
Now that you've got the training part down, it's time to stretch it out. (Can you say ahhh?) Stretching while your muscles are warm can help improve your flexibility, says Davis, not to mention it just feels phenomenal after you've pushed yourself hard. A light cool-down is also great for calming the nervous system. While dynamic stretches should be your go-to during a warm-up, the cool-down is where static stretching comes in—this means holding a stretch for 20-30 seconds. These four passive stretches will do nicely.
One of the basic tenets of weight lifting: you must either add weight, add sets, increase intensity or decrease rest time to encourage continued progress. At this stage, adding weight makes the most sense and will be recommended throughout the first 6 months or so. But by the very nature of acquiring experience, you'll also be adding sets. Decreasing rest time and the use of intensity techniques is used as you reach strength plateaus, when you are more advanced.
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]

Especially at the start, be realistic with your goals. Avoid extreme diets that severely limit your options, recognizing that these plans are rarely sustainable in the long term. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up from time to time, and be sure to schedule cheat meals into your diet (taking care not to let them stretch out into cheat days or weekends). In addition, instead of avoiding restaurants entirely, go and learn to seek out healthy options. Many restaurants can prepare healthier versions of their menu items when asked. For example, you could request plain grilled chicken or fish, a hefty serving of vegetables, and a side salad.
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).

Arnold wasn't just concerned with feeling the weight; he wanted to make sure the load induced muscle failure at a target range: "I make a point of never doing fewer than six repetitions per set with most movements," he notes," and nothing higher than 12. The rule applies to most body parts, including calves." Make sure to choose the right weight to fail within that rep range.


They found little difference in muscle growth between those who worked in the hypertrophy range and those who lifted lighter weights for 20 to 25 reps (i.e., deep into the so-called “endurance range). As long as the subjects trained to “volitional failure” — the point at which they couldn’t perform another rep with good form — they got bigger and stronger. (Editor’s note: Volitional failure is different than absolute failure, which is when you simply can’t perform another rep. More on that in tip number six.)
As a certified personal trainer in both commercial gyms and private settings since 2002, and as an assistant coach with the de facto gold standard multisport company in Boise, Idaho, Performance High, LLC., I have been afforded much exposure to the many different fitness communities, from bodybuilders to weekend warriors to enduroletes, whose personalities are all as diverse as their fitness goals.

Some bodybuilders use drugs such as anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones to increase muscle hypertrophy. Anabolic steroids cause hypertrophy of both types (I and II) of muscle fibers, likely caused by an increased synthesis of muscle proteins. They also provoke undesired side effects including hepatotoxicity, gynecomastia, acne, the early onset of male pattern baldness and a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy.[42][43][44] Other performance-enhancing substances used by competitive bodybuilders include human growth hormone (HGH), which can cause acromegaly.
You may have heard hardcore lifters talk about things like "leg day," but when it comes to a beginner strength workout that's only a few days a week, a full-body workout is often the way to go (rather than splitting your days up by body part). "Full-body workouts maximize your caloric burn and the muscles worked each session," says Davis. The best way to do this is to pair one upper body exercise with one lower body exercise. "This way, the lower body has time to recover while the upper body works and vice-versa," says Davis. You should also aim for a balance between movements that feel like pulling and ones that feel like pushing. For example, Davis suggests pairing these exercises together:
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.
Arnold loved the standing barbell curl for building baseball biceps. When looking for a major mass-building move, Arnold preferred exercises that allowed him to push heavy weight, let him achieve a full range of motion, and could be hammered for 6-8 heavy reps. That's how he built his biceps into mountains, and it's a great start for your workout, too.
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