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.
The world of female bodybuilding can be daunting to enter. While the initial images you conjure up may be of bulky, masculine-looking women with ripped muscles, this isn't always the case. In the 1990s, figure and bikini classes were introduced into women's bodybuilding for those who wanted a smaller yet defined and aesthetically-pleasing physique, says trainer Matt Weik of Bodybuilding.com. Before you take the plunge into competing, there are several important factors you should consider.

In his phenomenal book "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business," Charles Duhigg dedicates an entire chapter to what he labels the "habit loop." Without giving away any spoilers—I'm not kidding, it's a book that will melt your brain, and you should read it—Duhigg explains that one of the most fail-proof ways to create a habit is to preface the behavior you want to reinforce with a cue.
The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance.[19] A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.
Not every biceps movement was done for 6-8 reps. Arnold identified certain exercises that he called "definition-building movements," which he performed with relatively lighter weights for sets of 8-12 reps. Here, his focus was on squeezing and contracting the muscle, and holding the peak contraction for a long count. Concentration curls, preacher curls, and alternating dumbbell curls were among his favorites.
Begin your day right with a muscle-building breakfast. The bodybuilding staple of eggs and oats is a good option, as is any type of vegetable-packed omelet, boiled or poached eggs on toast, or a lean bacon sandwich on rye or whole-grain bread. When you're in a rush, go for something quick and easy, such as Greek yogurt or cottage cheese mixed with almonds or almond butter, some frozen berries and a chopped banana.
Perform three weight-training sessions per week, hitting your whole body each time. Base your routine on compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. These burn the most calories, hit more muscles and give the best bang for your buck, claims Rachel Cosgrove, strength coach and co-founder of Results Fitness in California. If you're not sure of any exercise techniques, ask a trainer at your gym for assistance.

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.

It’s all very well having the latest accessories and the nicest car; but is it really necessary? At one point you need to ask yourself; If I keep spending will I have something to live off when I get older? The fact is the earlier you start saving the longer you have to accrue interest on your money, and this additional interest could prove to come in handy when you are in your senior years.


The low volume bodybuilders would increase the intensity of their workouts by using heavier resistance and pushing a set past the normal limit of failure. Training techniques such as forced reps, rest pause, drop sets and forced negatives would push the muscles to failure and beyond. Because of the extreme high intensity, bodybuilders using these techniques would typically perform half as many sets as the high volume trainers.
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.
Train each body part once per week. With the exception of abs, directly training a body part with high intensity more than once a week is usually overtraining. If you are striving for maximum strength gains, power, and muscular growth, high intensity translates to low reps and heavy weight. Three to four sets of three to four different exercises per body part is optimal. Large muscle groups like chest, quads, and glutes do well in a rep range as low as 6 or 7. With smaller groups like biceps and triceps, and difficult to isolate groups like shoulders and back, stay within a more conservative rep range of at least 8 to 10 per set. View exercises for all the muscle groups here.
You know the deep burn you feel in your muscles after sprinting up several flights of stairs or pounding out 12 to 15 reps on your last set of heavy squats? That’s the result of metabolic stress, which is the accumulation of waste products from anaerobic energy production, and research shoes that it can be a powerful stimulus for adaptation (i.e., muscle growth). Want to maximize metabolic stress? Do moderate-duration, high-intensity activities that causes burning in the muscles; think 45 seconds of max-effort bodyweight squat-to-presses or lunge-to-curls, or 30 seconds of max-effort sprinting.
Since we are doing chest, do 2-3 sets of 5-8 repetitions on the flat bench press. Don't overdo it, or your performance will suffer later. Just go light, approximately 50%, then 65%, and then 80% on what you normally do. By doing so, your body would be slowly adjusting to a heavy load so when you start your workout and progress to an even heavier load, you're body may do so safely and efficiently.
Eat plenty of carbs. Although a high-protein diet is a must for bodybuilding, you should not eschew carbs altogether, as your body needs carbohydrates to build and process energy. Instead, make sure you are eating carbs wisely; a doughnut and a bowl of quinoa are not equals. When implementing carbs, aim for whole-grain, high-quality carbohydrates, including grains such as quinoa, brown rice, oats, and barley.[12]
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.
Working out at a gym. This is good option for beginners and experienced lifters. The gym has a wide variety of machines and dumbbells, so you get to see and try out all the different options. Plus, gyms have trainers, and if you're a beginner, it can be very helpful to have a trainer plan a program for you and take you through it to teach you how to lift. Most gyms have introductory sessions, and these are a good idea if you're new to lifting. Once you get the hang of it, you can explore it on your own with confidence.
The exercises listed in Week 1 are a collection of basic moves that, while also used by advanced lifters, we feel are suitable for the beginner as well. Notice we’re not starting you off with only machine exercises; a handful of free-weight movements are present right off the bat. Reason being, these are the exercises you need to master for long-term gains in muscular size and strength, so you may as well start learning them now. Carefully read all exercise descriptions before attempting them yourself.
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.
Multiply your body-weight in pounds by 10 to get the minimum number of calories you need each day, advises champion female bodybuilder Jamie Eason. You then need to add 300 to this if you have a sedentary lifestyle, 500 if you're moderately active or 800 if you're highly active. Aim to get your calories from nutrient-dense foods such as lean meat and fish, low-fat dairy products, beans, fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, nuts and seeds. You may need to play around with your calorie intake slightly until you find the perfect balance.
Move carbohydrate quantity up or down according to your weight and energy levels as you train or compete. These are estimates of daily carbohydrate requirements for weight trainers. Intensity of exercise over time increases quantities required, and these estimates only apply to days of exercise. Choose the lower numbers if you're doing light exercise. Choose higher rates if you mix cardio sessions with weights.
Whey protein has been proven extremely effective when consumed before and after your workouts by people everywhere. After a year or so, you can look into creatine products. Supplements do not replace real food, so eat as much as you can and you can "supplement" your diet with some protein shakes and a multi. Eat as much lean meat as you can and consume some quality carbohydrates in your diet as well.
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.

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.
Doing at least eight sets per muscle is enough to get some muscle growth but, it can depend on how many reps you're doing. Eight to twelve reps is great, while doing any more may be unnecessary, depending on your body type. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to do 25 sets for squats and about 10 reps, whereas his friend Franco Columbu only did five sets of squats and 10 reps.
Working out at a gym. This is good option for beginners and experienced lifters. The gym has a wide variety of machines and dumbbells, so you get to see and try out all the different options. Plus, gyms have trainers, and if you're a beginner, it can be very helpful to have a trainer plan a program for you and take you through it to teach you how to lift. Most gyms have introductory sessions, and these are a good idea if you're new to lifting. Once you get the hang of it, you can explore it on your own with confidence.
In my business, (I work in a retail vitamin store), I get customers all the time who come in looking for the magic supplement that will pack on pounds of muscle overnight. When I begin to question their training, eating, etc., I discover they've been training maybe 3-4 weeks; they train every day (sometimes I get a guy who says twice a day), they have no clue about protein intake, calorie intake, recovery, and on top of all that, the routine they use is anything but logical for their experience level. This extremely common!

Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.

The Russian twist is a type of exercise that is used to work the abdomen muscles by performing a twisting motion on the abdomen. This exercise is performed sitting on the floor with knees bent like in a "sit-up" position with the back typically kept off the floor at an angle of 45°. In this position, the extended arms are swung from one side to another in a twisting motion with or without weight.
Keep things simple at dinner and aim for an even distribution of protein, starchy carbs and vegetables. Pick steak, chicken, pork, turkey or fish for your protein, or a soy-based product if you're vegetarian. Pasta, sweet potatoes, couscous, quinoa and buckwheat are all nutrient-dense, high-fiber carb sources. And as for vegetables, anything goes. Consider making double your evening meal to take for lunch the next day.
Lastly we come to full-body workouts. The 5 x 5 program could also be considered a full-body workout program to a degree, since you work almost all the major muscle groups with the three exercises you choose. But, true full-body programs will provide one direct exercise for each muscle group - quads, hamstrings, chest, back and shoulders (arms are worked when doing chest and back).
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.
Nothing good comes from crash diets. Keep in mind, anytime you restrict calories for more than a day or two, whether through diet, exercise, or both, your metabolism actually slows down to some extent. The effect is more noticeable with long-term diets or drastic calorie reduction. This explains why so many people who follow crash diets end up gaining every ounce—or more—back.
Don’t worry about what everyone else is wearing around you – this isn’t a fashion show. For shoes, look for a minimalist shoe with a hard, non-compressible sole.  Chuck Taylors are my personal favorite, but Steve wears Vibrams or Merrills. While there are some great shoe options specifically for weight lifting, as a beginner, the above multipurpose shoe will serve you just fine!
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.
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