Focus on form. Good form means you can reap all of the benefits of your workout and avoid injuries at the same time. To maintain proper form, pay attention to your posture (stand tall with chest lifted and abs held tight), move slowly (this ensures you're relying on muscles, not momentum, to do the lifting), and remember to breathe. Many people hold their breath while exerting, but exhaling during the hardest part of the exercise helps fuel the movement.
Do a single set of repetitions. Theories on the best way to approach weight training abound, including countless repetitions and hours at the gym. But research shows that a single set of exercise with a weight that fatigues your muscle after about 12 to 15 repetitions can build muscle efficiently in most people and can be as effective as three sets of the same exercise.
Where you go from here is up to you. With 25% more strength, you’re no doubt carrying more muscle. Maybe it’s time to step into a cutting cycle after a week or two off. Or, if you feel like this methodology set you on the path to even greater gains, you can always start the program over, perhaps aiming to add even more strength and size to your new physique.
See what's happening? You'll do 8 reps of incline hammer presses. Then, in drop-set fashion, you'll lower the weight so you can do 8 more reps. Lower it again so you can do a final 8 reps. Immediately go to machine flies where you'll also do 3 drop sets of 8. Follow those up with 3 drop sets of decline dumbbell presses. Each set ends up being 72 reps!
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 the realm of fitness, three-month workout programs dominate the landscape. You’ve even seen plenty of them in our magazine over the years. Are they effective? Absolutely. But we’re going to let you in on an interesting secret: It doesn’t necessarily take 8 or 12 weeks to get your feet wet in the gym. Not that you’ll be a seasoned vet after four weeks, but if you can just get that first month under your belt, you’ll get yourself over the proverbial hump, where so many fail and give up, and set the stage for a lifetime of muscle gains.
The squat is performed by squatting down with a weight held across the upper back under neck and standing up straight again. This is a compound exercise that also involves the glutes (buttocks) and, to a lesser extent, the hamstrings, calves, and the lower back. Lifting belts are sometimes used to help support the lower back. The freeweight squat is one of 'The Big Three' powerlifting exercises, along with the deadlift and the bench press.[2]
There are several styles of resistance exercise. There is (1) Olympic lifting (where athletes lift the weight overhead like you see in the Olympics), (2) power lifting (a competition where athletes perform the squat, dead lift, and bench press), and (3) weight lifting (a sport where athletes lift heavy weights—typically fewer than six reps). When you lift weights at the gym to get stronger or bigger or more toned, you are performing resistance exercise. Occasionally you will hear the term "strength training" associated with lifting weights. Technically, it's incorrect to refer to resistance exercise as strength training. Instead, strength training would more accurately be described as resistance exercise that builds strength. In this article, the term resistance exercise will refer to the general type of weight lifting that you do in the gym to get bigger, stronger, more toned, or to increase your muscular endurance.
Do not, under any circumstances, skip rest days. Your body will not be able to build muscle effectively if it does not have time to heal and repair itself. Because building muscle means creating tiny tears in muscle fiber, which then heals, failing to give your body adequate time to repair and rest will mean few gains and the risk of serious injury.
Weight: Beginners should start with weights that can be lifted 10-12 reps to fatigue with good form. Fatigue means that you cannot lift the weight one more time with good form. If you have to lean back or throw the weight up, then it's too heavy. Lifting 10-12 reps to fatigue will maximize your strength gains and minimize the risk of overtraining or injury.
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Listen to your body. If you have a training day scheduled on paper but feel like rubbish, a day off focused on quality nutrition and adequate rest might actually improve your results. After all, you damage muscle in the gym; you build it with quality rest and nutrition. Pushing through when you're overly tired can be a recipe for disaster or injury.
“Ask yourself: What do you want to be doing three months from now? Is that realistic? How much time are you willing to commit to strength training? What obstacles do you see getting in the way? What structures and supports will help you stay on track? How will you respond if you’re not making the progress you want? Answer these questions first before getting into the nitty-gritty of setting specific movement or weight goals,” he says.
Prepare for the long haul. It's important to know that you're not going to start doing deadlifts one day and wake up the next day bulked up like the Hulkster. Bodybuilding takes a long time for you to see the kind of results you're hoping for, but with the proper time and dedication, you will start seeing those results. This isn't a field for weekenders who love action movies, it's a 24-7 lifestyle. Think you got what it takes? Get training.
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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