Many aspiring bodybuilders devote all their time and energy to the gym, assuming that the key to strengthening and enlarging muscles is rigorous strength training. Although exercise constitutes a part of the equation, don’t forget about your diet. Without the right fuel, your body can’t turn into the muscle-building machine you’ve been dreaming of. So instead of spending all your time in the gym, head to the grocery store. Then, use our diet tips for bodybuilding to start crafting your meals.
Setup: In case the name of this one throws you off a bit, be warned that this exercise is definitely not for sissies—and you might be sore for a few days after you’ve done it. First, hang on to something fixed, like a squat rack, to keep steady during the exercise. Stand on the balls of your feet with your feet positioned slightly wider than shoulder width apart. If you have trouble keeping your balance, put a couple of five-pound plates under your heels. Keep your upper legs and torso in a straight line, from your shoulders to your knees.
A well-rounded fitness program includes strength training to improve joint function, bone density, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, as well as aerobic exercise to improve your heart and lung fitness, flexibility and balance exercises. Australia’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines recommend that adults do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.
Milo of Croton, the ancient Greek athlete, strong man, and wrestler, may be credited as the first athlete to use the principle of progressive overload. Legend has it that Milo trained for the Olympics by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day for years prior to the Olympic start date, and by the time the Olympics arrived, the calf had grown to a full-size cow, and Milo was still carrying it on his back! In essence, Milo adapted to the growing weight of the animal by growing stronger himself. That's progressive overload. To follow this model for developing strength and tone, you lift weights that are heavy enough to create muscular fatigue at the 10th to 12th repetition and then when that gets easy, you increase the weight and lift that new weight until you can do it again for 10-12 reps. You can increase the weight every time you get to 10 or 12 reps. Typically every time you add new weight, you lift fewer reps because it's heavier, but then as your muscles grow stronger, you perform more reps.
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.
After session 12, consider whether you need to increase the weight for any particular exercise. If you can comfortably do more than the RM of 12 exercises, increase the weight by a modest amount, say two pounds or a kilogram for isolation exercise muscles such as triceps and biceps, and 5 pounds or 2.5.kilograms for compound and large muscle group exercises like squats and deadlifts. When using dumbbells, this would apply to each one. Don’t increase the number of sets beyond 3 at this time.
The general strategy adopted by most present-day competitive bodybuilders is to make muscle gains for most of the year (known as the "off-season") and, approximately 12–14 weeks from competition, lose a maximum of body fat (referred to as "cutting") while preserving as much muscular mass as possible. The bulking phase entails remaining in a net positive energy balance (calorie surplus). The amount of a surplus in which a person remains is based on the person's goals, as a bigger surplus and longer bulking phase will create more fat tissue. The surplus of calories relative to one's energy balance will ensure that muscles remain in a state of anabolism.
Reverse crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head or extend them out flat to your sides—whatever feels most comfortable. Crossing your feet at the ankles, lift your feet off the ground to the point where your knees create a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, press your lower back on the floor as you contract your abdominal muscles. Your hips will slightly rotate, and your legs will reach toward the ceiling with each contraction. Exhale as you contract, and inhale as you return to the starting position.