You will start with 1 set of 12 repetitions for each of 9 exercises for the first week. At workout session 8, you should have progressed to 3 sets of 12 repetitions for each exercise. The weight you choose to start with will be sufficient to perform a set of 12 repetitions to failure with good form, which means that the twelfth repetition is pretty much the most you can do without resting. This is called 12RM (repetition maximum).
Action: Starting in an upright position (without locking out your knees), contract your quadriceps muscles and slowly lower into a squat position. Once you reach the bottom movement (where your upper legs are just below parallel to the platform), press the sled back to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your lower back planted firmly against the rear padding to avoid a back injury.
It’s true that you want to gain some weight, but you want that weight to be muscle mass and not fat! Consume quality food like lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats and stay away from junk food, lots of sweets and fatty foods. The only time when you should consume fast absorbing carbohydrates (usually foods that have a lot of sugar or white flour) is right after your workout. Read more about what to eat to gain muscle in this article.

Cholesterol is made by most body cells, part of all cell membranes and 50 percent of bile, and is transported in the blood by carriers known as lipoproteins. Too many of these cholesterol-containing blood lipoproteins can result in hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and poor circulation in the eyes, fingers and feet. Some cholesterol-containing blood lipoproteins are worse at creating these problems than others: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, can lead to heart disease faster than high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, which is more benign. It’s good to have low total cholesterol (<200 mg/dl), but it’s also good to have low LDL (<100 mg/dl) and a high HDL-to-LDL ratio. So, the question is this: How do you get there?
Action: Starting in an upright position (without locking out your knees), contract your quadriceps muscles and slowly lower into a squat position. Once you reach the bottom movement (where your upper legs are just below parallel to the platform), press the sled back to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your lower back planted firmly against the rear padding to avoid a back injury.
One bodybuilding “secret” that works amazingly well is to simply practise posing your muscles. Provided that you are lean enough in the first place rapid definition can be gained by simply flexing your muscles as hard as you can, as often as you can. Try this little experiment – every day contract the quadriceps muscles in your right thigh as hard as you can for 20 sets of 15 seconds. Take a photo on the first day, and then a photo after day 10. You will be amazed at the difference. Send in your before and after shots to [email protected] and the best example of this I will post up on my main Ultimate Performance website and/or in a follow up article to this one if the Editor allows it.
To get the most gain from resistance training, progressively increase the intensity of your training according to your experience and training goals. This may mean increasing the weight, changing the duration of the contraction (the time during which you sustain holding the weight at your muscle’s maximum potential), reducing rest time or increasing the volume of training.
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).

The exercise order should be maintained as above, busy gyms notwithstanding. This order has been designed with large muscle group, compound exercises first, the smaller muscle isolation exercises following and with alternating ‘push’ and ‘pull’ to achieve a session that alternates muscle groups and modes of action as much as possible to enable maximum rest and recovery of the various muscle groups. Some compromises were required. Don’t get too hung-up if you can’t achieve this sequence. It’s not always possible to access equipment when you want it in gyms. In the scheme of things, it’s not fatal.
Unfortunately, many people haven't gotten the message that strong is in. Indeed, statistics on strength training are grim: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 30 percent of American adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities like lifting weights or doing push-ups at least twice a week—the recommendations set out by the government. 

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.

That’s it for Basic Strength and Muscle. Novices and casual exercisers can expect a 20-40 percent increase in strength and some muscle size and muscle endurance enhancement. You could continue with this program beyond the 18 weeks by increasing the weight load as strength and capability improves. However, further progress may depend on alterations in exercise variety, frequency and timing. The next phase should be an intermediate program designed to enhance the progress you’ve already made.
While seasoned lifters may choose to do different exercises every day during a week-long period (and repeat the same moves the following week), there's no need to follow this type of program when you're just getting comfortable, says Davis. "Stick to the same basic moves two to three times a week to build a basic level of fitness and strength," says Davis. "Why complicate things if you don’t have to? Great results can be made by repeating the same workout but increasing weights as you become stronger." Switching things up can help you avoid a training plateau, explains Davis, but so can increasing weights while doing the same exercises.
Bodybuilding is the use of progressive resistance exercise to control and develop one's musculature for aesthetic purposes.[1] An individual who engages in this activity is referred to as a bodybuilder. In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders appear in lineups and perform specified poses (and later individual posing routines) for a panel of judges who rank the competitors based on criteria such as symmetry, muscularity, and conditioning. Bodybuilders prepare for competitions through the elimination of nonessential body fat, enhanced at the last stage by a combination of extracellular dehydration and carbohydrate loading, to achieve maximum muscular definition and vascularity, as well as tanning to accentuate the contrast of the skin under the spotlights. Bodybuilders may use anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to build muscles.
Start small and work your way up the ladder one step at a time. If you make too big of goals, you may never reach them, and you may lose motivation and interest, which will ultimately lead to giving up. However, if your goals are attainable, once you do reach them, a never before felt euphoria will rush through your entire body, and you'll finally realize why everybody who is in this is in it. This'll only push you even harder the next time, and the next time, and then the next time, and before you know it you look back at old photos and can't even recognize yourself.
The winner of the annual IFBB Mr. Olympia contest is generally recognized as the world's top male professional bodybuilder. The winner of the Women's Physique portion of the competition is widely regarded as the world's top female professional bodybuilder. The title is currently held by Juliana Malacarne, who has won every year since 2014. Since 1950, the NABBA Universe Championships have been considered the top amateur bodybuilding contests, with notable winners such as Reg Park, Lee Priest, Steve Reeves, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Winners generally go on to become professional athletes.
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.
The bench press or dumbbell bench-press is performed while lying face up on a bench, by pushing a weight away from the chest. This is a compound exercise that also involves the triceps and the front deltoids, also recruits the upper and lower back muscles, and traps. The bench press is the king of all upper body exercises and is one of the most popular chest exercises in the world. It is the final exercise in 'The big 3'.
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 the triceps exercise, I recommend skull crushers. I recommend doing these with an EZ curl bar (same reason, it’s much more comfortable on the wrists/elbows than a straight bar) or with dumbbells (palms facing each other). These can be done on a flat or decline bench. Either is just fine. And again, if preferred, any similar triceps isolation exercise would be perfectly suitable in its place.
Avoid overtraining. Listen to your body. After bad form, overtraining is the most common mistake I see in the gym. If you find you are losing enthusiasm for your work outs, if you are constantly tired, if your progress has slowed or stopped, it's time for a break. If you have been training consistently, I recommend taking a week off every two to three months. You will return to the gym reinvigorated, renewed, and rested. You will not lose strength in one week. Even after a month off, chances are you will surprise yourself by returning to the gym stronger than when you left. Following a break is the ideal time to modify your training program.

The early stages of your bodybuilding journey are the best time to make strength and size gains. Being new to training, your body responds and adapts rapidly to lifting weights and builds muscle at a faster rate. You can expect a gain of around 1 to 2 pounds per month when exercising properly, notes trainer Barry Lumsden. Getting the best from your training regime also requires a solid diet plan, however.
It's OK to be a little sore. Your muscles might feel achy or tired the day after a tough training session thanks to DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. When you strength train you're causing microscopic damage to the tissue that will be repaired, that's how you build stronger lean muscle. Speaking of repair and recovery, though, rest days are important. "If you constantly break down muscle without a recovery period, you won’t give the muscle fibers a chance to repair and build back stronger,” explains Davis.

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.


Muscle, unlike flab, is a metabolically active tissue, and you need to put away plenty of calories to keep it growing. Eat too few calories and you’ll whittle it away. When mass gain is the goal, aim to consume about 20 calories per pound of body weight each day (about 3,600 calories for a 180-pound guy). If you find that 20 calories per pound packs on mass and fat, drop to 16–18 calories. But this doesn’t mean you’ve got the green light to pound pizza. Quality matters too, so keep it clean.
The third and final phase of the “25% Stronger” program helps you max out your strength levels by gradually decreasing the volume of your workouts while increasing the amount of weight you move. You’ll begin the last phase at the top end of the strength range (seven reps). Each week, you’ll perform fewer sets and reps - five of five, four of four and finally the last week in which you perform three sets of three - so your body is fresh for the final tests in Week 13.
Define your goals. For most beginners, the goals are typically to tone up and get stronger. The good news is that any lifting will give you both, and you can expect strength gains in just a few weeks. Tone comes later, and how much muscle you see depends on how much excess body fat you have. For instance, if you have lots of excess fat on the back of your arms, then you won't see the triceps muscles right away; likewise, if you have excess fat on your belly, then you won't see six-pack abs until you reduce or eliminate the fat.
The Nerd Fitness Beginner Bodyweight workout is a great (free) place to start if you’re looking for a super basic, easy to follow bodyweight routine. This workout from my buddy/fellow Nerd Roman takes you through some very basic movements. Beast Skills and Gymnastics WOD also both offer great tutorials and progressions on how to master bodyweight movements, both basic and advanced.
For bodybuilding, you need to gain muscle. And to gain muscle, you will have to keep adding weight to the bar. The principles you have set won't matter if you don't put more pressure on your muscles as time goes by. When you get stuck, you should go for other strategies like supersets and drop sets, to name a few. This will help you increase the potential of your body.
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!
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Use protein supplements wisely. Throwing back a protein shake every morning is not a guarantee that your body will build muscle mass. Although protein shakes are not inherently bad, they are also not a magical means of building muscle. If you decide to implement a protein supplement in your diet, make sure the ingredients are high-quality (i.e. not riddled with sugar and empty carbs).[13]
Fat is your friend! Carbs and protein have only four calories per gram, but a gram of fat provides a whopping nine calories per gram. Fat helps you pack in a lot of extra calories without filling yourself to the brim. Plus, most fats and fatty foods are tasty and easy to eat. Do your best to fill up on unsaturated fats while keeping saturated fats to about 10 percent of your daily caloric intake.
Multijoint movements like presses and upright rows are the best mass builders for shoulders, since they engage the greatest degree of deltoid musculature. Arnold would go heavy with these movements, especially early in his workouts when his energy levels were highest. He commonly did presses both behind and in front of his head for complete development.
A word about dietary supplements: They are big business. Some work, some don't, some affect performance negatively, some are hazardous and some are illegal and will get you banned in international sport. In fact, many are a waste of money and a con. Protein powder supplements, particularly whey-based supplements, do have a role to play for busy weight trainers. But cheaper solutions may be available.
No one wants to see a friend get hurt in the gym, and I consider anyone who lifts a friend in that sense, so don't be afraid to take a plate off of your lifts in order to practice good form. Looking like you can lift more plates in the gym than anyone else isn't really important, and in the long run keeping good form will keep you healthier and more able to continue lifting.
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.
The first way is to do two exercises for the same muscle group at once (like in the Pre-Exhaustion technique). The drawback to this technique is that you will not be as strong as you usually are on the second exercise. The second and best way to superset is by pairing exercises of opposing muscle groups, antagonist groups, such as Chest & Back, Thighs & Hamstrings, Biceps & Triceps, Front Delts & Rear Delts, Upper Abs and Lower Abs. When pairing antagonistic exercises, there is no drop in strength whatsoever. As a matter of fact, sometimes our strength goes up due to the fact that the blood in the opposite muscle group helps you perform the other. For instance, if you superset dumbbell curls with triceps extensions, the blood in the biceps help you to do more weight in the triceps extensions.
Notice in the workouts below that your first set calls for eight reps, your second set 10 reps and your third set 12. This is referred to in bodybuilding circles as a “reverse pyramid” (a standard pyramid goes from higher to lower reps), where you decrease the weight each set to complete the higher rep count. For example, if on your first set of lat pulldowns you used 140 pounds for eight reps, try using 120 or 130 pounds on set two and 100–120 pounds on set three.

Consume a little more than 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight. Many people will say 1.5-2 grams of protein per lb, but I don't think that much protein is necessary. Amino acids, unlike carbohydrates, cannot be stored by the body for an extended amount of time. If not needed immediately by the body, any excess protein consumed will be turned into glucose, which eventually gets stored as adipose tissue (fat) if not used.
You may need to stock your kitchen with lots of tuna and whole grains. Your mini-meal may consist of oats and cooked egg whites; sweet potato and tuna; brown rice, chicken and greens; or tilapia and a quarter of an avocado. Many bodybuilders award diet for 90 percent of their success in bodybuilding. Combining chicken, green veggies and steel-cut oats is a great idea; so is combining whey protein shakes with oats and munching on snacks such as protein shakes or a handful of nuts.The muscle-building process for amateur female bodybuilders requires an increase in calorie and protein intake. You should take in a total of at least 1,200 to 1,500 calories every day to fuel properly the muscle-building process. In addition, ensure you consume enough protein; multiply your body weight in kilograms by 0.8 to find your daily recommended minimum protein consumption and then by 1.7 to find your daily recommended maximum protein consumption.
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.
Consult your physician and follow all safety instructions before beginning any exercise program or using any supplement or meal replacement product, especially if you have any unique medical conditions or needs. The contents on our website are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose any medical condition, replace the advice of a healthcare professional, or provide any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Perusing Arnold's signature tome requires some effort: The hardback version comes in at an even 800 pages, after all! While it's hefty weight might make it a nice addition to your coffee table, the nuggets of training gold take a little work to find. In the interest of mining the best knowledge from one of the strongest minds in bodybuilding, here are 31 Arnold-approved training tips to help you build your best body ever!
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