Bingeing the night of, or day after the contest is not necessarily detrimental to progress. Unless the competitor is planning to compete again in the very near future, being in a caloric surplus for one to two days is acceptable. Following this period, it is essential to gradually return to patterns of normal, health-conscious eating. Steadily increasing levels of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins can ensure a progressive rise in metabolic rate.

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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.

Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is a nationally-known best-selling author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men", "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women", "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook", and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering". Hugo is also a national level NPC natural bodybuilding champion. Learn more about Hugo Rivera.


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Of course, no one was born pressing 500 pounds or squatting 700 pounds – it takes time to build this kind of strength. Assuming your form/technique is in place, you'll want to incorporate some low reps and heavy weights into your program. For example, do 10 sets of squats for 3-4 reps each, or 8 sets of 5. In other words, in order to build strength, keep your weight heavy and use low reps for a high number of sets. Squatting your bodyweight is a bare-minimum requirement for a beginner (or twice your bodyweight for an intermediate-level lifter).
Does this mean that everything is as good as everything else? Of course not. I'm a strength coach, and I believe that a full-body strength program built around compound lifts is the best place for almost everybody to start, no matter what they end up doing months or years later. It's better than so-called fat-loss programs, hypertrophy programs, programs that help add inches to your vertical jump, or ones that promise to turn you into a superhero in eight weeks.
If you decide to join a gym, know that you're not expected to know how all of the equipment works right off the bat—or what to do with it. Be sure to take advantage of the free orientation so you can learn how to properly use everything that's offered and set up a basic strength-training program. At the gym, machines are preferred for beginners, because they're quite safe: Most require little coordination and offer more stability than free weights while performing the movements. 

Muscle is a very biologically active tissue in the body, meaning that the simple fact that it's there means it's burning more calories than other types of weight, such as fat weight or water weight. The addition of muscle tissue increases the body's ability to burn calories, meaning that in the long run, you'll be able to keep the fat off with much more ease.

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.)
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.
There are some things on here that you can do from home if you own the equipment, such as I do, but there are some things you cannot do without going to a gym… because who really owns a Leg press in their home? That is why there are alternatives to almost ANY exercises such as using resistance bands instead of cables for the cable curls, etc. Tweak the program to best suit your needs!
As an example, few beginners enjoy leg day, and the one exercise they steer clear of the most is the squat. Leg extensions, on the other hand, well, they aren't so bad. But which one delivers more bang for your buck? That's easy: multijoint, free-weight exercises like the squat have been proven to be superior to single-joint moves and machine work. Multijoint moves have been linked to a greater release of muscle-building hormones like testosterone and growth hormone. Moreover, if you've avoided them until now, your muscles are likely to respond to a growth spurt.
Vertical leg crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands behind your head for support. Extend your legs straight up in the air, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee. Contract your abdominal muscles by lifting your torso toward your knees. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward, and inhale as you return to the starting position.
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.
In Week 1 you’ll perform three sets of every exercise per workout, which over the course of the week adds up to nine sets total for each bodypart, a good starting volume for your purposes. With the exception of crunches for abs, you’ll do 8–12 reps per set. This rep scheme is widely considered ideal for achieving gains in muscle size (the scientific term is hypertrophy) and is commonly employed by amateur and pro bodybuilders alike.
You may recruit more muscles than just the group you're focused on. Getting back to dumbbell presses, you not only use the pectorals, anterior deltoid (front of the shoulder) and triceps, but you may need other shoulder and back muscles to coordinate and hold your body steady during the exercises. Likewise, if you're doing standing front raises, you will naturally recruit muscles in your abdomen and back to steady your body.
In fact, runners need weight training even more than you may realize. “Strength work accomplishes three big goals for runners,” says Jason Fitzgerald, USATF-certified running coach, founder of Strength Running in Denver, Colorado. “It prevents injuries by strengthening muscles and connective tissues; it helps you run faster by improving neuromuscular coordination and power; and it improves running economy by encouraging coordination and stride efficiency.”
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.
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.
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.

Great post and video. John I have a question….you mentioned in a previous post about skin care and how important to you it is how your skin looks. I have to say you have great looking skin. A lot of bodybuilders just care about their body but not the skin. I would like to know what do you recommend to get rid of flat moles on the skin? I know the importance of vitamin d and how the sun is the best source however I’m very skin and when I get some sun over time I get a nice color but also flat moles or some freckles. Plus everyone tells me that since I’m fare skin to be careful with getting skin cancer from the sun…Any tips? I want a nice color and clear skin without any flat moles…thank you.

One of the most persistent questions floating around the minds of many aspiring bodybuilders is “What is the best way to train to build muscle?”. The answers are as varied as the numerous pieces of gym equipment that occupy any fitness establishment. There are many choices as to the best exercises to use, how many sets and reps, how many days per week to train and what type of program to follow.
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.

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.
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