Setup: Stand between the cable stacks of a crossover apparatus with the front of your body just behind the plane connecting them (so your body doesn’t get in the way of the cables crossing each other). Cross your arms, each one grabbing the opposite stirrup handle attached to its floor-pulley cable (your hands should face the respective stack). Stand erect, chest high and head aligned with your body (not crooked forward or backward). Hold your shoulders low—don’t shrug.
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'.
Of all the macronutrients, protein is most important for cutting. While it will be carbs you miss the most, when cutting down calories, protein is important to build muscle which boosts your metabolism. Therefore, you’ll need to keep up your protein intake. Products such as Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) allows you to consume a greater intake of protein without overdoing the calories, they are also available in tasty flavours than can curb any sweet cravings too.
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]
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.
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.
The deadlift is performed by squatting down and lifting a weight off the floor with the hand until standing up straight again. Grips can be face down or opposing with one hand down and one hand up, to prevent dropping. Face up should not be used because this puts excess stress on the inner arms. This is a compound exercise that also involves the glutes, lower back, lats, trapezius (neck) and, to a lesser extent, the hamstrings and the calves. Lifting belts are often used to help support the lower back. The deadlift has two common variants, the Romanian deadlift and the straight-leg-deadlift. Each target the lower back, glutes and the hamstrings differently.
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.
Seriously, know your personal limits. I can't tell you how many times I've seen somebody give up too early or get hurt during training or racing because they simply had no idea what their real thresholds were. The whole idea behind training and/or competing is to push your thresholds to the limits to fulfill your potential. If you don't know what your limits are, how can you possibly know what your potential is?

You can stick to natural supplementation with things like a protein powder and creatine if you're looking for faster gains. Now don't think I mean faster like 10x faster, I just mean slightly faster, but usually worth it for the cost. But don't go overboard on supplements either. A few basics should do. I recommend a protein, creatine, EFA's (essential fatty acids), a multivitamin, and amino acids. Once you become more experienced a pre-workout N.O. product could be a valuable addition as well.
Training intensely is the key to stimulating muscle growth but don’t mistake volume for intensity. All too often, people trying to achieve a higher level of intensity in their training make the mistake of assuming that increasing volume and duration are effective methods of boosting training intensity. Let me make this perfectly clear. Volume and frequency have absolutely nothing to do with intensity! High volume training sessions can actually be counter-productive. So how do you effectively increase intensity? A. By progressively increasing the amount of weight that you use. B. By progressively decreasing the amount of time it takes you to perform a particular amount of work. (For example, I have made some of my best muscle gains from workouts that lasted no longer than 30 minutes.) C. By working your muscles at the capacity of nothing less than 100% on every set.
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.
Weight training and bodybuilding nutrition are sciences like anything else. There's biology and biochemistry and physiology, with rules and a base of evidence. Selling supplements, most of which are not needed, has become such a huge business in the commercial weight training and bodybuilding industry that it is almost impossible to know if you are getting an objective evaluation of a bodybuilding diet.
In the 12th week of the program, performing three sets of three on all exercises will provide a barometer with which you can measure your improvement. Then, in the 13th week, you’ll test your three-rep max (3RM) on five major strength lifts. If you performed the 3RM test before you began the program (see “Testing Your 3RM”), you should be looking at roughly a 25% improvement on all five lifts.
Increase carbs over the weekend: Increase the quantities of carbohydrates over the weekend to 1.3 times your lean body mass (fat-free bodyweight) in order to prevent your metabolism from getting used to the diet. This time, divide that number by 5 and consume the carbohydrates over Meals 1-5. Try to ensure that Meal 5 is no later than 6 p.m. so that no starchy carbs are consumed after that time.
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.
You may need to restock your pantry with lots of tuna and whole grains. Rivero shared details of her diet with SimplyShredded.com. A 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. Figure competitor Ashley Toms, who describes diet as 90 percent of success in bodybuilding, similarly combines chicken, green veggies and steel-cut oats; whey protein shakes and oats; and snacks such as protein shakes or a handful of nuts.
Of course, cardio is an important part of fitness too, but the benefits of strength training are major. Strength training helps build muscle, and lean muscle is better at burning calories when the body is at rest, which is important whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain it. It also helps strengthens joints and bones, avoid injury, improve your muscular endurance, and will help you give it your all during your other workouts, whether that means setting a new PR if you're a runner or pushing (and pulling) a little harder with your legs during your favorite indoor cycling class.
Personal trainer Nick Twum is also quick to emphasize the importance of deadlifts, which he believes are one of the best muscle-building movements you can do. Deadlifts are a great exercise for overall muscular development. They'll help you build a big back, round glutes, strong legs, and big forearms, while furthering shoulder and trap development.
Although muscle stimulation occurs in the gym (or home gym) when lifting weights, muscle growth occurs afterward during rest periods. Without adequate rest and sleep (6 to 8 hours), muscles do not have an opportunity to recover and grow.[citation needed] Additionally, many athletes find that a daytime nap further increases their body's ability to recover from training and build muscles. Some bodybuilders add a massage at the end of each workout to their routine as a method of recovering.[50]

Bodybuilders got into shape for competitions by both adjusting their diets and increasing the intensity of the workout. The high volume trainers would burn an incredible amount of calories just by the sheer amount of work performed at each training session. Many bodybuilders would increase the frequency of their training as the contest got closer, doing a double split routine for the last twelve weeks before the competition. A double split routine would include two training sessions per day, one in the morning and another workout about eight hours later in the late afternoon or early evening.
The Old School bodybuilders would split the body up in several muscle groups in order to work each muscle group adequately. A six day split would separate the muscle groups into three separate days and each muscle group would be trained twice a week. For example, bodybuilders would train chest and back on Monday and Thursdays, legs and abdominals on Tuesday and Friday and shoulders and arms on Wednesday and Saturday.
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]

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.
Along with with prayer, reflection, and community, one of the prominent practices of Ramadan is a month of fasting. The annual observance means that for the month of Ramadan followers of the Islamic faith must abstain from consuming food and water from dawn until dusk. This practice of abstinence also includes refraining from smoking and sexual relations as well.
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.

The intensity of a workout was often adjusted by decreasing the amount of rest taken between sets. By training faster, bodybuilders would automatically train harder. Arnold was rumored to train with so many sets and so quickly that he would need three sets of training partners that he would alternate with workouts in order to keep up with him. With the decreased rest periods between sets and the increased volume of the workout, bodybuilders could get into top contest condition without the use of cardio.


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.
Protein provides the amino acids used to build muscle. Shoot for 1–1.5g of protein per pound of body weight, or 180–270g a day for a 180-pounder. Top protein picks include dairy, eggs, poultry, red meat, and seafood. These foods offer a wealth of complete protein, providing your muscles with the aminos necessary for recovery and growth. You may supplement with whey, casein, and soy protein powders as well. And don’t overlook plant-based protein sources such as quinoa, beans, and hemp seeds.
You should also have everything you need for simple workouts. Especially if you plan to hit the gym nearly every day, it's a good idea to have some equipment for those rainy days when leaving the house isn't an option. And let's face it: Buying some basic workout items will make your jump into the fitness world more fun. This might sound trivial, but having clothes you like can influence your desire to train.
At the end of the day, you have to focus on how you feel. “Listen to your body,” says Davis. “It tells you when it needs a day off.” As a rule of thumb, take a rest day if your perceived pain is above a seven on a scale of 10, Davis advises. Or, focus on a different body part (say, if your legs are sore, focus on upper-body moves). Can't stop, won't stop—at least, till your next rest day.
Target particular muscle groups on particular days. Almost universally, serious bodybuilders will isolate muscle groups to train on particular days in the week. You might have one day that you just train legs and abs, then the next day you'll train pecs and arms, then the next day you'll do shoulders and back, and then you'll do an ab shredder workout. Your last training day can be cardio, and then give yourself two days off to recover.
Creatine is a time tested product important for energy and volumizing—this means it can cause the muscles to swell in size. Many current products revolve around this concept. There are many different types of creatine out there, they all, of course, claim to be the best. I like the original creatine monohydrate by itself, this needs to be mixed with a sugary drink, I use Gatorade.
Figure out how to pay the bills. Bodybuilders don't make lots of money, so the idea of becoming a professional bodybuilder is a lot like the idea of become a professional poet or professional painter: it'll take a lot of your heart and soul, but you'll also need to figure out how to take care of the practical details. You've got to support your bodybuilding with some other kind of work to pay the bills.

In the 60’s most workouts were geared for 3 days a week. Upper body was done on one day and lower on the next. The gains came pretty good because there was enough rest time in-between the workouts and body parts. The sets and reps were 3 sets per exercise with 8 to 10 reps. This was very basic, but worked for most people, as it wasn’t over training.
This no-holds-barred quest for growth is based on the principle of four: performing four exercises and adding four extra reps to each exercise after the first. Because each lift changes the area of the muscle that receives the most stimuli, the ever-increasing reps shift the demands of the muscle from strength to hypertrophy to endurance to a skin-stretching crescendo that flushes the muscle and celebrates the pump.
Grab a barbell with an overhand grip and hold it at shoulder height. Keep your elbows up high and your upper arm parallel to the ground. Slightly bend your knees and drop down while keeping your torso upright and avoiding leaning forward. Explosively extend your knees and hips as you drive the barbell overhead and stand up tall. Slowly lower the barbell back to your shoulders before repeating.
The bulk of the workout should consist of basic compound lifts, like the traditional barbell squat for quads. If you stop progressing in strength gains on leg exercises, you are most likely overtraining. In that case, give yourself more time between the leg days and cut back on the volume. Also, to speed up recovery, always stretch before and after your workouts.
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.

You could simply create one plan and eat the same things every day until you get tired of it… you could create a 3-day or 7-day plan and rotate through it… or you could map out a few possible options for each meal that have similar macronutrient profiles (for example, 3 different breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 snacks etc.), and then choose the option you most prefer based on how you feel that day.
In addition, work on incorporating healthy foods with essential fatty acids into your meals. Though the word fat can scare away aspiring bodybuilders, remember that obtaining a certain amount of essential fatty acids can actually benefit your body and help you build muscle. Just as essential amino acids aid our bodies with growth and good health, our bodies require us to consume two primary essential fatty acids in our diets: linolenic acid and linoleic acid. So as you prepare your diet, consider which foods are a good source of these essential fatty acids. For example, chicken fat contains more linoleic acid (about 20%) and lenolenic acid (0.8%) than beef.

You can use your own body weight for resistance exercise. Pushups, sit-ups, chin-ups, squat thrusts, lunges, and step-ups are just some of the exercises that you can do to strengthen your body. The advantage of these exercises is that you can do most of them anywhere, and even though you can't change your body weight to increase or decrease the resistance, there are some things you can do to increase the resistance. Here are some suggestions.

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.
To gain mass, you must eat plenty of carbohydrates: 2-3g per pound of body weight. Carbs contain the calories required for growth, and glycogen to fuel intense lifting. Good options for most meals are brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. However, in your first meal of the day and your post-workout snack—when an insulin spike is needed to channel amino acids into muscles—you want fast-digesting carbs such as fruit, white potatoes, or white rice.

Your sweet tooth can completely derail your diet if you aren’t careful. In addition to avoiding obvious sweets like candy, cake, and cookies, remember to watch out for excess sugars in processed foods. For example, you might be surprised how much sugar is in some yogurts, pasta sauces, and cereals. Don’t forget to bypass soda and sugary cocktails and coffee drinks as well. In place of these sweets, as a dessert after your meal, try eating some fruit or a small piece of dark chocolate.
Exercise tubing consists of elastic tubes with handles that can substitute for free weights or machines to help you build strength and tone. They come in various thicknesses to increase the tension (and are different colors to denote the tension). They have never been tested head-to-head against free weights or machines, but remember that resistance exercise is any activity that causes muscles to contract against external resistance. Tubing does just that.
The sport of competitive bodybuilding is a game of adapting our training and diet to manipulate our physical appearance. As our bodies approach age 40 and beyond, there is inevitable muscle loss that will occur. Coupled together with the possibility of decreased testosterone production and ailing joints, there are a few things to consider when competing into your 30s and beyond.
The important role of nutrition in building muscle and losing fat means bodybuilders may consume a wide variety of dietary supplements.[41] Various products are used in an attempt to augment muscle size, increase the rate of fat loss, improve joint health, increase natural testosterone production, enhance training performance and prevent potential nutrient deficiencies.
Attract sponsors to go pro. The more competitions you win and the more your physique starts to speak for itself, you'll need to start attracting sponsors, essentially going pro. This means that you'll be able to make money to train full time, without having to worry (at least as much) about doing other things to fund your bodybuilding. This is the dream that every bodybuilder works toward, and it'll only be available to a select few, with the genetics and the effort to make their bodies into Olympia-level physiques. Keep working toward this.
Using these will make your exercises harder, more stimulating, muscle fiber-wise, and more interesting. For example: Do three 12-rep sets of squats. Do the first 4 reps using a pause at the bottom, then do the next 4 reps using a five-second negative. Finish the set up with 4 "normal" reps. Or do three 10-rep sets of chin-up. Do the first 5 reps with a 3-second pause at the top and a 3-second eccentric. Do the second 5 reps explosively.
Our body needs a breather. When we rest or when we sleep is the time when our body conducts a synthesis of proteins, that is, the breakdown of proteins which results in the reconstructive process of muscle building and repair. Regular and adequate rest is needed in order to gain muscle. Also, metabolism takes place during the night when we sleep, and fat is burned during this process as well. This makes sleep the most effective tool when it comes to fitness and health, and we must give our mind and body 48 hours of rest before hitting the gym again, as this is the optimum time for muscle recovery.

Register with the IFBB to compete at the national level. The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) governs all national and international bodybuilding competitions, including the Arnold Classic, Mr. Olympia, and a variety of regional championships. If you want to become a pro and compete at the national level, you need to register with the IFBB and compete.[2]
Train to muscular fatigue. Many people approach an exercise with a preconceived notion of the exact number of repetitions they will do for each set. (Ten seems to be a popular choice.) These misguided souls are training inefficiently and will never reach their full potential. When performing an exercise, your goal is not a certain number of repetitions. Do not start your set saying, "I'm going to do X number of reps." Depending on the muscle group and your particular athletic objectives, you will probably want to stay within a certain range of repetitions. However, your goal is to fatigue the muscle by performing each exercise (with good form) until you no longer can.
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.
Rest and recovery: Remember that muscles grow during downtime, not when you train, so allow a day or two between workouts when you first get started so that the muscles can recover and grow. You should show up at your workouts refreshed and at least as strong as the previous workout (there will be days when you aren't stronger, and you should expect them so don't get discouraged when it happens).
If one goes through the advertisements for these products they see that many top health and fitness magazines like maxim, playboy, men’s health, etc. have recommended the product. But if we visit the sites of these magazines or go through their past issues, we will find that none of the above magazines mentioned in the advertisements have ever written any article on these supplements, forget recommending them. Similarly, no Hollywood or any other celebrity has ever used or recommended this product. All these false claims in the advertisements of the product make one wonder about the authenticity of the product and the company. It makes one wonder if the claims made by them are nothing more than just a scam. It is advised to consult your doctor before trying out this combination.

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.)
Increase the frequency of workouts, keeping in mind that each muscle needs at least 48 hours of recovery time. Once you are more experienced, you may like to consider splitting body parts over the different days of the week – for example, chest, shoulders and triceps in session one, back, biceps and abdominal muscles in session two, and legs in session three.
Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers and diet professionals at every level.
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.
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