Before hitting the sack, snack on a combination of slow-digesting casein protein and healthy fat. Casein coagulates in the gut, ensuring a steady supply of amino acids to slow catabolism as you sleep. About 30 minutes before bedtime, have 20–40g of casein protein powder or one cup of unsweetened low-fat cottage cheese (a stellar casein source) mixed with two tablespoons of flaxseed oil or one to two ounces of nuts or seeds.
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).
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.
Forget your typical lunch of a sandwich and chips and opt instead for a calorie- and protein-packed healthy lunch. Precooked brown rice or noodles with a piece of baked salmon, vegetables and olive oil can be made in advance and stored in a container until you're ready to eat it. If you'd rather go for a more traditional office-type lunch, have two to three whole-grain wraps filled with turkey or ham, plenty of salad and grated cheese, served with a piece or two of fruit and a handful of unsalted nuts.
As you have hopefully passed beyond the need to throw obscene amounts of weight around, it's important to realize that not only will you get better results from training by feel, but you will also tend to put less pressure on your joints. Don't get me wrong, it's still crucial to train to failure in the six to eight rep range using compound lifts. Those types of lifts are important, but they are not the focal point of every routine. Use intensity-building techniques such as rest pauses or dropsets, to recruit more muscle fibers.
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.
If someone is offering to spot you on an exercise (like the bench press), don’t assume they think you are a newb. Probably the opposite – they just want to help. If someone asks you to spot them and you’ve never spotted someone before, tell them that you would love to help but haven’t done it before so you could use some pointers. They will tell you what they want you to do.
Not every biceps movement was done for 6-8 reps. Arnold identified certain exercises that he called "definition-building movements," which he performed with relatively lighter weights for sets of 8-12 reps. Here, his focus was on squeezing and contracting the muscle, and holding the peak contraction for a long count. Concentration curls, preacher curls, and alternating dumbbell curls were among his favorites.
What makes Arnold's routine stand out today is the volume and frequency with which he trained every body part. His offseason chest routine consisted of up to 26 working sets on a high-volume day, and he trained his pecs three times a week! Arnold also cycled heavy and light days to work the muscles with different relative intensities and ensure he wasn't overtraining his pecs.
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.
As a result, the Old School bodybuilding meant relying on the basic movements using primarily barbells and dumbbells to develop their physiques. This lack of variety turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the free weights helped to build greater muscle mass and strength compared to the more sophisticated equipment that was yet to come. Barbells and dumbbells required to body to utilize greater coordination and balance in order to perform the movements. The result was increased strength and size, much more pronounced than when machines are used.
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.
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Try incorporating "cyclical dieting" and "re-feeding" days. A possible form of re-feeding would be restricting calories for six days in a week and eating at maintenance on the seventh day—although you could adjust the frequency to meet your needs and re-feed once every two weeks or a couple of times per week. Re-feeding days help boost leptin levels, lower cortisol, and take you out of energy deficit, even if only for a day.
Most trainers typically do 3-4 sets of an exercise, but with chins Arnold commonly used a technique in which he aimed for a total number of reps—say, 50—rather than target a particular number of sets: "On the first set you may do 10 reps. Perhaps you struggle with 8 reps on the second set. You have 18 reps now. If you make 5 on the third set, you have 23 reps. You continue to add them until you've reached 50, even though it may take you 20 sets to do it. That's how I built up my chinning power, and I was very successful with it."
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. 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.
Neither was Fresno, for that matter. The point is, you won't be Mr. Olympia, or break any world records, in just a year's time. Be realistic about the improvements you can make in a specific time frame. Likewise, give any program 8-12 weeks to see if it's working for you. Try to improve even 1% every workout, as any progression is good, whether it's an extra set, more reps, more weight, or better technique. Over time you'll accumulate massive improvements. Consistent improvement equals long-term gains. I've been training over 20 years and I'm still improving every workout.
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.
This is very important and can be very beneficial for beginners. It allows you to track your progress, see what exercises you enjoy, which ones you are improving the most, and what areas you need the most work on. Your journal should include the date, time of workout, duration of workout, the exercises, sets, reps, rest between sets, meals for the day, and supplements you may be taking.