Familiarize yourself with important muscle groups and basic anatomy. Bodybuilders are part athletes and part artists. Like a sculptor uses clay or marble, a bodybuilder uses sweat and determination to train the muscles and sculpt the body into a particular physique. Planning what you want to get out of bodybuilding, how you want to shape your body, is a big part of the process. Get the following textbooks to do your research on the body:
In your zeal to bring up a stubborn muscle group, you might be tempted to employ the "throw everything at 'em but the kitchen sink" approach, but Arnold warned that this strategy might be counterproductive. "There will be times when a body part lags behind because you are overtraining it, hitting it so hard, so often, and so intensely that it never has a chance to rest, recuperate, and grow," he wrote.
OK. Imagine this: It's the end of the most intense workout you've ever had. It's gone extremely well up to this point. You just need to bust out one more set of deadlifts and then you can call it a day and relax with a nice protein shake. But when you pull the weight off the floor, it falls back down. You think to yourself what's going on, and that you know your legs have enough energy left to pump out a few more. What's the problem?
Move carbohydrate quantity up or down according to your weight and energy levels as you train or compete. These are estimates of daily carbohydrate requirements for weight trainers. Intensity of exercise over time increases quantities required, and these estimates only apply to days of exercise. Choose the lower numbers if you're doing light exercise. Choose higher rates if you mix cardio sessions with weights.
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.
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.
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.
It’s worth reading the introductory weight training information before starting this program, or any program for that matter. The exercises use the standard free weights and equipment found in most gyms. All exercises can be done at home if you have the appropriate home gym equipment. A medical examination and clearance is wise if you've been sedentary for a lengthy period. Take care with injured or dysfunctional joints. Get medical advice before starting weight training if this applies to you.
Train each body part once per week. With the exception of abs, directly training a body part with high intensity more than once a week is usually overtraining. If you are striving for maximum strength gains, power, and muscular growth, high intensity translates to low reps and heavy weight. Three to four sets of three to four different exercises per body part is optimal. Large muscle groups like chest, quads, and glutes do well in a rep range as low as 6 or 7. With smaller groups like biceps and triceps, and difficult to isolate groups like shoulders and back, stay within a more conservative rep range of at least 8 to 10 per set. View exercises for all the muscle groups here.
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.
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.”
In the fourth and final week of the program, you’ll train four days in a four-way split that hits each bodypart just once (except for calves and abs, which are each trained twice). Four-day splits are common among experienced lifters because they involve training fewer bodyparts (typically 2–3) per workout, which gives each muscle group ample attention and allows you to train with higher volume. As you’ll see, chest and triceps are paired up, as are back with biceps and quads with hamstrings, each a very common pairing among novice and advanced bodybuilders. Shoulders are trained more or less on their own, and you’ll alternate hitting calves and abs—which respond well to being trained multiple times per week—every other workout. No new exercises are introduced in Week 4 so that you can focus on intensity in your workouts instead of learning new movements.
Disclaimer: None of the individuals and/or companies mentioned necessarily endorse Old School Labs or COSIDLA Inc. products or the contents of this article. Any programs provided for illustration purposes only. Always consult with your personal trainer, nutritionist and physician before changing or starting any new exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
Now I don't know if Branch is avid in his flexibility routines, but perhaps if he had been just a bit more flexible, maybe his arm could have caught him in a different way, preventing an injury. Flexibility is all about being able to move your body in a variety of different ways to compensate for the many different stimuli that can possibly cause harm to the system as a whole.
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.
"Making strategic changes to your workouts keeps plateauing at bay," agrees Grenade's Vinny Russo. "Once you get comfortable, you tend to stay there. This limits your physical potential, because you're no longer progressing. Get out of that comfort zone and push your limits. Once you become accustomed to that style of training, manipulate another variable to keep making it a challenge!"
Various formulae exist for calculating what this starting weight should be, but I find it just as easy to trial different weights until you get to that limit. If you’re new to free weights, this helps familiarization as well. Try an obvious light weight, for you, to warm up and then upgrade to something heavier for the workout set. By the third set, you should have settled on the 12RM weight. If not, just move on and upgrade the weight next session.
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'.
Exercises in which you pull the weight perpendicularly into your body—often called rows—were a big part of Arnold's back workout. He favored all kinds of variations—seated cables rows, T-bar rows, bent-over barbell rows—but each one was done with high volume and progressively heavier weights. Arnold followed a pyramid scheme in which he increased the weight on successive sets for fewer reps. Only the heaviest sets were taken to muscle failure.
The Russian twist is a type of exercise that is used to work the abdomen muscles by performing a twisting motion on the abdomen. This exercise is performed sitting on the floor with knees bent like in a "sit-up" position with the back typically kept off the floor at an angle of 45°. In this position, the extended arms are swung from one side to another in a twisting motion with or without weight.