There are so many great strength- and muscle-building exercises to choose from, so picking the 10 best bodybuilding exercises is a tough (and subjective) task. But the following exercises have withstood the test of time, outlasted every fitness fad and trend, and continue to be the most reliable exercises for bodybuilders. Go ahead, ask any hardcore fitness fanatic and chances are, all of these moves are in their regular arsenal.

To combat steroid use and in the hopes of becoming a member of the IOC, the IFBB introduced doping tests for both steroids and other banned substances. Although doping tests occurred, the majority of professional bodybuilders still used anabolic steroids for competition. During the 1970s, the use of anabolic steroids was openly discussed, partly due to the fact they were legal.[9] In the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, U.S. Congress placed anabolic steroids into Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In Canada, steroids are listed under Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, enacted by the federal Parliament in 1996.[10]
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.
Dumbbells. I prefer solid dumbbells since the plate-loading type can be tedious to change repeatedly. Dumbbells cost anywhere from 50 cents to $1 per pound. Solid hex dumbbells are what I recommend because they are inexpensive, and they don't roll around like round dumbbells. You might also decide to purchase a bench. Look for an adjustable bench that is well constructed. It should not rock and should feel solid when you lie down on it. If you decide to purchase a bar for the bench press, then you will need uprights on your bench. I don't recommend this for beginners due to safety issues (unless you have a spotter); you can always do dumbbell presses to get you started. If you decide to go with a bar and plates, then look for a 35- to 45-pound bar with collars to lock the plates in place, and then you need to buy plates to load the bar. Figure to shoot for a bench press of up to 100 pounds, so you will need to purchase plates for at least that amount. You can start with two 25-pound plates, four 10-pound plates, and four 5-pound plates. That will get most beginners started.
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Bodybuilding developed in the late 19th century, promoted in England by German Eugen Sandow, now considered as the "Father of Bodybuilding". He allowed audiences to enjoy viewing his physique in "muscle display performances". Although audiences were thrilled to see a well-developed physique, the men simply displayed their bodies as part of strength demonstrations or wrestling matches. Sandow had a stage show built around these displays through his manager, Florenz Ziegfeld. The Oscar-winning 1936 musical film The Great Ziegfeld depicts the beginning of modern bodybuilding, when Sandow began to display his body for carnivals.


An obvious one I know, but many misjudge this. If you have two weeks to get ready for the beach then the quickest way to drop fat (and subcutaneous water that can blur muscle definition) is to drop your daily carbohydrate intake to 50 grams of fibrous carbohydrates. So say hello to broccoli, cauliflower and kale, and kiss goodbye to breads, cereals, fruit, rice and pasta. Where people go badly wrong when dropping carbs is that they simply switch to eating lean proteins and don’t replace some of the lost carb calories with calories from fat. This inevitably leads to an energy crash and the subsequent blowing of the diet because the trainee simply runs out of steam and willpower. A few whole eggs, a piece of steak and plenty of supplemental Omega 3s (I prefer 10 grams a day for carbohydrate tolerant individuals, more if there appears to be insulin resistance) work wonders. 

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'.
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!

“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.

Many non-competitive bodybuilders choose not to adopt this conventional strategy, as it often results in significant unwanted fat gain during the "bulking" phase. The attempt to increase muscle mass in one's body without any gain in fat is called clean bulking. Competitive bodybuilders focus their efforts to achieve a peak appearance during a brief "competition season".[citation needed] Clean bulking takes longer and is a more refined approach to achieving the body fat and muscle mass percentage a person is looking for. A common tactic for keeping fat low and muscle mass high would be to have higher calorie and lower calorie days to maintain a balance between gain and loss. Many clean bulk diets start off with a moderate amount of carbs, moderate amount of protein, and a decently low amount of fats. "Gaining lean muscle means going for leaner cuts of meat, like flank steaks and fillets, chicken, and, of course, fish," says White[who?]. "Enjoy your meat with some starch: rice, beans, quinoa, whole-grain couscous, or sweet potato, for example".[20] To maintain a clean bulk it is important to reach calorie goals every day. Macronutrient goals will be different for each person, but, it is ideal to get as close as possible.


26. People who tell you that you can’t go wrong with squats is a liar. False advice is everywhere, and this is one big example of them. Squats that are done above parallel are extremely dangerous, and they’re instantly bad for your knees. But, if you’re doing it right, doing 20 rep squats does a lot of burn to your body and will be amazing. Try it for yourself.
Muscle growth is no mean feat. The process of muscular hypertrophy requires strenuous exercise and good eating habits. However, with the right mental fortitude and habits, with the right discipline and training, as well as these 6 tips, being a skinny hard gainer will be a thing of past. It is incredible what a good attitude and hard work, along with a few expert tips can achieve in any aspect of life, especially healthy living.

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.


Major variants: incline ~ (more emphasis on the upper pectorals), decline ~ (more emphasis on the lower pectorals), narrow grip ~ (more emphasis on the triceps), push-up (face down using the body weight), neck press (with the bar over the neck, to isolate the pectorals), vertical dips (using parallel dip bars) or horizontal dips (using two benches with arms on the near bench and feet on the far bench, and dropping the buttocks to the floor and pushing back up.)
On January 16, 1904, the first large-scale bodybuilding competition in America took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The competition was promoted by Bernarr Macfadden, the father of physical culture and publisher of original bodybuilding magazines such as Health & Strength. The winner was Al Treloar, who was declared "The Most Perfectly Developed Man in the World".[5] Treloar won a $1,000 cash prize, a substantial sum at that time. Two weeks later, Thomas Edison made a film of Treloar's posing routine. Edison had also made two films of Sandow a few years before. Those were the first three motion pictures featuring a bodybuilder. In the early 20th century, Macfadden and Charles Atlas continued to promote bodybuilding across the world. Alois P. Swoboda was an early pioneer in America.
2) Make your own home gym. In talking to thousands of trainees, it seems like the majority is better served by attending a health club as most people do not have the motivation to workout at home. However, if you are like me and like to workout in total solitude, this may be the best option for you. The advantages are obvious: no fees, no crowds, you can superset alot (move from one exercise to the next with no rest), and workout anytime. Disadvantages are that you have no one to spot you so you need to be very careful with what you are doing.
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.

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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]

If you’re constantly depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy most, there’s a much greater chance that you’ll simply become discouraged and quit. Figure out what you need in terms of overall daily calories and macronutrients (the level of detail that you apply here is dependent on your individual goals and situation), and then allocate a small percentage of that to allow for the foods you crave most.
Believe me, whatever you're doing, you can do more. And no, you won't overtrain; you'll just advance faster when you push your limits. I used to think squatting 405 pounds for 10 reps was great. Now I can do 405 for 25 reps and it's okay, but I know I'm going to get up to 35 reps. Don't be afraid of more weight and more sets; just push a little more each and every workout (even adding 2.5 pounds is great). The greatest athletes in the world have done things that everyone thinks are crazy, but these are the same people breaking world records. Trust me, you can always do more. Train hard, train harder!
The high levels of muscle growth and repair achieved by bodybuilders require a specialized diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require more calories than the average person of the same weight to provide the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase muscle mass. In preparation of a contest, a sub-maintenance level of food energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to build muscle.[24] The ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.[25]

According to muscleandstrength.com, women should not weight train much differently than men. Instead of using light weights and performing 15 to 20 repetitions, you should lift relatively heavy weights, and keep your repetitions to between six and 12. Your focus should be on using mostly free weights, and performing compound exercises. Compound exercises utilize both your prime mover muscle and stabilizer muscles to execute the lift. Examples of compound exercises are squats, dead lifts, lunges, incline bench press, upright rows and overhead presses. It is also important to get enough rest while you are training, as muscle growth and repair occurs during rest.
On January 16, 1904, the first large-scale bodybuilding competition in America took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The competition was promoted by Bernarr Macfadden, the father of physical culture and publisher of original bodybuilding magazines such as Health & Strength. The winner was Al Treloar, who was declared "The Most Perfectly Developed Man in the World".[5] Treloar won a $1,000 cash prize, a substantial sum at that time. Two weeks later, Thomas Edison made a film of Treloar's posing routine. Edison had also made two films of Sandow a few years before. Those were the first three motion pictures featuring a bodybuilder. In the early 20th century, Macfadden and Charles Atlas continued to promote bodybuilding across the world. Alois P. Swoboda was an early pioneer in America.
But regular unilateral work provides yet another advantage for building strength: core training. In the one-arm overhead dumbbell press, for example, the imbalance in weight distribution causes your core to work overtime in an effort to stabilize your torso. And the stronger your core grows over time, the more effective - as well as injury-free - you’re likely to be on bigger lifts such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses.
Water is crucial to our system. Our cells need water to function, our metabolism is dependent on water consumption. We must consume at least 8 glasses of water a day in order to facilitate optimum metabolism. You can also incorporate liquid diet in your meals with delicious and healthy slush recipes. With metabolism, protein synthesis is also triggered, and it leads to muscle tissue development. Our muscles also need water to remain healthy and nourished and function effectively. Regular water consumption promotes quicker and stronger muscle regrowth, and it is essential if we are to build our muscle mass and strength.

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.
Major variants: incline ~ (more emphasis on the upper pectorals), decline ~ (more emphasis on the lower pectorals), narrow grip ~ (more emphasis on the triceps), push-up (face down using the body weight), neck press (with the bar over the neck, to isolate the pectorals), vertical dips (using parallel dip bars) or horizontal dips (using two benches with arms on the near bench and feet on the far bench, and dropping the buttocks to the floor and pushing back up.)
This program is designed to manipulate repetitions for each exercise. You’ll do three sets per exercise, decreasing the weight while increasing the reps on each successive set. For the first set, do six to eight reps, then go to eight to 12 reps for the second set, and finish with 12 to 15 reps on the final set. This reverse-pyramid progression allows you to nail the strength, muscle-growth and capillarization components of each movement, ensuring complete development in an elegant time-saving workout. Remember that the first set of each exercise is always the heaviest, so make sure to warm up thoroughly before moving on to your first working set. When performing dips, do as many reps as you can per set. Rest for only 45 seconds after each set.

Along with the basic, compound movements, bodybuilders also added isolation exercises in order to develop their physiques and bring weak parts up to par. They knew, for example, that barbell and dumbbells presses were a great exercise for developing mass and strength in the shoulders but they also needed to add side lateral raises and bent over lateral raises with dumbbells in order to build the side and rear heads of the deltoids. Without this development, the shoulders would not look as impressive. Because there were very few or no machines designed to isolate these muscles, the bodybuilders had to use free weights (barbells and dumbbells) to accomplish their goals. Again, the use of free weights for these movements helped to build more muscle mass and strength.
Identify specific muscles you hope to build. As you're posing, it's a good opportunity to check out your symmetry, your good gains, and identify places that you need to isolate or work out more vigorously for next week's training sessions. What needs to be smoothed out? What needs to be bulked up? What exercises will you need to do to get the results you want?
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.
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.
The high levels of muscle growth and repair achieved by bodybuilders require a specialized diet. Generally speaking, bodybuilders require more calories than the average person of the same weight to provide the protein and energy requirements needed to support their training and increase muscle mass. In preparation of a contest, a sub-maintenance level of food energy is combined with cardiovascular exercise to lose body fat. Proteins, carbohydrates and fats are the three major macronutrients that the human body needs in order to build muscle.[24] The ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats vary depending on the goals of the bodybuilder.[25]
It can be hard to know where to start when beginning strength training. There are countless exercises you can do, some of which work some muscles, but not others. There are safety concerns to beware of, a wide variety of sometimes confusing equipment to help you in your efforts, and so on. With some familiarity of the basics of getting started with strength training, actually doing so can become far less daunting, and you can begin to craft a routine that is targeted toward helping you achieve your personal goals.

Note the flexibility here. If you're an experienced casual lifter starting an organized program, you may be able to kick off with 3 X 12 from the beginning. If you are new to weights and have some fitness issues, you should start with one set and progress slowly. Doing only 1 set of 9 exercises will not take too long, perhaps only 30 minutes with warmup included. Doing an extra 20 minutes or more of cardio before or after weights would be time well spent at this stage. Once you reach full stretch in the program, aerobic training may be better done before weights or at a separate session.
Due to the growing concerns of the high cost, health consequences, and illegal nature of some steroids, many organizations have formed in response and have deemed themselves "natural" bodybuilding competitions. In addition to the concerns noted, many promoters of bodybuilding have sought to shed the "freakish" perception that the general public has of bodybuilding and have successfully introduced a more mainstream audience to the sport of bodybuilding by including competitors whose physiques appear much more attainable and realistic.

After session 12, consider whether you need to increase the weight for any particular exercise. If you can comfortably do more than the RM of 12 exercises, increase the weight by a modest amount, say two pounds or a kilogram for isolation exercise muscles such as triceps and biceps, and 5 pounds or 2.5.kilograms for compound and large muscle group exercises like squats and deadlifts. When using dumbbells, this would apply to each one. Don’t increase the number of sets beyond 3 at this time.
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.
Listen to your body. If you have a training day scheduled on paper but feel like rubbish, a day off focused on quality nutrition and adequate rest might actually improve your results. After all, you damage muscle in the gym; you build it with quality rest and nutrition. Pushing through when you're overly tired can be a recipe for disaster or injury.
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.
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.

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.
Crunch on exercise ball: Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Let the ball roll back slowly. Now lie back on the ball until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and slightly tuck your chin in toward your chest. Contract your abdominals, raising your torso to no more than 45 degrees. For better balance, spread your feet wider apart. To challenge the obliques, make the exercise less stable by moving your feet closer together. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position.
If you follow a full-body program built around these seven categories, you'll be amazed at how well your body responds. If your goal is to add mass, these are the movements that will allow you to use the most weight and provide the training stimulus the body will need to grow. If your goal is fat loss, these are the movements that will allow you to burn the most calories and continue working harder in the gym. If your goal is just to get stronger and more athletic for whatever you decide to do later, these movements are the perfect tools.
Perform 2 sets of each exercise for 10-12 reps and rest 1 minute in between sets. Move up to 3 sets after 4 weeks. At 2 sets per exercise the routine lasts 45 minutes if you rest 1 minute in between sets. At 3 sets it lasts 60 minutes. Do cardio on the days off (20-30 minutes) and also do abs (4 sets of Leg Raises and swiss ball crunches for 15-40 reps).
For every person who lifts weights these days, it seems there are two who have a podcast about it. There are more bodybuilding tips promising greater strength and muscle than ever before, and along with them a ton of confusion; one buffed-up Instagrammer says lifting heavy will get you swole, while a well-known fitness personality has claimed in recent years that two 30-minute workouts per week netted him 34 pounds of muscle in a month.
Below is an example of an Old School Bodybuilding Workout using free weights, basic exercises and a typical bodybuilding split used in those days. There are two workouts listed, one for high volume and the other low volume. Give both workouts a try and see which one works best for you. Try each workout routine for 4-6 weeks before taking a full week off to recuperate and then switch to the next routine for another 4-6 weeks.
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.

Instead, start with heavier weights for low-to-moderate reps. Done early in your workouts, when fatigue hasn't yet set in, this protocol can induce muscle growth via both mechanical tension and muscle damage. Those mechanisms are far less stimulated when using lighter weights than when training for a muscle pump. However, higher reps are superior for driving fluids into the muscle, which increases metabolic stress. All three mechanisms are believed to contribute to muscle growth.
Take your barbells out for a date for at least three days a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are ideal. Focus on power lifts- the deadlift, squat and bench to build muscle, and burn fat during the process. Have an hour’s warm up session by lifting light weights. You will need to train hard after a month of getting used to the weight lifting session. Push yourself as part of serious training designed to pack on 5 to 10 pounds of additional muscle.
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