Simply knowing where you stand can help your efforts tremendously. In exchange for a few bucks and a little pain, you'll receive health benchmarks on things like cholesterol and triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting glucose, and perhaps bone density for older women. These are concrete, quantifiable areas where you can track progress and see your hard work translate into results.
Perusing Arnold's signature tome requires some effort: The hardback version comes in at an even 800 pages, after all! While it's hefty weight might make it a nice addition to your coffee table, the nuggets of training gold take a little work to find. In the interest of mining the best knowledge from one of the strongest minds in bodybuilding, here are 31 Arnold-approved training tips to help you build your best body ever!
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.
Is your resting heart rate jacked up today? Are you too sore from your last workout to walk? Did you only sleep a few hours the last night? Skipped breakfast and lunch? Congrats, you just earned yourself a rest day. In other words - go home. You aren't going to get anything but an increased risk of injury by training in any one of these conditions.
“The stimulus to put on muscle that won’t be beneficial for running is much higher than people realize, and unless you’re either lifting relatively heavy and frequently and/or eating a hyper caloric diet, you’re unlikely to put on muscle,” says Joe Holder, USATF-certified running coach, Nike+ Run Club coach in New York City. “Just think about strength training one to two times a week, focusing on compound movement patterns, such as a lunge or squat, and shoring up the areas that could lead to increased injury if they are weak, like the hips.”
Eat the right amounts and types of protein: To figure out your protein needs, multiply your total body weight by 1.2 and that will give you the total protein grams you need to consume per day. Divide that number by 6 and that equals the amount of protein grams per meal. Limit your protein sources to lean meats like chicken, turkey, and white fish such as tilapia. Out of the six meals, no more than three should be protein shakes. The post workout meal should be a whey protein powder mixed with the cream of rice as in this manner nutrients will reach the muscles as quickly as possible. In addition to the post-workout meal, no more than two other meals should be liquid ones.
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.
When you lose weight, you need to hold onto muscle and bone while shedding fat. This is tricky because the body is not used to breaking down some tissue (fat) and building up other tissue (muscle) at the same time. Breaking down is called catabolism and building up is called anabolism, as in "anabolic steroids." This is a contradictory process. But weight training helps maintain muscle while losing fat.
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.
People throw around a number of different words they think are “synonyms” when it comes to strength training: weight lifting, resistance training… the list goes on. But really the term “strength training” incorporates body weight exercises, bands, machines, weighted equipment, and essentially anything that isn’t running, swimming, jump roping, or flexibility training (like stretching), according to Men’s Fitness‘ Group Training Director Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S. So it’s not synonymous with weight lifting—it’s an umbrella term that includes it. And while weight lifting is great, there are tons of other strength-training moves that don’t include actual weights that can help you sculpt a strong, muscular upper body.
I now know that was a mistake. An eight-week Australian study that found that doing one of four sets of bench presses to failure produced double the strength gains compared to lifters who didn't take any of their sets to failure. But in a follow-up study, the researchers found that doing more than one set to failure on the bench offered no additional strength gains.
In contrast to strongman or powerlifting competitions, where physical strength is paramount, or to Olympic weightlifting, where the main point is equally split between strength and technique, bodybuilding competitions typically emphasize condition, size, and symmetry. Different organizations emphasize particular aspects of competition, and sometimes have different categories in which to compete.
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.
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.
Here's some simple math that many people still can’t seem to grasp. You’re in the gym for only an hour or so each day, leaving another 22–23 hours in which muscle growth depends solely on what goes in—or stays out of—your piehole. So why is the nutrition side of the mass-gaining equation often marginalized? It’s probably because a bench press is a lot sexier than a spinach salad.
Up next is a row, which basically means some type of horizontal pull (meaning back row exercise). Pretty much any type of back row would be fine here, so pick your favorite. If I had to make a suggestion, I might go with a chest supported row of some sort because chest supported rowing doesn’t require any real lower back stabilization like a bent over barbell row would. And, since you will be deadlifting the next day, this may be a beneficial choice for some people. Otherwise, feel free pick any type of horizontal back row you want (chest supported row, any Hammer Strength machine row if your gym has them, a bent over barbell or dumbbell row, t-bar rows, whatever). As long as it’s a back row of some sort, it’s fine. If you think you’d benefit from not using any lower back the day before doing deadlifts, then stick with something chest supported to give your lower back a break. If not, pick anything.
I know, I know, flat bench press is your favorite lift, or whatever else you prefer, but if your goal is to build up triceps, perhaps you should start with something like dips, or even separate your regimen into a chest day and an arms day. It's simply impossible to improve if you waste all of your energy on your "favorite" lifts while neglecting the muscles that you truly want to bring up.
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.
It also assists competitors in maintaining a healthy body fat percentage while training in the offseason. Continuing to perform strength and cardio training during this period will contribute to muscle growth and cardiovascular health. Maintenance of a healthy diet, combined with proper training and rest will provide a strong foundation for the competitor’s next contest.
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.
If you're 12 weeks out from a competition, you want to maintain as much muscle as possible while torching fat from every angle. This means low-intensity cardio – high intensity cardio speeds up your metabolism and burns fat very quickly, so you run the risk of burning muscle too, Terry says – either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or immediately after your weights session, once you’ve depleted those glycogen levels.
“Regardless of whether volitional failure is achieved through heavy weights or high reps, you’ll hit your type II muscle fibers, which have the greatest growth potential,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Openfit’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content. “But those lighter weight/higher rep sets will also nail your smaller type I muscle fibers, which studies have shown to have growth potential as well.”
Strength training seeks to make a stronger you, while bodybuilding kicks the goal up several notches -- to make your body a visual statement of rippling muscle and taut sinew. You can become a female bodybuilder and still maintain your femininity and appeal, as demonstrated by bodybuilding icons such as Rachel McLish and Marissa Rivero, successful actresses and beautiful models. To get started, you need mainly to commit to an initial three months of dedicated work, as well as planning and tracking your progress.
If you're reading this, you're probably eager to add some muscle to your frame. Whether you're coming off a sharp cut or just want to stack some mass on your body, it helps to have a stockpile of great gains-related tips in your arsenal. Below, you'll find an incredible assortment of muscle-building advice from some of the best athletes on BodySpace.
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.
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 my business, (I work in a retail vitamin store), I get customers all the time who come in looking for the magic supplement that will pack on pounds of muscle overnight. When I begin to question their training, eating, etc., I discover they've been training maybe 3-4 weeks; they train every day (sometimes I get a guy who says twice a day), they have no clue about protein intake, calorie intake, recovery, and on top of all that, the routine they use is anything but logical for their experience level. This extremely common!
If you can't remember the last time you saw your doctor for a complete physical and blood work-up, now is definitely the time. Why? Well, first of all there's all the disclaimer-sounding stuff concerning any outstanding health issues you might not know about. Your doctor could have specific diet or training recommendations that you're better off hearing about now than later. But that's not the only reason.
Because the upper traps get some degree of stimulation during many shoulder exercises, Arnold trained them with delts. His main upper-trap exercise was the shrug, though he noted that maximizing the size of this muscle required a number of other movements, including power pulls, cleans, and upright rows. Because the range of motion in a shrug is fairly short, Arnold recommended backing off on the weight in favor of being able to fully shrug your shoulders as high as possible.
Including a small amount of higher sugar and/or higher fat food here and there (I usually try to refrain from using the term “cheat meals” as it wrongly implies that you’re doing something outside the rules) is not going to negatively affect your muscle building or fat burning progress, and it will make your overall eating plan much more enjoyable while still delivering the same results.
JDB, great tip on cardio before weights. Having trained in a boxing gym for years, this is exactly how I would start each training session, even if I was going to focus on weights that day. Use to start off, 3-4 rounds on jump rope in the ring, alternating between fast high knees and then slowing it down. It was all continuous for about 10-12 minutes. Would then continue w basic calisthenics (mountain climbers, bw squats, burpees, etc.) for another 3-4 rounds. This was all done w boxing timer running in background. Would finish “warm-up” w some kind of pull-up/chin-up, dips, and hanging abdominal work. Then it was time for weights. This just overall improved my general conditioning/movement and never felt that my strength diminished when doing this. Actually, felt stronger due to increased blood flow.