Get the right gear. While it's probably not the most important thing, if you're trying to be a bodybuilder, you might as well get some clothes and gear that will help to emphasize how jacked up you're getting. Purchase some good posing trunks, tight-fitting muscle shirts, and a good training belt to help keep you secure during your workouts. Weight-lifting gloves are also common.
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.
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.
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.

Adding a social component to your training is a great way to help you tie it all together and stay accountable for the long haul. Find a buddy, join a class, hire a trainer, join a BodySpace group, or make a list your goals and share it with a loved one. Better yet, do all of the above. Do whatever it takes to fully commit. That is your mantra now: "Whatever it takes."


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.

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. 

Competing in a bodybuilding contest can be a source of immense physiological and emotional stress. As one of the most demanding activities one can engage in, it requires extreme control, discipline, and motivation to even be competitive in the sport. To recover from this stress and bring the body back into balance, attention to proper nutrition and supplementation is critical.
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.
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]

It is quite difficult to achieve competitive success without proper supplementation. For example, you could easily replenish your carbs on an Ironman course with white bread and Fig Newtons, but you'd have to carry a backpack full of the stuff to ensure your calorie intake was adequate. It's much easier to supplement with a carb/sodium replacement gel.


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.
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.
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.
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]
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. 

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that resistance training should be progressive in nature (for example, follow the principle of progressive overload - see below for an explanation), individualized, and provide a stimulus to all the major muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominals, and legs). They recommend that beginners do one set of eight to 10 exercises for the major muscle groups, eight to 12 repetitions (reps) to fatigue, two to three days per week (multiple-set regimens may provide greater benefits if time allows). For older and more frail people (approximately 50-60 years of age and above), they suggest that 10-15 repetitions may be more appropriate.
And not all weight training is created equally. “Some strength workouts—like CrossFit WODs or circuit-based fitness classes—include too much of a metabolic or cardio component to be effective at prioritizing the main goals for runners, which are strength and power,” Fitzgerald says. Runners get enough cardio, so Fitzgerald recommends focusing on relatively heavy weight for a moderate number of repetitions with full recovery. And don’t forget that your own body serves as weight. So if picking up a barbell or dumbbells is a big stretch for you, know that there are other ways to add resistance with weight. [Get a complete weight training plan – created specifically for runners.]
Consume 10 to 20 grams of high-quality protein within 30 to 60 minutes of a weights session. Research has shown that an intake of 6 to 12 grams of essential amino acids, which is equivalent to 10 to 20 grams of a complete protein, promotes enhanced muscle recovery and rebuilding after a workout. One gram per kilogram body weight (about 0.5 grams/pound) of carbohydrate taken with the protein may assist this anabolic boost. Some trainers call this a protein "shooter." Options that meet these requirements include 17 fluid ounces of flavored low-fat milk; 1 cup fruit salad with 7 ounces of flavored yogurt; or a large glass of nonfat milk with two slices of bread and honey or jam (no butter).
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.
If you are really wanting to become successful, but are currently performing a polar opposite routine from the tips above (i.e. eating junk food, not having good technique) then try implementing one tip at a time until you have all of them. Take it slow, if you move to fast you'll most likely lose interest. Once you're following all the tips and rules, you'll be shocked by how fast you grow and how much stronger you become. It'll be a new you.
Also, make sure to bring about sufficient variety in your routine once every 2 months or so. These are some generic rules for starters. If you can follow them you should be on the right track. By that time you would have had enough experience or made enough friends in body building who knows the craft better than someone who is not into it but has only a general idea of the proceedings.

A well-rounded fitness program includes strength training to improve joint function, bone density, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, as well as aerobic exercise to improve your heart and lung fitness, flexibility and balance exercises. Australia’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines recommend that adults do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.


Choose your favourite cardio exercises like spinning, outdoor biking, running, hill sprints, or swimming, whatever it is, hit it hard. Literally! Experts advise to perform HIIT, high-intensity interval training, to burn fat in a time-efficient manner. A 3-to-1 rest-to-work ratio is effective. It means you can, for example, go hard as you can on a hill sprint for 30 seconds, walk or jog back down the slope for 90 seconds, and repeat four times for an intense 10-minute training session.
Your legs are even more important if you play sports. Strong legs will help you run faster, become stronger, and most importantly, lower your chance of being injured. I know this first hand. I used to train my legs sparingly because the workouts were so hard. I simply didn't feel like going to the gym on leg days and even if I did, I would just go through the motions and never train at a high enough intensity.
Many aspiring bodybuilders find that they need to increase their calorie intake to increase their body mass. Assuming you’re training hard, you may need to add a mini meal somewhere in your day. Or, you could increase both the frequency and quantity of your meals, eating more meals more often. To hold yourself accountable, keep a log of your meals and count your calories. Especially at the start, this can help you figure out what your new normal should look like.
Nutrition is important but I find that most people over-obsess about their diets. I hear people fretting over stuff like; Should I eat a chicken breast or a fillet of salmon? A handful of almonds, or a teaspoon of peanut butter? Broccoli, or spinach? brown rice, or yams? A half cup of yogurt, or a half cup of cottage cheese? High carb, or low carb? As much widespread confusion that exists regarding diets that should be followed in order to burn fat, the premise of the whole issue is actually very simple. Regardless of what you eat, as long as you take in fewer calories than you need in order to meet metabolic and physical activity energy requirements, you will lose fat. Some people have made great progress in fat loss simply by taking my advice and eating what they normally eat, but just eat 1/3 less of everything with the exception of green vegetables which are actually negative calorie food items that you can eat as much as you want off. Don’t complicate your nutrition and make it more difficult than it needs to be. Fats don’t make you fat, and carbohydrates don’t make you fat. Calories consumed beyond the body’s maintenance and growth needs make you fat.
According to The American Council on Exercise, not all females have equal capacities for gaining muscle. Genetics play a key role. For example, females who have a mesomorphic body structure, which features natural muscularity, have an advantage over ectomorps and endomorphs. Also, some females have higher levels of testosterone than others, which gives them an advantage in developing muscle. Despite these genetic differences, most women will experience a 20 to 40 percent increase in strength after several months of strength training, states The American Council on Exercise.
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.

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.
Starting in an upright position (without locking out your knees), contract your quadriceps muscles and slowly lower into a squat position. Once you reach the bottom movement (where your upper legs are just below parallel to the platform), press the sled back to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your lower back planted firmly against the rear padding to avoid a back injury.
The early stages of your bodybuilding journey are the best time to make strength and size gains. Being new to training, your body responds and adapts rapidly to lifting weights and builds muscle at a faster rate. You can expect a gain of around 1 to 2 pounds per month when exercising properly, notes trainer Barry Lumsden. Getting the best from your training regime also requires a solid diet plan, however.
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.
Lastly we come to full-body workouts. The 5 x 5 program could also be considered a full-body workout program to a degree, since you work almost all the major muscle groups with the three exercises you choose. But, true full-body programs will provide one direct exercise for each muscle group - quads, hamstrings, chest, back and shoulders (arms are worked when doing chest and back).
Attend local competitions. When you are just starting out, visiting local competitions will be helpful for a few reasons: you will be able to get a feel for competitions and what will be expected of you, you will be exposed to your potential competitors, and you will be able to speak with like-minded men and women who also enjoy the sport. You can make connections at a competition you might not be able to make at your local gym.
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.

The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance.[19] A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.


Building muscle also helps burn fat. Performing heavy weight, low rep exercises designed to build mass results in more lean muscle tissue. This tissue raises your metabolism, which heightens the rate you burn calories. To put it simply, the more lean muscle you build, the better your cut will go. Ditch the idea of shrinking your body and instead think of reshaping it.
Change things up. After six or more weeks of consistent strength training, which is about the amount of time it takes to start seeing improvement in your body, you can change your routine to make it more difficult. Lifting the same weights for the same exercises every week will keep your body in the same place. You can modify weights or repetitions, choose different exercises, or change the order in which you do them. You only have to make one change at a time to make a difference, although more is often better. 
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. 

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?

In competitive bodybuilding, bodybuilders aspire to develop and maintain an aesthetically pleasing body and balanced physique.[16][17] In prejudging, competitors do a series of mandatory poses: the front lat spread, rear lat spread, front double biceps, back double biceps, side chest, side triceps, Most Muscular (men only), abdominals and thighs. Each competitor also performs a personal choreographed routine to display their physique. A posedown is usually held at the end of a posing round, while judges are finishing their scoring. Bodybuilders usually spend a lot of time practising their posing in front of mirrors or under the guidance of their coach.


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The compound movements, exercises that utilize several major muscle groups during the execution of the exercise, are responsible for building the greatest muscle mass. Exercises like bench presses, barbell rows, squats, overhead presses, dips and dead lifts, allowed the bodybuilders to use more weight and develop more muscle. Bodybuilders in those days knew that the basics were the key to getting big.
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.

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.
Muscle soreness is a common side effect to working out. It subsides as part of the recovery process. Delayed-onset muscle soreness is the most common type of soreness and occurs 24-72 hours after training. This is why rest days are important, to allow soreness to disappear before training again. In fact, if you are scheduled to train and are still sore, take an extra day off.
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.
The winner of the annual IFBB Mr. Olympia contest is generally recognized as the world's top male professional bodybuilder. The winner of the Women's Physique portion of the competition is widely regarded as the world's top female professional bodybuilder. The title is currently held by Juliana Malacarne, who has won every year since 2014. Since 1950, the NABBA Universe Championships have been considered the top amateur bodybuilding contests, with notable winners such as Reg Park, Lee Priest, Steve Reeves, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Winners generally go on to become professional athletes.
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] 

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As an example, let's say someone's goal is to go to the gym three days per week before work. A basic cue would be to place their gym clothes, post-training shake, and shoes next to their bed the night prior so those items are the first thing the person sees—or maybe trips over—when they wake up. The theory is that the cues will create a routine, and eventually, the person won't need the cue.
Different exercises will require different weights, but there are some markers that can help guide you towards the right resistance, whether you're using dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell. Go for a weight that feel heavy enough to challenge you, but not so heavy that you sacrifice your form. For example, if you're doing 15 reps, you should feel pretty fatigued by the time you hit rep 15. If you can breeze through all your reps, though, that's a sign you should up the weight.
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.
Stretching after each lifting session is extremely important in preventing injury. Flexibility allows your body to become much more able to handle the odd assortment of stresses that are placed upon it each day. I'm sure that the more hardcore of us bodybuilding fans heard that Branch Warren recently slipped and fell, landing on his outstretched hand and tearing his triceps in the process.

Many trainees like to cycle between the two methods in order to prevent the body from adapting (maintaining a progressive overload), possibly emphasizing whichever method more suits their goals; typically, a bodybuilder will aim at sarcoplasmic hypertrophy most of the time but may change to a myofibrillar hypertrophy kind of training temporarily in order to move past a plateau. However, no real evidence has been provided to show that trainees ever reach this plateau, and rather was more of a hype created from "muscular confusion".[clarification needed][citation needed]
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