Prepare for the long haul. It's important to know that you're not going to start doing deadlifts one day and wake up the next day bulked up like the Hulkster. Bodybuilding takes a long time for you to see the kind of results you're hoping for, but with the proper time and dedication, you will start seeing those results. This isn't a field for weekenders who love action movies, it's a 24-7 lifestyle. Think you got what it takes? Get training.
10 week mass building program. This workout is designed to increase your muscle mass as much as possible in 10 weeks. The program works each muscle group hard once per week using mostly heavy compound exercises. You will train on a 4 day split routine, resting on Wednesdays and the weekends. To get the most out of this program you need to be eating BIG. Big meals, at least 5 times a day.
Take the time to learn the movements and you'll set yourself up for a long career of continued success. Begin with body weight, then progress to a broomstick, and then work your way up to a bar. After that, keep feeding yourself more and more weight. If your technique isn't perfect with no weight, then it makes no sense to keep adding weight to the bar. Once your technique is perfected, the sky's the limit.
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.
Training intensity (average weight lifted per day, week, etc.) and relative intensity (percent of your one-rep max) are more critical to making gains in strength and power, especially among experienced trainers.[8-10] Using heavier weights and not consistently training to failure provides adequate stimulus, especially with regard to strength development.[8]

Visit at least three gyms. Even if you love the first gym you step into, visit at least three gyms to find one that suits all of your needs. Gyms vary widely in the types of amenities and training programs they offer; while one might have all of the equipment you want, another might be more effective for you due to the expertise of its trainers.[2]
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.

In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.


The sport of competitive bodybuilding is a game of adapting our training and diet to manipulate our physical appearance. As our bodies approach age 40 and beyond, there is inevitable muscle loss that will occur. Coupled together with the possibility of decreased testosterone production and ailing joints, there are a few things to consider when competing into your 30s and beyond.
Set small attainable goals. If you've never lifted weights before, trained at very high intensities or followed a strict diet plan, then going from where you are now to a female bodybuilder is a long road. It will be tough, but see that as a challenge rather than a disadvantage. Set both outcome-based goals such as adding half a pound of muscle a week or competing in a local show in six months. Aim for behavioral goals such as making it to the gym five times per week or sticking to your diet for an entire fortnight.
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!
This period also saw the rise of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and many other sports. In bodybuilding lore, this is partly attributed to the rise of "mass monsters", beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, and Lou Ferrigno in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continuing through the 1980s with Lee Haney, the 1990s with Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Markus Rühl, and up to the present day. Bodybuilders such as Greg Kovacs attained mass and size never seen previously but were not successful at the pro level. Others were renowned for their spectacular development of a particular body part, like Tom Platz or Paul Demayo for their leg muscles. At the time of shooting Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger (while never admitting to steroid use until long after his retirement) said that "you have to do anything you can to get the advantage in competition".[citation needed] He would later say that he does not regret using anything.[8]

One aspect many new bodybuilders look into is protein shakes. These are a quick and convenient way to take in more protein and calories, but they aren't necessary. If you have a hectic lifestyle and can't always make time to eat a meal, a shake may be useful. But otherwise, you should be able to get all your protein and calories from whole foods. When pushed for time, trainer Nate Green recommends a simple, healthy, high-calorie shake consisting of almond milk, bananas, whey protein powder, coconut and a greens supplement. Have one or two of these per day if you can't fit in solid meals. Adjust meal serving sizes to fit your calorie needs and aim to split these calories among three meals plus a couple of snacks. Should you find you're struggling to hit your calorie goal, add in more calorie-dense foods such as nuts, nut butters, dried fruit, whole milk and olive oil.

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.
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]
Register with the IFBB to compete at the national level. The International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) governs all national and international bodybuilding competitions, including the Arnold Classic, Mr. Olympia, and a variety of regional championships. If you want to become a pro and compete at the national level, you need to register with the IFBB and compete.[2]
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. 
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.
Consult a nutritionist. Everyone has a different metabolism and will require slightly different supplementary nutrition for building muscle. It's a good idea to meet at least once with a nutritionist or other health counselor to build a diet plan specifically tailored to your body and what you want to do with it. It's impossible to give a single, generalized diet plan that will work for everyone, so you'll need one specific to your needs.

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.
A brief, fairly unscientific explanation will do for this one. You cannot work the fat off any specific area of your body because, well, you cannot work fat. People mistake that good old muscle burn for something that magically removes adipose proximally from wherever it burns. Those were your oblique abdominals being worked, not the love handles next to them.
Warm up with ten minutes of aerobic exercise. This can be with treadmill walking or jogging, stationary bicycle, cross-trainer or stepper machines. Extend this to 30 minutes depending on requirements for fat loss. In any case, we recommend at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise at moderate intensity three times each week for all weight trainers in order to promote aerobic fitness. It need not be done at the same time as the weights session.
Most of your workout plan should include exercises that will stretch a minimum of two muscle groups in your body. For instance, the shoulder press will stretch your triceps and shoulders. On the other hand, squat will build your hamstrings and quads. Another important workout is bench press as it will work your chest, triceps, biceps and shoulders.

Try CHiKPRO™, a nutritious chicken protein isolate powder. Versatile and easy to use, this protein supplement should not cause water retention or bloating, making it perfect for those critical two weeks before a big competition. It contains a natural, beneficial balance of sodium and potassium. In addition, it is non-allergenic, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Visit our website to purchase products powered by CHiKPRO™.

Bodybuilders got into shape for competitions by both adjusting their diets and increasing the intensity of the workout. The high volume trainers would burn an incredible amount of calories just by the sheer amount of work performed at each training session. Many bodybuilders would increase the frequency of their training as the contest got closer, doing a double split routine for the last twelve weeks before the competition. A double split routine would include two training sessions per day, one in the morning and another workout about eight hours later in the late afternoon or early evening.


Especially at the start, be realistic with your goals. Avoid extreme diets that severely limit your options, recognizing that these plans are rarely sustainable in the long term. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up from time to time, and be sure to schedule cheat meals into your diet (taking care not to let them stretch out into cheat days or weekends). In addition, instead of avoiding restaurants entirely, go and learn to seek out healthy options. Many restaurants can prepare healthier versions of their menu items when asked. For example, you could request plain grilled chicken or fish, a hefty serving of vegetables, and a side salad.
Since fasting is a requirement of Ramadan, it’s a great idea to take the opportunity to lose fat during this period of time. Intermittent fasting is an awesome practice that allows an individual to eat during a specific time window which helps to burn fat. With the sunrise to sunset fasting in effect, it’s a perfect period of time to embrace intermittent fasting.
Resistance exercise doesn't mean resistance to exercise! Instead, it's a type of exercise that has gained popularity over the last decade or so as researchers discover the many benefits it has to offer. It's so mainstream at this point that the American College of Sports Medicine, the governing body for exercise in the United States, has included it in its recommendations for all Americans since 1998. In this article, all that you need to know about resistance exercise will be presented: what it is, how it works, how to prevent injury, some of the most popular resistance exercises, and a general resistance-exercise plan.

The amount of exercises and sets a bodybuilder would use would vary among each individual. Some bodybuilders, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sergio Oliva, would do multiple exercises and sets for each muscle group to insure that the muscle was being properly trained from each angle. They would normally do up to 5 sets per exercise and 4-5 exercises for each muscle group for a total of 20-25 sets for each body part.
Captain's chair: Stabilize your upper body by gripping the hand holds and lightly pressing your lower back against the back pad. The starting position begins with you holding your body up with legs dangling below. Now slowly lift your knees in toward your chest. The motion should be controlled and deliberate as you bring the knees up and return them back to the starting position.
You should also remember to eat a lot of varied fruits, veggies and fiber-rich carbs that won’t compromise your workout. Eat as many green, red and yellow colored veggies to get the highest and balanced amount of nutrition possible. It’s not also wrong to eat sodium-filled snacks once in a while. Never forget to consume the right amount salt. Under-consuming salt could pose a problem.
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.
Use a split system. If you have never trained with weights, or have taken a significant break from weights, I do not recommend training at maximum intensity right away. Training to failure during the first crucial work outs will result in tremendous muscle soreness and you may never return. Start slowly by doing a full-body work out consisting of three or four sets of lighter weights for every major muscle group. After the first couple weeks, you can increase your intensity and move onto a split system. An example of a three-day split might be:
In step 3, cut back your energy intake by the 15 percent you added previously. Because you're now not the lean guy you once were, you may have to eventually eat slightly more to maintain that extra muscle, but that comes later. Bodybuilders do this to prepare themselves for competition: They put on muscle and some fat by eating, then they strip off the fat, leaving the muscle to show through. It’s called "cutting."
If you want to improve your shoulder width, prioritize this workout, swapping it for your regular shoulder sessions every third deltoid workout. Or, depending on present development, do it every other workout as needed. Use the sequence of exercises prescribed here: Their purpose is for progressive prioritization, from heavy weight for strength and muscle-group size to higher reps for isolated muscle size and deltoid striations that draw the onlooker’s eye to those points located at the maximum width of the shoulder girdle.
While seasoned lifters may choose to do different exercises every day during a week-long period (and repeat the same moves the following week), there's no need to follow this type of program when you're just getting comfortable, says Davis. "Stick to the same basic moves two to three times a week to build a basic level of fitness and strength," says Davis. "Why complicate things if you don’t have to? Great results can be made by repeating the same workout but increasing weights as you become stronger." Switching things up can help you avoid a training plateau, explains Davis, but so can increasing weights while doing the same exercises.
This is a favorite leg developer of old-school bodybuilders. For this squat variation, the bar will be up high on your traps and you will take a narrower stance. This will force your knees over your toes and allow your torso to stay upright, leading to a more quad dominant exercise. While this squat variation is more quad dominant, your glutes and hamstrings will still get a good workout (assuming you squat below parallel.)
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.

There are several styles of resistance exercise. There is (1) Olympic lifting (where athletes lift the weight overhead like you see in the Olympics), (2) power lifting (a competition where athletes perform the squat, dead lift, and bench press), and (3) weight lifting (a sport where athletes lift heavy weights—typically fewer than six reps). When you lift weights at the gym to get stronger or bigger or more toned, you are performing resistance exercise. Occasionally you will hear the term "strength training" associated with lifting weights. Technically, it's incorrect to refer to resistance exercise as strength training. Instead, strength training would more accurately be described as resistance exercise that builds strength. In this article, the term resistance exercise will refer to the general type of weight lifting that you do in the gym to get bigger, stronger, more toned, or to increase your muscular endurance.
What can a bodybuilder do to break a plateau? Advanced bodybuilding training techniques are applied on an occasional basis to introduce variety into the bodybuilding routine in order to further stimulate muscle growth. The purpose of such bodybuilding techniques is to take the muscle beyond the point of failure. Muscular failure is the point in which performing another repetition in good form becomes impossible and also the point that stimulates the muscle to grow. Most of these advanced bodybuilding training techniques should only be used sparingly; do not use them on every workout or else you risk overtraining and/or injury. Supersets, tri-sets, and giant-sets, however, are the exception to this rule and can be used on every workout.
Any good training regimen needs to include variables that can be toggled to alter training for specific purposes. A weight lifter, for example, would take into consideration their specific exercise techniques, pounds lifted, sets per lift, reps per set, tempo per rep, rest between reps, rest between sets, emphasis between concentric, eccentric, and/or static contractions, number of sets, set order, supersetting, and so on, ad nauseum.
Intensive weight training causes micro-tears to the muscles being trained; this is generally known as microtrauma. These micro-tears in the muscle contribute to the soreness felt after exercise, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is the repair of these micro-traumas that results in muscle growth. Normally, this soreness becomes most apparent a day or two after a workout. However, as muscles become adapted to the exercises, soreness tends to decrease.[22]
Start entering regional contests. Open regional bodybuilding contests are the way to crack into the world of competing. Everyone starts at the local level and gradually builds their way up to the national level. If you're in good shape and want to get experience, try competing and see if you've got what it takes to move on to the next level of competition, and maybe even go pro. For a list of amateur competitions in the United States, click here.
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.
Don’t worry about what everyone else is wearing around you – this isn’t a fashion show. For shoes, look for a minimalist shoe with a hard, non-compressible sole.  Chuck Taylors are my personal favorite, but Steve wears Vibrams or Merrills. While there are some great shoe options specifically for weight lifting, as a beginner, the above multipurpose shoe will serve you just fine!
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.

"Wide-grip pull-ups coax the upper lats to come out," Arnold wrote. Understand that with wide-grip movements, the elbows stay out away from the sides, which engages the upper lats more effectively. With closer-grip and reverse-grip back exercises, the elbows stay in tighter to the sides, which reduces the emphasis on the upper lats and instead places more of the focus on the lower lats. So depending on elbow position relative to your torso, you can effectively focus on some areas of the back over others.
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.
“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.”
Arnold sought out alternative exercises that worked a target muscle from slightly different angles. When using dumbbells rather than the barbell on overhead presses, for example, he deliberately lowered the weights several inches below the bottom position of the barbell movement, and he brought them together at the top to elongate the range of motion.
Training to a point of momentary muscle failure, at which completion of another repetition on any given set is impossible despite your greatest effort, is the only way to force the body to resort to its biochemical resources sufficiently to stimulate real growth! One of the biggest mistakes I see being made in the gym is when certain individuals will end a set of an exercise just because an arbitrary number of repetitions has been completed.This will do very little to stimulate muscle growth. A set should be terminated only when your muscles have been forced to the point of it being inconceivable to produce 1 more repetition within a working set. I use the word forced because obviously, you know muscle growth doesn’t come easy and literally needs to be forced! Any degree of effort in a set that is less than 100% may yield a bodybuilder some results, but never to the same extent that all out maximum effort will.
The squat is performed by squatting down with a weight held across the upper back under neck and standing up straight again. This is a compound exercise that also involves the glutes (buttocks) and, to a lesser extent, the hamstrings, calves, and the lower back. Lifting belts are sometimes used to help support the lower back. The freeweight squat is one of 'The Big Three' powerlifting exercises, along with the deadlift and the bench press.[2]
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.
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