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.
Triceps extension, skullcrusher, whatever you want to call it, just make sure you do this move. The triceps extension is an old school, classic triceps isolating exercise. It has been around forever and used by some of the best bodybuilders of all time. It works the triceps from the elbow to the lats. Keep your elbows close together and pointed towards the ceiling. Bring the bar down toward your forehead to maximize triceps activation. The temptation is to flare your elbows out because you can do more weight—don’t!
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.
Neither was Fresno, for that matter. The point is, you won't be Mr. Olympia, or break any world records, in just a year's time. Be realistic about the improvements you can make in a specific time frame. Likewise, give any program 8-12 weeks to see if it's working for you. Try to improve even 1% every workout, as any progression is good, whether it's an extra set, more reps, more weight, or better technique. Over time you'll accumulate massive improvements. Consistent improvement equals long-term gains. I've been training over 20 years and I'm still improving every workout.
That’s it for Basic Strength and Muscle. Novices and casual exercisers can expect a 20-40 percent increase in strength and some muscle size and muscle endurance enhancement. You could continue with this program beyond the 18 weeks by increasing the weight load as strength and capability improves. However, further progress may depend on alterations in exercise variety, frequency and timing. The next phase should be an intermediate program designed to enhance the progress you’ve already made.
The above routine is useful as discussed, and should be used for the first month, to allow the development of good form, rep performance and getting a feel for what exercise works what muscles. By the start of the second month, you should use a split routine, this will allow you to train harder and to use more exercises, and this type of routine enhances recovery significantly.
For us recreational enthusiasts, there are few things that provide more inspiration than the audible feats of strength that take place in our own gyms every day. The clanging of non-collared plates on a big set of squats. The seismic thud of a stacked set of dumbbells hitting the floor. The primitive, rep-beating grunt of fellow strength-seeking men. It’s this cacophony of iron that pushes us to push ourselves. We want to move more weight - lots more - and we’re ready to put in the work.
Vertical leg crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands behind your head for support. Extend your legs straight up in the air, crossed at the ankles with a slight bend in the knee. Contract your abdominal muscles by lifting your torso toward your knees. Make sure to keep your chin off your chest with each contraction. Exhale as you contract upward, and inhale as you return to the starting position.
Seriously, know your personal limits. I can't tell you how many times I've seen somebody give up too early or get hurt during training or racing because they simply had no idea what their real thresholds were. The whole idea behind training and/or competing is to push your thresholds to the limits to fulfill your potential. If you don't know what your limits are, how can you possibly know what your potential is?
True, monitoring carb intake is one of the best ways to play around with your weight, I don't dispute that. I do it myself, and it can be a powerful tool for people who need to lose a significant amount of weight. But the everyman athlete has no need to go bonkers cutting out all kinds of carbs just for the sake of it, because that sort of eating behavior is not sustainable for an endurance athlete.
See what's happening? You'll do 8 reps of incline hammer presses. Then, in drop-set fashion, you'll lower the weight so you can do 8 more reps. Lower it again so you can do a final 8 reps. Immediately go to machine flies where you'll also do 3 drop sets of 8. Follow those up with 3 drop sets of decline dumbbell presses. Each set ends up being 72 reps!
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.
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.
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?
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.
Coming home ravenous after a ballsout training session and having nothing ready to eat can send you on a hunt for the nearest bag of Doritos. But having a stockpile of protein-packed foods that can be reheated easily guarantees you’ll make healthy choices and get the nutrients your muscles need. Use the weekend to rustle up big batches of chicken, chili, stews, hard-boiled eggs, and rice, which will keep in the fridge or freezer the whole week.
One of the reasons why I love this specific routine so much is that is it easy for beginners. It does not have you doing a thousand reps and burning you out! Instead, you might notice the reps being a little lower than what you are probably used to and that is because the goal is to gain muscle-not worrying about endurance much. Also, you train 4 days per week-that screams “DO-ABLE” to me! You have two designated days where you work your upper body and the same goes for lower body.
Muscle, unlike flab, is a metabolically active tissue, and you need to put away plenty of calories to keep it growing. Eat too few calories and you’ll whittle it away. When mass gain is the goal, aim to consume about 20 calories per pound of body weight each day (about 3,600 calories for a 180-pound guy). If you find that 20 calories per pound packs on mass and fat, drop to 16–18 calories. But this doesn’t mean you’ve got the green light to pound pizza. Quality matters too, so keep it clean.
In the cutting phase, the bodybuilding diet should be low in fat, around 20 percent. Maintain protein intake to help protect muscle while cutting excess fat and carbohydrates, particularly added sugar and sweets and white flour products. Keep up the supply of antioxidants with fruit, veggies, and whole grains. Aim for these proportions of macronutrients:
Carbohydrates play an important role for bodybuilders. They give the body energy to deal with the rigors of training and recovery. Carbohydrates also promote secretion of insulin, a hormone enabling cells to get the glucose they need. Insulin also carries amino acids into cells and promotes protein synthesis. Insulin has steroid-like effects in terms of muscle gains. It is impossible to promote protein synthesis without the existence of insulin, which means that without ingesting carbohydrates or protein—which also induces the release of insulin—it is impossible to add muscle mass. Bodybuilders seek out low-glycemic polysaccharides and other slowly digesting carbohydrates, which release energy in a more stable fashion than high-glycemic sugars and starches. This is important as high-glycemic carbohydrates cause a sharp insulin response, which places the body in a state where it is likely to store additional food energy as fat. However, bodybuilders frequently do ingest some quickly digesting sugars (often in form of pure dextrose or maltodextrin) just before, during, and/or just after a workout. This may help to replenish glycogen stored within the muscle, and to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.