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.
Long before he was paid $25 million for his movie roles, Arnold Schwarzenegger penned monthly articles for bodybuilding godfather Joe Weider's muscle magazines. Arnold's writing didn't win any journalism awards, but he later collected his ideas and training philosophies in his best-selling "The New Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding," which is still used as a reference tool by bodybuilders today.
Rest and recovery: Remember that muscles grow during downtime, not when you train, so allow a day or two between workouts when you first get started so that the muscles can recover and grow. You should show up at your workouts refreshed and at least as strong as the previous workout (there will be days when you aren't stronger, and you should expect them so don't get discouraged when it happens).
If someone else wants to use the equipment too, you can offer to let them “work in with you” – which means they do their sets while you rest, and vice versa. If you’re not comfortable with this (and chances are for your first few workouts you won’t be), it’s okay to say no or not offer. If you say no, be nice about it. Say something like “I’m almost done, just one more set and it’s all yours!” If you are comfortable with it, usually you and the other person will work together to change the weights in between each set.
If you have little experience of weight training and free weights, you may wish to start with the machine leg press instead of the squat, especially if you're not accompanied by a trainer, helper or spotter. Even so, there is no reason to be intimidated by the squat exercise. It need not be done in a squat rack or power cage with the big bar and free weights to begin with, although squatting with the bar alone is a good way to practice form. Dumbbells or small-bar barbells or a Smith machine can provide reassurance for the beginner. The same applies to the racked bench press with heavy bar, which can be substituted with dumbbells or lighter barbells. The key is not to lift too heavy too soon.
Attract sponsors to go pro. The more competitions you win and the more your physique starts to speak for itself, you'll need to start attracting sponsors, essentially going pro. This means that you'll be able to make money to train full time, without having to worry (at least as much) about doing other things to fund your bodybuilding. This is the dream that every bodybuilder works toward, and it'll only be available to a select few, with the genetics and the effort to make their bodies into Olympia-level physiques. Keep working toward this.
Since putting this workout routine out there back in 2010, I’ve gotten tons of feedback from literally thousands of people. Many just wanted to tell me (and show me) how well it has worked for them (which is awesome). Others, however, still had additional questions and wanted more details. Not just about this workout, but about building muscle in general.
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When the two studies were compared, the strength gains reported in the group that took one set to failure were more impressive than the gains in the group that took multiple sets to failure. A possible reason? Taking just one set to failure may provide enough of a training stimulus without the risk of overreaching, which may occur when too many sets are taken to failure.
In either phase, don’t exceed 1 gram per pound of body weight of protein (2.2 grams/kilogram). A little more probably won’t hurt a healthy person, but chances are, based on the science of protein requirements for athletes, it won’t help either. It will only cost you in expensive supplements or food. Any hint of kidney disease and you would need to be cautious about excessive protein intake. Consult your doctor for advice if this applies.
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.
One of the most misunderstood areas for new bodybuilders is nutrition. I talk to guys all the time that have no idea of their daily calorie intake, their daily protein intake, their carbohydrate intake. They have no idea of what types of foods they should be eating, or when they should be eating them. They don't know what supplements do what and what they should using. Let me refer readers to some of my other articles that detail these areas.
If someone is offering to spot you on an exercise (like the bench press), don’t assume they think you are a newb. Probably the opposite – they just want to help. If someone asks you to spot them and you’ve never spotted someone before, tell them that you would love to help but haven’t done it before so you could use some pointers. They will tell you what they want you to do.
Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart and dumbbells in hand. Hinge at the hips so that back is nearly parallel to floor and micro-bend knees. Let the dumbbells hang straight down, palms facing each other. Keeping back flat and torso still, engage back muscles to lift arms straight out to sides until they’re in line with shoulders. Your upper body will form a “T.” Return to starting position then repeat for 3 sets of 12 reps.
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.
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).
The third type of volume training program that's catching on rather rapidly is the FST-7 Training Program. This training program doesn't specifically lay out all the exercises you need to perform in a given session nor does it specifically state that you must divide the body up into a certain protocol (upper body and lower body or chest/back, legs and shoulder for example), but rather gives you guidelines as to what you should be doing on the last exercise for each body part worked that session.
Muscles don’t grow unless they need to overcome a resistance, and, to a point, the harder you need to contract them, the greater the “mechanical tension” and resulting growth stimulus will be. It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ principle. The most effective way to do that? Grab a weight (or resistance band) and have at it. Research suggests that mechanical tension disturbs the integrity of a muscle, triggering a series of changes that ultimately results in increases in not only size, but also contractile strength and power. In general, the heavier weight you can lift with good form, the more tension you produce, and the more you’ll grow.
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.
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.
In recent years, the related areas of fitness and figure competition have increased in popularity, surpassing that of female bodybuilding, and have provided an alternative for women who choose not to develop the level of muscularity necessary for bodybuilding. McLish would closely resemble what is thought of today as a fitness and figure competitor, instead of what is now considered a female bodybuilder. Fitness competitions also have a gymnastic element to them. A study by the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine found that female bodybuilders who are taking anabolic steroids are more likely to have qualified for substance dependence disorder, to have been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness, or to have a history of sexual abuse.
An easy rule of thumb here whilst trying to get in shape in the shortest time possible is to drink a minimum of 1 litre of water per 25kg of bodyweight. Not only will this help flush out that subcutaneous film of water that lies between the muscles and the skin, but also you simply cannot lose body fat properly unless you are adequately hydrated. I am constantly shocked by the poor water intake of the general population – fizzy drinks and coffee do NOT count to your fluid intake!!
The low volume bodybuilders would increase the intensity of their workouts by using heavier resistance and pushing a set past the normal limit of failure. Training techniques such as forced reps, rest pause, drop sets and forced negatives would push the muscles to failure and beyond. Because of the extreme high intensity, bodybuilders using these techniques would typically perform half as many sets as the high volume trainers.
Assuming that around 80-90% of your diet is comprised of nutrient-dense, “clean” foods (such as lean proteins, minimally refined carbohydrates and healthy fats), the other 10-20% can come from whatever sources you’d like as long as it fits into your overall daily calorie and macronutrient totals. (The only exception here are for foods that contain partially hydrogenated oils, as these should be strictly limited or eliminated altogether)
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: