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.
Calorie load the right way. Nutrition is one of the biggest and most important facets of bodybuilding. You can lift seven days a week, train hard, and do all the cardio in the world, but if your nutrition is poor, you will not see rapid and mass gains in muscle size and strength. Learn to eat the right amount of the right kind of calories to gain muscle the way you want.

An article by Muscle & Fitness magazine, "Overtrain for Big Gains", claimed that overtraining for a brief period can be beneficial. Overtraining can be used advantageously, as when a bodybuilder is purposely overtrained for a brief period of time to super compensate during a regeneration phase. These are known as "shock micro-cycles" and were a key training technique used by Soviet athletes.[53]
You don't need to design a fresh plan every three weeks. Scaling up weight and modifying reps are obviously both important for progression, but playing with different set styles will shock your body and keep things interesting. Remember, bodybuilding isn't meant to feel like a chore. Below, we explain eight different types of sets to help you build muscle more efficiently during bodybuilding training.
To get the most gain from resistance training, progressively increase the intensity of your training according to your experience and training goals. This may mean increasing the weight, changing the duration of the contraction (the time during which you sustain holding the weight at your muscle’s maximum potential), reducing rest time or increasing the volume of training.
Over the past 7 years, I have heard more bad fitness advice unknowingly disseminated by otherwise well intentioned people than I could possibly ever formulate responses to. Indeed, most of the time, I let my best wide-eyed, mouth agape, "you've got to be kidding me" face signal my reaction to the bits of training nonsense I come across on nearly a daily basis. (Enter here please, 99.9% of the low-carb pundits.)
Training intensely is the key to stimulating muscle growth but don’t mistake volume for intensity. All too often, people trying to achieve a higher level of intensity in their training make the mistake of assuming that increasing volume and duration are effective methods of boosting training intensity. Let me make this perfectly clear. Volume and frequency have absolutely nothing to do with intensity! High volume training sessions can actually be counter-productive. So how do you effectively increase intensity? A. By progressively increasing the amount of weight that you use. B. By progressively decreasing the amount of time it takes you to perform a particular amount of work. (For example, I have made some of my best muscle gains from workouts that lasted no longer than 30 minutes.) C. By working your muscles at the capacity of nothing less than 100% on every set.
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.

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.

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.
After a 5-10-minute full-body warm-up, head into two lighter, high-rep sets of your first exercise - in this case, the bench press. After those two specific warm-up sets, choose a weight you think you can handle for three reps. If you can complete four or more reps, add more weight and try a second set. Perform two sets of specific warm-ups before each exercise.

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.


Of course, no one was born pressing 500 pounds or squatting 700 pounds – it takes time to build this kind of strength. Assuming your form/technique is in place, you'll want to incorporate some low reps and heavy weights into your program. For example, do 10 sets of squats for 3-4 reps each, or 8 sets of 5. In other words, in order to build strength, keep your weight heavy and use low reps for a high number of sets. Squatting your bodyweight is a bare-minimum requirement for a beginner (or twice your bodyweight for an intermediate-level lifter).
In the fourth and final week of the program, you’ll train four days in a four-way split that hits each bodypart just once (except for calves and abs, which are each trained twice). Four-day splits are common among experienced lifters because they involve training fewer bodyparts (typically 2–3) per workout, which gives each muscle group ample attention and allows you to train with higher volume. As you’ll see, chest and triceps are paired up, as are back with biceps and quads with hamstrings, each a very common pairing among novice and advanced bodybuilders. Shoulders are trained more or less on their own, and you’ll alternate hitting calves and abs—which respond well to being trained multiple times per week—every other workout. No new exercises are introduced in Week 4 so that you can focus on intensity in your workouts instead of learning new movements.
Shave or wax all your body hair regularly. It's the part that's maybe the most awkward to talk about, but bodybuilders like to keep anything out of the way of those bulging muscles. That means scheduling regular body-waxing, especially before contests. You don't need to do it all the time, but you want to keep up the temple, it's usually common to shave your body a few times a month to keep things under control, then get full a full wax before you perform.
You can’t know where you’re going without knowing where you are. So before you conduct any sort of diet overhaul, take a look at the number of calories you currently consume on a day-to-day basis. Apps like MyFitnessPal make this exceedingly easy to do. Your daily caloric intake might surprise you! And once you know how many calories you devour each day, figure out how many calories you ought to be consuming using the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.

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.
Muscle is a very biologically active tissue in the body, meaning that the simple fact that it's there means it's burning more calories than other types of weight, such as fat weight or water weight. The addition of muscle tissue increases the body's ability to burn calories, meaning that in the long run, you'll be able to keep the fat off with much more ease.
In the realm of fitness, three-month workout programs dominate the landscape. You’ve even seen plenty of them in our magazine over the years. Are they effective? Absolutely. But we’re going to let you in on an interesting secret: It doesn’t necessarily take 8 or 12 weeks to get your feet wet in the gym. Not that you’ll be a seasoned vet after four weeks, but if you can just get that first month under your belt, you’ll get yourself over the proverbial hump, where so many fail and give up, and set the stage for a lifetime of muscle gains.
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.
“Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips, feet facing forward. Look straight ahead with your arms out in front of your body. With chest out, shoulders back, and abs tight, slowly lower your butt down as far as you can. Make sure your knees do not push forward past your toes. Weight should be in your heels, not your toes. Return to starting position, without rounding your back as you stand, and complete 15-20 reps.”
In the 12th week of the program, performing three sets of three on all exercises will provide a barometer with which you can measure your improvement. Then, in the 13th week, you’ll test your three-rep max (3RM) on five major strength lifts. If you performed the 3RM test before you began the program (see “Testing Your 3RM”), you should be looking at roughly a 25% improvement on all five lifts.
People who exercise have different requirements because the more you exercise, the more you have to eat to sustain that level of activity. This also applies to casual exercisers, but it may not apply to you if fat loss is one of the reasons you took up weight training. In this case, you need to create an energy deficit; which means that the energy (or calories) you consume in food is less than the energy you expend in exercise and daily living. Your weight training, in this case, is to assist with fat loss while attempting to maintain muscle.
Exercises in which you pull the weight perpendicularly into your body—often called rows—were a big part of Arnold's back workout. He favored all kinds of variations—seated cables rows, T-bar rows, bent-over barbell rows—but each one was done with high volume and progressively heavier weights. Arnold followed a pyramid scheme in which he increased the weight on successive sets for fewer reps. Only the heaviest sets were taken to muscle failure.
Here's one for those of you who still compete. One of the most important things about professional bodybuilding is the way you present all that hard work and sacrifice when you get on stage. You want to pose in a way that hides your flaws and accentuates your strengths. If you want to see those flaws and strengths clearly, take pictures of your poses and when you look at them, cover your face. Sounds silly but it allows you to be more objective. Now, you may want to enlist the help of a credible posing coach to hone in your routine.
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]

Weight trainers do not use as much glucose fuel as higher intensity or longer duration aerobic sports like track and endurance running and cycling. But even so, it pays to keep those glycogen stores topped up if you want to be at your best in training. Low numbers of repetitions with heavy weights develop strength, whereas lighter weights and more repetitions build muscle size and endurance. The latter is likely to expend more energy.


Maximize your body's response with new challenges. Even the most brilliantly designed training program will gradually lose its efficiency. In simple terms, your body is too smart for its own good. As you become more and more adept at performing a particular movement, the results you get from that movement will reach a plateau. It's time to mix things up. Your entire work out should be modified every few weeks for best results. I urge you to constantly try new exercises to add to your repertoire. Look around the gym. Talk to people. Consult magazines. Experiment on your own: change bench angles; alter foot stances; switch the order of your exercises; try supersets; strip sets; etc. Be creative.
Liz Neporent, an exercise physiologist and the president of Wellness 360, a New York City-based corporate-wellness-consulting company, suggests the following seven exercises, which work most of the major muscles in your body. Do one to three sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of the exercises, resting no more than 45 seconds between sets to keep the workout challenging.
26. People who tell you that you can’t go wrong with squats is a liar. False advice is everywhere, and this is one big example of them. Squats that are done above parallel are extremely dangerous, and they’re instantly bad for your knees. But, if you’re doing it right, doing 20 rep squats does a lot of burn to your body and will be amazing. Try it for yourself.
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.

Precision nutrition for exercise can be complex and that’s why exercise physiologists and sports nutritionists are of great value to sporting teams and athletes. Even though keen amateurs and weekend warriors don’t have to worry too much about the split second in a race or the inch of bicep in a bodybuilding competition like the pros do, we can still eat well for our activity by following the basics of sports nutrition. If you need help sorting it all out, consult a doctor or dietitian who has experience working with athletes.
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.

The third and final phase of the “25% Stronger” program helps you max out your strength levels by gradually decreasing the volume of your workouts while increasing the amount of weight you move. You’ll begin the last phase at the top end of the strength range (seven reps). Each week, you’ll perform fewer sets and reps - five of five, four of four and finally the last week in which you perform three sets of three - so your body is fresh for the final tests in Week 13.
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."

The intensity of a workout was often adjusted by decreasing the amount of rest taken between sets. By training faster, bodybuilders would automatically train harder. Arnold was rumored to train with so many sets and so quickly that he would need three sets of training partners that he would alternate with workouts in order to keep up with him. With the decreased rest periods between sets and the increased volume of the workout, bodybuilders could get into top contest condition without the use of cardio.


Some male weight trainers shovel in the protein in the form of shakes, supplements, and the occasional whole turkey without figuring out how much is useful or even how much they are ingesting. The American College of Sports Medicine estimates the requirements for strength trainers at 1.6 to 1.7 grams per kilogram body weight per day (about 0.8 grams per pound).
The glucose will cause an insulin spike to drive the nutrients into the muscle. The maltodextrin will be used to fill up the muscles with glycogen. Fructose should be included to replenish liver glycogen that has been used during training. The post workout meal should have at least 20% of the athletes daily protein needs and the best source of protein for the post workout meal is whey.

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.
Also, never forget to rest in between the days that you had intense workouts. You don’t build muscles when you’re exercising. You build it when you’re resting. You should also try not to listen to false experts who tell you about the number of rest you need to do. Do your homework. Taking advice from a lifter without professional training experience will compromise your entire body workout.

Forget your typical lunch of a sandwich and chips and opt instead for a calorie- and protein-packed healthy lunch. Precooked brown rice or noodles with a piece of baked salmon, vegetables and olive oil can be made in advance and stored in a container until you're ready to eat it. If you'd rather go for a more traditional office-type lunch, have two to three whole-grain wraps filled with turkey or ham, plenty of salad and grated cheese, served with a piece or two of fruit and a handful of unsalted nuts.
In his phenomenal book "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business," Charles Duhigg dedicates an entire chapter to what he labels the "habit loop." Without giving away any spoilers—I'm not kidding, it's a book that will melt your brain, and you should read it—Duhigg explains that one of the most fail-proof ways to create a habit is to preface the behavior you want to reinforce with a cue.
The lower volume, high intensity workouts would not use the pyramid system because they were employing less sets for each exercise. The bodybuilders using the low volume workout would do 2-3 light sets at low intensity to warm up the muscles, joints and tendons. When they were fully warmed up, they would use the heaviest weights possible for the required number of sets. They would take the set to failure, often using advanced training techniques such as the rest-pause method, drop sets or forced reps to go beyond normal muscle failure. Because each working set was so intense, the rest periods for this workout would be longer in order to fully recuperate before taking on the next heavy set.
For the leg curls, I’d recommend using a different type of leg curl machine than you used in the Lower Body A workout, assuming your gym actually has more than 1 type of leg curl machine. If your gym only has one kind, do it one leg at a time in the A workout, and both legs together in this workout. Or, if preferred, hyperextensions would be fine here as well.
Bingeing the night of, or day after the contest is not necessarily detrimental to progress. Unless the competitor is planning to compete again in the very near future, being in a caloric surplus for one to two days is acceptable. Following this period, it is essential to gradually return to patterns of normal, health-conscious eating. Steadily increasing levels of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins can ensure a progressive rise in metabolic rate.
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.)
The “one set to failure” approach — doing a single, all-out set of an exercise instead of multiple ones — has long been a popular, timesaving strategy among bodybuilders. And recent studies suggest that it can be effective for building muscle. But research (including this study) comparing lifters who performed just one set per exercise with those who performed three to five, suggests that, in general, more sets wins for muscle building.
Making these five changes to your diet is guaranteed to improve your blood cholesterol levels—unless your genetic makeup mandates a higher level. Surprisingly enough, low-fat, high-cholesterol foods aren’t as bad for you as high-fat, high-cholesterol foods, which are heart disease in the making. Your goal of having less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day may be difficult to achieve, but your goal of consuming foods that don’t significantly raise your blood cholesterol is much easier to accomplish by following these five basic rules.
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]
Avoid overtraining. Listen to your body. After bad form, overtraining is the most common mistake I see in the gym. If you find you are losing enthusiasm for your work outs, if you are constantly tired, if your progress has slowed or stopped, it's time for a break. If you have been training consistently, I recommend taking a week off every two to three months. You will return to the gym reinvigorated, renewed, and rested. You will not lose strength in one week. Even after a month off, chances are you will surprise yourself by returning to the gym stronger than when you left. Following a break is the ideal time to modify your training program.

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.

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