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.

You can train long, or you can train intensely, but you can’t do both. For every set completed, more, and more of the body’s limited reserve of biochemical resources are used up in an attempt to merely recover from, or compensate for the exhaustive effects of the workout, leaving that much less left over for over-compensation in the form of more muscle mass. Long, drawn out training sessions decrease growth hormone, and testosterone levels, while increasing cortisol levels. This hormonal shift creates a very catabolic environment in the body that will result in muscle loss and a reduced basal metabolic rate. If it’s taking you several hours to get through a workout then you’re wasting your time. I suggest never allowing any lifting session to exceed 45 minutes in duration.


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.
With this in mind, focus less on single-joint movements (sometimes called isolation exercises) in favor of multijoint ones. The bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead press, bent-over row, and power clean are examples of solid multijoint exercises that require several muscle groups to work in coordination. These exercises should form the foundation of your training plan.

So this month, in keeping with strength-building custom, heavy sets of just five reps on basic, meat-and-potatoes lifts will serve as the backbone of your routine. But a lighter set of 30 reps at the end of each exercise (abs excepted) will provide the additional GH spike needed to boost strength and help you build denser mass. Rest 2-3 minutes between sets, and skip the definitive set of 30 for the final act on abs, for which you’ll perform four straight sets of 20 reps. Make sure you choose a heavy enough weight on that last high-rep set to make the final 5-6 reps challenging and so you elicit the best muscular and hormonal response.


In Week 1 you’ll perform three sets of every exercise per workout, which over the course of the week adds up to nine sets total for each bodypart, a good starting volume for your purposes. With the exception of crunches for abs, you’ll do 8–12 reps per set. This rep scheme is widely considered ideal for achieving gains in muscle size (the scientific term is hypertrophy) and is commonly employed by amateur and pro bodybuilders alike.
The Pull-up is performed by hanging from a chin-up bar above head height with the palms facing forward (supinated) and pulling the body up so the chin reaches or passes the bar. The pull-up is a compound exercise that also involves the biceps, forearms, traps, and the rear deltoids. A chin-up (palms facing backwards) places more emphasis on the biceps and a wide grip pullup places more emphasis on the lats. As beginners of this exercise are often unable to lift their own bodyweight, a chin-up machine can be used with counterweights to assist them in the lift.
Bodybuilding developed in the late 19th century, promoted in England by German Eugen Sandow, now considered as the "Father of Bodybuilding". He allowed audiences to enjoy viewing his physique in "muscle display performances". Although audiences were thrilled to see a well-developed physique, the men simply displayed their bodies as part of strength demonstrations or wrestling matches. Sandow had a stage show built around these displays through his manager, Florenz Ziegfeld. The Oscar-winning 1936 musical film The Great Ziegfeld depicts the beginning of modern bodybuilding, when Sandow began to display his body for carnivals.
If your goal is to pack pounds of pure muscle onto your frame, you can't be eating "empty" calories that do nothing but add mass to your waistline. You need to carefully select the right foods and supplements and incorporate them into your daily diet. By adding the muscle-builders mentioned, there is no doubt that you will be on the right path to achieving the physique of your dreams.
Action: Once you feel comfortably balanced, contract your quadriceps and gluteal muscles and lower your body slowly. When you reach the point where your upper legs are just below parallel to the floor, push back up to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight to protect your lower back, and keep your head up and your eyes fixed ahead as you perform this exercise.
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:

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]

Start small and work your way up the ladder one step at a time. If you make too big of goals, you may never reach them, and you may lose motivation and interest, which will ultimately lead to giving up. However, if your goals are attainable, once you do reach them, a never before felt euphoria will rush through your entire body, and you'll finally realize why everybody who is in this is in it. This'll only push you even harder the next time, and the next time, and then the next time, and before you know it you look back at old photos and can't even recognize yourself.
Train four to five times per week. Although you might be tempted to train seven days a week, or even multiple times per day, this will actually slow down your progress and damage your muscles. Aim for four to five training times per week, varying the types of exercises you do. The human body is highly adaptable, so keeping your muscles guessing is a key aspect of bodybuilding and weightlifting.
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.

To quote America’s foremost food writer, Michael Pollan, “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” Protein powders notwithstanding, this is great advice. Whole foods like lean meats, nuts, seeds, and vegetables contain more of the nutrients muscles crave, and deliver a steadier supply of amino acids and blood glucose to muscles than the nutritional dreck found in the middle aisles of your local supermarket.
Pick your favorite form of cardio -- spinning, outdoor biking, running, hill sprints, swimming -- and hit it hard. Literally. Brian Lebo of the Athletic Performance Training Center in Ohio advises HIIT, high-intensity interval training, as your way to burn fat in a time-efficient manner. Lebo advises a 3-to-1 rest-to-work ratio. In practical terms, this 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.
You know the deep burn you feel in your muscles after sprinting up several flights of stairs or pounding out 12 to 15 reps on your last set of heavy squats? That’s the result of metabolic stress, which is the accumulation of waste products from anaerobic energy production, and research shoes that it can be a powerful stimulus for adaptation (i.e., muscle growth). Want to maximize metabolic stress? Do moderate-duration, high-intensity activities that causes burning in the muscles; think 45 seconds of max-effort bodyweight squat-to-presses or lunge-to-curls, or 30 seconds of max-effort sprinting.
Figure out how to pay the bills. Bodybuilders don't make lots of money, so the idea of becoming a professional bodybuilder is a lot like the idea of become a professional poet or professional painter: it'll take a lot of your heart and soul, but you'll also need to figure out how to take care of the practical details. You've got to support your bodybuilding with some other kind of work to pay the bills.

To build extra muscle, you need to eat in excess of what you currently eat, and work out with weights on a regular basis. How much muscle you can gain, how quickly and with what definition is largely determined by your genetics and age. But everyone at almost any age should be able to gain some muscle and strength with weight training. Proper nutrition is a crucial element in the muscle building process.


Overload Management. The basis of strength and conditioning is progressive overload. It takes some skill to judge the point at which overload—increasingly heavier weight—is building capacity yet not making you too sore, ill or fatigued to continue. That’s why it’s very important to start slowly and build. When in doubt, take a rest, miss a session but don’t alter the program detail, the reps, and sets, if you can help it. The squat and deadlift can be very taxing, so be careful not to lift too heavy for a start.

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.
You may need to restock your pantry with lots of tuna and whole grains. Rivero shared details of her diet with SimplyShredded.com. A mini-meal may consist of oats and cooked egg whites; sweet potato and tuna; brown rice, chicken and greens; or tilapia and a quarter of an avocado. Figure competitor Ashley Toms, who describes diet as 90 percent of success in bodybuilding, similarly combines chicken, green veggies and steel-cut oats; whey protein shakes and oats; and snacks such as protein shakes or a handful of nuts.
You can use your own body weight for resistance exercise. Pushups, sit-ups, chin-ups, squat thrusts, lunges, and step-ups are just some of the exercises that you can do to strengthen your body. The advantage of these exercises is that you can do most of them anywhere, and even though you can't change your body weight to increase or decrease the resistance, there are some things you can do to increase the resistance. Here are some suggestions.
It’s true that you want to gain some weight, but you want that weight to be muscle mass and not fat! Consume quality food like lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats and stay away from junk food, lots of sweets and fatty foods. The only time when you should consume fast absorbing carbohydrates (usually foods that have a lot of sugar or white flour) is right after your workout. Read more about what to eat to gain muscle in this article.
If this happens, the key is to not delve into what psychologists call catastrophising, or thinking the worst. Just because you cheated on your cut, don’t tell yourself, “Okay I’ll get back to my diet tomorrow / 3 days from now / next week.” This kind of thinking will mean repeated cheat meals until you get back on track. Forgive yourself for the mistake and then get back on your cutting diet.
This is very important and can be very beneficial for beginners. It allows you to track your progress, see what exercises you enjoy, which ones you are improving the most, and what areas you need the most work on. Your journal should include the date, time of workout, duration of workout, the exercises, sets, reps, rest between sets, meals for the day, and supplements you may be taking.
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