Resistance training works by causing microscopic damage or tears to the muscle cells, which in turn are quickly repaired by the body to help the muscles regenerate and grow stronger. The breakdown of the muscle fiber is called "catabolism," and the repair and re-growth of the muscle tissue is called "anabolism." You're probably familiar with the term anabolic when used with steroids. Anabolic means to grow, and that's exactly what happens after you break down the muscle fibers with resistance exercise. In fact, many biological processes of growth in the body require some breakdown, or catabolism, prior to re-growth. For instance, bones must be broken down first before calcium and other growth factors repair the bone and make it stronger. With muscles, testosterone, insulin-like growth factor, growth hormone, protein, and other nutrients rush to the muscle after a resistance-exercise session to help repair the muscles to make them stronger. Importantly, your muscles heal and grow when you aren't working out, and so that's why it's necessary to leave time between workouts for recovery.
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.
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.
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.
Most of the exercises that should make up your initial training are called compound, or basic, exercises. These are exercises that involve more than one muscle group, such as the squat, deadlift and bench press. This is in contrast to isolation exercises which only work one muscle at a time, such as dumbbell flyes (chest), concentration curls (biceps) and side laterals (side deltoid head).
"When there is a particular muscle group that I really need to focus on, I like to lift a little lit heavier than usual, lifting roughly 6 working sets for 6 reps each," explains fitness model Tricia Ashley Gutierrez. "Then, if that muscle really needs more work, I like to come back three days later and train that same muscle group using higher-rep isolation movements."
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.
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.
Patience is something almost every beginner lacks, but is also a vital key to success. When first stepping in the gym, progress may come rather quickly, whether it is in the form of size or strength gains. Depending on your body, your progress will begin to decrease after a period of time and adding weight to the bar will become progressively difficult.
In terms of actual gains, depending on the factors listed above, maybe 12-15 lbs. of muscle, 15 lbs. being on the high end. This assumes you are natural, by the way. Drugs are a personal choice, but my experience is as a natural bodybuilder, so I'm not going to pretend to know a lot about how steroids affect your gains. Having said that, it makes sense to at least be aware of what they are and what they do, purely from a knowledge standpoint. There are enough knowledge resources available on line that you can learn about them if you choose to pursue that option.
So, for example, with the moves above you'd do 15 squats followed by 15 push-ups. Take a little breather then repeat that two more times. Then you move on to your walking lunges and lat pull-downs (and repeat those three times total, too). You can really do anywhere from eight reps to 15 (and even just two sets, if you don't have time for three), but "it’s not a bad idea for beginners to start with a 15-rep range to get comfortable with the exercises," says Davis. And while there's some debate over whether three sets of an exercise is really best, "it’s a great beginner model," says Davis. Don't overcomplicate things when you're just getting started.
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!
Of all the macronutrients, protein is most important for cutting. While it will be carbs you miss the most, when cutting down calories, protein is important to build muscle which boosts your metabolism. Therefore, you’ll need to keep up your protein intake. Products such as Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) allows you to consume a greater intake of protein without overdoing the calories, they are also available in tasty flavours than can curb any sweet cravings too.
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.
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. 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.
“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.
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.
Without further ado, here are some of the best 10 training tips you'll ever hear, aggregated by myself from my experience working closely with many practiced health and fitness experts. These tips come from long time bodybuilding coaches, knowledgeable conditioning experts, registered dietitians, physical therapists, experienced personal trainers, and elite multisport coaches, and are good bits of wisdom to keep in your back pocket no matter what your sport or goals.
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.
The motor proteins actin and myosin generate the forces exerted by contracting muscles. Current recommendations suggest that bodybuilders should consume 25–30% of protein per total calorie intake to further their goal of maintaining and improving their body composition. This is a widely debated topic, with many arguing that 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is ideal, some suggesting that less is sufficient, while others recommending 1.5, 2, or more. It is believed that protein needs to be consumed frequently throughout the day, especially during/after a workout, and before sleep. There is also some debate concerning the best type of protein to take. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, eggs and dairy foods are high in protein, as are some nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils. Casein or whey are often used to supplement the diet with additional protein. Whey protein is the type of protein contained in many popular brands of protein supplements and is preferred by many bodybuilders because of its high Biological Value (BV) and quick absorption rates. Whey protein also has a bigger effect than casein on insulin levels, triggering about double the amount of insulin release. That effect is somewhat overcome by combining casein and whey. Bodybuilders are usually thought to require protein with a higher BV than that of soy, which is additionally avoided due to its claimed estrogenic properties. Still, some nutrition experts believe that soy, flax seeds and many other plants that contain the weak estrogen-like compounds or phytoestrogens, can be used beneficially, as phytoestrogens compete with estrogens for receptor sites in the male body and can block its actions. This can also include some inhibition of pituitary functions while stimulating the P450 system (the system that eliminates hormones, drugs and metabolic waste product from the body) in the liver to more actively process and excrete excess estrogen. Cortisol decreases amino acid uptake by muscle, and inhibits protein synthesis.
How on Earth anybody can find it within themselves to train 10,000 percent without the use of music is still a mystery to me. Music gets you pumped more than any other supplement - I don't care what they tell you - and it's all natural too! Not to mention free... or at least cheaper than any $50 dollar supplement claiming to get you "psychologically insane."
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.
Arnold loved the standing barbell curl for building baseball biceps. When looking for a major mass-building move, Arnold preferred exercises that allowed him to push heavy weight, let him achieve a full range of motion, and could be hammered for 6-8 heavy reps. That's how he built his biceps into mountains, and it's a great start for your workout, too.
Is your resting heart rate jacked up today? Are you too sore from your last workout to walk? Did you only sleep a few hours the last night? Skipped breakfast and lunch? Congrats, you just earned yourself a rest day. In other words - go home. You aren't going to get anything but an increased risk of injury by training in any one of these conditions.
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.