At the end of the day, you have to focus on how you feel. “Listen to your body,” says Davis. “It tells you when it needs a day off.” As a rule of thumb, take a rest day if your perceived pain is above a seven on a scale of 10, Davis advises. Or, focus on a different body part (say, if your legs are sore, focus on upper-body moves). Can't stop, won't stop—at least, till your next rest day.

After 12 weeks in the Beginning Bodybuilding Schedule, it is time to graduate to an Intermediate Routine in order to keep progressing. In this routine, the body is split in two separate days; chest, back and arms on day 1, and shoulders, legs and abs on day 2. Also, a leg extension/leg curl attachment will be required for those working out at home.
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!
Arnold wasn't just concerned with feeling the weight; he wanted to make sure the load induced muscle failure at a target range: "I make a point of never doing fewer than six repetitions per set with most movements," he notes," and nothing higher than 12. The rule applies to most body parts, including calves." Make sure to choose the right weight to fail within that rep range.
You may have heard hardcore lifters talk about things like "leg day," but when it comes to a beginner strength workout that's only a few days a week, a full-body workout is often the way to go (rather than splitting your days up by body part). "Full-body workouts maximize your caloric burn and the muscles worked each session," says Davis. The best way to do this is to pair one upper body exercise with one lower body exercise. "This way, the lower body has time to recover while the upper body works and vice-versa," says Davis. You should also aim for a balance between movements that feel like pulling and ones that feel like pushing. For example, Davis suggests pairing these exercises together:
How you eat to recover from exercise is one of the most important principles in exercise nutrition. Glucose, or glycogen, is the athlete’s and exerciser’s main fuel. You get it from carbohydrate foods and drinks. If you don’t refuel sufficiently after each session, glucose stores in muscle can get depleted. This can lead to fatigue, poor performance, and even immune system suppression and infection. What's more, inadequate refueling after your session won't take advantage of that hard muscle work by giving those muscles an anabolic boost that repairs and builds.
A bodybuilding diet aligns with all the general advice for a healthful diet: A balanced mix of macronutrients and plenty of micronutrients from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Even in the bulking phase, the idea is to bulk up by eating more, but sticking with mostly healthy choices. Similarly, in the cutting phase, the goal is to cut out less nutrient-dense foods, not slash calories extremely and give up nutritious foods.
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.
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.
Usually, people associate the word diet with days of starvation and pain. However, that is not the correct definition of a diet. The word diet refers to the food choices that we make on a daily basis. Even if you don’t think you that you are on a diet, guess what?! You already are following a diet. Whether you eat candy all day every day or oatmeal, that is your diet.
Exercise tubing consists of elastic tubes with handles that can substitute for free weights or machines to help you build strength and tone. They come in various thicknesses to increase the tension (and are different colors to denote the tension). They have never been tested head-to-head against free weights or machines, but remember that resistance exercise is any activity that causes muscles to contract against external resistance. Tubing does just that.
I know, I know, flat bench press is your favorite lift, or whatever else you prefer, but if your goal is to build up triceps, perhaps you should start with something like dips, or even separate your regimen into a chest day and an arms day. It's simply impossible to improve if you waste all of your energy on your "favorite" lifts while neglecting the muscles that you truly want to bring up.

If you are really wanting to become successful, but are currently performing a polar opposite routine from the tips above (i.e. eating junk food, not having good technique) then try implementing one tip at a time until you have all of them. Take it slow, if you move to fast you'll most likely lose interest. Once you're following all the tips and rules, you'll be shocked by how fast you grow and how much stronger you become. It'll be a new you.
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).

Monitor your actions and results. You need to have a record of everything you do and every food you take. With today’s smartphones, you can easily find an app for that. You can also take full body pictures of yourself so that you can track your progress. By jotting down your activities in a journal, you can make accurate tweaks that can bring you better results. This is important especially if your progress has stalled.


People throw around a number of different words they think are “synonyms” when it comes to strength training: weight lifting, resistance training… the list goes on. But really the term “strength training” incorporates body weight exercises, bands, machines, weighted equipment, and essentially anything that isn’t running, swimming, jump roping, or flexibility training (like stretching), according to Men’s Fitness‘ Group Training Director Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S. So it’s not synonymous with weight lifting—it’s an umbrella term that includes it. And while weight lifting is great, there are tons of other strength-training moves that don’t include actual weights that can help you sculpt a strong, muscular upper body.
Arnold sought out alternative exercises that worked a target muscle from slightly different angles. When using dumbbells rather than the barbell on overhead presses, for example, he deliberately lowered the weights several inches below the bottom position of the barbell movement, and he brought them together at the top to elongate the range of motion.

Most bodybuilders become familiar with their kitchens as a matter of necessity. Whether you can quickly master taste or not, cooking your own food means you know everything going into it. During a cut, where excess salt or sugar in ready meals and takeaways can hinder weight loss, bringing your own food to work will eliminate any risky meal choices.


Most skinny guys dramatically overestimate how much they're actually consuming. You're going to need hard numbers to make sure you stay on track. You don't need to go crazy and count every macronutrient as if you were dieting, but you do need to roughly measure portion sizes, track overall calories, and at least account for everything you do or don't eat.
If you decide to join a gym, know that you're not expected to know how all of the equipment works right off the bat—or what to do with it. Be sure to take advantage of the free orientation so you can learn how to properly use everything that's offered and set up a basic strength-training program. At the gym, machines are preferred for beginners, because they're quite safe: Most require little coordination and offer more stability than free weights while performing the movements. 
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.
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.
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Perusing Arnold's signature tome requires some effort: The hardback version comes in at an even 800 pages, after all! While it's hefty weight might make it a nice addition to your coffee table, the nuggets of training gold take a little work to find. In the interest of mining the best knowledge from one of the strongest minds in bodybuilding, here are 31 Arnold-approved training tips to help you build your best body ever!

For bodybuilding, you need to gain muscle. And to gain muscle, you will have to keep adding weight to the bar. The principles you have set won't matter if you don't put more pressure on your muscles as time goes by. When you get stuck, you should go for other strategies like supersets and drop sets, to name a few. This will help you increase the potential of your body.
Another important part of form is using a full range of motion while doing the exercise, meaning you do not stop your bench press half way down. If you cannot complete the full range of motion you are probably using too heavy of a weight. Your motion should also be slow and controlled, avoiding jerking the weights, swinging the weights to get momentum, or bouncing the weights.
The Basic Strength and Muscle program is not just for beginners: you should use it if you want a formalized and precise program following casual experience with weights. As the name implies, it's an all-around program for basic strength and muscle building. This could be used in off-season training if your sport has elements of strength, power and strength endurance, which fits many sports. Consult your coach to ensure it doesn't conflict with other training priorities. Training programs are always most efficient when tailored specifically for individuals and their goals.
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!
Processed and fried foods will be going bye-bye as part of your bodybuilding program. You'll need five or six small meals each day with lean protein to repair muscles, carbs to fuel your workouts and healthy fats to satisfy hunger. Lebo advises that you create meal plans for your week. Rest your muscles a full 48 hours before working the same muscle group and get plenty of sleep.
In a study published in the journal Amino Acids, Finnish scientists discovered that weightlifters who consumed whey protein before and immediately after workouts produced more of a compound called cyclin-dependent kinase 2, or CDK2, than those who didn’t take whey. CDK2 is believed to activate muscle stem cells involved in hypertrophy and recovery from intense training. In addition, a 2009 study by Japanese researchers found that consuming whey and glucose prompted larger stores of post-training muscle glycogen (the main energy source for working muscles) than ingesting just glucose. Shoot for 20–30g of fast-digesting whey protein isolate or hydrolysate 30 minutes pre-workout and immediately post-workout.
The pyramid system of training was in vogue during those days. Bodybuilders using multiple sets per exercise would typically warm up with a light weight and gradually increase the resistance over the 4-5 sets so they were using their heaviest weights for the last sets. As mentioned above, the bodybuilders would start training faster while still using heavy weights as the contest got closer. This would increase the intensity of the workout while still using the same weights because of the decreased rest periods.

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.


The most important aspect of your bodybuilding diet is calorie intake. To build mass, you need between 20 and 22 calories per pound of body weight each day, according to sports scientist Jim Stoppani. This would mean a 150-pound beginner bodybuilder would need between 3,000 and 3,300 calories per day to gain weight. Stoppani advises reducing your intake slightly on nontraining days, though, as you're less active. On these days, aim for 18 calories per pound, meaning the 150-pound bodybuilder would need 2,700 calories on rest days.
The main difference between Advanced Training and Intermediate Training is that in Advanced Training, you'll need to change your program every 3 weeks to keep the gains coming. Therefore, you will need to incorporate periodization, which is the manipulation of sets, repetitions and rest in between sets. If competition is your goal, then you may need to increase your weight training days to 6 in order to accommodate a larger number of exercises. Some options on what can be done in terms of a more advanced routine are presented below:
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