As a certified personal trainer in both commercial gyms and private settings since 2002, and as an assistant coach with the de facto gold standard multisport company in Boise, Idaho, Performance High, LLC., I have been afforded much exposure to the many different fitness communities, from bodybuilders to weekend warriors to enduroletes, whose personalities are all as diverse as their fitness goals.
Squat all the way to the ground, touch the bar to your chest on bench presses and lock out fully, and do chin-ups all the way up and all the way down. Hypertrophy is much greater when you use a full range of motion as opposed to partial-range movements. I've been training this way since the beginning, thanks to being taught the basics from my Olympic lifting coaches. I've always done full ROM and I credit it, partly at least, with never having any serious injuries.
The exercise order should be maintained as above, busy gyms notwithstanding. This order has been designed with large muscle group, compound exercises first, the smaller muscle isolation exercises following and with alternating ‘push’ and ‘pull’ to achieve a session that alternates muscle groups and modes of action as much as possible to enable maximum rest and recovery of the various muscle groups. Some compromises were required. Don’t get too hung-up if you can’t achieve this sequence. It’s not always possible to access equipment when you want it in gyms. In the scheme of things, it’s not fatal.
Train each body part once per week. With the exception of abs, directly training a body part with high intensity more than once a week is usually overtraining. If you are striving for maximum strength gains, power, and muscular growth, high intensity translates to low reps and heavy weight. Three to four sets of three to four different exercises per body part is optimal. Large muscle groups like chest, quads, and glutes do well in a rep range as low as 6 or 7. With smaller groups like biceps and triceps, and difficult to isolate groups like shoulders and back, stay within a more conservative rep range of at least 8 to 10 per set. View exercises for all the muscle groups here.
A good pair of legs is as important to the body as a good set of wheels is to a car. But like a quality set of wheels, strong, healthy legs come at a high price. So, don’t take the following powerful exercises—especially the sissy squat—lightly. Because this is an incredibly intense workout that will turn your thighs into killer wheels. Serious focus and intensity are required.
Other bodybuilders, such as Casey Viator and Mike Mentzer, used less sets in order to get more recuperation. They would limit the number of sets per exercise to only 3 and would also do less exercises to train each muscle group. This would bring their total number of sets down to 10-12, about half of what the high volume trainers would use. Mentzer was often quoted as only doing a total of 5 sets per muscle group.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Change things up. After six or more weeks of consistent strength training, which is about the amount of time it takes to start seeing improvement in your body, you can change your routine to make it more difficult. Lifting the same weights for the same exercises every week will keep your body in the same place. You can modify weights or repetitions, choose different exercises, or change the order in which you do them. You only have to make one change at a time to make a difference, although more is often better.
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!
Crunch on exercise ball: Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor. Let the ball roll back slowly. Now lie back on the ball until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and slightly tuck your chin in toward your chest. Contract your abdominals, raising your torso to no more than 45 degrees. For better balance, spread your feet wider apart. To challenge the obliques, make the exercise less stable by moving your feet closer together. Exhale as you contract; inhale as you return to the starting position.
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.
Put simply, "strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles," says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S. and author of Operation Bikini Body. So even if your mind jumps straight to those hardcore machines and massive weights, there are a lot of ways to create this resistance that require minimal equipment (or none at all). Bodyweight workouts can be an incredibly effective way to strength train. Squats and push-ups FTW. You can also use tools like dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX bands, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slider disks, to help get the job done, explains Davis. But if that sounds like gibberish don't worry about it. Keep it simple and focus on equipment-free routines first. No matter what you do, the most important thing is to find something that challenges you, says Davis.
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.
Many years ago it was unheard of for women to bodybuild, let alone work out in a gym with weights. What a bunch of rubbish! Times have changed drastically, and for the better, I must say. If you’re female and want to get your groove on, look no further than your own living quarters. With the right tutelage, you can be carved up and turning heads in no time!
But regular unilateral work provides yet another advantage for building strength: core training. In the one-arm overhead dumbbell press, for example, the imbalance in weight distribution causes your core to work overtime in an effort to stabilize your torso. And the stronger your core grows over time, the more effective - as well as injury-free - you’re likely to be on bigger lifts such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses.
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.
The important role of nutrition in building muscle and losing fat means bodybuilders may consume a wide variety of dietary supplements. Various products are used in an attempt to augment muscle size, increase the rate of fat loss, improve joint health, increase natural testosterone production, enhance training performance and prevent potential nutrient deficiencies.
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.
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.
Walking into a gym to work-out for the first time can be intimidating, especially if you don't have proper guidance. Many new lifters either find themselves in that situation or are just training at home on some flimsy bench with a bar and a few plates. So, mistakes are common. Mistakes in terms of the exercises you're doing, how long you work out each day, how many days per week, the exercise form you're using, not to mention your eating habits.
“The stimulus to put on muscle that won’t be beneficial for running is much higher than people realize, and unless you’re either lifting relatively heavy and frequently and/or eating a hyper caloric diet, you’re unlikely to put on muscle,” says Joe Holder, USATF-certified running coach, Nike+ Run Club coach in New York City. “Just think about strength training one to two times a week, focusing on compound movement patterns, such as a lunge or squat, and shoring up the areas that could lead to increased injury if they are weak, like the hips.”
Lindsay Cappotelli ensures she's consistently making progress by simply tracking her workouts online or in a training journal. "I like to log the exercises I performed, the weight lifted, the reps done, and the rest I've taken between sets, so I always know where I stand," she explains. "Since muscles growth is a constant challenge, I'll mix up my workouts by adding more weight, decreasing the rest between sets, or adding an additional rep or two."
You will start with 1 set of 12 repetitions for each of 9 exercises for the first week. At workout session 8, you should have progressed to 3 sets of 12 repetitions for each exercise. The weight you choose to start with will be sufficient to perform a set of 12 repetitions to failure with good form, which means that the twelfth repetition is pretty much the most you can do without resting. This is called 12RM (repetition maximum).
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.
If like most people you are eating once or twice a day or relying on fast foods to get by, then a bodybuilding diet may be absolutely different to what you are used to. If this is the case, then it is best to follow the steps provided in my article Easing Into A Bodybuilding Diet so that you slowly start changing your eating habits into the ones required to be successful at bodybuilding.
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.
Research shows that when adding a high-rep set to a traditional low-rep strength scheme, test subjects gained 5% more strength than when they performed only the heavier, low-rep work. While the reason behind this is unclear, researchers speculate that higher reps provided the stimulus based on the higher growth hormone (GH) levels associated with high-rep weight training.
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.
Employ proper form. Movements should be accomplished with strict attention to form in order to achieve maximum benefit with minimum risk of injury. Always remember to avoid sharp, jerky repetitions and using momentum to lift a heavier weight. These cheating tactics will not make you grow faster or become stronger, but they will place harmful stresses on your joints. I suggest holding the full contraction for a short pause to accentuate the pump. Concentrate on both the concentric and eccentric phase of the contraction to maximize every repetition. Be certain to flex and extend fully to avoid muscle shortening and weakness at the extremes of the motion range.
The focus when doing this exercise should be on activating the hamstrings. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with your legs straight throughout the movement. This forces the brunt of the work to be done by the hamstrings. You are going to effectively hit the hamstrings, glutes and back with this exercise. The straight leg deadlift has helped build many ironclad physiques.
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.