Where you go from here is up to you. With 25% more strength, you’re no doubt carrying more muscle. Maybe it’s time to step into a cutting cycle after a week or two off. Or, if you feel like this methodology set you on the path to even greater gains, you can always start the program over, perhaps aiming to add even more strength and size to your new physique.

Shorter rest periods have their place — especially if your goal is muscular endurance and fat loss. But longer rest allows you to perform more reps on subsequent sets, and this greater volume, over time, may lead to greater muscle gains in the long run. One convenient way to do this without tacking additional time onto your bodybuilding routine: Perform supersets, which are back-to-back sets of two different exercises that target non-competing muscle groups (e.g., the squat and biceps curl, or the bench press and bent over row).
If you are a female considering a bodybuilding regimen, it is important to understand you have a few physiological disadvantages compared to your male counterparts. You have much lower levels of the hormone testosterone than men, which makes it challenging to gain muscle. You also have much higher levels of estrogen than men, which causes you to retain more fat. However, by applying key strategies to your lifestyle, workouts and diet, you can acquire a shapely, muscular physique. Consult with your health care provider to determine if you are fit enough for a bodybuilding regimen.
You could simply create one plan and eat the same things every day until you get tired of it… you could create a 3-day or 7-day plan and rotate through it… or you could map out a few possible options for each meal that have similar macronutrient profiles (for example, 3 different breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 snacks etc.), and then choose the option you most prefer based on how you feel that day.

You cannot just go in the gym and do whatever you feel at that moment. You need to have a strict routine and follow it closely. Ask a personal trainer or an advanced bodybuilder to provide you with a program that includes the exact exercises you need to do, the number of sets and the number of reps per set. When you set foot in the gym you need to know exactly what you will do in that training session.
For every person who lifts weights these days, it seems there are two who have a podcast about it. There are more bodybuilding tips promising greater strength and muscle than ever before, and along with them a ton of confusion; one buffed-up Instagrammer says lifting heavy will get you swole, while a well-known fitness personality has claimed in recent years that two 30-minute workouts per week netted him 34 pounds of muscle in a month.

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.)


Intensive weight training causes micro-tears to the muscles being trained; this is generally known as microtrauma. These micro-tears in the muscle contribute to the soreness felt after exercise, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is the repair of these micro-traumas that results in muscle growth. Normally, this soreness becomes most apparent a day or two after a workout. However, as muscles become adapted to the exercises, soreness tends to decrease.[22]

I recommend a cyclical approach to bulking and cutting to optimize anabolic hormones and minimize unwanted fat accumulation. This could be 16 weeks of above-maintenance intake for lean mass gains, followed by 16 weeks below-maintenance intake for fat loss. Of course, feel free to experiment with what works best for you. When done correctly, this approach will yield considerable lean mass gains while you stay pretty darn lean.
Start with moderately heavy weights. Picking the right amount of weight to lift is important to build the right kind of muscle and avoid injuries. First, you need to determine your max-out weight: the heaviest weight that you can lift, at least once. Use a spotter and find out your max. Ideally, beginner bodybuilders should be lifting 70-80 % of that single rep max for 6-10 repetitions of 3-4 sets. This is the optimal set and repetition range for muscle growth.

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.
This period also saw the rise of anabolic steroids in bodybuilding and many other sports. In bodybuilding lore, this is partly attributed to the rise of "mass monsters", beginning with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva, and Lou Ferrigno in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and continuing through the 1980s with Lee Haney, the 1990s with Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, and Markus Rühl, and up to the present day. Bodybuilders such as Greg Kovacs attained mass and size never seen previously but were not successful at the pro level. Others were renowned for their spectacular development of a particular body part, like Tom Platz or Paul Demayo for their leg muscles. At the time of shooting Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger (while never admitting to steroid use until long after his retirement) said that "you have to do anything you can to get the advantage in competition".[citation needed] He would later say that he does not regret using anything.[8]
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.
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.
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!
Don't worry, we're still talking snail's pace weight gain. Aim for one pound per week of lean muscle mass gains, though you may initially gain faster if you started out extremely lean or glycogen depleted. Start by adding 500 calories to your current daily intake, and maintain that intake until you plateau. If or when this happens, add another 250-500 calories and repeat.
Your lifting form is more important that how much you can lift or how many reps you can do. If you are not lifting with the right form, you are not only just inviting injury, but also hampering progress and possibly gains as well. Advanced body builder will use tricks like partial reps to build up more pump in their muscles. If you are a beginner, you don’t need to. Learn to walk before you learn to fly.
20. Avoid obsessing about trendy and new bodybuilding workouts. Most of them have a huge level of nonsense. Notice how almost 98% of these guides tell you nothing about adding weight? Guess what: weight addition is the key ingredient to any progress in bodybuilding. Maybe the books you’re reading won’t tell you about it because doing so will stop you to buy more of their books?

Don't worry, we're still talking snail's pace weight gain. Aim for one pound per week of lean muscle mass gains, though you may initially gain faster if you started out extremely lean or glycogen depleted. Start by adding 500 calories to your current daily intake, and maintain that intake until you plateau. If or when this happens, add another 250-500 calories and repeat.
On January 16, 1904, the first large-scale bodybuilding competition in America took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The competition was promoted by Bernarr Macfadden, the father of physical culture and publisher of original bodybuilding magazines such as Health & Strength. The winner was Al Treloar, who was declared "The Most Perfectly Developed Man in the World".[5] Treloar won a $1,000 cash prize, a substantial sum at that time. Two weeks later, Thomas Edison made a film of Treloar's posing routine. Edison had also made two films of Sandow a few years before. Those were the first three motion pictures featuring a bodybuilder. In the early 20th century, Macfadden and Charles Atlas continued to promote bodybuilding across the world. Alois P. Swoboda was an early pioneer in America.

Including a small amount of higher sugar and/or higher fat food here and there (I usually try to refrain from using the term “cheat meals” as it wrongly implies that you’re doing something outside the rules) is not going to negatively affect your muscle building or fat burning progress, and it will make your overall eating plan much more enjoyable while still delivering the same results.
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The use of cardio exercise to get into shape was surprisingly nearly non-existent in the time period from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. As mentioned before, gyms were well equipped with barbells, dumbbells and heavy, basic machines. Cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills, stair masters and elliptical machines were not developed yet. Some gyms would have a couple stationary bikes included in the establishment but they were not nearly as comfortable or as advanced as the equipment that frequents health clubs today.
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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.
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.
Keep things simple at dinner and aim for an even distribution of protein, starchy carbs and vegetables. Pick steak, chicken, pork, turkey or fish for your protein, or a soy-based product if you're vegetarian. Pasta, sweet potatoes, couscous, quinoa and buckwheat are all nutrient-dense, high-fiber carb sources. And as for vegetables, anything goes. Consider making double your evening meal to take for lunch the next day.
Don't worry, we're still talking snail's pace weight gain. Aim for one pound per week of lean muscle mass gains, though you may initially gain faster if you started out extremely lean or glycogen depleted. Start by adding 500 calories to your current daily intake, and maintain that intake until you plateau. If or when this happens, add another 250-500 calories and repeat.

Note the flexibility here. If you're an experienced casual lifter starting an organized program, you may be able to kick off with 3 X 12 from the beginning. If you are new to weights and have some fitness issues, you should start with one set and progress slowly. Doing only 1 set of 9 exercises will not take too long, perhaps only 30 minutes with warmup included. Doing an extra 20 minutes or more of cardio before or after weights would be time well spent at this stage. Once you reach full stretch in the program, aerobic training may be better done before weights or at a separate session.

For beginners, your own body weight might be enough to get you started. However, it can be hard to challenge your body without any additional resistance, so to progress, you'll need some equipment. If you decide to strength train at home, you'll want to invest in some basics, such as resistance bands, weights, and an exercise ball. Try to have a range of weights: a light set (3 to 5 pounds for women, 5 to 8 pounds for men), a medium set (5 to 10 pounds for women, 10 to 15 pounds for men), and a heavy set (10 to 20 pounds for women, 15 to 30 pounds for men).
Now, I understand that going from two to three meals a day to six can be quite a shock. However, I do not expect you to change everything all at once. As a matter of fact, this is the reason why 99% of dieters out there fail. My goal is to have you succeed just as I did when I had weight problems. Therefore, if you rather ease into this program slowly by making small changes to your current diet on a bi-weekly basis, then please visit my article on Easing Into A Bodybuilding Diet

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.


Resistance training or lifting weights is a common practice in the world of people who want to get bigger and stronger. To someone who wants to lose weight, it could seem almost counterproductive to put on muscle weight when your true goal is to lose weight. The truth of the matter is that you want to lose fat, and putting on muscle can help you accomplish that goal.
You can reduce frequency. This would definitely be my first choice. If you’re using the 4 day upper/lower split, just switch to the 3 day version. The slightly lowered frequency/extra day of rest between each workout should GREATLY improve any recovery related issues you may have. If you’re already using the 3 day version and it still seems like it’s too much for you, see below.
The use of cardio exercise to get into shape was surprisingly nearly non-existent in the time period from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. As mentioned before, gyms were well equipped with barbells, dumbbells and heavy, basic machines. Cardiovascular equipment such as treadmills, stair masters and elliptical machines were not developed yet. Some gyms would have a couple stationary bikes included in the establishment but they were not nearly as comfortable or as advanced as the equipment that frequents health clubs today.
Because of the specific training many enduroletes employ, many supplements are basically useless, or at best, cost prohibitive for endurance athletes. It's a much different game than, say, bodybuilding, where intensive supplementation is absolutely critical. The key is to understand the basics and use supplements that have real application for an endurance athlete.
The sport of competitive bodybuilding is a game of adapting our training and diet to manipulate our physical appearance. As our bodies approach age 40 and beyond, there is inevitable muscle loss that will occur. Coupled together with the possibility of decreased testosterone production and ailing joints, there are a few things to consider when competing into your 30s and beyond.
Traumatic-sounding, but true: muscle damage — or more specifically, the micro-trauma to muscle and connective tissue that’s a natural consequence of resistance training — touches off a regenerative process that can stimulate the production of new muscle cells. Research shows that eccentric movements (e.g., the lowering phase of a bicep curl), which require a muscle to lengthen under tension, produce greater micro-trauma than concentric movements (e.g., the lifting phase of a bicep curl), which require it to contract.

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What we love about descending sets is that this technique is really useful for hitting all the muscle fiber types in the muscle group being worked. We personally love using it for calves and biceps and it works really well on machine exercises where all you have to do is change the pin, such as: Leg Extensions, Leg Curls, Triceps Pushdowns, Lat Pulldowns, Low Pulley Rows, Calf Raise, etc. You can use this technique more often than the ones we have presented already.
Muscles don’t grow unless they need to overcome a resistance, and, to a point, the harder you need to contract them, the greater the “mechanical tension” and resulting growth stimulus will be. It’s the ‘use it or lose it’ principle. The most effective way to do that? Grab a weight (or resistance band) and have at it. Research suggests that mechanical tension disturbs the integrity of a muscle, triggering a series of changes that ultimately results in increases in not only size, but also contractile strength and power. In general, the heavier weight you can lift with good form, the more tension you produce, and the more you’ll grow.
What can a bodybuilder do to break a plateau? Advanced bodybuilding training techniques are applied on an occasional basis to introduce variety into the bodybuilding routine in order to further stimulate muscle growth. The purpose of such bodybuilding techniques is to take the muscle beyond the point of failure. Muscular failure is the point in which performing another repetition in good form becomes impossible and also the point that stimulates the muscle to grow. Most of these advanced bodybuilding training techniques should only be used sparingly; do not use them on every workout or else you risk overtraining and/or injury. Supersets, tri-sets, and giant-sets, however, are the exception to this rule and can be used on every workout.
“Regardless of whether volitional failure is achieved through heavy weights or high reps, you’ll hit your type II muscle fibers, which have the greatest growth potential,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Openfit’s senior manager of fitness and nutrition content. “But those lighter weight/higher rep sets will also nail your smaller type I muscle fibers, which studies have shown to have growth potential as well.”
Setup: In case the name of this one throws you off a bit, be warned that this exercise is definitely not for sissies—and you might be sore for a few days after you’ve done it. First, hang on to something fixed, like a squat rack, to keep steady during the exercise. Stand on the balls of your feet with your feet positioned slightly wider than shoulder width apart. If you have trouble keeping your balance, put a couple of five-pound plates under your heels. Keep your upper legs and torso in a straight line, from your shoulders to your knees.
Eat the right amounts and types of carbohydrates: To figure out your carbohydrate needs, multiply your lean body mass (fat-free body weight) by 0.8 and that will give you the total grams of carbs you need to consume per day. Divide that number by 3 and that equals the amount of carbohydrate grams you will have for Meal 1, on your meal prior to the workout and on your meal after the workout. Since we are emphasizing fat loss, stick to low glycemic carbohydrates (such as oatmeal, brown rice, grits, and sweet potatoes), except for the post workout meal where a high glycemic carbohydrate such as cream of rice is more desirable.

“Ask yourself: What do you want to be doing three months from now? Is that realistic? How much time are you willing to commit to strength training? What obstacles do you see getting in the way? What structures and supports will help you stay on track? How will you respond if you’re not making the progress you want? Answer these questions first before getting into the nitty-gritty of setting specific movement or weight goals,” he says.

Warm up prior to and stretch frequently during your workout. Before participating in any athletic activity, you should raise your peripheral body temperature. Get your heart beating and increase the blood flow to your extremities by participating in 5 minutes of a low intensity cardiovascular activity. Following your warm up, stretch your muscles gradually to a point of mild discomfort, not outright pain. Never bounce. Instead, hold stretched positions for about 20 seconds. Rather than limiting yourself to a pre-training stretch, continue to stretch during and after your workout to promote circulation. By increasing blood flow to your muscles, waste products like lactic acid are rapidly removed to help prevent soreness. In addition, more blood-borne nutrients are available for energy and growth.

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.
Two to three days a week, you need to hit the weight room for a date with your barbells. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are ideal. You can focus on the powerlifts -- the deadlift, squat and bench -- to build muscle and in the process, burn fat. Expect to warm up by lifting light weights and to spend about an hour per session. Women: Don't forget to train hard, after your first month or so of getting acclimated. Push yourself as part of serious training designed to pack on 5 to 10 pounds of additional muscle, advises fitness author Stuart McRobert, writing in "Iron Man" magazine.
The lateral raise (or shoulder fly) is performed while standing or seated, with hands hanging down holding weights, by lifting them out to the sides until just below the level of the shoulders. A slight variation in the lifts can hit the deltoids even harder, while moving upwards, just turn the hands slightly downwards, keeping the last finger higher than the thumb. This is an isolation exercise for the deltoids. Also works the forearms and traps.
Your sweet tooth can completely derail your diet if you aren’t careful. In addition to avoiding obvious sweets like candy, cake, and cookies, remember to watch out for excess sugars in processed foods. For example, you might be surprised how much sugar is in some yogurts, pasta sauces, and cereals. Don’t forget to bypass soda and sugary cocktails and coffee drinks as well. In place of these sweets, as a dessert after your meal, try eating some fruit or a small piece of dark chocolate.
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.
No one wants to see a friend get hurt in the gym, and I consider anyone who lifts a friend in that sense, so don't be afraid to take a plate off of your lifts in order to practice good form. Looking like you can lift more plates in the gym than anyone else isn't really important, and in the long run keeping good form will keep you healthier and more able to continue lifting.
Competing in a bodybuilding contest can be a source of immense physiological and emotional stress. As one of the most demanding activities one can engage in, it requires extreme control, discipline, and motivation to even be competitive in the sport. To recover from this stress and bring the body back into balance, attention to proper nutrition and supplementation is critical.
After a tough sweat, it's important to rehydrate your body: "Drink lots of water and thank your body for what it was just able to accomplish," says Davis. A balanced post-workout snack is also a good idea. Go for one with carbs refuel your glycogen stores (one of your body's main energy sources) and about 10 to 20 grams of protein to help build and repair your muscles. "Don’t overcomplicate it," says Davis. If you're lifting and weight loss is one of your goals, though, it's still important to keep calories in mind—a post-workout snack shouldn't be more than 150 to 200 calories. Here's a guide to how many calories you should be eating for weight loss.
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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