One new exercise is added to each bodypart routine to provide even more angles from which to train your target muscles to promote complete development. You’ll hit each muscle group with two exercises of 3­–4 sets each: four sets for large bodyparts (chest, back, shoulders, quads, hamstrings) and three sets for smaller bodyparts (biceps, triceps, abs, calves). The result is 16 total sets for the week for large bodyparts and 12 sets total for smaller ones—again, working in the 8–15-rep range—which is a substantial increase in volume from Week 1.
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]
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).

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.


Many trainees like to cycle between the two methods in order to prevent the body from adapting (maintaining a progressive overload), possibly emphasizing whichever method more suits their goals; typically, a bodybuilder will aim at sarcoplasmic hypertrophy most of the time but may change to a myofibrillar hypertrophy kind of training temporarily in order to move past a plateau. However, no real evidence has been provided to show that trainees ever reach this plateau, and rather was more of a hype created from "muscular confusion".[clarification needed][citation needed]
If you've been competing for five-plus years, there is a quiet confidence that comes from knowing what you bring to the table. If it's your first time, don’t allow yourself to get rattled. Nerves cause cortisol to shoot up, which causes water retention and all kinds of other unwanted issues. If you’re well prepared and you have done all the hard work, it's time to enjoy the fruit of your labor.
If you have little experience of weight training and free weights, you may wish to start with the machine leg press instead of the squat, especially if you're not accompanied by a trainer, helper or spotter. Even so, there is no reason to be intimidated by the squat exercise. It need not be done in a squat rack or power cage with the big bar and free weights to begin with, although squatting with the bar alone is a good way to practice form. Dumbbells or small-bar barbells or a Smith machine can provide reassurance for the beginner. The same applies to the racked bench press with heavy bar, which can be substituted with dumbbells or lighter barbells. The key is not to lift too heavy too soon.
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That’s it for Basic Strength and Muscle. Novices and casual exercisers can expect a 20-40 percent increase in strength and some muscle size and muscle endurance enhancement. You could continue with this program beyond the 18 weeks by increasing the weight load as strength and capability improves. However, further progress may depend on alterations in exercise variety, frequency and timing. The next phase should be an intermediate program designed to enhance the progress you’ve already made.

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.
Lastly we come to full-body workouts. The 5 x 5 program could also be considered a full-body workout program to a degree, since you work almost all the major muscle groups with the three exercises you choose. But, true full-body programs will provide one direct exercise for each muscle group - quads, hamstrings, chest, back and shoulders (arms are worked when doing chest and back).
In addition, work on incorporating healthy foods with essential fatty acids into your meals. Though the word fat can scare away aspiring bodybuilders, remember that obtaining a certain amount of essential fatty acids can actually benefit your body and help you build muscle. Just as essential amino acids aid our bodies with growth and good health, our bodies require us to consume two primary essential fatty acids in our diets: linolenic acid and linoleic acid. So as you prepare your diet, consider which foods are a good source of these essential fatty acids. For example, chicken fat contains more linoleic acid (about 20%) and lenolenic acid (0.8%) than beef.

Find experts you can trust. Your gym should have professional trainers ready to help you achieve your goals because you won’t be able to learn what you need to know quickly. With a fitness trainer, you can get sound advice instead of having to wade through the massive amount of bodybuilding information online. You will need the help of a nutritionist to assist in planning your diet, while a trainer can help you with your workouts. The advantage of getting a pro to help you is that the diet and workout plans can be customized to suit your needs. You don’t have to follow a generic plan.


Jay is the science-based writer and researcher behind everything you've seen here. He has 15+ years of experience helping thousands of men and women lose fat, gain muscle, and build their "goal body." His work has been featured by the likes of Time, The Huffington Post, CNET, Business Week and more, referenced in studies, used in textbooks, quoted in publications, and adapted by coaches, trainers and diet professionals at every level.
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.

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.
In contrast to strongman or powerlifting competitions, where physical strength is paramount, or to Olympic weightlifting, where the main point is equally split between strength and technique, bodybuilding competitions typically emphasize condition, size, and symmetry. Different organizations emphasize particular aspects of competition, and sometimes have different categories in which to compete.

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?


Isolation exercises are movements which target only one muscle group at a time, movements such as preacher curl, side raises, dumbbell flyes, etc. These exercises do not benefit beginners because isolation exercises are usually meant to further define a muscle, which can be pointless if you do not have any muscle to define, therefore it is important to do compound movements.
In the 12th week of the program, performing three sets of three on all exercises will provide a barometer with which you can measure your improvement. Then, in the 13th week, you’ll test your three-rep max (3RM) on five major strength lifts. If you performed the 3RM test before you began the program (see “Testing Your 3RM”), you should be looking at roughly a 25% improvement on all five lifts.
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