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.
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.

The bulking and cutting strategy is effective because there is a well-established link between muscle hypertrophy and being in a state of positive energy balance.[19] A sustained period of caloric surplus will allow the athlete to gain more fat-free mass than they could otherwise gain under eucaloric conditions. Some gain in fat mass is expected, which athletes seek to oxidize in a cutting period while maintaining as much lean mass as possible.
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).
“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.”
Does this mean that everything is as good as everything else? Of course not. I'm a strength coach, and I believe that a full-body strength program built around compound lifts is the best place for almost everybody to start, no matter what they end up doing months or years later. It's better than so-called fat-loss programs, hypertrophy programs, programs that help add inches to your vertical jump, or ones that promise to turn you into a superhero in eight weeks.
You need to eat sufficient food and carbohydrate to sustain your activities. Too little carbohydrate, and your body will break down your muscle for glucose and reverse all those hard-gotten gains. Don’t believe advice that says carbohydrates are fattening. Instead, modify your carbohydrate intake for the better by avoiding refined flours, sugars, sweets and other quickly absorbed or processed carbohydrates when you are not exercising intensely.
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.
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.
Contrary to certain rumors that animal-based protein is more suitable to trigger muscle growth than plant-based protein, a study by Mangano et al. (2017) could not provide any evidence for this. In contrast, if combined properly, plant-based protein can even have a higher biological quality. A combination of one part wheat protein (e.g. seitan) and two parts soy protein (e.g. tofu) has thus been favored by many bodybuilders. Some bodybuilders, such as Patrik Baboumian and Robert Cheeke, follow a strict vegan diet.[37]
Target particular muscle groups on particular days. Almost universally, serious bodybuilders will isolate muscle groups to train on particular days in the week. You might have one day that you just train legs and abs, then the next day you'll train pecs and arms, then the next day you'll do shoulders and back, and then you'll do an ab shredder workout. Your last training day can be cardio, and then give yourself two days off to recover.
In the cutting phase, the bodybuilding diet should be low in fat, around 20 percent. Maintain protein intake to help protect muscle while cutting excess fat and carbohydrates, particularly added sugar and sweets and white flour products. Keep up the supply of antioxidants with fruit, veggies, and whole grains. Aim for these proportions of macronutrients:
Females, in general, carry a higher percentage of body fat than men. To be a successful bodybuilder, it is important to reduce your body fat, especially directly under your skin. Consequently, you should focus on frequent sessions of low to moderate aerobic exercise. During aerobic exercise, the greatest percentage of calories burned are from fat. Female bodybuilders should perform 35 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise, five days a week. To determine the intensity of your aerobic exercise, you need to determine your target heart rate zone. Your training zone is determined by subtracting your age from 220, and multiplying the result by between 50 to 85 percent. For very low intensity training, your heart rate should be kept closer to the 50 percent level for at least 20 minutes. For very high intensity training, your heart rate should be closer to the 85 percent level.
Increase carbs over the weekend: Increase the quantities of carbohydrates over the weekend to 1.3 times your lean body mass (fat-free bodyweight) in order to prevent your metabolism from getting used to the diet. This time, divide that number by 5 and consume the carbohydrates over Meals 1-5. Try to ensure that Meal 5 is no later than 6 p.m. so that no starchy carbs are consumed after that time.
Arnold frequently supersetted biceps and triceps movements—or, in other words, performed exercises back to back—to bring an enormous amount of blood into his arms. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients critical for growth, but these supersets also enabled Arnold to achieve his ultimate training goal: a killer pump. Supersetting a smaller muscle group like arms is easier than a larger one like legs, though Arnold often did that pre-contest as well.
Reverse crunch: Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground. Put your hands beside your head or extend them out flat to your sides—whatever feels most comfortable. Crossing your feet at the ankles, lift your feet off the ground to the point where your knees create a 90-degree angle. Once in this position, press your lower back on the floor as you contract your abdominal muscles. Your hips will slightly rotate, and your legs will reach toward the ceiling with each contraction. Exhale as you contract, and inhale as you return to the starting position.
Be patient! Too many people want it all right now so they become frustrated if they haven’t built their dream body within a few months of training. When such a point is reached, many bodybuilders either quit altogether, or turn to dangerous drugs such as steroids, or synthetic hormones in order to speed up the process. Steroids are insidious. They may produce rapid gains in the short term, however, the compromises are extraordinary and should be very carefully considered. The steroid users that I knew 15 years ago that I wished I could look like are now either dead or out of shape dealing with severe health problems. If you love bodybuilding like I do, then you will want to be able to do it, and enjoy it from now until well into your golden years of life. Don’t get discouraged when progress doesn’t seem to be coming quickly enough. I’ve been there before, so I know how it feels. I can tell you from experience that if you are persistent it will pay off eventually. It took me 26 years to put on 40 lbs of muscle! That averages out to roughly 1.5 pounds of muscle gained each year!
Does this mean that everything is as good as everything else? Of course not. I'm a strength coach, and I believe that a full-body strength program built around compound lifts is the best place for almost everybody to start, no matter what they end up doing months or years later. It's better than so-called fat-loss programs, hypertrophy programs, programs that help add inches to your vertical jump, or ones that promise to turn you into a superhero in eight weeks.
In the third week of the program we step it up to a three-day training split: Train all “pushing” bodyparts (chest, shoulders, triceps) on Day 1; hit the “pulling” bodyparts (back, biceps) and abs on Day 2; and work your lower body (quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves) on Day 3. As in Week 2, you train each bodypart twice a week, so you’ll hit the gym six days this week.
When you start resistance training, most of your initial increase in strength is due to a phenomenon called neural adaptation. This means that the nerves servicing the muscles change their behaviour. The nerves are thought to fire more frequently (prompting increased muscle contraction) and more motor units are recruited to perform the contraction (a motor unit is the nerve cell and its associated muscle fibres). This means you become stronger, but the muscles remain the same size – you’ve hit the plateau.
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.
Since I work out late, I don't want the caffeine but I do want the "volumizing" effects of this drink plus the anabolic effects of the other drink, so I mix Gatorade with a creatine/nitric oxide/glutamine/BCAA powder. This works well and powers me through my workout. After training, within about 20-30 minutes, have a protein shake with fruit mixed in as discussed in the "supplements" section. This further helps recovery and growth.
For lat pull downs, I recommend using an underhand grip (meaning your palms will face you) or a neutral grip (palms face each other… this grip is much less stressful on your elbows/wrists). This is because I’m going to recommend an overhand grip (palms face away from you) during the Upper Body B workout. You’ll see. Also, these are to be done in front of your head… never behind the neck.
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.
Develop your strength training routine. The exercises you perform will depend on your goals for your body and your stage in the training process. It's generally suggested, though, that you stick to the same major compound movements that most bodybuilders use, making this the cornerstone of your strength training. Later you can incorporate isolation exercises and machines into your routine, but right now you should be focused on leaning up and gaining muscle, doing the following exercises:
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.
Arnold included basic multijoint movements in his routine that hit the pecs from a variety of angles. "I knew the routine had to be basic and very heavy," he wrote. Basic, for Arnold, meant sticking to flat, incline, and decline benches while occasionally training like a powerlifter rather than trying a multitude of machines or using trendy techniques. Arnold saved pumping sets for the end of his workout.
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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.
"Start with two days for two to three weeks, then add a third day," says Davis*.*"Ideally, you should strength train three to five days per week, but work your way up—starting off at five days a week might shock your body." Here's a comprehensive three-day-per-week plan to get you started. Aim to complete 20-minute sessions, then gradually add on time in ten-minute increments until you're working for 45 to 60 minutes, suggests Davis.

Contrary to certain rumors that animal-based protein is more suitable to trigger muscle growth than plant-based protein, a study by Mangano et al. (2017) could not provide any evidence for this. In contrast, if combined properly, plant-based protein can even have a higher biological quality. A combination of one part wheat protein (e.g. seitan) and two parts soy protein (e.g. tofu) has thus been favored by many bodybuilders. Some bodybuilders, such as Patrik Baboumian and Robert Cheeke, follow a strict vegan diet.[37]
Stretching after each lifting session is extremely important in preventing injury. Flexibility allows your body to become much more able to handle the odd assortment of stresses that are placed upon it each day. I'm sure that the more hardcore of us bodybuilding fans heard that Branch Warren recently slipped and fell, landing on his outstretched hand and tearing his triceps in the process.
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