Define your goals. For most beginners, the goals are typically to tone up and get stronger. The good news is that any lifting will give you both, and you can expect strength gains in just a few weeks. Tone comes later, and how much muscle you see depends on how much excess body fat you have. For instance, if you have lots of excess fat on the back of your arms, then you won't see the triceps muscles right away; likewise, if you have excess fat on your belly, then you won't see six-pack abs until you reduce or eliminate the fat.
Forget your typical lunch of a sandwich and chips and opt instead for a calorie- and protein-packed healthy lunch. Precooked brown rice or noodles with a piece of baked salmon, vegetables and olive oil can be made in advance and stored in a container until you're ready to eat it. If you'd rather go for a more traditional office-type lunch, have two to three whole-grain wraps filled with turkey or ham, plenty of salad and grated cheese, served with a piece or two of fruit and a handful of unsalted nuts.
In your zeal to bring up a stubborn muscle group, you might be tempted to employ the "throw everything at 'em but the kitchen sink" approach, but Arnold warned that this strategy might be counterproductive. "There will be times when a body part lags behind because you are overtraining it, hitting it so hard, so often, and so intensely that it never has a chance to rest, recuperate, and grow," he wrote.
Wide-grip pullups are absolutely essential to developing an impressively wide back. They are more lat intensive than their normal grip counterpart. To perform wide-grip pullups grasp the pullup bar wider than shoulder width, and make sure to come all the way down on each rep. Use muscle intention to really feel your lats doing the work. Pull yourself all the way up so that the bar is around chest level at the peak of the movement.
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.
Starting in an upright position (without locking out your knees), contract your quadriceps muscles and slowly lower into a squat position. Once you reach the bottom movement (where your upper legs are just below parallel to the platform), press the sled back to the top without “locking out” and repeat the movement. Make sure to keep your abdominal muscles tight and your lower back planted firmly against the rear padding to avoid a back injury.
Of course, no one was born pressing 500 pounds or squatting 700 pounds – it takes time to build this kind of strength. Assuming your form/technique is in place, you'll want to incorporate some low reps and heavy weights into your program. For example, do 10 sets of squats for 3-4 reps each, or 8 sets of 5. In other words, in order to build strength, keep your weight heavy and use low reps for a high number of sets. Squatting your bodyweight is a bare-minimum requirement for a beginner (or twice your bodyweight for an intermediate-level lifter).
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.
Avoid overtraining. Listen to your body. After bad form, overtraining is the most common mistake I see in the gym. If you find you are losing enthusiasm for your work outs, if you are constantly tired, if your progress has slowed or stopped, it's time for a break. If you have been training consistently, I recommend taking a week off every two to three months. You will return to the gym reinvigorated, renewed, and rested. You will not lose strength in one week. Even after a month off, chances are you will surprise yourself by returning to the gym stronger than when you left. Following a break is the ideal time to modify your training program.
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.
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.
Bodybuilders often split their food intake into 5 to 7 meals of equal nutritional content and eat at regular intervals (e.g. every 2 to 3 hours). This approach serves two purposes: to limit overindulging in the cutting phase, and to allow for the consumption of large volumes of food during the bulking phase. Eating more frequently does not increase basal metabolic rate when compared to 3 meals a day. While food does have a metabolic cost to digest, absorb, and store, called the thermic effect of food, it depends on the quantity and type of food, not how the food is spread across the meals of the day. Well-controlled studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly labeled water have demonstrated that there is no metabolic advantage to eating more frequently.
Coming home ravenous after a ballsout training session and having nothing ready to eat can send you on a hunt for the nearest bag of Doritos. But having a stockpile of protein-packed foods that can be reheated easily guarantees you’ll make healthy choices and get the nutrients your muscles need. Use the weekend to rustle up big batches of chicken, chili, stews, hard-boiled eggs, and rice, which will keep in the fridge or freezer the whole week.
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Here is a very good bodybuilding workout routine tip you can use to determine the exact number of rest days between training sessions. Track your weight, and reps. If your strength continues to increase, you are resting between training sessions in an optimal manner. If the weight plateaus, or decreases, add additional muscle building rest days between workouts.