Here are 20 bodybuilding tips to help keep you on track.
These are pretty basic, but worth their weight in muscle mass! As we start to get comfortable with a certain way of doing things, sometimes we forget the simple things that must be done to continue to improve.
If you have a hard time gaining mass or strength, or feel you have hit a plateau,try reviewing these tips and see if you are missing something that can get you going again.
1. Increase resistance regularly.
Your muscles will grow in response to increased demand upon them. You must regularly increase your weight, reps, or intensity in order to increase your muscle mass.
2. Use Moderate Reps.
Sets of 6 to 10 reps are best for bodybuilders. Sets of five or less reps tend to build more strength than muscle mass and sets greater than 10 reps tend to increase endurance in a muscle, rather than cause it to grow in size. (The exceptions to this rule are calves, abdominals, and forearms, which tend to respond best in rep ranges of 10 to 15).
3. Use Basic Exercises.
Build your workouts around compound multi-joint movements such as squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, military presses, and bench presses (inclined, flat and decline).
4. Eat Protein Frequently.
Each day you need to give your body 1 to 1.5 grams of high quality protein per pound of body weight. Divide this intake into five or six meals that are spaced no more than three hours apart. Try to get most of this protein from animal sources like beef, fish, dairy and high quality protein supplements.
5. Do Not Use Shortcuts.
Avoid trying to speed up your progress by working out too much without sufficient rest, taking steroids, eating too many unnecessary calories and using weights that are too heavy. These tactics will end up causing you more trouble than help.
6. Evaluate Your Physique.
Take a good look at yourself in a mirror and do an honest assessment of your weak points and strong points. Structure your bodybuilding program to prioritize the muscles that need work, and ease up slightly on the body parts that have good muscle mass. If your shoulders tend to be narrow, be sure to emphasize deltoid movements, especially lateral raises. If your hips tend to be wide, you may need to prioritize your lats to create the V- taper.
7. Get Enough Rest
You grow when you are resting, not when you are training. Be sure to give each muscle group at least four days rest between workouts in order to recuperate and grow. Be sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night for maximal muscle growth.
8. Create Intensity.
Use advanced techniques such as partial reps, drop sets, and forced reps on most of your sets. This will all allow you to push your muscles past failure and trigger even more muscle growth.
9. Try New Equipment.
You should base your bodybuilding program around compound free weight exercises as mentioned in Tip # 3, but don’t be afraid to experiment with some of the machines that are available in your gym. Some machines can stress your muscles in new and different ways which can stimulate new muscle growth.
10. Make Periodic Changes.
Every month or two alter the order in which you do your exercises, or alter the exercises you do for a particular body part, or alter the number of sets and reps. Your muscles will become accustomed to the same workouts if they are repeated over and over again. Periodic changes will keep your muscles from adapting and therefore continue to stimulate new muscular growth.
11. Know Your Limits.
Understand what your realistic potential is in the sport of bodybuilding. If you are unlikely to compete at a champion level, be realistic about how much money you spend on supplements, how much time you spend in the gym, and how much effort you put into your training. There is no sense in going broke, alienating your family, and risking injury if there is realistically no real possibility of ever making it to the pro level.
12. Supplement Your Diet.
As a bodybuilder, you need much more protein and other nutrients than your average person. Be sure to supplement your diet with protein powder, creatine, multivitamins, glutamine, etc, in order to meet the additional demands on your muscles.
13. Prevent Injuries.
One of the biggest potential roadblocks to your muscle building success is a training injury. A serious muscle tear or tending injury will not only halt your progress in the short term, but in some cases can limit your long term success as a bodybuilder. Always warm up and stretch before getting to your heavy sets. Start with a relatively light weight and pyramid up from there to your heaviest set. Be sure to use a spotter or power rack on your heaviest sets.
14. Limit Your Volume.
Don’t do more than about 15 working sets for your larger body parts (quadriceps, back, chest) and no more than 12 working sets for smaller muscle groups (biceps, triceps, forearms, hamstrings, calve and abdominals).
15. Prioritize your Weakest Muscle Groups.
Whenever possible, train your weakest body parts first, when you have more energy and strength. If certain muscle groups continually lag behind, increase the volume on those body parts, and possibly decreased the volume in your strongest body parts until your body reaches a better balance.
16. Train Your Entire Body.
Do not neglect any body part. Be sure to train your forearms, legs, and lower back just as vigorously as you’re training chest and biceps.
17. Learn to Control Your Muscles.
Practice flexing each muscle in your body. This will help to develop the mind-muscle connection that will enable you to apply more force in each repetition of your exercises.
18. Trust Your Instincts.
After you have been training for about a year, you should have a good idea of which exercises and techniques work best for you. You should also have some idea about which time of day you feel the strongest. The more closely you monitor your body and the way you feel after a workout, the better you will be able to increase your intensity, and therefore increase your muscle mass.
19. Set Achievable Goals.
You should always have a goal you are working towards. You should have some short-term goals such as adding 10 pounds to your bench press, adding a half-inch to your biceps, or losing and inch around your waist. Short-term goals should be achievable in a time frame of several weeks to a couple of months. In addition, you should have a few long-term goals such as gaining 10 pounds of muscle in one year, increasing your bench press to 300 pounds, or competing in your first bodybuilding contest. Goals are essential to keep you motivated and to give you a sense of accomplishment as you reach each one.
20. Keep A Positive Attitude.
It has been said that your attitude determines your altitude. This is especially true when it comes to changing your body from an average one to a powerful and muscular one.
Muscular gains do not come easy, but if you keep a positive mental outlook, continually look forward to your next work out and apply these 20 tips, you will see great improvements to your physique in a short period of time.
Here are a few more ideas that have worked well for me!
You must commit to working each bodypart 1 to 3 times a week, depending on your level of experience. If you are on a training split that has you working arms once every 6 days, you MUST adhere to that schedule to get the results you want.
Protein shake at 3 A.M.
4-Time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler does it, I do it, and so should you! If you want your body to grow, don’t deprive it of fuel for 7 to 8 hours at night. Make a shake, put it next to your bed on ice and drink it roughly in the middle of your sleep period. I also like a cup of cottage cheese with a little strawberry topping if I want a break from the protein shake. Either set an alarm, or drink enough water before bed to make you get up to use the bathroom around that time. Make this one a habit ASAP!
Eat some protein every 2-3 hours.
This is what protein shakes are for! Take a ready-to-drink shake with you to work or take a yogurt and stir in 20 grams of whey protein as a snack. Try packing a ready to eat package of tuna. Use your imagination as to what you eat, but be sure to take in 20-40 grams of your muscle’s favorite fuel OFTEN.
Change your training routine every few weeks.
Your muscles can get accustomed to the same exercises in the same order and stop growing. Try different exercises for each muscle group or change the order in which you do them. Occasionally “shock” your muscles by using forced reps, partial reps, extremely slow reps, etc.
Get a training partner.
This one is solid gold! If you can find someone with similar goals and training schedule, try training together. Guys automatically train harder and more consistently with another guy watching. It is in our nature to try to out-do the other guy whenever possible, and you are much less likely to miss a workout when someone else is waiting for you!
Read the bodybuilding magazines.
There is a boat load of information out there, and more coming all the time! New workouts, new supplements, new ways to improve the way you use your supplements, and more. Joe Weider’s Muscle & Fitness and Flex Magazine are the best overall bodybuilding magazines out there for most bodybuilders. (my opinion, of course)
This top rated magazine is packed full each and every month with valuable information on diet, supplements, increasing intensity, decreasing body fat, you name it. I personally read this magazine along with Flex Magazine every single month. I learn something new every time I pick it up and read a few of the many well written articles.