f you are thinking about starting bodybuilding and would like to pack on up to thirty pounds of muscle mass, then you're on the right page of the right book. The chapters that follow will provide you with all of the latest training and nutritional information needed to make it to the top of the sport, should you choose to climb that high, or—closer to ground level—just improve to the point of being the best-built person on your street.
How far you want to go in bodybuilding is ultimately a matter of your desire and disposition. Regardless, at no time are the gains any quicker or more enjoyable than during the first six months of starting a training program. It is at this juncture that bodybuilders, whether young or old, first become truly aware of their bodies and notice profound changes starting to happen. As the bodybuilder becomes more experienced, that detection is less novel, but I suppose that, on the whole, it's just as enjoyable.
It's of paramount importance when starting a bodybuilding program that you know your existing physical condition. In fact, an annual physical examination is recommended for all people, whether they engage in bodybuilding or not. If your physician gives you the OK to initiate your program (and that's likely to happen, unless you're on your last legs, in which case you'd be better off tending to your estate than adding an inch to your arms), then—and only then— you can proceed.
The program on which you're about to embark will, if followed to the letter, improve your health, strength, and muscle mass to such a degree that you and those who know you will be shocked at the metamorphosis. If you're drastically underweight, it is quite possible for you to gain up to thirty pounds of rock-hard muscle mass. If you're overweight with no discernible muscle shape, be prepared to become firm, develop a V taper, lose inches off your waist, and mold and expand your chest, shoulders, legs, and arms! Anyway, enough talking about it. Let's start making it happen!
Bodybuilders are a genuine subculture of the population. Consequently, they often use an idiom that, to outsiders, can sound as foreign as Caesar's Latin. Terms such as reps, bi's, tri's, supersets, preexhaustion, forced reps, and negatives are common usage among devotees, but they can leave the initiate looking for the nearest encyclopedia! Fortunately, the specialized vocabulary is not as intimidating as it may appear, and it's not even necessary for the beginner to learn more than a quarter of it, since many terms in the jargon relate to more advanced techniques, those designed to add muscle mass to the seasoned physique. We will concentrate on the handful that will directly apply in your first few months of training. The following are terms you'll need to know.
■ Rep. The contraction or extension of a given muscle group against resistance, typically performed from a starting position of full extension to a finishing position of full contraction, and subsequent return to the starting position. We call a series of such movements, naturally enough, repeti-tions—from which we get the singular form, rep.
■ Set. A collection of repetitions (anywhere from one to one hundred or more). Generally, a brief rest of thirty to ninety seconds is taken at the end of a set in order to catch one's breath and provide time for the muscle group involved in the set to partially recuperate. A typical routine calls for one to four sets of a given exercise to be performed.
■ Press. Any form of pushing the resistance away from the body with either the arms or the legs.
■ Curl. Any movement that involves pulling the resistance in toward the body with either the arms or the legs.
■ Clean. No, this doesn't have anything to do with personal hygiene. Rather, it is the lifting of the barbell or dumbbell from the floor to the chest in one quick motion.
■ Poundage. The amount of weight or resistance that you will be using in your exercises.
■ Limit weight. The heaviest amount of resistance that you can lift for one repetition.
■ Routine. The sum total of reps, sets, and exercises in any given workout or training session.
Before you can effectively train your muscles, you need to know how they function so that you can select the exercises that will best stimulate them to grow. Without making this a complicated physiological dissertation, let's first examine a few of the body's basic structures and see how they work together—and how this knowledge will lead to your becoming a more informed and more successful bodybuilder.
■ Central nervous system. The central nervous system is of vital importance to both the aspiring and competitive bodybuilder (as it is to the rest of our species and any other species). Without nerves, our bones wouldn't move, because our muscles wouldn't contract. The central nervous system consists of the spinal cord and the brain; it functions in conjunction with the peripheral nervous system, which comprises the ganglia and nerves that reside outside of the brain and spinal cord. The nervous system appears like thousands of little wires that function as transmitters, receivers, and interpreters of data from all parts of the body. It is responsible for stimulating the muscles of the body to contract, which in turn make it possible to move. Damage to the central nervous system, obviously, would impair the body's movement potential. Movement itself is accomplished when the nervous system stimulates the muscles, which then move the bones that support us via the tendinous attachments around our joints, which are connected by ligaments.
■ Ligaments. Ligaments are fibrous bands that bind bone to bone. Their compactness determines to a large extent the flexibility of our joints. Great caution must be taken when you're training because if a ligament is stretched too far, the joint that it holds together will become loose, resulting in permanent damage to the tissue. (This is why some football players are never able to fully recover from serious knee injuries.) A joint that has been thusly injured will often "go out" without warning, due to the instability of its overstretched ligaments.
Tendons. Tendons are the dense, fibrous bands at the end of muscles. Their function is to attach muscles to bones. Within the tendons are found the golgi tendon organs, whose function is to send signals to the brain to indicate stress and fatigue. Generally, the ache that you experience during strenuous exercise is being transmitted via the tendon and not the muscle.
Bones. The human body contains 206 bones that, collectively, compose the skeleton. Muscles, as we have seen, are attached to bones by tendons and assist us in moving from one position to another.
Muscles. There exist three distinct kinds of muscle tissue within the body: cardiac, skeletal, and smooth. Cardiac muscle is the heart, while smooth muscle assists organs such as the stomach and intestines in the passage and digestion of food. Skeletal muscle, on the other hand, is responsible for moving our bones. As
we're looking to increase the size and strength of our skeletal muscles, it is to this group that we shall devote most of our attention. There are more than six hundred skeletal muscles, which yields a skeletal-muscle-to-bones ratio of almost three to one and accounts for our highly evolved dexterity and precision in movement.
In summary, nerves stimulate our muscles, which in turn move our bones via the tendinous attachments near joints, which are connected by ligaments. When functioning with its parts in proper unison, the body is an intricate and complex piece of machinery. Our objective as bodybuilders will be to increase the efficiency of our "machine" through regulated periods of stress, or tension, upon the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in order to have the central nervous system transmit the signal for "overcompensation," or muscle growth.
When you're selecting exercises to perform for specific muscle groups, it's a definite asset to know the functions of the muscle structures you hope to involve. Table 1.1 is a brief list to assist you in the evaluation and selection process. This list is admittedly incomplete, but it should serve your purposes as a beginner because you will be concentrating solely on these muscle groups in order to build muscular mass. Use it as your base from which you can specialize on
Muscle Structures, Functions, and Exercises
Forearm extensors Forearm flexors Triceps
Trapezius Rectus abdominus External & internal obliques Latissimus dorsi
Locale on Body
Outer forearm Inner forearm Back of upper arm
Front of upper arm Back of upper arm Point of shoulder
Upper front of rib cage
Upper back Muscles of abdomen Sides of waist
Back muscles that impart V shape Front of thigh Back of thigh
Open hand, extend wrist Close hand, flex wrist Extend forearm
Bend arm, supinate wrist Bend arm with wrist pronated Assist in raising upper arm
Draw upper-arm bones toward each other
Flex body at waist
Rotate upper torso and bend torso to side Pull upper arm down and to the rear Straighten leg Bend leg
Reverse wrist curls Wrist curls
Any presses, dips, or extension movements involving the arms
Lateral raises, elbows out to the sides
Bench presses, crossovers, flyes, pec deck
Side bends, obliques bends to the sides
Chins, rows, pull-downs
Squats, leg presses, leg extensions Leg curls, stiff-legged dead lifts minor bodyparts when you reach a more advanced muscular state.
The vast majority of people who take up exercising with weights want to increase their present degree of muscle size. Unfortunately, enthusiasm can be the bodybuilder's worst enemy. Caught up in the throes of weight training, the aspiring trainee trains every day, performs as many sets as can be tolerated, and then wonders why progress, if it comes at all, does so at an unbelievably slow pace. While muscle growth is a slow process at the best of times, it doesn't have to be excessively slow, providing that you train properly. In fact, if you train exactly as I've outlined in this book, you'll be amazed at the transformation in your physique in just a matter of weeks. The reason is that weight training is powerful medicine that forces your body into a virtually instant response.
The harder you train, the faster your body overcompensates in the form of additional muscle mass, but also, the harder you train, the more rest and recuperation your body requires to bring about the physiological renovations in your physique. Therefore, your initial program will be based upon a three-day-per-week training schedule, which also happens to be among the top result-producing methods of bodybuilding. The legendary Steve Reeves utilized this method exclusively in building his incredible physique. Mike Mentzer, perhaps the greatest and most massively developed bodybuilder of all time, utilized a three-day-a-week routine right up until the day he won the 1976 Mr. America title.
In short, the three-day-per-week system works extremely well for beginners and is responsible for putting more muscle on more beginners than any other system of training in the world. Again, once you hit the intermediate stage, you will have to back off on the frequency a bit in order to allow your body ample time to produce the gains that your workouts have stimulated. Here are a few simple rules to follow that will help ensure your success.
2. Concentrate on each exercise you do; try to develop a mind-to-muscle link, whereby you are keenly aware of your muscles contracting against the resistance. Don't just start a set with the idea of simply getting the weight to the top using any means possible.
3. Don't "cheat" on an exercise. Don't utilize body swing or momentum to complete a contraction, no matter how difficult the exercise may become. Cheating increases momentum, which, in turn, diminishes muscular involvement in the exercise and, hence, reduces the exercise's productivity. Your goal is to involve as many muscle fibers as possible.
4. Your training days will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Try not to engage in anything too strenuous on your "off" days, as this would cut into your recovery ability, which should be utilized only to overcome the exhaustive effects of the weight-training workout. Performing other activities retards progress. If you miss a training day, don't panic and don't perform two workouts back-to-back thinking you can "make up" for it. Let it go—the extra recovery won't hurt your progress in the least— and might actually help it along. 5. Perform each movement slowly and under control to ensure that the muscle group you are training is doing all of the required work and that momentum is not involved. Remember this rule of thumb regarding velocity: Lift the weight in two seconds, hold it at the top for another two seconds, and then lower it in four seconds back to the starting position.
Because this will be the first time that you have trained on this program, weight training will represent a major shock to your physiological system. It is important that you understand this concept. It's the most intense form of exercise in existence, which is precisely why it produces such dramatic physiological results. Given these facts, doing more than the amount specified at this stage of your development is not at all desirable.
For this reason I recommend that, during your first month, you perform no more than one set of each exercise listed, and no more than two sets should be performed during month two. And now, on with the routine.
THE B A S
R O U T 1
1 N E
Here's the routine in a nutshell:
1. Barbell squats:
1 set of 15 reps
1 set of 12 reps
3. Bench presses:
1 set of 15 reps
4. Standing barbell presses:
1 set of 10 reps
5. Bent-over barbell rows:
1 set of 10 reps
6. Standing barbell curls:
1 set of 10 reps
7. Stiff-legged dead lifts:
1 set of 15 reps
1 set of 20 reps
NOTE: The squats and pull-overs are to be performed back to back; as soon as you have finished your set of squats, rush to do your set of pull-overs.
Remember that this routine is to be performed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Under no circumstances should you attempt to get all three of the week's workouts in by training three days in a row! The alternate-day schedule is set up so for a reason: physiologists have determined that, unless you are a "natural" in the purest sense of the term (in which case you wouldn't need to worry about altering your appearance via weight training), your body needs approximately forty-eight hours of rest between workouts, both to recover from the training session and to allow the muscular subsystems to overcompensate in the form of increased muscle mass.
NOTE: Think of the formula this way: Train hard—rest a day to recover and grow; train hard—rest a day to recover and grow; train hard—rest for two days to recover and grow.
The details of how each exercise is to be performed are crucial. I've endeavored to make the descriptions as simple and comprehensive as possible because there are frequently three or four minor details that must be understood and followed. Read carefully every word of how the exercise is to be performed before attempting it. Your success depends almost exclusively upon the proper execution of the exercises in the routine. I've suggested moderate weights to start with, to ensure that correct form is employed during the performance of the exercise. Never complete a movement too rapidly, and make it as it should be—a muscular effort.
NOTE: Exercises that are new in each chapter offer detailed explanations and pictures that show you how to properly perform them. For performance review of repeated exercises, cross references are included so you can easily find the initial descriptions.
1. Barbell squats: Without question, squats are the top-ranked result-producing bodybuilding exercise. If you want to pack on pounds of solid muscle weight all over your physique, then give your all to squatting properly. And certainly this is the most effective leg building exercise that one can undertake with weights.
To perform the squat properly, stand erect with a barbell across your shoulders and take a deep breath. Now, with your lungs full, bend your knees and lower your body until you are in a full squat position; you should be slightly below a ninety-degree angle to your shins. As soon as you reach the bottom position, rise immedi-ately—but under control—while at the same time expelling the air from your lungs, so that you will be ready for another intake of oxygen at the completion of the movement. Breathe in, and down you go for your second repetition, and so on until the required number of repetitions have been completed.
It is important to keep your head up at all times, and your chest should be held high. Some bodybuilders accomplish this by fixing
their gaze on a spot two to three feet above eye level until the movement is finished. Also, some trainees prefer to perform squats with a small board under their heels to improve their balance. If you feel your balance is off somewhat, which it may be, owing to innate variations in bone structure, by all means utilize a board. Squats strongly affect the quadriceps, the four-headed muscle that makes up the bulk of the frontal thigh, the main action of which is to straighten the leg and to flex the hip.
As soon as you have completed your set of squats, you will immediately pick up a barbell and perform your second exercise, pull-overs. This immediate transfer from one exercise to another is known in body building circles as a "superset," and you will be using it only for the first two exercises. Then you can take a sixty- to ninety-second breather.
2. Pull-overs: There's a twofold manner to developing a massive chest: one way is to develop the pectorals with exercises that build those muscles, and the other is to expand the rib cage with stretching exercises. Thus, performing both of these types of movements enlarges the chest's external musculature as well as its internal underpinnings.
Performance of the straight-arm pullover is simple. Lie on a bench with a light barbell (or a centrally loaded dumbbell),
held at arm's length over your chest. Maintaining the arm's-length position, slowly lower the weight until it almost touches the floor behind you. Make an effort to keep your arms locked throughout the movement, and when you inhale, attempt to draw in as much oxygen as you can while lifting the weight as high as possible. The weight is not a major factor in this exercise, whereas the degree of stretch most certainly is. A weight range of between ten and twenty pounds is recommended, dependent on your starting level of strength.
3. Bench presses: Because of the number of muscle groups that come into play
(triceps, pectorals, deltoids, lats, etc.), the bench press is a great upper-body exercise. The main kinesiological function of the pectorals is to draw the arms into the midline of the body—or, more technically, to adduct the arms—so the action of the arms during the performance of the bench press closely parallels the pectorals' primary function. The bench press has its shortcomings, as you will learn further on, but for the beginner in search of overall muscle-mass increase, it's virtually the "perfect" exercise. It is a movement of great poundage potential, and this, combined with the fact that it stimulates a large group of muscles at one time (some more than others), makes it,
like the squat, a tremendous weight-gaining exercise.
To perform the exercise properly, lie on a bench with a barbell at arm's length over your chest. Slowly lower the bar to your upper chest. Once the bar has touched your chest (I said "touched," not "bounced"; bouncing a weight accomplishes nothing but injury), slowly press it back up to the top position, and repeat the procedure for the required number of repetitions. Put the weight down, rest briefly, and then perform your next exercise.
4. Standing barbell presses: Whenever the average person asks you, "What can you lift?" chances are the question refers to this exercise. To the uninitiated, the standing barbell press is the touchstone of physical strength, and even experienced trainees place a lot of stock in evaluating one's strength by the performance of this exercise. Its status as an accurate gauge of individual strength is evidenced by its inclusion as one of the three Olympic lifts used in interna tional competition. The standing barbell press is an excellent deltoid developer. It also stimulates growth in the trapezius and, during its final stages, the triceps muscles.
In order to perform this exercise properly, you should clean (remember our definitions section earlier in the chapter) the barbell to your upper chest, or to the front of your shoulders. Then, slowly press the weight upward until your arms are fully extended over your head. Slowly lower the resistance back down to your shoulders (the starting position), and repeat the procedure for the required number of repetitions. Rest briefly, and then move on to your next exercise.
NOTE: When you're performing this exercise, there should be no assistance from the legs or excessive arching of the back. Sure, by using these little dodges you can hoist up a few more pounds—but that's not our objective here. We want the shoulders to receive the bulk of the stress and, consequently, the bulk of the muscle stimulation. Note that the bar should be cleaned
only once during each set, and that's at the beginning of the movement.
5. Bent -over barbell rows: It's always impressive to see well-developed upper-back muscles that fan out from the waist to the shoulders, giving the body that much sought-after V shape. One of the best upper-back exercises for developing that V shape is the bent-over barbell row. That's because the bulk of the stress of the barbell row is applied to the latissimus dorsi, which is the muscle responsible for the V shape. This is a large,
flat muscle whose Latin root means "broad of the back." Even though the latissimus dorsi, or lat muscles, are situated on the back, they are in effect arm muscles; their action is to draw the arm back behind the midline of the body and downward. In action, their movement resembles that of rowing a boat or climbing a rope.
To perform the barbell row, bend at the waist so that your torso is at a right angle (ninety degrees) to your legs. Grab hold of the bar so that your palms are facing your shins. Your hand spacing should be between
two and two and a half feet. Slowly pull the bar up toward your torso until it touches your lower chest. From this fully contracted position, slowly lower the resistance back to the starting position (your arms should be fully extended), and repeat for the required number of repetitions. Rest briefly, and then perform your next exercise.
Remember that the barbell is to touch the floor only when the set is completed. This will ensure that maximum stimulation is imparted to the lats throughout the movement. Also remember to maintain the bent-over position throughout the set.
6. Standing barbell curls: This exercise involves the biceps and brachialis muscles of the upper arm. The biceps, on the front of the upper arm, lies on top of the brachialis and is responsible for supinating your wrist to a palms-up position and, in conjunction with the brachialis, flexes the elbow joint. In essence, this means that these muscles bend the arm, such as when you bring food to your mouth or hold a telephone receiver to your ear.
To perform the barbell curl, stand erect with a shoulder-width grip on the barbell and your palms facing front. Your arms should be fully extended so that the barbell is directly in front of your thighs. Now slowly lift, or curl, the barbell up to shoulder height, solely using the muscles of the upper arm by bending the elbows. From this fully contracted position, slowly lower the resistance back to the fully extended (or starting) position. Repeat for the required number of repetitions, and then rest briefly before performing your next exercise.
Remember to let only the upper arms do the work during this movement. Fight the
tendency to let additional muscle groups come into play by swinging the body or shrugging the shoulders to add momentum to the movement.
7. Stiff-legged dead lifts: This movement is a tremendous overall muscle developer and is also the single most productive exercise for the muscles of the lower back, referred to as the erector spinae muscles, which, as the name implies, act to keep the spine erect.
To perform the movement properly, stand erect with your feet just under the barbell. Then, by bending your knees, grasp the barbell, with your hands a little wider apart than shoulder width and your knuckles facing front. Now slowly begin to stand erect, straightening your legs as you do so. Keep lifting the resistance until you're completely erect and the bar is in front of your thighs. Now slowly lower the resistance until it is back on the floor, and repeat the movement for the required number of repetitions. Rest briefly, and then move on to your next exercise.
Be sure to draw your shoulders well back at the completion of the movement in order to involve the trapezius muscle, which slopes down from your neck to your upper shoulders.
8. Crunches: This exercise strongly activates your abdominal muscles, which, when fully developed, really set off a well-muscled physique. How your abs appear, or even if they appear at all, is largely due to your dietary habits (an area we will concern
ourselves with later). This means that no stomach exercise—repeat: no stomach exercise—will "melt" or "burn" or otherwise metamorphose bodyfat from your physique. Don't make the mistake of thinking that if you perform sit-up after sit-up, you will in some way be ridding your abdomen of surplus adipose; that's just not the way our species' physiology functions. Train hard to develop your stomach muscles, and then diet to reduce your subcutaneous bodyfat stores, and your abdominal muscles will stand out in bold relief.
To perform crunches effectively, lie faceup on the floor—on a mat—with your hands behind your head. Try to keep your chin on your chest throughout the movement. Lift your feet up on top of a bench, with your legs slightly apart. From this starting position, slowly curl your trunk upward toward a sitting position. You'll find that you can accomplish a third of the required sit-up in this fashion, which is fine, because that is all the range of motion that
your abdominals require to be stimulated into maximum growth. Once you have ascended to a fully contracted position, hold the position for a two-count, and then lower yourself slowly back to the starting position. Repeat for the required number of repetitions.
Concentrate and train hard during your first month on this program. You should notice a drastic difference at month's end after commencing this schedule and should be looking, and feeling, the better for it.
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The Next Stage
iter your first month of training, you should be noticing some substantial changes in both your physique and your health. You will have firmed up considerably; probably put on five to ten pounds, depending on your diet; and, for perhaps the first time in your life, become aware of numerous muscle groups throughout your body that spoke to you on the days after your training sessions with little twitches of pain. Not real pain, mind you, but a constant probing sort of sensation that let you know that some sort of activity—namely muscle stimulation—had occurred there only the day before. This is all to the good, as those twinges signified that you had stimulated some muscle growth, which is the reason you started bodybuilding in the first place.
Last month, on your beginner's program, you performed a total of one set per bodypart, trained three days a week, and used a predominantly straight-set approach—that is, you performed one set of a given exercise and then rested before moving on to a different movement.
During your second month of training, you will still train three days a week on alternate days, with weekends off, but you will be performing a total of three sets per bodypart and employing a method known as "forced reps." In this system you will never be performing more than five direct sets for any given bodypart, and even that maximum will occur only during periods of "specialization" on a muscle group that is lagging behind the others in development.
As just cited in the preceding section, the concept of specialization as it applies to bodybuilding will be new to you if you're a true neophyte. It is one of several additional "inside sports" terms that you will learn and employ during your second month of training.
Although you are still a few months away from needing this concept, it will help you to learn it ahead of time for the purpose of developing a keener eye toward the assessment of your physique. Specialization simply means that your training becomes bodypart specific for a limited period. For instance, if after training for a while, you notice that your arms are huge but your legs look like a television stand, thus throwing out your entire symmetry, you should elect to "specialize" on your legs in order to bring your overall appearance back into proper perspective. It's easy for one bodypart to overshadow another, and the earlier you can detect such an imbalance, the easier it will be for you to correct it.
In supersetting, two separate exercises are performed back to back, with no resting whatsoever in between. You can rest for as long as is necessary after you have performed your superset cycle.
Forced reps occur at the very end of your set, when you can no longer complete a full repetition. When you come to the point in an exercise (or, more technically, the point
in a set of an exercise) when you can no longer reach the fully contracted position, you have a partner, or "spotter," assist you in completing several additional repetitions by lifting some of the resistance for you. You're still attempting to complete the contraction yourself; your partner is providing as little help as is required for the rep to be completed.
Try to overcome the tendency to let your partner lift the weight for you. Even professional bodybuilders are sometimes inclined to take a "Thank God, you're here!" approach to forced reps, whereby the instant the partner starts to assist them in the movement, they drop their own involvement entirely. Sure, they grimace and groan and stamp their feet in an effort to hoodwink the partner into believing that they're really putting their last ounce of energy into the rep, but the poor training partner suddenly gets a hernia from assuming the full brunt of raising the resistance at a mechanically disadvantageous position. When you see your training partner preparing to give you some forced reps, your last thought should be, "Thank God you're here!"
A forced-reps set is brutally hard and should have you wishing your partner were suddenly out of town, or anywhere other than in the gym with you. The fact that forced reps will make your exercises so much more intense and, consequently, so much more demanding is why the technique is so effective in stimulating phenomenal muscle growth. Keep in mind this maxim, which was taught to me by legendary bodybuilder Mike Mentzer: The harder you train, the faster you'll grow! This truism will serve you well your entire training life.
As just discussed, a spotter is simply a training partner or friend who assists you. Whenever someone stands behind you to make sure that the weight you're bench-pressing doesn't pin you to the bench, or assists you in completing your repetitions, the person is said to be "spotting" you.
One of the biggest misconceptions in bodybuilding today is the fallacy that you must ingest a magical combination of vitamins, minerals, and protein supplements in order to build large muscles. While I'll discuss the issue of nutrition as it applies to muscle building and fat loss in Chapter 16, I'd like to touch on a few dietary facts here and now.
First of all, if building muscle were as easy as taking a supplement, then training would be obsolete. The fact that you cannot "eat your way to a great physique" should be self-evident, but aspiring bodybuilders nevertheless spend thousands of dollars on supplements that do little else than enrich the color of their urine. Blunt, yes, but true! Diet in the beginning stages of bodybuilding is anything but complicated: if you want to get bigger, which is usually the motivation behind initiating a bodybuilding program, then you should train hard and eat lots. Pure and simple, eat anything you want, whenever you want; just make sure that you are eating a balanced diet. It serves your bodybuilding program little good if you consume food from a diet that is lopsided in regard to any of the macronutrients (for example, fats, proteins, or carbohydrates). Eat the bulk of your foods in a more or less balanced fashion. In fact, tip the scale, if at all, in favor of carbohydrates, since they provide the fuel for all your weight-training sessions as well as being the primary energy source of your brain. Given that carbohydrates also are encased in foodstuffs that happen to taste the best (pasta, bread, sugar, fruits, etc.), it's usually not a burden to consume ample quantities of them.
If you've undertaken bodybuilding to lose fat, as opposed to weight—there is a major distinction—simply reduce your food intake slightly. I say "slightly" because drastic caloric reduction causes the body to actually slow down its metabolism in anticipation of a scarcity of food. This, of course, is counterproductive to what you wish to accomplish.
The most effective route to fat loss, then, is to train intensely to stimulate muscle growth (the routines I'll provide are designed to do just that) and reduce your food intake slightly—say, 500 calories below what would otherwise be necessary to maintain your present bodyweight. Again, keep your diet balanced or tipped in favor of the carbohydrate element, and you'll notice a consistent level of fat loss while at the same time increasing your muscle-mass ratio.
The combination of these two factors will create a dramatic difference in the appear ance of your physique and create a base of health and vitality that will be all but impenetrable throughout your life.
This month we're going to alter our routine marginally by adding in some new exercises and subtracting a few from last month. The reason we will be switching exercises occasionally is to avoid both mental and physical staleness, the inevitable result of engaging in unaltered activities for prolonged periods. Some of the exercises, such as squats, will remain in our program due to their intrinsic value as proven muscle builders.
1. Barbell squats:
3 sets of 15 reps
3 sets of 15 reps
3. Upright barbell rows:
3 sets of 12 reps Supersetted with . . .
4. Bench presses:
3 sets of 10-15 reps
5. Presses behind the neck:
3 sets of 12 reps
6. Standing dumbbell curls:
1 set of 15 reps, 2 sets of 10 reps Supersetted with . . .
7. Lying triceps extensions:
1 set of 15 reps, 2 sets of 10 reps
8. Stiff-legged dead lifts:
3 sets of 15 reps
1. Barbell squats: Stand erect with a barbell across your shoulders and take a deep breath. Now, with your lungs full, bend your knees and lower yourself slowly, in four seconds, and then ascend in two seconds back to the starting position for the required number of repetitions. See Chapter 1 for a full description of this exercise and its benefits. Superset with . . .
2. Pull-overs: Lie on a bench with a light barbell (or a centrally loaded dumbbell), which should be held at arm's length over your chest. Maintaining the arm's-length position, slowly lower the weight until it almost touches the floor behind you. Make an effort to keep your arms locked throughout the movement, and when you inhale, attempt to draw in as much oxygen as you can while lifting the weight as high as possible. The weight is not a major factor in this exercise, whereas the degree of stretch most certainly is. A weight range of between ten and twenty pounds is recommended, dependent on your starting level of strength. Remember to slowly lower the weight as far behind you as possible and also pull it over your chest in a slow and deliberate fashion. See Chapter 1 for a full description of this exercise and its benefits.
3. Upright barbell rows: This is an excellent exercise for both your trapezius and deltoid (shoulder) muscles. Place your hands about six inches apart on a barbell with an overhand grip (your palms should be facing your thighs). Keeping your body straight and stationary, slowly pull the weight up to your clavicles (collar bone). Keep the barbell in close, and then slowly, in four seconds, lower it back to the starting position. Remember that your development will be accelerated if you work your muscles in both the upward and downward portions of the exercise. Repeat the movement for three sets of twelve repetitions. Supersetted with . . .
4. Bench presses: Use the same style as described in Chapter 1, but don't be afraid to really push for those last few reps during your third set. Your partner should assist you just enough to allow you to complete your repetitions—not to make the exercise easier for you! Be sure to concentrate fully during both the raising (positive) and the lowering (negative) portions of the movement.
5. Presses behind the neck: Use the same form as outlined in Chapter 1 for the
5. Presses behind the neck: Use the same form as outlined in Chapter 1 for the
standing barbell press. It's not necessary to clean the weight here; note the seated starting position in the photo as an alternative technique. Begin with a light poundage in order to warm up your entire shoulder girdle. Take a deep breath before pressing the weight up smoothly to the fully extended position of your arms, and then lower the resistance twice as slowly (four seconds) back to the starting position. Add weight to the bar (approximately 20 percent more than your warm-up weight) and perform two more sets.
You may notice that you will not be as strong in this movement as you were last month. The reason for this isn't that you're becoming weaker, but rather that your last four exercises have involved your deltoids to a greater extent, and consequently, your shoulder muscles are more fatigued than they were when you performed this exercise last month. Battle through the fatigue to get your prescribed number of repetitions, all the while maintaining perfect form.
6. Standing dumbbell curls: These next two exercises are to be performed in a superset. First, to perform the standing dumbbell curls, grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your sides with the palms touching your upper thighs. Slowly curl both arms up until the dumbbells are at shoulder level. Pause briefly in this fully contracted position, and then lower the dumbbells slowly, in four seconds, back to the starting position. Perform your first set as a slow, controlled, warm-up set (supersetted with the next exercise), and then increase the resistance by 20 percent (give or take a couple of pounds, depending on your existing strength levels) and superset your next two sets for 10 repetitions each. Supersetted with . . .
7. Lying triceps extensions: Lie on an exercise bench, holding a barbell (or E-Z curl bar) in both hands directly over your chest. From this position, slowly lower the resistance, in four seconds, to a point just behind your head. From this fully extended position, slowly press the resistance back up to the starting position. Just as in the preceding exercise, use your first set as a slow, controlled, warm-up set, and then add approximately 20 percent more to the bar and perform two more sets (supersetted with the previous exercise) of 10 repetitions.
8. Stiff-legged dead lifts: A version of this exercise was described in the previous chapter, and both are among the best total-body exercises. They not only work your lower back but also place considerable stress on your forearms, biceps, lats, shoulders, and trapezius muscles.
Using an over-under grip whereby one palm is facing your thighs while the other palm is facing away, grab hold of a moder ately weighted barbell and, with your arms straight, stand upright so that the bar is resting across the front of your thighs and your back is straight. From this position, slowly, in four seconds, lower the resistance to the floor, making sure to keep your legs locked straight (as opposed to the previous dead lift exercise, in which you began with bent knees and then straightened). Because of the nature of this exercise, it's not necessary to use a lot of weight. You don't want to strain your lower back; you simply want to concentrate on stimulating the muscles that support it. Repeat for the required number of sets and repetitions.
Again, you should train on three alternate days per week. The workouts will stimulate muscle growth, while your days off allow that growth to take place. Muscle growth is a slow process, contingent solely upon the intensity levels that you are willing and able to generate in your training sessions. So, train hard, eat a balanced diet that is modified to suit your objectives, and rest to recover and grow, and by the end of this month you'll notice a substantial muscle-mass increase—which, of course, you'll need before proceeding to the workouts outlined in Chapter 3, "Fewer Sets + More Reps = More Mass!"
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