You could train more. You could take more supplements. You could eat more food. You could do all of these things, but that doesn't mean you'll gain more muscle. My experience has taught me that doing these things in the right amounts - not as much as possible - is the formula for success in bodybuilding.
Unfortunately, the only way that some people will learn this lesson is by doing things to excess. As a consequence, these same people may find themselves over trained, overweight and out a lot of hard-earned money. But you need not follow the path of trail and error.
I once heard a saying that applies here: "A smart person learns from his mistakes; a genius learns from the mistakes of others." Here's your opportunity to benefit from my mistakes. I don't know if that makes you a genius, but it should enable you to grow while others are spinning wheels making the same mistakes that I and many other bodybuilders made when we were first starting out.
THE DEMANDS OF BODYBUILDING
A basic principle (law) in economics that in a free market, supply will equal demand. The same is true in bodybuilding. To stimulate your muscles, you must place demand upon them sufficient to create an adaptive response. This in turn enables the muscles to supply a greater amount of force the next time they are called upon to do so. For the adaptation process to occur, your diet must supply the muscles with the essential nutritional components the fibers demand to rebuild themselves. If your diet is poor, you can forget about gaining size. If your body's demands for raw materials exceed what your diet can deliver, supplementation can supply the ingredients your muscle fibers need. This point is very important. Master it, and it will help you reach your full potential.
When beginning a training, supplementation or nutritional program, you must first select the staple items you'll need in each category. These are the so-called "essential items" you shouldn't be without Some universal principles apply to virtually all athletes, though they may vary slightly depending on body type, goals and level of development. These items will form the foundation upon which your program will evolve. 0nce you have the basics covered and yon understand how they influence your progress, you can add or subtract various components as need dictates.
You can choose from hundreds of different movements when constructing a bodybuilding routine, but that doesn't mean you should do all of them. I personally feel you should perform no more than 9-12 sets per body part per workout. Of these, two-thirds should come from the list of staple exercises that will form the core of your exercise program. These compound exercises, where movement occurs at more than one joint, involve several muscle groups and typically recruit more muscle fiber than isolation, or single-joint, exercises. As for reps, I usually do sets of 4-8 reps for most of my compound movements, and I keep the weight really heavy. On my single-joint exercises, my reps are typically between 8 and 12.
The specific exercises yon select will depend on your goals, symmetry and the degree of success you experience with that movement. Sometimes I've done a perfectly good exercise that's effective for a lot of people and gotten very little from it. No problem; I just try something else from my list of staple movements the next time I go to the gym. Often I can come back to the first exercise a few months later and get good results, so I've learned not to write off anything permanently.
During the off-season, when I'm really trying to pack on muscle, I don't count calories. Instead, I count grams of protein. I consume approximately 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body-weight per day. I try to consume carbohydrates at a 2:1 ratio with protein, so that works out to approximately 3 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight each day. I don't deliberately consume a particular quantity of fat, but rather I try to keep fat out of my diet as much as possible. Because I eat a fair amount of meat, however, approximately 10% of my daily caloric intake ends up coming from fat. A certain amount of fat is important to your health, do don't go on a zero-fat diet, but at 9 calories per gram fat can add up quickly, so don't overdo it either.
By beginning with protein as the starting point for my nutritional program, I'm more confident that my nutritional demands are being met as I gain size. Counting calories is irrelevant. Sure, your body needs energy, but if all it needed were calories, you could just eat fat and be done with it. The first priority of your nutritional program is to supply protein and carbohydrate to build and fuel your body.
I have a few staple items in my nutritional regimen. For protein, I eat lean red meat (sirloin), skin-less chicken breast, turkey breast and egg whites. For carbohydrate, I eat rice, cream of rice cereal, oatmeal, potatoes, pasta and bananas.
Without a doubt, supplementation is an important part of my overall program. It comes clown to selecting the right supplements for your present nutritional demands, not haphazardly using every supplement you can get your hands on.
Supplements are an efficient way to deliver the macronutrients and micronutrients that are in extremely high demand by the body. In the case of macronutrients, for example, I rely on supplements for up to 40% of my daily protein requirements. The reason is very simple: my body needs about 450 grams of protein each day, and when you consume this much protein, absorption, digestibility and convenience become extremely important factors.
When you select a protein supplement, don't just grab the cheapest one on the shelf. Be sure you get a high-quality whey protein product with a large percentage of di- and tripeptides. Basically, these are amino-acid chains only 2-3 links long, and the body absorbs them more readily than any other form of protein. This is important because it greatly improves the rate of absorption, which means you're using the protein more efficiently and completely.
This kind of protein is also less stressful on the digestive system. Protein digestion is taxing enough for a non-bodybuilder, but when you consider the amount of protein that we consume, our digestive system could use all the help it can get. Add to this the general state of physical stress that we endure during training and the recovery process that follows, and you start to get an idea why efficient protein absorption is so critical. The higher the stress on the body, the lower the digestive efficiency.
When it comes to supplementing micronutrients, again, I keep it pretty simple. I use creatine monohydrate, a real staple for bodybuilders these days. I personally get an unbelievable pump from creatine, and I feel significantly stronger as well.
I also take a lot of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), about 12 grams per day. These are unique in that the body uses them for fuel when you're working out. Your body also needs them to synthesize muscle tissue, so supply and demand becomes critical once again. You don't want to fall short of these important building blocks, or you may end up breaking down a lot of muscle as a result.
The final staple in my supplementation regimen is a complete multivitamin and mineral complex. This is my insurance policy to make sure I've got all the bases covered. I take one in the morning and one with dinner.
This is the same training, nutritional and supplementation program I used when I began making significant gains and packing on muscle. Based on your particular needs and goals, you may want to add, subtract or change various elements of this program, but whatever you do, always factor in the staples to your own supply and demand equation, and remember: More is not always better - sometimes it's worse.
|Incline Dumbbell Press|
|Shoulders||Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press|
|Biceps||Standing Barbell Curl|
|Seated Dumbbell Curl|
|Triceps||Lying French Press (Skull Crusher)|
|Lying Leg Curl|
|Calves||Standing Calf Raise|
|Seated Calf Raise|