One of my favorite things about bodybuilding is that it is purely an individual endeavor. Your degree of success or failure is contingent upon your own efforts, and not those of your teammates or friends. You have to sit down and figure out exactly why you are not getting to where you want to be, and precisely how you can get back on track. And since there is no official rulebook involved in bodybuilding, it is up to you to write your own “set of rules.”
However, just because it is totally up to you to make all of the final decisions regarding your approach to bodybuilding/working out, this does not mean you cannot seek out as much information as possible from more experienced and/or educated sources than yourself. There are people out there that have made it their life’s to teach the basic principals behind achieving optimal muscle mass and strength gains. Every trainee should take full advantage of what these people have to offer, as it will minimize guesswork, and put them on a much clearer and hastened path toward their goals.
In my 25 years as a professional in this industry, I have managed to put together not so much a “rulebook,” but a basic set of guidelines that seem to work for, and apply to, just about everyone. Of course there is some variation from individual to individual in terms of genetics, fiber types, metabolism, somatotype, recovery ability, etc., and these differences will certainly affect how well and how efficiently each of us can develop our physique. However, I still feel there are several “universal truths” that can help everyone reach their physique goals in a reasonable period of time. I like to call them the “Growth Guidelines.”
Guideline # 1: Base the majority of your training on compound movements. While I have nothing against machines and cables, there is no doubt that the greatest muscle builders are free-weight compound exercises. There is nothing wrong with using machines or cables, but if you want to get huge, make free-weights the cornerstone of your program.
Guideline # 2: Strict form must be used: Using strict form on all of your exercises will assure that you are stimulating the muscle that you wish to target. Those that “throw” the weights up when doing side laterals or barbell curls, for example, are only cheating themselves out of growth. Once you reach failure using strict form, THEN it is ok to use momentum (to a reasonable degree) to try and extend your set a bit further.
Guideline # 3: Do not overdo it. Our bodies have limited amounts of recovery ability, as well as a limited amount of “energy” to put toward building new muscle tissue. So, here a few sub-guidelines to follow to keep you from overdoing it…
- Train no more than 4 days per week.
- Do not train more than 2 days in a row without taking a full day off from the gym.
- Workouts should last no more than 75-90 minutes.
Guideline # 4: Eat adequate protein! This is perhaps the most important of all the advice I can offer. Muscle is protein. Protein is required to build and repair muscle tissue. Not eating enough can hinder your gains no matter how well thought out your training and supplementation programs are. How much protein is enough? For most serious trainees, at least 1-1.5 gram of protein per lb. of bodyweight should be consumed daily.
Guideline # 5: Take advantage of the post workout “anabolic window!” In the 60-minute period immediately following a workout there is such an important opportunity available to aid in the plight for maximum hypertrophy, that I don’t know why anyone would not take full advantage of it! Right after you train your muscles are not only literally starving for protein and carbohydrates, but your entire metabolic machinery is in a state where a tremendous amount of nutrients can be preferentially shuttled directly toward muscle cells, and away from adipocytes. The best thing you can do at this time is to whip up and consume a shake containing 30-60 grams of fast acting (whey) protein and 60-120 grams of high glycemic carbs (exact amounts depending on bodyweight and goals).
Guideline # 6: Use the right supplements. While it is not 100% necessary to use supplements in order to make progress, they certainly can hasten results. Things such as creatine, beta-alanine, BCAA’s, glutamine, agmatine, caffeine, etc. will be like adding a turbo-charger to an already powerful engine!
Guideline # 7: Get your sleep. Going to the gym and putting in intense workouts day after day is what acts as the stimulus for gains in muscle size and strength. Proper nutritional intake will give you the building blocks necessary to actually build new lean tissue onto your frame. However, all of this will be meaningless if you do not allow your body the time and opportunity to “work” this magical process. Think of sleep as your body’s 8-hour muscle building work shift, and if you can put in a little overtime, expect some extra compensation in the form of more muscle.
-CEO B Built International www.b-built.net
-AAP Director of PR/Social Media/Marketing www.allamericanpharmaceutical.com
-Natural Professional Bodybuilder/Judge/Advisory Board Member
-Columnist @ Iron Man/Planet Muscle/Natural Muscle/www.muscleandfitness.com
-Creator of the PRRS, FDFS and O-Bey-6 Training Systems