The Art of Bodybuilding.Bodybuilding is a science of physique enhancement that allows you to use weights and resistance machines to chisel and mold your body exactly how you want it. However, this is a very individual sport – there is no "one size fits all" program to help you achieve your goals. There are many different training and nutrition programs put forth by top trainers and competitors that all have merit. Finding the approach that works best for you is often the result of experimentation. Fortunately, the experts at MHP can provide you with be basics that will allow you to chisel and strengthen your body right from the start. MHP has access to many of the best bodybuilding minds on the planet, including Arnold Classic champion Victor Martinez, Toronto Pro champ Craig Richardson, MHP President and former national level bodybuilder Gerard Dente, certified strength coach Steve Downs and many others. By gaining input and advice from such experts, we are able to put together some of the basics that will help bodybuilders of any level build muscle, lose fat and look their absolute best. Bodybuilding is both a lifestyle and a sport. Whether you are looking to compete onstage or simply want to create the best physique possible, the tools are virtually the same. Building muscle and reducing body fat are key components in reshaping your body. So lifting weights, performing cardio, eating "clean" and taking superior supplements are the tools required to get the job done right. The difference comes down to your goals and commitment. Obviously, if your ultimate goal is to become a champion bodybuilder, this requires a much higher level of dedication. It takes a 100% commitment to peak for a competition. But the good news is that if you are aiming to simply build a lean, muscular body, this can easily be accomplished through sensible exercise and nutritional recommendations. In essence, bodybuilding is an ongoing process of improvement for everyone. No matter what your ultimate objective, bodybuilding is not as challenging as you think. It is possible to dramatically change your physique using iron weights as tools and tailoring the food and supplements you use. Sure, it will take dedication, but you can definitely achieve your objectives.
Proper Training Will Help Get Results.When it comes to basics, the goal of bodybuilding training is to build, strengthen and shape your muscles. It is not simply to lift weights. That's where the ego separation must come – you can't concern yourself with how much you can lift in place of feeling how each repetition is working the targeted muscles. Because of this, loose form (cheating) must be replaced with high intensity techniques such as strip sets and pre-exhaustion to keep your muscles working hard when you can't lift as heavy as you'd like (such as heading into a show). But everything is relative, so lift as heavy as possible within set rep ranges and the amount of stimulation will still remain relatively constant. You will get stronger, yet your body will become more massive, symmetrical and complete. For larger bodyparts such as chest, back or thighs, sticking to 12-16 sets total in precise form will be plenty to add slabs of muscle… and keep you from overtraining or suffering joint problems. These sets should be divided between 3-4 exercises (3-4 sets each). Repetitions should remain in the 8-12 range, with each work set taken to near-failure. Research shows that hypertrophy (muscular growth) occurs more readily in the 12-15 rep range, but most bodybuilders prefer to lift heavy weights (to keep their strength up) so a good compromise is 8-12 controlled repetitions taken to failure. So whichever rep range you choose, you should do 1-2 warm-ups and then 2-3 work sets, increasing weight and lowering reps as you go. But each set should end with you totally fatigued and fighting to finish the last repetition. For smaller body parts (arms, shoulders, calves) you don't need as many sets to get the job done. For biceps or triceps, for instance, 6-9 sets is more than enough to build rock-solid muscle mass – especially if you structure your workout in a push-pull basis where you train a larger body part first. For instance, if you trained triceps after chest, where you were performing tons of pushing exercises, you don't need a ton of extra pushdowns or lying extensions to pulverize this muscle group. Deltoid work can be tricky because you need to hit all three areas of the shoulder muscle, but too much pressing (especially the day after heavy benching) will get you injured more than it will add extra muscle mass. The repetition range of 8-12 also works well for these areas, but again taken to failure on each set. This ensures maximum muscle stimulation and promotes the greatest amount of growth. With regard to timing, a controlled rep count of 2-0-2-1 brings best results, plus allows you to feel each exercise working your muscles. This entails 2 seconds to lower, no pause at the bottom while changing direction, 2 seconds to lift the weight back up and 1 second to pause in a tight isometric contraction at the top. Doing each rep in this precision form will ensure faster results and greater muscular stimulation. Remember, to excel at bodybuilding, your resistance training should directly correlate to improving your individual physique. This is important not only regarding concentration on specific muscle groups to ensure balance and symmetry, but also the contractions of each exercise. For instance, should you aspire to get up on stage and compete, posing in front of the judges is all about tight muscular contractions. So it is important that squeeze the end range contraction of every rep in the gym so that your muscles come to life the minute you hit the posing dais. How often should you train? The best recommendation would be to follow a modified 4 day push/pull schedule (day 1 – chest, abs and calves; day 2 – upper and lower back, traps and abs; day 3 – quads, hamstrings and calves; day 4 – shoulders, biceps and triceps). Follow this with a day off and repeat. Cardio is one final element of bodybuilding success. Performing full body aerobic exercise 3-5 days per week is essential for burning calories, enabling you to eliminate body fat and get lean. Cardio becomes an especially important part of the contest prep process for competitive bodybuilders once you make the commitment to a pre-contest diet (typically 12-16 weeks out from an event). The goal is to burn calories, so don't be fooled by advice to be in the "fat burning" zone of low intensity, long duration exercise. Instead, aim for 30-45 minutes of cardio interval training where you alternate a few minutes of very high intensity running, cycling or stair climbing with a minute or two of slower pace. This will allow your body to consume many more calories and put you in a caloric deficit. After your workout, your body will pull from fat stores to replace the energy lost, which will get you leaner faster. Should you decide to go one step further and try your hand at competition, training to win onstage requires a good grasp of workout methodology and the ability to keep your ego at bay. To be the best bodybuilder possible, you must think in both the short-term and long-term. In the short-term, there is the next contest on the horizon. But over the long haul, longevity is critical for you to gain muscle maturity that will help you triumph onstage, and move up through the amateur ranks in pursuit of your dream of becoming a pro. For this reason, bodybuilding training requires that you combine tenets of multiple types of exercise (all found on the MHP website). For instance, in the offseason you might follow a workout regimen more in line with strength building, as found in our Strength section. Then during precontest mode, when you're trimming body fat, you'll integrate some of the philosophies covered in the Weight Loss section. This integrated approach will help you add muscle mass, build strength and trim fat, depending on where you are in your yearly schedule. The final point to understand is that bodybuilding is not a "1 size fits all" undertaking. Just as you must target lagging body parts with extra work and stimulation to mold the best possible physique, so too must you experiment with different training principles and techniques to maximize progress. There are many different philosophies prescribed by various trainers and top competitors. For instance, advanced bodybuilders like Victor Martinez, Craig Richardson, Jose Raymond and Tricky Jackson all use intuitive training techniques to personalize their workouts. These methodologies include supersetting (performing 2 exercises back to back), High Intensity Training (brief, super-intense workouts), pre-exhaustion (performing isolation movement immediately before a compound exercise) and Peripheral Heart Action Training (alternating limb and core exercises), among others.
Ask Any Bodybuilder, Nutrition Is Key!Bodybuilding is a lifestyle, so success dictates that your nutritional program matches up to your training focus. Eating a "clean" diet year-round is a first step toward achieving your muscle building and fat reducing goals. There are times, of course, when gaining added muscular weight will require greater caloric intake, but you shouldn't use the "offseason" mass building phase as a time to pig out and get fat. The basics of any sound diet include lean quality protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Research tells us that the best plan for anabolic growth and minimum fat gain is the Macrobolic Diet. Eating in this manner requires that you use a balanced approach to dieting using prescribed percentages of macronutrients at each meal – ranges of roughly 45% carbohydrates, 35% protein and 20% fat. This is a simple enough plan to follow. The first step is to access where you are physically and what your goals are (gain muscle, lose fat or both). If your current diet has you staying at a set bodyweight, then this is what's known as your "metabolic set point." All of your body changing calculations would start from here. If you want to drop fat, you need to reduce your daily caloric intake. The best recommendation is to lower your calories by 500 per day, which would equate to a 3,500 calorie reduction per week (1 lb. of fat equals 3,500 calories, so this means you would lose 1-2 lbs. per week). If you want to gain muscular weight, you must increase your food intake by 300 clean calories a day on average. (Bigger guys over 200 lbs. to begin should aim for 400-500 extra calories.) Once you have a rough calculation of your desired daily caloric intake, divide the food into the three macronutrient percentages (45/35/20). You will need a calorie count book to figure out precise calculations of how much food to eat (i.e., there are about 370 calories per 8 oz. of skinless chicken breast and 160 calories for a large baked sweet potato). Protein sources should be lean red meat, white meat poultry, fish and egg whites, plus quality protein supplements. Carbohydrate sources include whole grains, pasta, rice, potatoes, legumes and fresh fruit. Fat intake should come from fish oil, unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids. Meals should be eaten every 2-3 hours throughout the day. To maintain a positive nitrogen balance for positive anabolic growth, your body requires regular feedings of protein and carbohydrates (carbs are protein sparing, so eating them keeps your body from cannibalizing amino acids for other purposes). These meals should be relatively small and include all 3 macronutrients for optimum digestion, so split your overall caloric intake by 5 or 6 meals to obtain the desired calories for each feeding. Your morning and post-workout meals can be different than the others because you require additional calories and nutrients at these critical times to keep the anabolic muscle growth process going. There is much more to the nutritional puzzle, but these are the basics every bodybuilder starts with. Preparation is key to achieving your goals. If you take the time to prepare your food each day, you'll fuel your body precisely what it needs to grow bigger, stronger and leaner.
Supplementing for Bodybuilding.No matter what your bodybuilding seasonal goal (off-season or in-season), MHP products will help you produce the results you're seeking. The basics begin, of course, with protein supplementation. To provide muscle building amino acids first thing in the morning, nothing works better than ISOFAST. The ultra-fast delivery of this micronparticulated and biohydrolyzed whey protein isolate is perfect when you need a quick dose of protein. ISOFAST is also great for post-workout supplementation. If you aren't able to eat enough meals during the day, MHP's sustained release Probolic-SR protein powder is a great way to ensure you're meeting your protein requirements. In addition, to keep your body anabolic during the night when you'd normally be in a fasting state, be sure to take Probolic-SR an hour before bedtime. For the ultimate high-protein treat, dig into delicious Power Pak Pudding. With 30 grams of protein and zero sugar, it's perfect for pre-contest and off-season muscle building. Mouthwatering Power Pak Pudding contains only 190 calories, 9 grams of carbs, 4.5 grams of fat and no sugar alcohols, lactose or gluten. In the offseason, Up Your MASS is your ticket to massive gains in muscle mass and strength. Up Your MASS packs 124,000 mgs. of highly anabolic amino acids, complex carbohydrates and a sustained release protein blend. Another critical element is your testosterone levels. We all know you need high test levels to build massive muscles. That's where MHP's T-BOMB II comes into play. T-BOMB II maximizes testosterone production, lowers estrogen and minimizes testosterone conversion to DHT. This means you'll have all the muscle building testosterone you need to get huge! Your pre- and post-workout ergogenic requirements are another vital element to getting the most out of your training. Before you train, Dark Rage provides all the nutrients you need to blast through the weights with animalistic intensity. It contains nitric oxide boosters, exclusive EPO Blood Boosting technology, psychomotor stimulants and extreme energizers to provide mind- and muscle-blowing pumps, maximum muscular growth and faster recovery. For a stimulant-free pre-workout boost, MHP's NO-BOMB provides the full clinical dose of the proven nitric oxide booster GlycoCarn, plus the revolutionary KNO3 Nitrite-NO Technology. GlycoCarn has been shown to provide massive pumps, increase strength, reduce lactic acid, burn fat and increase workout intensity. NO-BOMB can also be stacked with Dark Rage. After your training, Dark Matter takes full advantage of the 1 hour Anabolic Window for muscle growth and recovery. Dark Matter is bursting with muscle building aminos, cell volumizing creatine matrix and waxy maize to spike insulin and increase nutrient transport. In addition to Probolic, the ultimate nighttime anabolic supplement is Cyclin-GF. This anabolic muscle activator is scientifically formulated to help increase testosterone, growth hormone, IGF and IGF2, thereby maximizing the anabolic hormonal cascade that promotes the development of new muscle tissue. To get absolutely shredded come competition time, DREN is the one-a-day fat burner you can't do without. DREN helps amp up your calorie burning furnace, curb your appetite and provide extreme euphoria to make a pre-contest diet highly effective. And for a bone-dry look and maximum muscle fullness when you hit the stage, MHP's powerful herbal diuretic XPEL delivers! XPEL helps remove subcutaneous water that hides definition, while providing electrolytes to keep your muscles full and hard. Additional MHP supplements that should be on every bodybuilder's list include Activite Sport (enzyme activated multi-vitamin), Releve (joint support formula), Glutamine-SR (sustained release glutamine) and BCAA 3300 (4:1:1 leucine loaded BCAAs).
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