Bodybuilding TIP #1 – Train smart, don’t overtrain
You may be, like tens of thousands of other bodybuilders, training too hard and too often, resulting in you not getting the kind of gains you want and expect. This is because our bodies can only cope with a certain amount of demand for them and if you over-train then your body will have its hands full just recovering from the workouts, let alone increase the size of your muscles.
Try and listen to your body – if you feel quite tired all the time or you’re feeling a bit cranky and can’t sleep as well as you normally do then you may well be overtraining and you should reduce the number of workouts you do per week and / or your training intensity. Keep reducing your workload until you feel as though you are fully recovering from your workouts and you are noticing muscle gains.
Also, Remember the four golden aspects to gaining muscle: Training, rest, nutrition and water. If you are lacking in any of these key areas then you will not be growing as quickly as you could and should be. Over-training can result from not getting enough rest, nutrition, and water. Try and get as much sleep as you can each night and drink plenty of water all throughout the day.
Post-workout nutrition is vital to preventing over-training. Consider getting yourself a good quality post workout protein and carbohydrate based protein powder
Bodybuilding TIP #2 – Train for you, don’t train like a pro!
I used to read all the popular bodybuilding magazines, like Flex and MuscleMag and when I was just starting out I used to base my workouts on the ones described in the articles written by professional bodybuilders.
You’d have Vince Taylor describing how he uses double sets for virtually everything, Kevin Levrone advocating higher reps on triceps and Ronnie Coleman advising to use the most weight possible. One thing virtually all of them agreed on, however, was huge numbers of sets and exercises per body part. So there I was, doing anything between twenty to forty sets per body part. It was crazy!
I would train for hours at a time, desperately trying to copy what my favorite pro’s training regime, wondering why I wasn’t growing despite my massive efforts.
It took me a long while to realize I was training like a pro, despite not being anywhere near the size of one. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Most pro’s having been training for ten years or more, and 99% of them are on a serious amount of drugs. They can only train for so long because of their experience, drugs, food intake, genetics and everything else they have learned over their time as a bodybuilder. Indeed, many of them would probably benefit from reducing the number of sets they perform but when it’s your living at stake, I guess you can hardly blame them for worrying about not doing enough work in the gym.
You need to train according to your needs. Listen to your body, monitor your strength gains and weight gain. Adjust your training intensity and workout duration according to how quickly you are growing, and factor in all the other influences such as other exercise, stress levels, and diet. Don’t train like a pro until you are one!
Bodybuilding TIP #3 – Save your joints, don’t do behind the neck pull-downs!
If you are new to weight training then you may not know that some exercises are harder on your joints and ligaments than others. In actual fact, some exercises are way worse than others, and with some, you’d be crazy to do them at all!
Each of us has tremendously different body shapes – some of us have wide hips, or narrow shoulders, some of us are amazingly flexible whilst others have longer legs or arms. This has an effect on which exercises suit us more than others. The only 100% way to identify which exercises we should avoid is to listen to your body!
If your shoulder joints, or knees or elbows etc. ache or hurt the day or two after you’ve trained then examine the exercises you did carefully and try to figure out which one(s) don’t suit your body shape.
One exercise I can definitely recommend you avoid is the behind the neck pulldown or chin-up. This has wrecked more shoulder joints than I’ve had hot dinners. Next time your perform this exercise (if you have to, that is – I seriously recommend that you do the front, to the chest version instead) feel how twisted round your shoulders feel and how tight it is – you are right at the extreme range of movement in your shoulders and this is extremely precarious for your shoulders.
The tendons and ligaments are at their full stretch, leaving the joints dangerously exposed as the integrity of the joint are at it’s weakest. If your form slackens off just a bit then the chance of injury is high.
So, avoid dangerous exercises that don’t suit your body and especially avoid behind the neck pull-downs. Does front pull downs instead
Bodybuilding TIP #4 – The secret to bodybuilding success – Consistency is the golden rule
The one true secret to bodybuilding success is consistency. Nothing will get you bigger , or more cut than being consistent with your diet, training, rest and supplementation over a period of time.
Sadly bodybuilding is not an overnight type of thing – you can’t achieve much in bodybuilding over a single day or even a week. If you’re the type of person who needs instant gratification then you are going to be in for a tough time while you wait for the results to come as it can take months or years to achieve the kind of success you desire. Bodybuilding is a marathon, not a sprint, and so it clear then that to achieve any kind of success in bodybuilding you need to be consistent over a long period of time.
This isn’t as depressing as it sounds, honest! If you cover the four basics of training, diet, rest and supplementation and keep this going consistently you WILL achieve your goals, and you will be successful at bodybuilding. If you speak to any advanced bodybuilder you will quickly notice a few common traits – all have been training week in, week out for years and all have been consistent with their diet and supplementation. It really is the case that the slow tortoise wins the race.
The true secret then is to remember that you’re in this for the long haul – don’t try and achieve the impossible overnight and injure yourself or worse. The longer you can train injury to free the more likely you will be to remain consistent and reach your bodybuilding goals!
Bodybuilding TIP #5 – Vary your grip! Success is in the palm(s) of your hand(s)…
When doing any barbell work try and vary the width of your grip every now and again. This has a couple of benefits:
1. Varying the width of your grip alters the motion and range of the exercise in question, and can alter the effect of the exercise on the target muscles. For instance in bench pressing, the wider your grip the more your pectorals become the prime muscle used. As your grip narrows you use more and more delts and triceps in the movement. Varying the grip shakes things up a bit and can help improve your results.
2. You may find a grip width that actually suits your body better. Each of us has a different body layout to everyone else – your should width is different, the length of your arms, even the length of your forearms as a fraction of your upper arms is different. It’s no wonder then that what works for one person might not for another. For some people, a wider grip is more ‘natural’ and comfortable than a narrower grip and the risk of injury is actually reduced by using a grip that fits with your biomechanics.
Don’t vary every workout or every set – try and find what works for you but then vary it every now and again for a workout or a few sets just to hit the muscles slightly differently and hopefully shock them into new growth.
Bodybuilding TIP #5 – Use high-intensity techniques sparingly, don’t over do it!
When you get really into your weight training if you are like most people you will find your workouts getting more and more intense. In any particular workout, you might get someone to help you force out a few additional reps each set. Or you might do some drop sets, where you do a set to failure then immediately drop to a lower weight and do another set (and so on until you are exhausted). Or you might do negatives, where the weight is so heavy you can’t even do a rep and you have to get spotters to help you lift it before resisting the weight on its way back down.
There are many ways to increase the intensity of your workout and as I said you will probably find yourself using them more and more as you seek to grow as fast as humanly possibly. The problem with this is that your body sadly has a limited ability to recover from each workout, and the more intense and brutal each workout is the longer it will take you to recover. Despite this, most of us will train with the same frequency as before and so you end up in an over-trained state.
Effectively you’ll be training so hard you ruin all your chances of growing! You will actually train TOO hard. Crazy but true. I know it’s difficult to reign in your enthusiasm (I was exactly the same!) but you really will grow quicker if you use these advanced high-intensity techniques sparingly (and you might be better off using them only on your most stubborn bodyparts too, in order to try and build a more balanced body).