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Recent Bodybuilding Articles

Most Effective Chest Exercises

The chest is the trophy piece of every person who tries to gain muscle mass. As much as we can tell you not to neglect the other areas of your workout, you, like everyone else, will put a little more into your chest. This isn't just vanity, it's smart too. The chest is the largest muscle group in the upper body. The following exercises are some of the best ways to build chest muscle.

Bench Press

bench press
Positioning - Proper Bench technique begins with your location. As you lie on the bench, the bar should be at its resting position directly above your eyes. From your shoulders to your buttocks should be flat on the bench. Your feet should be at a comfortable width, flat on the floor.

Down Phase - After raising the bar from the resting position, lower it to just below the nipples. This lowering should happen at a controlled pace, do not drop the bar on your chest. This is dangerous for you, and reduces the impact of your workout. You should be inhaling through this portion of the lift.

The Press - Press the weight back to the starting position; arms fully extended, elbows locked. This press should take pace with the same amount of control and force throughout the motion. This will ensure muscle gains throughout the muscle.

Cable Crossovers

cable crossovers
Positioning - This exercise is done between two cable machines. You stand centered in between the two machines with one cable in each hand. With one foot forward for balance hold the handles near your shoulders with your elbows completely bent.

The Crossover - Push forwards and down towards your waist until you hands meet. Exhale as you push, and do not slam your hands together at the end.

The Return - Maintain resistance on the handles as the cables pull back to the start position. Don't let the weights jerk your arms back this can cause injury.

Incline Press

incline press
Positioning - This style of press has you sitting in a chair that is reclined. Chairs are either fixed or adjustable. Your back should be flat against the seat back. Your feet should be at a comfortable width, flat on the floor.

Down Phase - After raising the bar from the resting position, lower it to the top portion of your pectoral muscle. This lowering should happen at a controlled pace, do not drop the bar on your chest. This is dangerous for you, and reduces the impact of your workout.

The Press - Press the weight back to the starting position; arms fully extended, elbows locked. This press should take pace with the same amount of control and force throughout the motion. This is good for working the upper portion of your chest.

Decline Press

decline press
Positioning - This style of press has you lying on a bench with your feet hooked in to pads. Your head will be lower than the rest of your body. These benches are either fixed or adjustable. Your back should be flat against the bench and your feet should be secure in the pads.

Down Phase - After raising the bar from the resting position, lower it to just below the nipples. This lowering should happen at a controlled pace, do not drop the bar on your chest. This exercise works the lower as well as the inner portions of your chest.

The Press - Press the weight back to the starting position; arms fully extended, elbows locked. Make sure that the bar is moving perpendicular to the ground. Because you are inverted and at an angle, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain an exact vertical line. That will be the most beneficial to your muscle mass gains.

Butterfly Press

butterfly press
Positioning - This can be done with free weights or a machine. For the machine you will simply sit in a chair and place your arms against the padded bars. With free weights you will be lying on your back on a bench. Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart. You will have a dumbell in each hand, with your arms bent so that the dumbells are about ear level.

The Lift - On the machine you will push the pads in their pre-set arc, with the palm side of your forearms. For free weights, without changing the bend at your elbow, bring the dumbells together in front of your face.

The Return - For the machine provide resistance at the weights pull the padded arms back to their starting position. For free weights maintain the same arc the weights traveled up slowly lower them down. Use this resistance to help get bigger muscle mass gains.

Machine Weights Versus Free Weights

machine weights vs free weights

The argument about whether free weights or machines are better for getting results is passionate on both sides. You need results, so we breakdown the argument from both sides. We'll examine the facts and then make some decisions about what is best for the results you are looking for. Both types of weights; free weights and machines, have value. The real question is which one is more valuable to you.


When you go into a gym you may notice that machines dominate a large portion of the real estate. This has a lot to do with the fact that machines are great for people new to lifting. As you likely know, people who are trying to get back in shape make up a lot of the gym crowd. More power to them and we hope they stick with it, but they normally don't. Next month will bring a new group of people that are trying to get back in shape.

Because of all of this turnover the average experience level of gym members is novice. Machines offer an advantage to these novices. Most machines are pretty self-explanatory and new members can figure them out by looking at them and sitting on them. They basically force the new member to do the exercise the way the machine was designed. This helps them get a foothold in the world of lifting and also keeps them safe.

Another advantage offered by machines—and this one applies to all of us—is that they offer weight from positions that would other wise be difficult. Rather than having to invert your entire body and use dumbbells to do decline presses at an angle across your body, you can just use a cable machine.

Free Weights

The biggest benefit of free weights is that you have to control the movement. Actually you GET to control the movement. You can get a lot more variety into your routine by changing angles in a variety of exercises. The other aspect of controlling the movement, that helps you gain muscle mass is the use of stabilizing muscles. As you move a dumbbell through the motion of a particular exercise that targets one primary muscle, you are using several secondary muscles to keep that dumbbell on a proper plane.

A thorough workout routine will cut down the work you have to do on core muscle development. They will get a lot of attention as a by-product of the rest of your free weight routine. The fact that you are forced to control your entire body while lifting also helps your overall muscle mass gains.

Another big benefit that applies directly to gaining muscle mass is that machines all have a maximum weight. As you lift heavier and heavier to gain muscle mass you will eventually surpass these machines. Machines also have fixed increments. With free weights, if you know you can lift 2 more pounds or 3 more you can just add them onto your bar or dumbbell. These may seem like small benefits at the time but over time you will see more results the sooner you can increase the weight you are lifting.

Machines also offer real world strength. When asked which was more effective, free weights or machines, Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Edward Laskowski, M.D., and his colleagues responded "Free weights simulate real-life lifting situations and promote whole-body stabilization when used correctly. "

As we thought to begin with, there are definitely advantages to both lifting methods. The advantages that apply to lifters who are looking to gain serious muscle mass definitely come from free weights.

Setting Training Goals

training goals

So you've decided to become a bodybuilder, you've joined a gym, you purchased some fancy workout clothes and are prepared to build up a few calluses on your hands...what next?

Well, the only person who can decide what's next for you. You need to determine what you'd like to do, how you'd like to do it and for how long; but more so, you need to figure out what you want to get out of it. The best way to answer those questions is to do some goal setting. You're probably having flashbacks to your high school guidance counselor, harping on you about setting goals for the progression of your life, but don't worry, there's no pressure here. This is simply an exercise in focusing your intent to better allow you to predict and track your progress as a bodybuilder.

It's certainly possible to achieve results, gain muscle, lose weight, increase strength and get healthier without setting and writing out goals; after all, what is a goal? A goal is nothing more than an outlined and usually written idea of something you want, whether that be a gain, a loss, a strength achievement, or even just setting a record for the fewest missed workouts. So if that's all a goal is, why do you need to go through the effort to set them? Why can't you just jump in, head first and start grunting that weight up? Well, by all means, you can, but isn't it better to have a written statement of your intention, to be referred to in times of frustration; so that any time you ask yourself why you're doing all that strenuous work, you can read back on your goals and re-inspire yourself to achieve them?

This is the true reason for setting goals in any endeavor, and for a few minutes of effort, goals can be a powerful tool in maintaining steady progress and gains in your bodybuilding career.

Your goals of course, pertain only to you; they are a personal and intimate reflection of your ideals and ethics as they pertain to bodybuilding, and as such you are the only person who can set your goals. You can use the assistance of trained professionals either at your gym, through a nutrition clinic and even bodybuilding clubs to help you identify what you are capable of and what might be a reasonable goal for you as an individual, but ultimately, your goals are your creation and your responsibility.

Bodybuilding as a sport is quite different from most others; while you may choose to enlist a workout partner and you may seek advice and guidance from others within your gym community, being a bodybuilder means you are competing only with yourself. No one has exactly the same genetic make up as you, no one can build muscle at the same rate as you, or make strength gains at your pace, and therefore no one else will have exactly your goals.

The average person, of reasonable heath and motivation, can achieve a lean muscle mass gain of approximately 20lbs within six months. This takes for granted that the person eats properly, gets plenty of rest and has taken an intelligent approach to training. It would be easy enough to simply make that your primary goal and be done with it, but eventually you'd run into a problem. Six months later, you could assess your progress and find that your gains have been less than optimal; you failed to achieve your goal and can't figure out why, not to mention you have no direction and no idea where to go next. What you should have done is taken that one goal and added it to a list of short and long term goals, as steps to be taken over time, in order to achieve overall results. So that a time line or progression of where you want to be and when is already laid out in front of you.

Ok...point beaten to death; let's talk about what goals to set.

First of all, let's acknowledge that no one has ever become a successful bodybuilder by accident, no bodybuilder anywhere, has ever made muscle gains without a least some effort, and in most cases, it took a great deal of effort. This means that the process of building your body into a rippling and bulging mass of pecs and biceps is going to take some very deliberate and long term effort. It's going to take dedication, commitment and stamina, and halfway effort is only going to produce halfway results.

When you consider the long term nature of a bodybuilding career, it's important to set your goals to be sustainable lifestyle choices. Obviously the overall goal is to develop your body into your idea of the perfect physique, though you must know that this process has no real end, you will never achieve perfection and thus it is pointless to list that as your top goal. Instead you might consider breaking that idea down into term specific goals, such as five, three and one year goals, supported by six, three and one month intermediate goals, which are supported even further by weekly goals. The shorter the term of the goal, the more specific and measurable the content of the goal should be; the longer the term the more general, and more event specific the goal should be. For instance, once you've determined what is reasonable for your body, set your immediate goals in terms of strength gain over all of your various exercises for a short period of time (one week), next set your intermediate goals in terms of pounds of lean muscle mass gained within longer periods of time (one month); set your long terms goals according to your original idea of what that ideal physique might mean to you or what you'd like to do with it.

A sample list of immediate, intermediate and long term goals might look like the following:

-Weekly – Attend gym according to my training plan, don't miss any meals and increase my strength by 3-5lbs on all exercises

-1 Month – Expand my training plan to include more isometric movements, increase my strength by 15-20lbs on all exercises

-3 Months – Increase my weight by 10lbs, while maintaining my current body fat percentage

-6 Months – Achieve a lowered body fat percentage and increase my weight to 210lbs (beginning at 190lbs)

-1 Year – Attain a physique that is recognizable as an intermediate Bodybuilder, increasing my weight to 220lbs

-3 Years – Enter and participate in first Bodybuilding show

-5 Years – Enter and participate in a National Bodybuilding show You might notice that as the goals progress from short term to long term, and each preceding goal provides the means to reach the next. The short term goals are specific and detailed, providing measurable gains to be tracked and recorded, while the long term goals speak of almost peripheral events or achievements that are only quantifiable based on a one time participation that relies on the fulfillment of all of the short term goals leading up to it.

Notice of course that the short term goals are realistic and measurable with the use of a log book and daily recording of your reps, sets weights and even meals. The best place to record your goals would be in the front of that log book, allowing you to read them over daily or weekly, renewing your motivation each time. It remains important to maintain an understand of what you want and why you are doing this, and the best way to do that, is to read over your goals as often as possible.

Not everyone need go into such detail on their goals and there is some argument about setting long term goals more than one year in advance; at the same time, there may benefits for some people in going further in depth and even providing more of a step-by-step progression toward the longer term goals. Any way you do it, the most important thing to remember, is to be realistic. Understand why you are outlining your goals and use them as a reminder to keep you motivated and moving forward.

Bigger Triceps Mean Bigger Arms

bigger triceps

Many people underestimate the importance of well developed triceps in the physique of a bodybuilder. When in fact the tricep makes up just more than 3/4’s of the upper arm. There’s nothing more effective for making the upper arm seem massive and powerful than well developed tricep brachii.

As the name implies, there are three major muscle bundles in the tricep; the tricep brachii lateral head, long head and medial head, and while all three bundles of muscle fiber do pretty much the same thing (extend the lower arm), the all do it in a slightly different way. This means that while you look awesome doing set after set of cable pushdowns, if you’re doing nothing to stimulate the two other brachii heads directly, you’re selling your upper arms short.

There are numerous exercises which either directly or indirectly stimulate the tricep. Among those exercises there are two distinct categories, isolating movements and compound or core movements. It’s always best to populate your training plan with a good mix of both types of movements, and your tricep routine is no different. Below we will examine three of the most effective tricep movements there are; Seated Overhead Tricep Extensions, Close Grip Bench Press, and Dips.

1) Seated Overhead Tricep Extension (a.k.a. Overhead Raises)

You may have read or heard others talking about the benefits of stretching the muscle during the movement, and no tricep exercise stretches all three heads as well as Overhead Tricep Extensions.

This exercise can be done while standing or seated, though it is would recommended to performing it while seated for greater stability throughout the movement. Overhead Tricep Extensions can be done with a dumbbell(s), a barbell or with a cable raise machine. Possibly the most effective method is with a single heavy dumbbell.

While seated on a chair bench that will support your upper back, grip the plates on one side of a single dumbbell in both hands so that the handle of the dumbbell is vertical. Carefully raise the dumbbell above your head so that your arms are straight and the weight is directly above the top of your head. Be sure to hold the upper section of your arm straight and vertical.

Once you are set to begin, slowly lower the weight behind your head by bending your arm at the elbow. Be sure to keep your elbows tucked in close to your ears on both the positive and negative parts of the movement. The bottom of this movement is the point at which your elbow is bent as far as it can while maintaining your upper arms in a straight and vertical position. Doing so will ensure a deep stretch of the muscle and in turn pull more blood into the muscle group, allowing for more energy and faster repair of the tissues following your workout.

The benefits of performing this movement with a dumbbell rather than a barbell are in simplifying set up. It is easier to select a single dumbbell and begin the exercise, than to load a bar and maneuver it into position above your head. It could also be said that the position of your hands while using a dumbbell, rather than a barbell, will provide a better stretch through out the movement. In any event, the basics of this movement are simple and the rewards are vast. Performing this exercise properly and with the supervision of a competent spotter, you will effectively stimulate your tricep brachii, long and medial heads; and you’ll be surprised how quickly you experience strength gains.

2) Close Grip Bench Press (a.k.a. Close Bench)

There may not be another exercise so effective for focusing so much weight in such a perfect movement. Close Bench offers heavy stimulation to all three brachii heads as well as incidental stimulation to your pectorals…what more could you ask for?

Before discussing this exercise, it’s important to note that there is serious risk of injury to yourself and to others if it is performed incorrectly or without a competent spotter. The narrow grip, combined with the nature of the apparatus and the potential weight involved, make this a potentially dangerous movement. Take caution before adding it to your routine and do not attempt it if you are not comfortable with your spotter.

Close Bench can be performed on an Olympic bench with a full length bar or on a stand-alone bench with a bent or preacher curl bar. The preacher curl bar may provide a better angle for the wrist joint, though more weight can be used with an Olympic bench and bar. It boils down to personal preference as both methods will provide very similar results.

As the name implies, Close Bench is a variation of Standard Bench Press or Flat Bench Press but employing a much closer grip on the bar. Your hands should be placed within six inches of each other, near the center of the bar and no wider than the vertical plane of the bench width. As with Standard Bench Press, raise and lower the weight from your chest at a point that is even with the bottom of your pectorals, to a point above your face that is even with your eyes. Do not bounce the weight off of your chest and do not lock your elbows at the top of the movement.

With the indirect assistance of your much stronger pectorals, it is important to pyramid this exercise in your sets. Increase the amount of weight you are lifting for this exercise with each set, beginning with a weight that is easily manageable, and ending with a weight which brings you close to failure on your final set.

Close Grip Bench Press is one of the few exercises available that will stimulate not only the long and medial brachii of the tricep, but will also effectively stimulate the lateral head as well, which is very important for developing thickness or width in your upper arm.

3) Dips

Perhaps one of the simplest exercises there are; dips are highly effective for providing direct stimulation to all three tricep brachii heads, as well as good indirect stimulation to the pectorals, allowing good development of the outer pectoral fibers (closest to the armpit) and anterior deltoids.

Your gym may have a dip apparatus, in which case, dips are simple enough to perform. Simply stand between the bars, elevated on the foot pads, grasping the bars at your hips and lift your weight. Then bend your arms at the elbow and shoulder to lower yourself between the bars until your arm is bent at 90 degrees. Then raise yourself back to the top position using your triceps to push your bodyweight.

Should your gym not have one of these apparatus, you can use two benches to suspend your weight by placing your feet on one bench and supporting your weight on your hands at the edge of the other bench, so that you are in a seated position with all of your weight supported by your arms and feet. Once set, lower your body by bending your triceps and extending your bent arms behind you. Then rise by pushing down on the bench with your hands.

Both of these exercises are effective for a time with your own bodyweight, but after a period of training you may find that your bodyweight is no longer sufficient to stimulate your triceps appropriately. In this event, you can add weight to yourself through the use of a specialized a belt, to which you can attach standard Olympic plates, or by placing plates on your lap for bench dips. This can be exceedingly difficult to do without a spotter or training partner.

Whichever movements you ultimately choose to aid in developing your triceps, always remember to stretch the muscle as far as possible without injury and to squeeze the entire muscle group at the top of the movement each time. Your triceps have the potential to get your arms noticed, go heavy, go hard and eat well; and in no time you’ll be the envy of the gym.

Focus on Protein For Building Muscle


The number one reason bodybuilders think they're "hard-gainers", is they don't take in enough protein.

Anyone who's flipped through a bodybuilding magazine while standing in line at the supermarket has some vague understanding that protein equals muscle, somehow. Just why that is may be a mystery to some people and the short answer is...protein is muscle.

Protein can be described as the connective and supportive tissue found in virtually all natural consumables. If it once lived and you can eat it, likely it's high in protein. It is essentially a combination of hormones, enzymes (created through the combination and utilization of various amino acids) and amino acids; all of which are important to the function of the body, after all the human body is 15% protein.

If you didn't already know, amino acids are the building blocks of the body; they act as the bricks and mortar for muscle growth, tissue regeneration and the general development of the body. Combined with those hormones and enzymes they enable or better yet, facilitate efficient metabolic processes throughout the body; protein is one of the most important elements of any athlete's diet.
The most common and easiest form of protein to understand is animal protein, which as should be obvious, comes from animals. It is the muscle and connective tissues in their flesh; when you eat a steak, you're consuming the muscle fibers (protein) of whatever part of the cow you've chosen to grill on the barbeque. (We'll talk about the difference between red and white meat a little later)

The second most common form of consumed protein comes from plants (separated into two categories; soy and whey); wheat's, lentils (beans etc) and in a round about way, milk and cheese. The differences between animal and plant forms of protein, boil down to the amino acid content of each variety, and their differing ratios of essential and non-essential amino acids.

So now that you're thoroughly confused by the 'what' of protein, le's look at the 'why'. Bodybuilders, as a unique type of athlete, compete in a way that is different than any other sport; generally speaking, it is advantageous for an athlete to trim weight, gain strength and provide enough fuel (carbohydrates) for their body to complete whatever task their sport involves.

For a bodybuilder though, the ultimate goal is one of physical growth, and while they do need to gain strength and keep their gas tank full (most of the time), the foremost concern of the bodybuilder is muscle gain. The task of lifting weight is secondary to the goal of bodybuilding, and as such the bodybuilder is concerned not only with fueling his body so there is enough energy to move the required weight; but also, he is concerned with maintaining enough fuel and elemental building blocks in his cells to repair the damage done through the resistance training, in turn gaining muscle.

The importance of loading and maintaining the correct amount of protein is simply, if you don't have enough of the stuff when you need it, your body will take what it needs from your own muscles, to the obvious detriment of the goal of gaining muscle. This process is typically known as cannibalization or atrophy; wherein you have not provided enough amino acids through diet to repair broken down tissues, leaving your body with no choice but to seek those amino acids from areas of the body with less of a need for repair. Hence, the "hard-gainer" believing that his genetics are keeping him from growing, instead of his diet.

How much protein should you take in to avoid cannibalization? Again, the easy answer is 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. While you do that math in your head, I'll tell you that for the average bodybuilder at 190 to 200lbs that's between 270 and 400 grams of protein per day.

Lets put that into perspective; consuming a single breast of chicken, a glass or two of milk, maybe some lentils and a nice juicy steak over the course of a day, you might take in 80 to 100 grams of protein. We all know most people eat much less than that, skipping breakfast and feasting on carbohydrates all day. This means that most people take in far less protein than would be required to consistently and efficiently gain lean muscle mass, let alone maintain an increased volume of muscle mass.

You might be asking, how exactly a person is supposed to eat enough food to provide that much protein, and the answer is simpler than you might think. Every supermarket, drug store and health food store these days is peddling some variety of protein powder, or meal replacement powder or weight gainer. With some exceptions, these products offer the same thing, concentrated protein. With designer flavors and different recipes from various brand names offering additives that provide other select benefits, combining protein powder with water, milk or even low fat yogurt is a tasty and effective way to increase your protein intake considerably, though man cannot live on milk shakes alone.

Be sure to select a brand of protein powder that offers a high quality mix of whey protein, take note of any additives that may bring the carbohydrate content higher than is reasonable for such a product. While there are many varieties available, it would be best for anyone wishing to gain muscle while maintaining a tight, lean body index, to select a protein powder that is pure whey protein only, with no additives or enhancements. Pure is better, every time.

The main staples of a bodybuilder's protein intake regime are more often than not a combination of protein shakes, chicken and tuna. Spread out across six or seven meals in a day, each one consisting of those three foods, plus intelligent choices of complex carbohydrate and's relatively easy to fill your body with enough protein to build the physique you want.
In essence, a bodybuilder's day should be interspersed with relatively small meals, spaced approximately two to three hours apart. Each of those meals should be high in protein with a ratio of approximately 3:1 for protein and carbs / fats.

Now, it may not please your pallet to scarf down a boiled chicken breast for breakfast and it's probably not the best use for that protein either. While there's really no bad time to fit in a good protein rich meal, there are better times to metabolize certain foods. For instance, depending on your workout schedule (am vs. pm), it would be best to consume a meal higher in carbohydrates first thing in the morning, to fuel the day ahead, supplementing that meal with a protein shake.

Your last meal before your daily workout (at least 30 minutes prior to beginning the workout) should also be higher in quickly digested carbohydrates, such as fruit and other foods high in fructose, again to fuel your workout; following the workout with a high protein snack, whether that be a shake or a protein bar, is a good way to ensure your body has enough amino acids when it needs them most. Lastly, and some would argue the validity of this, your final meal of the day would do well to consist of protein only, thus providing your body with an ample store of aminos, critical enzymes and hormones for muscle fiber production while you sleep, and not giving opportunity for un-metabolized carbohydrates to turn into fat stores.

Don't forget to mix in a good, name brand multi-vitamin / multi-mineral and plenty of water, and you should be well on your way to creating the right diet for your needs.

So now you know the importance of protein in your bodybuilding diet; you know what you need and how much, and not only that, but you know when to eat it. Protein is the single most important element in a successful bodybuilders tool kit, understand protein and how it works and you'll be further ahead than the guy next to you; and the next time you hear someone call themselves a "hard-gainer", ask them how much protein they take in, and smile when they tell you that protein isn't related to their bodybuilding difficulties.

Nutrition For Building Muscle Mass

gain mass

Your body is a machine. Like any other machine it requires maintenance. But it also requires the proper fuel. No matter how much work you do on your car, if you put sand in the gas tank, you’re not going to get the results you are looking for. Your body works the same way. As you put in the time exercising and taking the proper steps to lift for mass, make sure you are getting the most of that time by giving your body the proper fuel. What you eat and drink is important, but so is when you do your eating and drinking. Doing all of these things the right way, in combination with an intelligent workout routine, will have you gaining solid muscle the right way.

One of the biggest keys to gaining muscle is the workout. No matter what you eat, if you do it as a part of sitting on your couch all day, you are not going to see the results you are looking for. Second in importance though is definitely the food that you eat. The quality and type of food is important, and we will get to that, but we need to start by knowing how many calories a day you need. A simple formula is to multiply your weight by 15-20. Each person is unique and so this isn’t exact but you can start in the middle with 18, and adjust up or down after you see some results. Let’s use a 200-pound person as an example. 200 x 18 =3600. In order to gain mass this person needs to eat 3600 calories a day, and work a rigorous lifting program several times a week. Those two things are a good start for information, but they are only the beginning.

Now that you have worked out how much you need to eat, it’s time to figure out what you need to eat. A milkshake on the way to the gym, and a burger with fries on the way home will defeat all of the hard work that you do in between. All the foods you consume can be broken down into 3 main categories; protein, carbohydrates (carbs), and fats. In order to make sure that you are eating the right diet to gain weight, you need to have these three categories balanced properly.

An industry standard is the 40-40-20 rule. 40 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates, and 20 percent fat.

The biggest key is protein. The only thing more prevalent in your muscles than protein, is water. To determine how much protein should be consumed daily, we can use another simple formula. 1-2g of protein per pound. Using the same 200-pound person as an example, they would consume 200-400g of protein daily.

Carbohydrates offer you a wide range of choices, but be careful. Not all carbs are created equal. Try to get the majority of your carbs from foods like fresh vegetables, whole grains, oatmeal, cereal grains, brown rice, and potatoes. These are all complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates like; candy, sugar, and white bread are not good choices to help you gain muscle.

The fat is the one you have to worry least about. Make smart choices about the proteins you are choosing, and opt for complex carbs instead of simple ones. As a natural by product you will end up with the fat your body needs to operate, without over doing it.

Now that we have the How much? And the What? Of your nutrition plan covered, let’s talk timing. Your body is at it’s peak when it is constantly working. By eating smaller meals, more often, through out the day you are ensuring that your digestion keeps a steady pace all day. Your goal of gaining mass is assisted by the fat that is burned by constant activity all day. The other reason for spreading your meals through out the day is practical. It is not always easy to eat 3600 calories daily. By spacing out your meals you are more likely to get those calories in intelligently. It is easy to eat a 1500-calorie meal at a burger joint, it takes a lot more lean chicken breast and vegetables to reach that same 1500 calories. You will have days that you are working to get to your necessary caloric intake. It will be easier to eat 7 meals of 500+ calories than it is to eat 3 meals of 1500+ and still eat healthy.

Another aspect of timing your meals is their relationship to your workout. In the 90-minutes prior to working out it is good to consume a meal that consists of proteins but is a little heavier on the carbs. These carbs will provide the energy that fuels you through your work out. Also if you are going to have simple carbs at all in your diet, juice prior to working out can offer a quick burst of energy for your workout.

Your post work out meal is even more important. Your entire time at the gym was spent breaking down your muscles in order for them to rebuild even larger. It’s important that your post-workout meal provide your muscles with the elements necessary to rebuild. Your post workout meal should be 20%-25% of your daily caloric intake, consisting of proteins and carbs in a fairly equal balance. Studies have shown that the timing plays a large part in the effectiveness of the post-workout meal. The sooner after the workout that you get your meal in, the more mass can be gained. Waiting any longer than 90-minutes nearly eliminates the effectiveness of the post-workout meal.

The final part of your diet is also the easiest to master. Water. The standard suggestion is a minimum of 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Those doing heavy lifting will often require more. Weight training can be a very dehydrating process. There is no dangerous level of water intake; consuming more can only help you. It also aids your kidneys in processing the large quantities of proteins that you will now be consuming. The one caution with water consumption is the timing. It is best to limit the amount you drink before and during your meals. Filling up on water will limit the amount of calories you can consume in each sitting.

Eat Six meals a Day for Muscle Gain

six meals a day for muscle gain
If muscle gain is your goal, three square meals a day isn't going to get you there. Eating the traditional food guide diet is going to get you a confused metabolism, increased fat stores and a hungry belly when it counts.

Fad diets and binge eating have proven time and time again, that our bodies will respond to the frequency and amount of food we give it. Starve your body and you will lose weight, feed it and you’ll gain it back. This is the function of metabolism; metabolism is a set of reactions and processes within the body that facilitate growth, maintenance and general operation of our bodies. Metabolism regulates absorption of nutrients, expulsion of waste (or storage of wastes for later use), tissue growth and development; it interacts with the nervous system, sending messages for hunger, satiation, deficiencies and surpluses of the various elements needed for efficient operation. Some would say it is an autonomic process, something we have no control over and are at the mercy of; those of us with fast metabolism are said to be blessed and those with slower metabolism are curse...though to the surprise of many, this is simply not the case.

Anyone’s metabolic rate can be manipulated and controlled. Did you get that? I'll say it again...anyone's metabolic rate can be manipulated and controlled. That’s right, there is no resignation to the curse of slower metabolism for the overweight, and likewise, there is no mistaken blessing for those bodybuilders with faster metabolism than is conducive to weight gain.

So how is this black magic of the body done? Well…since your metabolism regulates those processes in the body which relate to food, it would stand to reason that food is the key to controlling your metabolism; though I suspect some may be surprised to find out that quite often the process works backwards.

It is true that prolonged starvation will eventually cause severe atrophy of the muscles and a cannibalization of pretty much all tissues in the body, until of course, death occurs. This is extreme, but it is an example of metabolic manipulation; the utilization of muscle and connective tissues over times of starvation is precisely what your metabolism is for…it keeps you alive until you can find food.

In a more realistic setting, you metabolism does exactly the same thing, though on a much less severe scale. As you go about your day, snacking at times and at other times eating nothing for several hours; your body is constantly monitoring the gas tank, and making adjustments to the rate at which you burn energy (both stored energy and fresh nutrients). You can imagine a race car with two fuel tanks; one full to the brim with regular stored fuel and the other with only a small amount of racing fuel in the bottom. In this scenario, the car wouldn’t get very far on the race fuel, but it can be used for short bursts of speed at strategic times. This car must rely on the regular stored fuel from the first tank to keep going. As the race goes on, the pit crew for this car continually keeps that first tank full by storing more regular fuel there; this is because they know they’re going to need it. Why they don’t just put more race fuel in might be a good question.

The race fuel isn’t readily available, because the supplier isn't reliable; but what happens when they change suppliers and can use race fuel all the time? Well, obviously, the car goes faster, but more than that, they no longer need the first tank full of regular fuel, which means they can stop refilling it.

Your body works just like the race car, start feeding it regularly and consistently with good quality "race fuel" food and it will slow down on the storage of the "regular fuel" (fat). Alternatively, eating inconsistently throughout the day simply confuses your metabolism; when you go from meal to meal with long periods in between, you force your metabolism to constantly switch gears, going from race fuel to regular fuel between meals. If you increase the frequency of your meals, you allow you body to run on the more efficient and now readily available "race fuel".

In the end, increasing the number of meals you consume in a day will allow you manipulate the efficiency of your metabolism; it will give you more energy, allow you to concentrate better and give you more stamina for life. What it was also do, and this is important to the bodybuilder, is allow your body to run on complex carbohydrates, which take longer to process and provide better, longer lasting energy (providing you’ve made smart choices for those meals), leaving virtually all of your protein intake for muscle repair, and in turn enhancing your ability to gain lean muscle mass.

Now to the nitty gritty of it all; how many meals should you eat in a day? The text book answer is somewhere between six and eight meals per day; this should be sufficient to increase and maintain a higher metabolic level. But this begs the question, what is defined as a meal?

No one is suggesting that you should force down eight full course meals in a day, and quite frankly, I’d like to see you try. Common sense dictates that eating more often allows you to eat smaller meals; on the whole, your caloric consumption will have increased dramatically, but each meal will be small enough to simply satisfy, not stuff.

For most people six meals a day is more practical than eight, when you consider prep time, works schedules, food costs and simple eating time, eight can be overkill and might be best reserved for the professional bodybuilder who can dedicate their full attention to those matters.

A sample bodybuilding meal plan might look like this:

-Meal 1Breakfast; consisting of a small bowl of oatmeal, a glass of juice, a protein shake and daily vitamins

-Meal 2 – Mid Morning Snack; consisting of one can of fresh tuna mixed with light mayonnaise for flavor and a bottle of water

-Meal 3 – Lunch; consisting of one, to one and a half chicken breasts (cooked as preferred), with a quarter cup of boiled white or brown rice and a protein shake

-Meal 4 – Pre-Workout Snack; consisting of one can of fresh tuna mixed with light mayonnaise for flavor, a natural granola bar or an apple and a bottle of water (or low carb energy drink)

-Meal 5 – Post-Workout Meal; consisting of two eggs (poached or boiled), a half to one whole chicken breast and a bottle of water

-Meal 6 – Bed time Snack; consisting of one chicken breast and a protein shake

When reviewing the above meal plan, take note of the progression throughout the day, from meals higher in carbohydrates at breakfast to the final meal with no carbs whatsoever. This is to ensure that you have consumed enough complex carbohydrates to fuel your day, but haven’t provided your body with an excess of carbs to be stored as fat overnight.

While this plan may seem somewhat bland and even sparse compared to a more colorful day of brown bag bologna sandwich and McDonald’s take out dinner; in practice, these meals, spaced two to three hours apart, will not only satisfy any sense of hunger you might usually feel, but will provide you with far more energy than the regular work week diet.

It’s important to be flexible with any diet plan, restricting caloric intake and instilling a strict no cheating attitude will only set you up for failure; try to use a meal plan as a general guide for your overall diet, mix in other choices for carbohydrates and try different recipes to avoid becoming bored, and your body will adapt to this new, healthier way of looking at food in no time.

A Simple Plan For a Simple Life

bodybuilder’s diet
Protein intake, workout program, cutting, bulking, supplements, exercises and partners, not to mention the rest of your life, work, family and every other little thing that occupies the mind of any person, let alone bodybuilder; all of these things are juggled and balanced and attended to and sometimes it may seem an insurmountable task. In an age where life moves at the speed of light, why not take steps to simplify and organize some elements of your bodybuilding lifestyle.

Meal planning may seem somewhat pedestrian and obvious, but it is one area that most of us can not only improve on with our current system, but also save a large amount of time and hassle down the road if we take a proactive approach to it.

A bodybuilder’s diet is complex, detailed and is intended to be steadfast against the changes and surprises thrown at us by life. It requires constant attention and focus and is often the number one reason many aspiring bodybuilders never make it past a few months of strict training. When you endeavor to deprive yourself of foods that taste good and replace them with bland and boring utilitarian foods, you will no doubt struggle with cheating on your diet; you may feel guilt over situational food choices (i.e. restaurant menu choices etc), and ultimately sticking to your diet could be one of the most difficult aspects of bodybuilding to overcome.

If this is in fact the case, why not simplify your meal planning; make it something you need to think about less and less, allowing you to focus on more important things?

You already know the elements of an effective bodybuilding diet, you understand portion and frequency and you’ve determined precisely how much protein should be in each meal. Now…simplify, simplify, simplify.

Do some simple arithmetic and in general terms identify the number of meals you should be eating in one week. This week should include weekends and training off days (you don’t stop eating on off days) and should ignore anticipated dinners out or meals prepared by someone else (family dinner etc). The number you come up with should be somewhere between 42 and 56; six to eight meals per day for seven days; this gives you an idea of the amount of groceries and supplies you’re going to need.

Next, write out some lists; you should already have a fully understood and written diet plan in place. Writing out your plan will help to not only ensure you haven’t missed anything, but will also help to familiarize your brain with the coming restrictions and habits; a written diet plan will also make it much easier to plan grocery day, identify problems and figure out where to make adjustments to your eating habits as your physique and routine change in the future.

While examining your diet plan, with each day broken up into its allotted meals, identify the quantities of the various ingredients involved. Listing the number of chicken breasts, cans of tuna, fruit items, the number of protein shakes, and the amount of rice or pasta in each meal; adding up each item to make a total for the week. Next, break down this total in to an ingredient list; make a rough estimation of the amount of cooking ingredients needed for each dish or item. If your main source of complex carbohydrates is rice, estimate how much you will need per week and indentify the amount in a typical container from the supermarket.

It’s easy to see where this is going; once you have populated your ingredient or shopping list, take it with you to the grocery store! Oh the numbers of people who stray from a diet plan, because they forgot their list at home and couldn’t remember what ingredients they needed. In any event, while making the rounds with your new list, be sure to record the price of each item, to better help you streamline and edit the list according to your budget.

So now that you’ve got a kitchen full of ingredients and a freezer full of chicken, what’s next?

Before we get into food preparation, there are some logistical issues that deserve attention. The prospect of eating like a professional bodybuilder can present some challenges, not the least of which is food storage, both before and after cooking. Most of us aren’t able to cart around a refrigerator all day, and the vast majorities of us hold full time jobs and have lives outside of the gym; because of this, Tupperware is our friend. Invest in good quality, medium to large size Tupperware containers, preferably several identical bins for precooked and ready to serve meals to be stored and transported in, and eaten out of; this will simplify some of those logistical issues, reduce the amount of dishes to clean and make portable meals much easier to handle.

Before going to all this trouble, be sure you can accommodate your meal containers in your working situation. No one would recommend eating a chicken and rice lunch that has sat unrefrigerated in open sun for half a day, while it may not pose any kind of health risk (if prepared properly), at the very least it will be less than tasty. If necessary, invest in a medium to large cooler or cooler bag and/or make arrangements to leave meals in a refrigerator at the office, (though try to be courteous to others at your workplace, don’t fill the entire fridge with your food, leaving no room for anyone else!)

The most time consuming and potentially disruptive part of meal planning is the actual preparation and cooking of the food. To our great dismay, most of us don’t have access to gourmet chef’s and professional kitchens to do our bidding as demanded, if you do, feel free to skip ahead a few paragraphs. For the rest of us, we’re faced with the prospect of a mountain of dirty cookware, food and ingredients spread out all over the kitchen and a whole lot of food to be dealt with.

The most efficient cooking schedule would be to cook / prepare and store your daily meals each night, getting everything ready for the next day before bed, though some may argue. It would be possible to prepare your meals for the entire week on the weekend or off day, though you would then be faced with the problem of storing meals for the entire week. Either way the process would be the same.

Begin by preparing and cooking your meats, as often they will require more cooking time than the other elements of your meals. Organize your kitchen work space so that you can quickly find and deal with each ingredient, remembering to wash all surfaces that your raw chicken comes into contact with (including your hands), to avoid salmonella contamination. Take the time at this stage to slice, dish out and completely serve each meal into your Tupperware containers to simplify the process later, so that all you’ll need to do is open and eat. It’s a good idea to mark a meal number and date on your containers with a piece of masking tape and a marker, it might also be wise to mark your name on the container, to avoid anyone else eating your scrumptious meal by accident.

Missing meals in your plan is not the end of the world, it will have an effect on your energy level and protein intake, though negligible, but the psychological affect can be a problem. If you have organized your diet and meal plan to be unaccommodating toward real life, you are setting yourself up to fail. Even the most strict and steadfast bodybuilder does not live in a vacuum, life still happens around and to them, and failing to account for this will quickly become a problem.

Quite often, missing a meal or replacing a meal with something less than conducive to your plan, can leave you feeling guilty and if unavoidable on a regular basis, can become an excuse to forget the plan altogether. Be aware from the very beginning that there will be missed meals, there will be times when you stray from the diet and there will be situations that require restraint; try to avoid using the word “cheat”, as that type of language will bear excuses on it’s back. If you remain realistic about your dedication to a bodybuilding lifestyle, you will be better armed to deal with distractions, changes and temptations.

Planning your meals, from purchase to consumption, is the most effective way to simplify your daily routine, and routine is the key to a successful bodybuilding career (whether professional or casual). Get yourself into some good habits and you will continue to succeed; and planning will help you to not only avoid those bad habits, but will allow you to indentify and fix the ones you miss.
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