Bodybuilding 101: Shaping a Highly effective Physique

The desire to build an impressive physique still holds true for many in the fitness world. Yes, being functional and practical has its place, but we all want the by-product to be a good looking, muscular, strong body that flaunts all of our hard work.

There's no better way to highlight these goals than to say goodbye to hypertrophy-based resistance training. This type of exercise, also known as bodybuilding (based on actually building body muscles, not exercising) has subsided and flowed over the years.

Functional cross-training, weight lifting, and even powerlifting have stolen the limelight recently. But bodybuilding is making a comeback for good reason.

With the goal of building muscle, increasing strength and reducing body fat, there is no better training method than bodybuilding to restructure your body.

This guide provides the basics and building blocks for these goals. Whether you're a newbie or just want to clean the proverbial blackboard and start over, this is for you.

What is bodybuilding?

The term bodybuilding has many meanings. One that immediately comes to mind is sport. Large, improved mass monsters that shake the ground they walk on, lift tons (literally) and wind themselves up a flight of stairs.

Of course there are other areas of sport such as natural bodybuilders, competitors, and competitions at professional and amateur level.

The other side are the uncompetitive leisure enthusiasts. Even in this niche, there are those who just love the workout and challenge, and those who use it as a workable tool to reshape and reshape their bodies.

This guide is for those who want to naturally reshape their bodies by building solid, high quality muscle while either maintaining or losing body fat.

Hypertrophy style strength training is the most efficient and optimal way to rebuild your body and change your shape.

Part 1: Workouts to Build Muscle Mass

The first item on your to-do list is to jump right into a kick-off training plan to get you used to this type of workout. No, this shouldn't be just for those who live in the gym. Think of it as your break-in schedule for your first four weeks of training in this style.

Some things to consider before you start::

This program mainly focuses on hypertrophy (muscle building). This will be a different practice than building sheer strength or power. You need to keep a close eye on the clock for rest periods between sets. They are shorter than you are used to. Proper form is a must for the program to be successful. No jerking, hopping, or lifting the weight just to finish a lift. Don't think of this as a weightlifting program. Think of it as muscle training. Focus on working your muscles instead of lifting from point A to point B. Do not keep the program because someone said you should if it causes pain or injury. Not everyone is built the same, so you can replace them if necessary. Run the following plan for four weeks on non-consecutive days; B. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Take a rest day between each workout day to give your body time to rest, recover, and build muscle.

The 4-week kick-off training plan

Warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Flat bench Barbell press 2 x 12 3 x 10-12 60 Pull-up 2 x 12 when pulling down 3 x 10-12 60 Barbell squat 2 x 12 3 x 10-12 60 Standing dumbbell shoulder press – 3 x 10- 12 60 Barbell Curls – 3 x 10-12 60 Parallel Bar Dip – 3 x 10-12 60 Standing Calf Raises 1 x 12 3 x 10-12 60 Floor Crunches – 3 x 20 30

After you've completed the kick-off plan, you can either continue with this plan for another four weeks or have a desire to move on to something more advanced and adopt another program.

The key, however, is getting your body to adapt to a new program without pushing your limits, over-exercising, and burning out. In addition, there are a few important things to keep in mind when setting up your program.

How to create your mass training program

Let's go step by step. I'll also provide an example below to illustrate an effective training program that you can use right away.

Choose how many days a week you want to exercise. One of the best schedules is to exercise four times a week. With this in mind, you should take photos for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with Wednesday and the weekend off. Use a simple split routine. Work out your entire body twice a week with a simple split routine. This means, for example, the chest, back and shoulders on Mondays and Thursdays, arms and legs on Tuesdays and Fridays. Next is the exercise selection. You shouldn't choose more than two exercises for larger body parts like your chest, back, and legs, and no more than one for smaller areas like your arms, shoulders, and calves. Just make sure you use exercises from the list of mass builders instead of smaller isolation moves. Determine the volume (sentences). Your overall volume doesn't have to be too high. We tend to do a little more where we excel and reduce what is difficult. Perform an even field of play and shoot four to five sets per exercise. This should get you in and out when the gym is in about an hour. Choose a repetition range. Traditionally, pure strength training results in a lower rep range of two to four or six reps, while hypertrophy (muscle mass) tends to be in the six to 12 rep range. Depending on your goal, between four and 12 reps is ideal for each goal. Don't forget to rest. A long, forgotten practice that has been lost in this world of the distraction of mobile technology, this factor is one of the most influential in your training. For example, if hypertrophy is the goal, rest periods of 45 to 90 seconds are best. Resting too long will result in less fatigue and more wasted time in the gym. Commit to it. Lastly, you need to commit to your plan. With no commitment, all of the planning that you carefully went through is in vain. Make yourself a six month promise that you will get through this.

When you have developed some semblance of strength and coordination, you can proceed to the following program for 12 weeks. You will find that this plan is divided into two main days.

One that trains your chest, back, and shoulders in one day and legs and arms the next. Here you don't train more than two days in a row before taking a day off for repair and growth.

The 12 week plan

Day 1 (Monday) Warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Inclined dumbbell press 2 x 12 4 x 6-8 90 sec. Flat dumbbell press – 4 x 6-8 90 sec. Pull-up with medium or wide grip (add weight if necessary) 2 x 12
(Pulldowns) 4 x 6-8 90 sec. Barbell or two-armed dumbbell row – 4 x 6-8 90 sec. Standing barbell military press 1 x 12 4 x 6-8 90 sec. Dumbbell upright row – 4 x 6-8 90 sec . Lift hanging leg – 3 x 10-15 30 seconds. Floor crunching – 3 x 10-15 30 seconds

(Optional) interval training –

Choose any form of cardio for a total of 14 minutes

2 minutes

1 minute high intensity and 2 minutes low intensity (4 rounds)

Day 2 (Tuesday) Warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Barbell curl 1 x 12 4 x 6-8 90 sec. Bench press with close grip 1 x 12 4 x 6-8 90 sec. Leg press 2 x 12 4 x 8-10 90 sec. Barbell squat – 4 x 8-10 90 sec. Dumbbell Romanian deadlift 1 x 12 4 x 8-10 90 sec. Calf raises while sitting 1 x 12 4 x 8-10 90 sec. Seat incline – 3 x 10-15 30 sec . (Optional) Interval Training – Choose any form of cardio for a total of 14 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute of high intensity, and 2 minutes of low intensity (4 laps).

Day 3 (Thursday) Warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Inclined dumbbell press 2 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 sec. Flat barbell or machine press – 4 x 8-12 60 sec. Reverse row 1 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 sec or pulldown with a tight grip – 4 x 8-12 60 sec. seated dumbbell side sideways 1 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 sec. seated dumbbell shoulder press – 4 x 8-12 60 sec. incline crunch – 3 x 15-20 30 sec Knee-Ups – 3 x 15-20 30 sec. (Optional) Interval Training – Choose any form of cardio for a total of 14 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute of high intensity and 1 minute of low intensity (6 laps).

Day 4 (Friday) Warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Incline dumbbell curl 1 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 sec. Lying two-arm dumbbell nose breaker 1 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 sec. Bulgarian split squat 2 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 sec. Barbell squats or leg press – 4 x 8-12 60 sec. Lying or sitting leg flexion 1 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 sec. Standing calf raise 1 x 12 3 x 8-12 60 sec. Hanging Leg Raises – 3 x 15-20 30 Seconds (Optional) Interval Training – Choose any form of cardio for a total of 14 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute high intensity, and 1 minute low intensity (6 laps).

* Note: The HIIT cardio can either be done on a free day (Wednesdays and weekends) after training.

Youngsters against those over 40

If you're reading this and happen to have a 1 as the first number your age, start here.

As a teenager, you are new to training. Instead of going directly head first, you need a training period. Your nervous system isn't ready to do anything to work out in the gym.

Instead, you need to get the job done, create paths, and fix your form and function for the basic lifts before you can move on to anything more advanced. Here are some timeless principles that you should stick to from now on:

More connection, less isolation. Yes, that sounds like a broken record and comes straight from the “no duh” manual, but it has to be emphasized over and over again. With so many lifters migrating to focus locks and machines that meticulously isolate every muscle fiber, I feel like the message of compound multiple joint exercises has been lost. Progress is king. This principle is key when making changes. Use progressive overload with moderate weights and repetitions. Getting heavier or lighter some days is okay as long as you keep moving the needle forward. Practice form and function. As another simple but seldom followed rule, practicing correct form is one thing, but performing the correct function is new to many. This is the ability to brace, contract, and move certain areas of the body in relation to movement. For example, the deadlift has many things that need to take place other than just lifting the bar off the floor. The hips, core, shoulder girdle and other key components need to take place.

Rules for the Teen Training Program

Perform the following program on three non-consecutive days per week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday). Feel free to do cardio or other recreational activities on non-training days.

Look for warm-up periods, including general warm-up periods (walking, jogging, skipping rope) and specific warm-up sets for each area being trained. Pay close attention to the rest periods. This is one of the most abused aspects of training, but it has a huge impact on progress. Remember to practice both correct form and function. Take the time to get it right. Feel free to switch exercises if you have to. The principle of simplicity still applies to avoiding over-thinking. Stay on the program for at least four weeks, preferably six. This allows your body to adjust and see results. After four to six weeks, take a few days off from weight training and then do the program again if you prefer.

Day 1 Warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Flat barbell press 2 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 pull-ups with medium or wide grip 2 x 5 4 x maximum repetitions 60 barbell squats 2 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 barbell deadlifts in Romania 1 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 floor crunches – 3 x 15 30 leg raises – 3 x 15 30

Day 2 Warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Barbell deadlift 2 x 12 4 x 6-8 120 Standing barbell shoulder press 2 x 12 4 x 6-8 60 Triceps dip with parallel bar 1 x 8 4 x max. Repetitions 60 barbell curls 1 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 standing one-legged calf raise 1 x 12 4 x 8-12 30

Day 3 Warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Incline barbell press 2 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 Barbell bent row 2 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 Barbell crouch in front 2 x 12 4 x 8-12 60 Kettlebell backwards Lunge – 4 x 8- 12 60 Hanging leg raises – 3 x 15 30 3-way sit-up – 3 x 15 30

The over 40 crowd

If you're the typical 40-year-old, you have a full-time job, family, and other social responsibilities that keep you from getting an education like you did when you were young.

You now have a busier lifestyle and unpredictable deadline complications. There's a good chance that what you're trying to achieve with your workout has changed too. You no longer want to be the biggest, "baddest" guy in the gym. You just want to build muscle, lose fat and make everything painless.

Comparing it to (possibly much younger) colleagues at the gym is a potential hazard. The onslaught of fitness brothers on social media can play with your head.

You were young once too and managed to do sketchy things in the gym. Allow the wisdom of your age to overwhelm your ego and nostalgia. Don't go down the black hole to follow others as they will exercise caution – especially in the 20+ years you are younger.

We all know (and complain) that our metabolism slows down as we age. Aside from gaining a few pounds, it directly affects your ability to recover. But that's not a death sentence.

You can keep practicing habits for best results and to improve metabolism, recovery, and progress. The benefit of being the seasoned lifter is that you only need to tweak a few things because you have a solid foundation in place.

However, if you are a newbie, you need to develop healthy and effective habits from the start so that you can reap some great rewards and stay injury free.

The 40 Plus training plan

This program can easily fit into four days a week– Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. You can either treat Wednesdays and weekends as rest days or take part in leisure activities or active relaxation phases such as walking, jogging, swimming or cycling.

You can choose any schedule. However, make sure you don't exercise for more than two days in a row.

Finish each day with a thorough stretching session and do the program for four to six weeks. After that, either take a week off from training but stay active, or turn down the volume and intensity for a week before restarting the program.

Warm up

Do two rounds of 10 repetitions each of the following warm-up round: Squat Jump Push up Alternate Lunge Reverse Row Bike Crunch

Mondays and Thursdays warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Incline bench dumbbell press 2 x 12-20 3-4 x 10-12 60 Flat bench dumbbell press or machine press – 3-4 x 10-12 60 Chest-supported row of dumbbells 2 x 12-20 3-4 x 10- 12 60 Reverse row – 3-4 x max. Repetitions 60 One-armed side lift on the dumbbell side or side lift on the cable side – 3 x 10-15 60 Arnold press – 3 x 10-15 60 Superset: Hanging leg lift and floor crunch – 3 x 20 30 each after each superset

Tuesdays and Fridays warm-up sets Work sets Rest in seconds Sitting dumbbell curls 1 x 12-20 3 x 8-12 60 Bench press with close grip 1 x 12-20 3 x 8-12 60 One-legged dumbbell calf lift 1 x 12-20 3 x 10-15 Switch each leg without a break. Back foot raised dumbbell Bulgarian split squat 2 x 12-20 3 x 10-15 each leg 30 after each leg exercise ball lying leg curl – 3 x 10-15 60 reverse dumbbell lunge – 3 x 10-15 per leg 60 bicycle crunches – 3 x 20 30th

Do women have to train differently?

In a word, no. Muscle is muscle. The main difference between men and women is hormones – men obviously have more testosterone than women.

With testosterone as the driving force that allows one to build muscle and increase strength, Women are slightly disadvantaged in terms of developmental limits.

However, in terms of exercise selection, programming, and set and rep programs, there is no reason to distinguish programs for men from women.

Basic strength training should target everyone and drawing a line between the sexes is just not necessary given the bigger picture.

Part 2: Diet to Build Muscle Mass

Nothing is as complicated as the diet marketing landscape that seems to be raising its ugly head on every corner.

Every few months there seems to be a latest and greatest diet plan out there that is guaranteed to give you the results you want. These plans always seem to be rather narrow-minded, as they eliminate certain foods entirely or only let you eat at certain times of the day. Some even go so far that after a certain amount of time you eat what you want.

At the end of the day, a balanced diet that includes nutrient-rich proteins, plenty of vegetables and fruits, and some healthy sources of fat is always the answer to long-term health benefits and muscle building purposes. If the latest craze seems too good to be true, it probably is.

How to create your mass meal plan

Let's also go through your nutrition plan step by step. As with the exercise plan, I'll also provide an example nutrition plan so you have a real snack to put into action.

Determine how often to eat. Gone are the days of eating punctually every two hours. That just creates too much stress and not to mention becoming a slave to your schedule. At the very least, make sure you have three solid meals with a snack before and after your workout. Start with protein. No, you don't have to eat a whole chicken or 12 ounces of beef with every meal. Also, don't rely too much on protein powder. About one gram per pound of body weight is enough. If you go a little deeper, you won't sweat. Get protein from chicken, lean beef, ground beef, fish, cheese, eggs, protein powder (for post-workout exercise), and Greek yogurt. Don't be afraid of carbohydrates. The bottom line is that if you want to build muscle, you need carbohydrates. Make sure they are complex and avoid added sugars. In addition, rice (white and brown), potatoes (sweet and white), oats, green vegetables, fruits such as apples, bananas and berries as well as whole grain bread and pasta. Start with two grams per pound of body weight and then adjust as needed. Add the right type of fat. It is a breeze that you need healthy fats to balance your weight gain diet. Oils found naturally in fish, fish oil supplements, avocados, nuts, and nut butters are good choices. Shoot about 0.5 grams per pound to start with. Diet before and after exercise. It is important to learn something before exercising, especially if you are between nine and five years old. This should have a lean protein and complex carbohydrate to get you through your workout. Additionally, it is a good idea to have a post-workout diet on hand immediately after your workout that should contain a fast-acting source of protein and some quick-digesting carbohydrates to aid the recovery process. Schedule cheat days. What's a nutrition plan without a cheat tag? When your diet is relatively clean and full of good things, have a couple of meals over a weekend and have everything you want. Not all day, just for a meal or two. It will give you something to look forward to by the end of the week and give you a much-needed mental break. Be consistent. As with exercising, you need to stay consistent with your eating plan. A good day or two a week is not enough. If you want to build serious muscle, every day counts.

Example of a basic muscle mass nutrition plan

The following nutrition plan is sufficient for the average 180 pound lifter looking to gain lean amounts of muscle. This is just an example and can be customized to meet your specific needs.

Training days

Meal 1 (breakfast):

3 whole eggs scrambled eggs or omelette 2 slices of wheat bread (toasted) with low-sugar jam or jelly or ½ cup (dry) oatmeal mixed with skimmed milk

Meal 2 (lunch):

Chicken breast salad with ½ avocado, vegetables and an oil-based dressing 1 small baked potato, sweet potato or 1 cup of rice, cooked


2 slices of wheat bread, 4 ounces of deli meat, deli slices, low-fat mayonnaise or mustard, and 1 piece of fruit


1 apple or other fruit like blueberries or bananas 1 cup of Greek yogurt or 1 scoop of whey protein powder handful of mixed nuts

After training:

1 cup of blueberries, medium-sized bananas, or other fruits 1 scoop of whey protein powder

Meal 4 (dinner):

4 to 6 ounces of fish, chicken, ground beef or turkey, as many green vegetables as you like, lettuce, 1 small potato or 1 cup of rice, cooked

Non-training days

Meal 1 (breakfast):

3 whole eggs scrambled eggs or omelette 2 slices of wheat bread (toasted) with low-sugar jam or jelly or ½ cup (dry) oatmeal mixed with skimmed milk

Meal 2 (lunch):

Chicken breast salad with ½ avocado, vegetables and an oil-based dressing 1 small baked potato, sweet potato or 1 cup of rice, cooked


2 slices or wheat bread, 4 ounces deli meat, deli slices, low fat mayonnaise or mustard 1 piece of fruit

Meal 3 (snack):

1 apple or other fruit like blueberries or bananas 1 cup of Greek yogurt or 1 scoop of whey protein powder handful of mixed nuts

Meal 4 (dinner):

4 to 6 ounces of fish, chicken, ground beef or turkey, as many green vegetables as you like, lettuce, 1 small potato or 1 cup of rice, cooked

Part 3: Exercises and Variations

Now that you have a solid exercise and diet foundation, it's time to quickly familiarize yourself with the exercises included and their variations. Of course, you can replace certain exercises with exercises that you find more effective and that pose a lower risk of injury.

As mentioned earlier, some exercises are more comfortable than others in terms of your specific body structure, limb length, strengths and weaknesses.

Now let's split each body part into groups and mention some tips and techniques to look out for.


Flat and inclined barbell presses: Grasp the bar a few centimeters beyond the shoulder width with a closed overhand grip (thumb around the bar). Slowly lower the bar to about chest level and stop at the bottom without hopping. Push the bar back up until your elbows just lock into place. Keep your elbows slightly bent at the top, then return in full control. Variations of the dumbbell press: You can also perform chest presses with dumbbells on the flat or inclined bench. The same rules apply here, except that you now have the added challenge of controlling two independent dumbbells. Lower them down the sides of your chest, then push them back up without clinking the dumbbells together.


Pull-ups and pull-ups: There are many variations on each of these back exercises. For a simple pull-up, however, you take an underhand grip and pull your chin up and over the bar. For pull-up variations (wide, medium, and tight grip), take an overhand grip and pull your chest toward the bar, pulling with your elbows. Inverted lines: For those who have problems with traditional pull-ups and pull-ups, this row variant is a good replacement. Set a parallel bar around waist height and lie down under it. Grasp the bar just above shoulder width with an overhand grip and keep your entire body stiff from head to toe. Pull up until your chest touches the bar, maintaining that rigid body line, then slowly lower yourself back down. Barbell and dumbbell rows: For barbell rows, position your upper body at a 90-degree angle to your legs until it is parallel to the floor. Pull the barbell toward the center while maintaining the bent position. For the dumbbell version, either grab two dumbbells and do the same thing as the barbell version by pulling the dumbbells to the side, or try the one-armed version. Bend over and grab a dumbbell with one hand and hold onto a sturdy structure with the other. Proceed as with the double arm version and switch back and forth between the sides.


Barbell and dumbbell presses: In an upright sitting or standing position, grasp a barbell with an overhand grip slightly above shoulder width. Start with the barbell just below your chin and push it straight up. Once you clear your head, slide your head through so the barbell lands over you. For the dumbbell version, position the dumbbells on either side of your head to start just above your shoulders. Press up and down without clinking the dumbbells together. Return slowly. Upright rows: Grasp a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs, palms facing back. Use your elbows to pull the weight up along your body until your elbows are above your hands and the weight is now below your chin on either side of your face. Come back slowly and repeat. Lateral and bent side elevations: Grab a pair of dumbbells by your sides for side elevations. Lift each dumbbell by your side until it protrudes straight on each side at shoulder level. Come back slowly and repeat. The Arnold press: This unique exercise begins with a pair of dumbbells in the top position of a dumbbell lock – the weight curls up close to your shoulders. Push up and at the same time rotate the dumbbells from your ankles forward to the palm forward position as you push over your head. On the way down, reverse the movement and repeat the process.


Back squats: With a loaded barbell on your back, descend with the weight as if you were sitting in a low chair under your hips. Keeping your back straight and core tight, pause below, then use your hip and thigh strength to push back up without blocking your knees. Leg presses: Attach the leg press seat so that the torso and legs form a 90-degree angle. Just before your hips release from the seat, lower the sled and pull your lower back tight. Push up in a controlled manner without blocking your knees. Bulgarian squats: This unique exercise relieves those who find squats problematic for their backs. Lunges: With a loaded barbell or dumbbells in each hand, step forward with your knees at a 90-degree angle, and then return your body to an upright position. Perform repetitions for either alternating legs or one leg at a time. Romanian deadlift: With a loaded barbell or dumbbell and with your knees unlocked but stiff, hang on your hips and keep your back as straight as possible. Feel a deep stretch in your glutes and hamstrings. Reverse direction and keep rigid knees in the starting position. Lying leg curls: Lie on the reclining machine with your knees in line with the cam of the rotating arm. Roll the weight together slowly and under control while resisting the urge to swing it up. Lower your back slowly and in a controlled manner. Standing calf lifts: Keep your knees slightly bent but stiff under the shoulder pads. Lower your heels for a deep stretch. Take a short break before lifting yourself up again for an intense contraction. Resist the ricochet. Seated calf raises: As with the standing version, you will do this in a similar manner, but with your knees in a fixed bent position. Resist the hop again.


Barbell and barbell curls: Hold a barbell with an underhand grip shoulder width apart with the bar in front of your thighs. With elbows attached to your sides, roll the weight up until you reach full contraction before slowly lowering the weight back down. For the dumbbell version, hold each dumbbell with your palms facing inward against your sides. Begin rolling the weight up while simultaneously twisting (supinating) your wrists forward. Come to your shoulders for a contraction before reversing the movement back down. Tend to dumbbell curls: Do this as detailed above, except that you are reclining on an incline bench with your arms hanging down on each side for a bicep stretch. Parallel bar tricep dips: Use a parallel bar and keep each bar neutral. Start in an upright position with your elbows locked and your torso straight. While maintaining the upright position, lower your body until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Reverse direction and repeat for repetitions. Close-grip bench press: Lie on a bench and hold a loaded barbell shoulder width apart. Keeping your elbows down by your sides, the entire time. Touch your chest (don't bounce) and reverse the movement. Lying triceps extensions: Lie on a flat bench with a loaded barbell or two directly above you. Just bend at your elbow and lower the weight towards your forehead. Stop just before touching the bar and reverse the motion to the starting position.

Put it into practice

Replenishing muscle mass is not a rocket operation. It's pretty simple really. All it takes is a commitment from you, some discipline, and the practice of daily consistency.

Over time, you have built an impressive foundation and, most importantly, a feel for how your own body works and what you need to build a better physique on your personal journey. Pick a plan, stick with it, and reap great rewards.

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