Body Conquest Articles | Metamorphisize your Physique
on Tuesday, 16 April 2013. Posted in Training
Metamorphisize your PhysiqueBodybuilding has advanced greatly in the past decade or so, and those who take their sport seriously now employ quite a scientific approach to every aspect of training, supplementation and nutrition. Therefore it is easy to get distracted on your path to a bigger and better physique. Magazines provide page after page of training techniques, advanced supplements, new fads and the latest cable exercise designed to enhance the inner-outer,lower pectoral tie-in. When these things don't work we then search some more pages and try something else in our quest to change our genetic destiny and make us become the next Mr Australia in record time. In fact, what we are usually best to do is to stick with the basics that have been tried and tested many, many times, as they always come up trumps when trying to pack on muscle.
If you ask the biggest and best of today's bodybuilders how they got their physiques, the training techniques they employ and their nutritional approach, bottom line is, nothing much has changed since the late 50's early 60's. As Achim Albrecht once said "Go to the gym, train your ass off and sweat like a pig. Then eat like a pig and grow like a weed".
Designing an effective training program to ensure you gain mass and increase strength is not difficult. You simply need to ensure that it incorporates a few hardcore, stock-standard bodybuilding principles and you can be guaranteed that you are on the path to success. Yes, a destination has many routes, but there is no escaping that the basic fundamentals of weight training to gain muscle size and strength have been around since 1926. Why 1926? Because this is when George F. Jowett succinctly wrote a book called The Key to Might and Muscle that essentially outlined all you need to know about lifting heavy objects and growing bigger!
So, what are these basics I keep referring to? Well firstly, you need to address the fundamental principle of resistance training in every workout if possible. That is, the principle of progressive overload. This means that every time you train your muscle needs to be exposed to a new stimulus that requires that the muscle become stronger. This additional stimulus can come in the many forms, for example, more weight, more reps, more sets, less rest time between sets, and choice and order of exercise to name a common few. Bodybuilders tend to strive more for the additional weight though, which is a key motivator throughout the workout and can give you something concrete to strive for each and every time you train.
Secondly, you need to train with intensity each and every time you train. This is harder than you might think. Intensity is a word that is thrown around and can have different meanings to diverse situations and different people. For the purpose of this article what I mean by intensity is x amount of work done in x amount of time. Therefore to train with high intensity means to do a large volume of work in a small amount of time. So for example, if you were to train biceps in one session, 4 exercises, 4 sets for each exercise of between 8-12 reps and you were finished in 16-17 minutes then it would be fair to say that your intensity was high. If on the other hand the workout took 25 minutes, then the intensity would be classified as low as the volume of work was spread over a longer period of time. This concept is highly related to overtraining. To train for over an hour, nine times out of ten, will be counter productive and complete overkill, and leads to overtraining. Overtraining is something that you want to avoid like the bubonic plague. Don't mistake bodybuilding as the Hawaiian Iron man. It is not an endurance event. If you train too long or too often, your body will barely be able to recover, much less super compensate and grow bigger and stronger.
If you routinely subject your muscles to more overload each and every time you train then your muscles have to adapt to that extra stimulus so that they can better accommodate this extra stress and handle it more effectively. This means that the muscle fibre that you have broken down during your training program will have to repair back stronger to do so. And this, my friends, is the basis of "bodybuilding".
You have to lift heavy weights in a regular and disciplined schedule in order to produce muscular failure somewhere between 4 and 15 repetitions depending on individual differences and opinions. Let me just repeat that first point, you need to train in an orderly manner i.e. not in an "ad hoc" fashion that is willy nilly, but with specific goals for each training session (otherwise known as periodisation). Then, you have to provide your body with the right nutrients to enable this fibre repair and muscle cell replenishment. This will allow your body to build new muscle tissue. Don't forget, actual muscle growth occurs out of the gym and in your bed, when you are resting, so make sure you do that....rest, because your body requires it if it's going to respond well to your training program. It's a basic, original code of bodybuilding.....you must recuperate for your body to grow.
What other basics do you need to adhere to? Well, the third major basic is to train predominantly with compound movements. For those of you who are not exactly sure what compound movements are, they are movements that involve using two joints, as opposed to the one of isolation movements. A lat-pull down is an example of a compound movement as both the shoulder and the elbow joint is involved. Alternatively a tricep press down is coined an "isolation" movement due to only the elbow joint being used. Basic, traditional exercises have been around for a long, long time, and the reason is, because they work! Barbell flat benches, incline bench press, and dips for your chest; T-Bar rows, chins and barbell rows for back, upright rows and military press for shoulders, squats and dead lifts for your legs and close-grip bench press for arms. They are imperative if you wish to accelerate your body's response to your training program. For the average trainee, a ballpark figure would be that you need to do 3-4 sets of each 8-12 reps for the upper body and 10-15 for the lower body exercises. Compound movements' work several muscles, incorporating both the primary and the supporting muscles and are guaranteed to pack on size.
If you are serious about muscle growth you must use a mix of both machine and free weights. No matter whether you are a member of the most super futuristic gym that offers the most fabulous of new machines, do not underestimate the benefits and necessity of using barbells and dumbbells as part of your training program. Similarly, be aware that as a hardcore bodybuilder you may sneer at those who use the machines, but be open-minded and aware that there are some fantastic machines currently being manufactured that offer great training results, sometimes better than that of free weights due to angles, range of motion, plane of the body and can catapult your overall muscle growth.
Be aware of the principle that you must eat to complement your training. Sounds simple and self-explanatory. Yet I bet you can think of at least one person in your gym that trains with intensity, passion and focus, yet never really seems to make substantial changes to his/her physique? Why? This is more than likely due to them not fuelling their body with the right petrol to motor it along. Without the right fuel your body will not be able to build new muscle tissue and recover from our workouts. Therefore you must ensure that you are eating clean and well. Don't make the mistake of relegating nutrition to second importance under training. Many, many professionals will cite nutrition as equally as important as the training itself.
To provide much detail in regards to nutrition is unfortunately beyond the scope of this article but I will offer some basics. Your protein intake must be sufficient to be able to grow more muscle. Protein is muscle! You need to ingest more than 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. Personally I would recommend 2 grams per pound of body weight. You will need to eat good sources of complex carbohydrates, including yams, oats, sweet potato and rice to name a few. Also, you must ingest a variety of vegetables to ensure that you do not have a vitamin deficiency and that your body is being provided with fibre. Fibre's importance to the bodybuilder was highlighted in a previous article in Ironman where I explained in detail why you, as a bodybuilder, must include lots of fibre in your diet. Also, you need to ensure that you are daily providing your body with good essential fats that was also highlighted in my article "Know your Fats" in last month's edition of Ironman. Finally, to ensure optimum muscle growth you must make sure that you are drinking plenty of fresh water. Water is a component of every single cell in our bodies and is imperative if you are to make size and strength gains as it facilitates both fat loss and muscle growth.
Another staple principle of bodybuilding is the principle of variety or confusion. This means that using an assortment of training techniques can be beneficial and promote extra muscle growth as well as providing motivation by giving you avenues to mix up your training variables. There are a vast array of methods that are usually applied by intermediate and advanced trainee's to increase gains. For example, 21'a, forced reps, partials, reverse pyramiding to name a few. There is certainly an important place for such methods, however remember that basic, basic, basic will build a framework foundation unlike no other. If you are going to use these "variety" techniques, use them in conjunction with a planned periodisation program that is based on basic, compound, mass building exercises that are assured to give you the muscle that you want. I suggest that you use the variety principle; especially if you are an intermediate or advanced trainer, however don't overuse them. Plan when you are going to introduce these variations, especially to overcome plateaus and prevent staleness, however build your basic plan around the foundation principles.
Finally, one brief word on an often over-looked basic principle is to make certain that you train with good technique. Generally speaking most of us train too fast with too much cheating and not enough attention to flawless execution of the exercise. Sloppy form will guarantee poor results so try to always lift "with control", without the use of momentum and gravity to assist your lifts. Try to establish a good mind-muscle connection and feel the muscle that you are attempting to work. Cut out the assisting muscles as much as you can if you are doing an isolation exercise.
Progress should not be an irregular, unpredictable occurrence. The cause and effect relationship between exercise and the development of muscle mass beyond normal levels was established a long time ago. One must be specific however. Training must be highly intense, to stimulate a muscular increase, and the training must be carried out over a period of time that is neither too short, not too long. So be aware that the next latest fad or idea may well have validity but don't let yourself get lost in the newest idea, the current fashionable way to train or spend precious time finding out whether it works. Stick with what you know works and always use these fundamentals as the basis for your training.