Here are the secrets to six-pack abs, a wide back, wide chest and well-rounded shoulders. Let’s examine top ten bodybuilding lessons you should implement to achieve your bodybuilding goals.
1) Nothing Happens Overnight
Nothing happens without hard, hard work. Not the good things. If you want a body like a Greek god or goddess, you have to work for it. Besides HIIT and Tabata (which do work), there are no fast workouts that produce significant results with strength training (in terms of how long it takes to get muscular and ripped). Muscle gains happen over time and lean, supple muscle mass takes time to acquire. You have to follow a regimen of work out, recover, workout some more. We all do. So, accept that this is a journey, but take every step right.
For example, if you start off concentrating on learning perfect form with every lift and move, yes, it will take longer, but the payoff is huge gains over time—plus, no injuries, and you’ll be able to work out harder, faster, and always in correct form later!
2) Take Progress Photos
I used to forget my progress photos until I saw how much these result photos fueled my enthusiasm to work out more. Now I take one every two weeks because when you’re doing it right, you’ll see the gains that fast—and you’ll know where to look for them. There is no greater motivator than seeing the results of your hard work on sculpted, lean body that you created.
3) Do Cardio Every Week
Cardio keeps your endurance levels up, your heart rate up, and your V02 max stoked. It’s good for the heart, lungs, and clears the mind. Plus, it keeps the metabolism revving. Do cardio at least 3 times a week, 30 to 40 minutes a day, in the morning in a fasted state or after a super-fueling mineral-based drink or whey protein powder shake. Whey protein shake recipes are all over the web. Fortifying with mineral-rich green drinks is a great idea before intense cardio as well. Fueling the body helps you perform more rigorous HIIT style running routines. You don’t have to just do running—try all kinds of fun things: swimming, rollerblading, ice skating, and aerobic styled routines like “Insanity” are all great choices.
4) Increase Lean Muscle Gains with Tension Lifting
Sure, high weight low reps and low weight high reps have their place in your strength regimen. But one technique that really enhances lean muscle gains is to apply a lot of tension to the last 5 to 7 lifts in your sets. Really tense the muscles and concentrate on pausing at the peak contraction arc for 2 to 3 seconds. You’ll really challenge the muscle fibers that way and you’ll see faster gains.
5) Deadlifts and Heavy Lifting is Crucial
Deadlifts and lifting something really heavy challenges the body with something called “hormesis.” It’s something slightly injurious to the system, like running until you’re completely out of breath or taking a brutally cold shower in the morning—that sets off all kinds of reparative effects in the body. I recommend challenging yourself with a really hard lift or several using the deadlift technique every time you train.
6) Read the masters.
You gain wisdom from those who have gone before you—and that goes for strength training too. Read the great books and talk to other lifters you admire about who they like to read. Reading is a great motivator. The enthusiasm literally vibrates off those pages and into your body. Plus, you learn all kinds of tricks for staying fit, eating nutrient dense, eating right for muscle gains, and all kinds of need-to-knows to get the body you want.
7) Sleep, Man.
You won’t realize it until it actually happens to you. Then you’ll finally manage to get 8 to 9 hours of sleep and you’ll wake up lighter, leaner, and more muscular. Then you’ll be sold! But those lean muscle gains and fat burning do not happen, folks, until a little stage of sleep called “Deep wave / Delta wave/ slow wave” sleep. This stage comes right before REM sleep and you should experience 4 to 6 cycles of delta wave sleep a night, and during every one of those, you burn more fat and repair more muscle tissue—and repair means “muscle is acquired now.” Sleeping right, eating right, training right. All three of these should be your goal, daily.
8) Train with the Greats
If you want to be like the greats, you need to both read the greats and train with them as much as possible. You can find great teachers at gyms and online. Train with them whenever possible. You can also pay if you want to work out with someone whose ideas and techniques you want to really learn more about.
You don’t have to do this, but if bodybuilding is your life, it might be quite a treat for you to meet someone you really admire and milk that meeting for all you can learn from them about your weight lifting craft. Body building is an art and all artists learn from the masters. Until then, just like in real life, surround yourself with people you admire in fitness and surround yourself with people who push you to be better than you already are, to challenge yourself, and to work harder.
9) Don’t Believe (or even listen) to everybody on the web or anywhere else.
“No carbs, no gluten, no fat, no trans fats, no potatoes, no _______.” Just insert the latest sacrificial lamb in terms of food. Here’s my advice on diet gurus and strength training gurus who have just “one approach” that works for “everybody.” No approach works for everybody. Give it time and see what food makes your body perform better and satisfies you as well. That’s a lifetime lifestyle right there – and a lifetime lifestyle is what you need. Not a fad.
10) Keep a Workout Journal
You’ve seen those guys at the gym who immediately grab a chair or some floor and start writing (while chugging water) after their session. This is for a reason. You want to have a journal of all you’ve done so you can review this before you even head out to the gym. This enables you to establish clear goals for what to challenge today in terms of muscle groups when you get there. It’s also inspiring to see how much you’ve accomplished every time you add an entry.
Gerry Morton is the CEO of EnergyFirst, holds an MS in Nutrition and is an experienced athlete who has competed in 30+ marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons. Gerry is an excellent source of information on nutrition, supplementation and exercise. Energyfirst.com is known for offering the world’s best tasting, highest quality, all natural, premium nutrition products such as pure whey protein isolate powder, energy bar, green drinks, etc. Read his blog at http://blog.energyfirst.com.