If you’re looking to lift weights like a bodybuilder, you better be ready to spend a significant amount of time in the weight room. Bodybuilders will train three to six days per week in order to put on that extreme level of muscle mass. The amount of muscle you will personally put on from following a bodybuilding training program depends on a couple of factors, including your genetics, hormone levels and the type of muscle tissue that you possess.
Noticeable increases in muscle size can take up to two months after embarking on a bodybuilding workout program, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Dr. Lee E. Brown. Go into the program knowing it’ll be a day-to-day grind that will eventually pay off in the end. If you’re just starting out, begin with a three-workout-per-week schedule, targeting all of the major muscle groups in each session. Those who have been lifting regularly can increase their training frequency to four workouts per week and split their muscle groups into separate sessions. Focus solely on your chest, shoulders and triceps two days and your back, biceps and legs on the other two days.
Sets and Reps
For muscle building to occur, your muscles need to be exhausted at the end of each session. This principle is referred to as overloading. When your muscles are overloaded, it means they are broken down. It’s this damage that signals to the body to heal the muscle and when it does, it adapts by increasing the muscle’s size. To overload your muscles, complete exercises for three sets, with each set consisting of at least six and no more than 15 repetitions.
The major muscle groups in the body are the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps. Each of these should be targeted if you’re lifting three days per week. A comprehensive full-body workout consists of squats, bench press, deadlifts, lat pulldown, shoulder press, calf raises, bicep curls and triceps extensions. Superset these exercises so that you can get through the workout more efficiently. For example, complete a set of squats and then go right into a set of bench press. Go back and forth between these two until all sets are completed for those two exercises and then move onto the next pair of exercises.
Those lifting four days per week and splitting their muscle groups into different workouts will complete more exercises per muscle group. On days you’re targeting your chest, shoulders, and triceps, complete chest press, incline chest press, lateral raise, dips and triceps extension. When you’re focused on your back, biceps and legs, complete squats, deadlifts, lat pulldown, seated row, lunges, biceps curls and calf raises. Both of these workouts focus on your larger muscles first and then move on to the smaller muscles.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.