Bulging biceps and thick, rock-hard legs aren't for your average gym-goer, but for a budding bodybuilder, it's the ultimate goal. Fumbling around with tiny dumbbells for an hour a day at the gym won't get you to the bodybuilding promised land. Bodybuilding involves more than just randomly moving from one resistance machine to the next; it takes the right exercise plan, diet and ample rest to really get good results.
Creating a bodybuilding plan that works best for you may take a little experimenting on your part to find the most effective approach. A good way to get started is to focus on three weight-training workouts per week -- Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Train each major muscle group once per week using three heavy working sets and up to two high-repetition sets. Each working set should include five to eight repetitions with weight heavy enough to make the final rep very tough to finish. The high-rep sets are great for promoting muscle volume; use slightly lighter weight and do 12 to 15 reps per set.
Exercise two or three muscle groups per weight-training session. A sample routine could include: chest and calves on Monday; biceps, triceps and back on Wednesday; and upper legs and shoulders on Friday. A few of the essential bodybuilding exercises to include in your workout plan are squats, deadlifts, bench press, dumbbell curls, triceps extensions, military press, leg press, leg extensions, dumbbell rows and weighted calf raises. Change your exercises every couple of weeks; variety is good when it comes to building muscle.
Eating right is a critical part of succeeding in bodybuilding. The key is eating healthy calories and eliminating all empty calories from junk food and soda. Eat a small meal every three hours to keep your energy level high throughout the day and to keep your muscles fed with essential nutrients. Healthy foods include whole grains, veggies, lean proteins and fruit. Protein is a particularly important nutrient to consume because that’s what muscle tissue needs to grow in size. Bodybuilder champion Anita Ramsey suggests eating at least 1.5 kilograms of protein per pound of body weight.
Without any aerobic exercise, you’ll be unable to burn that stubborn layer of fat hiding your muscle. Do three cardio workouts per week on your non-weightlifting days. Exercise at a moderate-to-vigorous pace for 30 to 60 minutes per session. Cardio days are also great for exercising your abs. Since you don’t use much -- if any -- extra resistance when working the abdominal muscles, you can exercise up to three times per week without worrying about overworking them. Finish each cardio workout session with a five- to 10-minute abdominal workout using exercises like exercise ball crunches, vertical leg crunches, bicycle maneuver, reverse crunches or planks.
Muscle grows while you’re sleeping, so don’t neglect to get seven or eight hours of sleep each night. Rest allows your muscles to recover from the previous day’s workout, allowing you to put 100 percent into the next workout. Resting between workout sets is also important -- but not too much rest. Aim for about a one-and-a-half-minute break between each set.
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.