Bodybuilders work hard to build a significant amount of muscle mass. Technically referred to as hypertrophy, this muscle growth is the result of consistent weight-training workouts that overload and break down muscle tissue. This stimulates the process that causes an increase in tissue size. An effective bodybuilding workout is designed to support that process by challenging muscle groups using a set pattern.
Sets and Repetitions
An important element of any bodybuilding workout is the volume of the workout, or the number of sets and repetitions assigned and completed. Dr. Joseph A. Chromiak, a sports and conditioning professional from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, recommends that novice bodybuilders complete two to three sets of five to 12 repetitions of each exercise. He notes that more advanced lifters can increase their volume to two to five sets of three to 12 repetitions. The rest periods in between sets should last one to three minutes.
Bodybuilders will often split their muscle groups into separate workout sessions. This allows them to have more time to complete more exercises per muscle group. For example, they could target the muscles in their upper body two days per week and the muscles in their lower body and abdominals two separate days per week, lifting four days per week total. The major muscles in the upper body include the chest, shoulders, back, biceps and triceps. A battery of exercises that will effectively develop each of these muscles includes chest press, shoulder press, lat pulldowns, seated rows, bicep curls and tricep pushdowns. The major muscles in the lower body include the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. To adequately target these muscles and the abdominals, perform squats, deadlifts, lunges, calf raises and abdominal crunches.
The amount of weight that you use for each exercise must be appropriate if the exercise is to effectively overload your muscle tissue. The Department of Kinesiology and Health at Georgia State University recommends that those training for hypertrophy use a 70 to 80 percent of their one repetition maximum load, or the load that allows the lifter to perform at least six repetitions. One repetition maximum is the heaviest weight that you could perform one repetition of an exercise with, so when choosing a weight, find one that you believe to be about 70 to 80 percent of that maximum weight.
If you do not have the time to lift four days per week, consider completing a workout that targets both your upper and lower body muscles and supersetting the exercises. Supersetting means that you perform one set of an exercise and then instead of resting, move directly into a set of another exercise that targets another muscle group. For example, you could perform one set of chest press and then a set of squats. This saves time by taking out unused during rest periods while still allowing your muscle groups adequate time in between their relative sets.
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.