Bodybuilding Workout Routines: Some Guidelines


Many bodybuilding workout routines are very rich in techniques and principles such as doing slow negatives to increase hypertrophy or doing supersets which help work opposing muscle groups more thoroughly and at the same time decrease workout time.  Unlike powerlifting and Olympic weight lifting, bodybuilding training’s goal is not to develop strength in movements but rather muscle size.  There is much to learn.  Here are some simple guidelines.

 Don’t Change Your Bodybuilding Workout Routine if it is Working

Because of the volume of exercises that bodybuilders sometimes end up doing, it’s easy to get frustrated with your current workout when you’ve been doing it for awhile.  You may be just plain bored with it.  Boredom however should not be the reason why you change it.  If the routine is working for you in that you are beating the logbook most of the time by getting more reps per exercise or lifting more weight then there’s no reason to change. There are only two reasons to switch:

1)      You injured a major body part and have to adjust by changing exercises.

2)      You’re stagnating and not beating the log book.

If You stall, Swap Exercises

Sometimes when training, you will plateau.  An exercise will stall.  Sometimes  in order to see results again the best thing is to stop doing that exercise and swap it out with a similar one.  For instance, you can switch the incline press for the decline bench press.

 Patience and Good Nutrition Will Get You There Faster

You will not be getting an amazing physique transformation overnight.  In fact, it may be months before you see any great results.  Improve your nutrition and you’ll see even more results.  If you are too skinny, then add more protein and calories to your diet.  If you are too fat, then decrease the amount of calories you are consuming but still be sure to get a lot of protein.  The amount of lean mass can usually be increased by eating more protein.  You may want to consider spending some money on whey protein for extra protein supplementation.

 Know Your Exercises and the Definition of Power

There are two types of exercises:  Compound and isolation.  An example of a compound exercise is the bench press in which body parts (lower arms, upper arms, and torso) turn around more than one joint (elbow and shoulder).  An example of an isolation exercise would be the barbell curl in which only one joint (elbow) is employed in the lift.  You can usually lift more weight with a compound exercise than with an isolation exercise.  Compound exercises also require more recovery in between workouts.

It is hard to define the difference between an intermediate and advanced workout.  The simplest definition is that your body performs more work in an advanced workout.  The physics definition of work is probably the best.  It is the distance a weight travels given a certain amount of time (weight x distance x time).  If you are doing repetitions with the same cadence but are lifting more weight or you are lifting the same amount of weight but are lifting it faster or moving it farther, then your muscles are doing more work.  You should perform full reps for maximum results.  Partial reps will only give partial results.  Train hard with intensity and be patient.  If you are a beginner you cannot expect to train with an advanced workout let alone compete in a strongman competition.

Length of Workouts and Cortisol

You don’t have to be spending hours in the gym.  For maximum results, keep the period of your bodybuilding workout routine down to less than one hour.  After a certain period of training, the amount of testosterone in your blood goes lower and the hormone cortisol starts being released in greater amounts.  There is much written about how cortisol is bad for muscle building but cortisol, however is useful in the process of supercompensation.  It is used to decrease muscle inflammation and aid in the process of breaking down amino acids for protein synthesis after strenuous exercise.  Too much of it, however can stop muscle gains.

Don’t be dogmatic.  Sometimes it’s advantageous when feeling under the weather to seriously consider taking more rest days.  It is common to feel sluggish after having a particular grueling workout.  Remember, workouts break down muscle tissue.  It is rest and proper nourishment that makes you grow stronger.  Don’t be so dogmatic with your training schedule that you can’t take a rest when you really need one.  You are a being made out of living tissue.  A bodybuilding workout routine is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

It’s Okay to Avoid Harmful Lifts

Some exercises are considered to be bad for the joints.  Lifts such as upright barbell rows, pulldowns behind the neck or shoulder presses behind the neck, have been known to cause shoulder impingement.  This can happen anytime when you raise your arms going backwards.  A shoulder bone called the acromion can rub against a tendon or the bursa sac causing pain.  If you don’t have this, problem then don’t sweat it.  If you do feel pain, don’t be a hero.  There may be nothing you can do except for discontinuing the exercise that gives you problems.  Other than being painful, an injury is nothing but a waste of time.  If, however, you are hell bent on still doing press or pull downs then don’t move the bar down past your ears.

Ballistic training is also the cause of many injuries.  Never jerk the weight up in the lifts.  This is known as ballistic training.  It will not increase your power.  If you blast and pump the only thing it will increase is the amount of injuries you accrue by adopting this way of training.

A Few Words about Cardio

Many times lifters wonder if they should do cardio before or after a workout.  Many pro bodybuilders do not do cardio at all because for them it takes the strength out of their legs.  They say that lifting already works the heart and that a low carb diet is the best method for fat loss.  You may want to experiment with your workouts to see whether or not cardio is for you.  If you do decide to do cardio, walking is advisable.  It is recommended to not walk longer than 45 minutes and not to walk on the same day that you train the legs.

Motivation is the Key Element to Success

The best bodybuilding workout routine is one in which you understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.  It is also a routine for which you can see regular results so you can stay motivated.

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