1 – Focus on Compound Exercises
Even in this day and age, with tons of bodybuilding info telling us that compound exercises are the way to go, people still seem to think they can make huge gains without doing the big exercises. In fact, go into most gyms are the only compound exercise you are likely to see being performed is the bench press. Squats? Maybe once in awhile with really bad form. Deadlifts? Very rare.
It should be no surprise then that most people you see at the gym are skinny and weak. If you want to avoid falling into this trap, make sure you build your training program the right way. The focus should be on bench press, deadlift and squats as well as other compound exercises like pull-ups, rows, overhead press and dips. Isolation exercises should be added in here and there to help lagging muscle groups – but always after the big lifts have already been completed.
2 – Increase the Weights
Let’s say you start going to the gym on January 1st and bench 135 pounds. December 31 rolls around and you are still benching 135. How much bigger do you think your chest got? It will still be the same size. You see, our muscles will only get as big as they need to be in order to handle the workload we throw at them. Every time your muscles get bigger they are simply adapting so that they can better withstand the higher weights they are being forced to handle. That means if your chest is going to get bigger you will need to be lifting heavier weights on the chest exercise.
Each week, try to increase the weight on your exercises a little bit. Even 1 pound would be helpful. Now, increasing 1 pound to your bench press each week might sound low, but over the course of the year that will add up to 52 pounds! I think any bodybuilder will tell you that increasing your bench press by 52 pounds will come with some nice gains. Make sure you are keeping track of how much weight you lift at every workout – it’s the only way to know for sure that you are actually making progress.
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3 – Set Realistic Goals
If your goal is to add 20 pounds of muscle in the next 2 months then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Unless you have amazing genetics and are taking steroids, putting on 10 pounds of muscle in a single month is impossible. In fact, if you are putting on 10 pounds per month most of that is probably going to be fat, anyway.
Set smaller, more realistic goals. 2 pounds of muscle per month is far more achievable and sustainable. In fact, you can put on 2 pounds per month and have almost all of that be muscle. While it might not seem like much, it adds up to 24 pounds per year. From our experience, adding 24 pounds of muscle after a year of training will make your body look far better. It’s important to weigh yourself each week to make sure you are on the right track here.
4 – Eat Plenty of Protein
Most people tend to eat too little protein each day and it’s not hard to see – most people have soft, non muscular physiques. When you are trying to transform your body make sure you are getting your weight per day in protein. While this might seem like a lot, adding in a couple smoothies will make the progress a lot easier. Make sure you track your daily protein intake (as well as all other macronutrients) to make sure you are getting what you need.
5 – Train Each Muscle Group More Often
A lot of people like to train 4 or 5 day splits, with each muscle group getting focused on once per week. While this might give you an opportunity to hit that muscle from a variety of angles, it might also reduce your potential gains. Instead of training each bodypart once per week, try training each muscle group twice per week. You can still accomplish this by going 4 or 5 times per week, however it forces you to reorganize your workouts by dropping useless exercises.
When hitting each muscle group twice per week, make sure you aren’t doing identical workouts. For example, on chest day 1 you can do dumbbell bench press and on chest day 2 you can do barbell incline bench press. Essentially you are doing the same number of exercises as before, only they will be split over two workouts. This allows your to work the same muscle group again right after it has finished recovering, rather than waiting another 4 or 5 days.
6 – Eat More Frequently
People typically eat 3 or sometimes even 2 (if they skip breakfast) meals per day. If you are a bodybuilder that needs to change. Eating frequently is important to make sure your body is constantly getting the nutrients it needs. It also reduces the likelihood that you will overeat at one of your meals, or eat something that doesn’t fit your macros.
The best way to make sure you follow this tip is to prepare your meals in advance. If you havea fridge full of healthy meals sealed in tupperware containers you will be far more likely to follow your diet plan. Preparing them in bulk over the weekend will also save you time from having to cook something up each time you get hungry.
7 – Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting 8 hours of sleep each night sounds simple enough, but it’s actually where most people mess up their gains. When you sleep, your body does a lot of important things including repairing muscle tissue and producing more testosterone. That means if you are cutting your sleep short each night you are heavily increasing the possibility that your gains will stop.
If your life is too busy for 8 hours per night of sleep, or stress keeps you awake at night, you need to make lifestyle changes to make sure it doesn’t happen anymore. Simply put, the bodybuilding lifestyle does not go hand in hand with a high-stress, minimal sleep lifestyle.
8 – Take a Testosterone Booster
As we mentioned in the previous tip, you produce the most testosterone while you are sleeping. So why is this important? Testosterone is the “male” hormone – it is responsible for characteristics like strength, muscle, confidence and energy. If your testosterone levels are high, you are more likely to build muscle mass while maintaining low body fat levels. There main ways to increase testosterone levels naturally are getting more sleep, lifting weights, eating a clean diet and taking a testosterone booster.
Testosterone boosters are becoming more popular by the day as people wake up to their benefits. Obviously not all products are created equally – the effective ones aren’t the cheapest. However, if the supplement can help increase your gains we can all agree it’s worth the cost – particularly when it does so without any nasty side effects like steroids. Oh, not to mention you won’t actually be breaking the law. Click here to check out our testosterone booster page to learn more.
9 – Be Patient and Reward Yourself
Bodybuilding takes time. It’s all about consistent effort, day in and day out. Once you’ve paid your dues you will definitely see a huge difference, no doubt about it. Having said that, a lot of people are in such a hurry to get to their end goal that they often make things more difficult for themselves. They train too frequently (overtraining), they eat too much (leads to fat gain) or they increase the weight on their lifts too much (leads to bad form and injury).
When you are starting out in bodybuilding, remember that it will take some time before you see a huge improvement in your body. Give yourself time and of course reward yourself from time to time with a cheat meal. Some people opt to skip cheat meals altogether thinking that it will speed up their gains. The truth is it actually increases the likeliness of messing up their diet as they end up craving those foods more by the day.