As the term
bodybuilding can be used in a couple of different ways, let’s clear up the definitions before we move on. Bodybuilding can refer to the sport in which contestants compete against one another, after which judges determine who has the superior physiques based on a list of variables. In its broader sense, bodybuilding simply refers to building one’s body by increasing muscle tissue. This is the definition we’ll be talking about throughout the remainder of the article.
The process of building muscle tissue, although very complex on a biochemical level, is actually fairly easy to explain. When we perform work against resistance with our muscles, damage known as micro-trauma is caused. When the body is allowed to rest and proper nutritional guidelines are followed, this trauma is repaired by the body, and the muscle is built back a bit bigger than it was before the trauma. Although the amount of new tissue built from one training session isn’t noticeable, weeks and months of repeating this cycle leads to pounds of new muscle being added to the frame.
Stimulation: Resistance Training
Not just any old muscular work will cause the micro-trauma necessary to facilitate growth. If it did, we could just go juggle for a few minutes each day and have huge biceps. The resistance needs to be much more significant. Training in this way is a message to your body saying:
“Hey, we need more muscle tissue to meet the demands being put on us every day!”
Over the years, bodybuilders have figured out which exercises and set and repetition schemes are the best for building muscle, and though there are still lots of conflicting opinions regarding the details, there are some basic tenets that most will agree on.
Training Parameters for Bodybuilding
- Resistance should be used that makes the completion of 5-15 reps challenging but possible to complete with good form.
- Compound exercises like presses, squats and rows should be performed regularly as they stimulate the most muscle fibers.
- Each muscle group should be trained 1-3 times per week.
- For each muscle group 2-4 exercises should be performed during each training session.
- 2-5 sets of 5-15 repetitions should be performed for each exercise.
- Rest between sets should be between 30-90 seconds.
There are an infinite number of different programs that can be designed by following these guidelines, and there are even programs that use less traditional methods with good results, which include sets of 20 or more reps or only using one set per exercise.
While the above listed criteria provide a good place to start, remember that there are no hard and fast rules to bodybuilding training. To a certain degree, trainees must experiment some to determine what gives them the best results.
What you eat will have just as much impact on your bodybuilding results as how you train; many will say even more. Without proper nutrition, your body will not have the raw materials it requires to repair damaged muscle tissue and grow. Nutrition is the one component of bodybuilding that many inexperienced trainees falter on. Many will eat too little out of fear of gaining fat, and many more will eat everything in sight and put on more fat than muscle.
Eating just the right amount of the right foods to effectively gain muscle without putting on much fat takes some calculation. Generally speaking eating 500-750 calories above maintenance level will be appropriate, but like everything else in bodybuilding, you’ll have to experiment to see where your actual numbers fall.
Most average beginners will find that the ‘sweet spot’ for gaining lean muscle mass is between 3000-3500 calories per day consisting of lots of lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, healthy fats and some whole grains like rice or quinoa.
Rest and Recovery
The final component to a good bodybuilding program involves making sure you get adequate rest. This means giving your muscles time to recover between workouts as well as getting 8 hours of sleep each night. The body must work hard to repair damaged muscle tissue and build you back up to be bigger and stronger, and proper rest and sleep are crucial to these processes.Putting it Together
Now that you know the basic components of an effective bodybuilding routine you must figure out how to incorporate them into your lifestyle. We all have different demands on our time and responsibilities to manage, so this is more of an art than a science. It takes planning, patience and discipline to build a strong, well muscled physique, but if you stick to the basics and consistently work at improving, the mirror will start rewarding you for it.