Bodybuilding has evolved over time and become something that people pursue to develop good muscles or to keep fit. Bodybuilding is not just dependent on a general workout or diet; it is a combination of the two. You might also need to create a workout routine that is tailored to your requirements, and the same with your diet. Yet, it is very common to find people who have misconceptions about bodybuilding. As a beginner to bodybuilding, there might be many doubts and questions in your mind related to bodybuilding.
Read on to find out some common questions and answers related to bodybuilding.
How many meals per day?
People are misguided in their attempts to build up muscles mostly because of the confusing diet patterns. Many are not clear on how many meals they should have every day while training. If you are actively training to build muscles, it is natural to burn more calories than usual. To compensate for this, a bodybuilder must eat more meals than an average person. Experts say to aim for 5-8 meals a day. This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner with multiple protein-rich snacks eaten in between.
How many sets and reps should I do for each exercise?
As a bodybuilder, the ultimate goal is to build up muscles. The training must be such that all the effort and hard work is optimized to read that goal quicker. A most important part of this is to figure out the specific rep and set ranges for building muscles. To increase muscle size, the best idea is to go for a weight where 8-12 reps will get you to muscle failure. This does not mean overstraining the muscles. Therefore, you must do at least 8 reps, but never more than 12. There is a relationship between reps and the weight you lift. You must keep your reps in the 8-12 range. So choose the weight accordingly so that it tests your endurance. A true set is where you fail at the end, ie, you are not able to do one more rep in that particular exercise.
How long should I rest between sets?
As with every other part of bodybuilding, the duration of rest also depends upon the goal of training. As far as muscle building is concerned, the optimal time of rest between sets is 1-2 minutes. A general bodybuilding training session uses the energy derived from the ATP-PC and glycolytic system. Because of this, the body does not need to rest as much between sets. Another factor is that the shorter period of rest may help in getting bigger muscles. A shorter period of rest between sets increases the level of anabolic hormones produced by the body. This will also increase lactate production and blood flow into the muscles. This all results in proteins reaching said muscles faster, giving well-defined muscles.
I’ve been working out regularly, I am getting stronger but not bigger. Why?
Many different factors are involved in muscle growth. Normally what happens is that you follow a proper diet and training routine, which leads to stronger and bigger muscles. However, if you are not eating enough protein or your training is inconsistent, there may be variations in the intended result. Ask yourself if you are following a proper diet. A diet for building muscles must include large amounts of protein; ideally, more than that you burn during training. If you do not eat enough, it will affect the muscles. Another reason might be a mismatched training routine. Your training must contain exercises specifically designed for getting bigger muscles, such as lifting weights, deadlifts, bench presses and squats. Keep in mind that your muscles need to expand continuously so that over time they do get bigger. Work hard and be regular at the gym because consistency really does help.
How do I get abs? ()
Getting visible abs means losing a significant amount of body fat at the same time maintaining muscle mass. I wrote an in-depth article on How To Lose Fat. Here are some tips that will help to get 6 pack abs easily:
- Calculate your daily caloric need
- Create a deficit of 300-400 on it
- Strength train 4-5 times a week.
- Eat lots of lean protein, good fats and veggies, and carbs to maintain strength level
- Take measurements every week & pictures every 2 weeks, to check your progress
- Log your diet daily to check if you are on track
- Log your workouts and check them every week to see the changes in strength
- When you are stuck, make minor adjustments, like cut 200-300 calories or add some volume to workout or add 1-2 cardio sessions.
Should I train to failure?
No, because there is a fine line between training until your muscles reach their height of endurance and going past it. Training to failure increases the risk of overloading the muscles and straining the nervous system too much. This may lead to the development of central fatigue, which means that later on, you may not be able to lift as much. Training to fatigue may also lead to long term damage to muscles and neuromuscular stress. This can reduce the effectiveness of the entire training regime.
Is overtraining real?
Yes, overtraining is a very real phenomenon. Overtraining happens when a person tries to train at a level beyond their ability to recover from. Constant exposure of muscles to such strain can create irreparable damages to muscles and nerves. Thankfully, it is difficult to reach that level of overtraining.
Overtraining results mostly from the misconception of people as to how much they should train to build up muscles. Some feel like the more they train, the quicker they will get the results. This is not true at all. on the contrary, people who overtrain may stop making progress and lose strength and fitness. This is because they begin to plateau, where they stop making regular progress. Overtraining results in constant fatigue, poor performance, incomplete workouts and longer recovery time.
Is drinking beer okay, how much should I drink?
A glass of beer or two wouldn’t hurt your training but keep in mind to control it. Any sort of alcohol is bad while training. Even though you’re working hard, if you drink copious amounts of alcohol, you will never achieve your training goals. Drinking after a workout is bad because it will affect your inflammatory responses. Normally, your body tries to recover from the strenuous workout. But if alcohol is involved, the body tries to stabilize it rather than focus on recovery. Though completely staying off alcohol is a good idea, it may not be realistic for everyone. So, limit alcohol consumption to one or two beers and never go for a binge drinking session, especially after your workout.
What are the best bodybuilding supplements?
The right supplements can aid in muscle building, while the wrong ones can derail your progress.
The supplements you take have different functionalities, but the major idea is that these supplements should provide you with enough energy to get through some high-intensity training sessions. Any bodybuilding supplement will contain ingredients that can give a sudden boost of energy. These supplements are available over the counter. Many athletes use them to help aid in performance and recovery. Some of the best bodybuilding supplements are:
- Creatine: Creatine boosts energy in our bodies. This means that you can train harder and for a longer time without fatigue. Creatine works well because even inside the body, it acts as an energy-producing element.
- Caffeine: Caffeine works by reducing fatigue and tiredness so that the user can continue training for longer periods than usual. A recommended dose would be 50-300 milligrams taken an hour before the workout.
- Whey protein: Whey is a fast-digesting protein and it is better to take it after the workout as it aids in better muscle recovery. Whey protein is better when compared to soy or casein since it facilitates more efficient protein synthesis.
- Fish oil: Fish oils are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are made from the tissues of oily fish and they have the property of reducing inflammation in the body. They also have antioxidant properties, which can benefit bodybuilders.
- Beta-Alanine: Beta-Alanine is an amino acid that can help to reduce fatigue in muscles. It is taken during an intense workout session to combat the build-up of acid in the body.
What is the difference between fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers?
There are two types of skeletal muscle fibers, namely fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibres.
- Slow twitch (type I) muscle fibres help in performing long-endurance feats such as distance running.
- Fast twitch (type II) muscle fibres can help in spontaneous and short term exercises, like sprints. They fatigue faster than the slow twitch muscle fibres. There are two types of fast twitch fibres, moderate fast-twitch (type IIa) and fast-twitch (type IIb or IIx). Moderate fast twitch fibres are thicker. They contract faster and wear out more quickly.
While exercising, the slow twitch muscle fibres contract at first. They can endure for longer and it takes time for them to wear out. Once these fibres are worn out, the fast twitch muscles come into play. This points out that the body is near to total exhaustion.
Should I do cardio before or after lifting?
Some people prefer to do the weights before getting on the treadmill, while others do it vice-versa. There is no correct answer regarding whether cardio should come before weights or not. Every person has a unique mode of training and must choose the flow that works well for them.
The benefit of doing cardio before weights: Core body temperature increases, leading to better blood flow. It also enables the production of synovial fluid in the joints. A session of cardio can burn more calories than lifting weights.
The benefit of doing cardio after weights: There will be enough glycogen left to lift weights again. on the other hand, doing cardio first will deplete the glycogen. Cardio after weight lifting feels easier as you feel well-rested.
Based on the above-mentioned benefits, and your personal preference, choose the model that works for you.
Does bodybuilding stunt the growth of my height?
This is a common problem faced by youngsters, especially teenagers, who start training at a young age. Though weight training in itself does not stunt the growth of height, following a high-intensity training routine at such a young age may have an effect on other growth reactions that need to happen in the body. When all the energy is utilized to work out, there is nothing left in the body to allow the natural growth process. This may result in the body not gaining the maximum height it can have. The best idea to combat this is to rein in the intensity of training and to replenish the lost calories by eating more.
How to count calories?
In the case of bodybuilding, there is a need for more calorie intake because so of it gets burnt during training. These calories need to be replaced. So right at the onset, your diet must focus on adding more muscle mass and calories to the body. Such a diet will have a large amount of protein in it. Still, it is necessary to count calories because the excess calories may turn out as being stored as fat.
Here are some tips on counting calories, and managing a proper calorie intake:
- Figure out how many calories are required for your body. A good way to do this is by multiplying your total body weight in pounds by 15-17 calories.
- Of the total calories, at least one gram should be of protein per pound of body weight.
- Aim for at least 100 grams of carbs since that is important too.
- Use an app like MyFitnessPal, which can count the calories for you easily. While such apps are not a 100% accurate, it does give a fairly good idea of caloric intake.
- Pay attention to what you eat, and identify the calories in a particular food item.
If you feel like you are having more calories than is needed, try reducing the portion size.
What exactly is clean eating?
Clean eating is all about having more fruits, vegetables and natural food items. A person following the clean eating principle tries to avoid pre-processed and canned food, artificial sweeteners and the like. Preservatives, additives, packaged foods are all avoided. The idea is to eat more of whole, natural and healthy food items. This can include healthy fats, whole grains, natural protein sources like fish, poultry but not processed ones like bacon and natural beverages like water and green tea.
How much protein do I need?
The recommended protein intake for an average healthy adult is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. However, this is just the recommended minimum amount of protein. It does not mean that this is the optimum amount of protein required by the body. Per dietary guidelines, at least 10 to 35% of dietary calories need to be obtained from protein alone. That takes it up to 125 grams of protein daily. For athletes and bodybuilders, experts recommend taking 1.6 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
What is good fat?
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are the “good fats”. They are called so because they are good for the heart, helps to maintain cholesterol levels and overall health. Such good fats can help to lower the risk of heart diseases and stroke. It is the “bad fats” like trans and saturated fat that are responsible for many of the common health problems. Good fats, on the other hand, can help to maintain high levels of HDL and low levels of LDL. They also work to reduce blood pressure and prevent atherosclerosis. Some of the food items rich in good fats are
- Olive, canola, peanut, and sesame oils
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
- Peanut butter
- Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines) and fish oil
- Soybean and safflower oil
What should I eat before workout? ()
Pre workout meal should provide with ample energy to finish the workout. For bodybuilding especially, egg whites and whole grain bread are great choices. Here are some other food items that are good to be had before a workout:
- Beetroot: Beets are rich in nutrients, fibre and vitamin C. They are also very low in calories. The dietary nitrates present in beets can enhance athletic performance.
- Chia seeds: Chia seeds are full of important nutrients. They contain omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, iron, and calcium. They are also rich in antioxidants, and they provide fibre, iron, and calcium.
- Berries: Berries like strawberries, blueberries are also rich in antioxidants.
- Green tea: Green tea is filled with antioxidants. These actively reduce the fat formation in the body and burns fat.
- Coconut: Coconut contains healthy fats. Coconut water is a natural electrolyte. It helps to balance the electrolyte concentration in the body.
- Pomegranate: The pomegranate seeds are rich in antioxidants, fibres and water content. They also have a very low calorie content. It is also good for improving the red blood cells and haemoglobin levels in the blood.
Grapefruit: Grapefruits are good sources of electrolytes and natural sugars. They’re light as a drink so it is good to be had before a workout.
What should I eat after workout?
Proper Post-Workout Nutrition is as important as your pre-workout meal. Working out uses up the glycogen stores in the body. Calories are burnt and proteins are used up. All this needs to be replenished if you are to recover quicker and train more. Proteins help to build up muscles and carbs help in the recovery process. Some of the food items to be included are:
- Fruits (pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi)
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
- Cottage cheese
- Salmon, Chicken, tuna and other protein sources
Trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)
Diet to get 6 pack abs?
Diet plays as important a role as training when it comes to building muscles and getting a 6-pack. The basic idea to keep in mind is to consume more calories than that are burnt up during a workout. Your diet must comprise of food items that are dense in calories. it should make you gain weight in effect. These may include foods high in carbohydrates or fats, like pasta, dried fruits, and nuts, etc. Eggs, chicken and other protein products should be an essential part of the diet. Have a handful of nuts as well every day. They make for tasty snacks and are healthy too. Here is a list of foods to be included in your diet:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green tea
Is BCAA worth taking?
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are of three types, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are among the nine essential amino acids that humans need for healthy functioning. BCAAs promote protein synthesis and metabolism. They also help in energy production which is why some people take BCAA supplements. When you take BCAA supplements, it is just increasing the number of amino acids that would be used for protein synthesis and other functions mentioned above. If you are not getting enough protein, then it might be a good idea to invest in BCAAs to help trigger protein synthesis. But, if you are taking enough protein in your diet, BCAAs is not a necessity. It is also clear from various studies that protein supplements work far better than BCAAs. But in a calorie restricted diet, BCAA might be the better choice as it doesn’t add excess calories or macronutrients that may harm the diet.
Does creatine helps in fat loss?
Creatine, when taken as a supplement, increases power and performance during an intense workout. There are also studies that suggest Creatine intake supported by resistance training can have a better overall effect on performance. Research has conclusively shown that Creatine can help to gain muscle weight. That is, when a person takes Creatine supplements along with a proper diet and a focussed weight training program, it can have the effect of an increase in muscle mass. The best thing about Creatine is that it produces muscle mass without any addition of unwanted fat into the muscles. Because of these functions, creatine can indirectly aid in fat loss as well.
Heavy weights or light weight for bigger muscles?
Heavy weight lifting involves lifting a huge amount of weight but it will mean that the period of workout is short. Light weight lifting would thus involve the opposite; lifting smaller weights for longer periods of time. To increase muscle size, it is better to go for heavy weights. When you lift more for a short burst of time, it releases more muscle growth hormones, aiding in faster muscle growth. It also burns more fat than light weight lifting.
What’s the best diet plan?
The best diet plan is the one that you are already following. Yeah, you heard me right! This is the starting point. Don’t copy the diet plans of other people. All you need is to balance it.
Ask yourself these questions
- Are you eating too much outside food? Cut them down!
- Do you include foods that have low protein? Work it up!
- Does your food intake have high carbs? Lower them!
This is how you adjust your diet and make it work.
How can I get the best workout plan?
Start with the right questions.
Does your workout include all muscle groups?
Do you hit all muscles at least once or twice per week?
Are your lifts increasing over time?
Do you workout too long, like 2 hours?
Which is the best supplement?
First, get your questions right.
Why do you want supplements in the first place?
If you want to increase your protein intake, then get a whey protein.
If you need good stamina and focus during workouts, then get pre-workouts.
Are you looking for more fat burning? Then find for agents that are scientifically proven for fat burning and then find supplements around it.
How much money can you make as a bodybuilder?
There is no limit to how much money you can make as a bodybuilder. Professional bodybuilders are paid when they win competitions, but that’s just a small part. You can get sponsorships, open your own fitness club, launch your own business.
Where is bodybuilding most popular?
Bodybuilding is most popular in United States.
How do bodybuilders stay motivated?
Bodybuilders are driven to win, to become the champion. When they see the results of their hard work and the admiration of people around and the fact that they change the lives of others by motivating them towards fitness, it brings more focus and energy to their own workouts.
Can you turn fat into muscle bodybuilding?
No, fat tissue and muscle tissue are completely different, you cannot turn fat into muscle.
Got questions? Drop them in the comments below and I’d be happy to answer!