The STRENGTH BODYBUILDING Series (Part 2): Terminology, Diet & Pre-Training Details

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The following will be a multi-part publication of the STRENGTH BODYBUILDING course. This next section will cover Terminology, Diet & Pre-training details.

Due to the content, this next section will be quite lengthy compared to most.

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Terminology

If you’re familiar with studying bodybuilding or powerlifting training, you might be familiar with some of the terms in this manual. For those of you who aren’t, please familiarize yourself with the list below:

Intensity: Reflects the amount of force used for a specific measure of time. In this case, it usually refers to the level of training expected for a particular microcycle. Intensity in this case is a qualitative measurement.

Volume: Usually refers to the number of sets done in a particular workout. Volume in this case is a quantitative measurement.

Microcycle: The period of time that elapses between the time you target train a body part until the next time that you train it. For the purposes of this course, this time period usually lasts 1 week.

Mesocycle: A full training cycle, encompasses the time trained from the conclusion of one layoff week to the next. For the purposes of this course, this time period usually lasts 4 weeks.

Macrocycle: The expected lifetime of a particular routine. For the purposes of this course, this time period usually lasts 8 weeks or more if you wish to continue using this regimen.

Bulk: Weight gain- hopefully a greater proportion of muscle is gained than fat.

Power: A combination of strength and speed- commonly referred to as explosiveness.

Diet

To keep things simple, the goal of the diet portion of this manual is for the purposes of gaining mass. Further details on dieting for different goals is discussed in Part 7 (Special Considerations).

How much mass you gain is chiefly determined by your diet. While training is the stimulus for gains, your food intake supplies the necessary building blocks and anabolic/hormonal environment for growth.

First, it’s important to determine just how much weight you hope to gain in the upcoming weeks. To do that, you’ll need to know:

  • Your current caloric maintenance level (preferably broken down in detail)
  • Your level of energy expenditure
  • Your body mass index (lean to fat ratio)
  • Supplement use

Your current caloric maintenance level

To determine your caloric maintenance level, you should journal your diet for at least one week in detail. It’s also necessary that you weigh yourself at the beginning of the week, then again 7 days later, preferably at the same time of day for consistency.

Here’s a list of macronutrient profile estimates for some foods:

Food item & Quantity

Calories

Protein (in g)

Carbohydrates (in g)

Fat (in g)

80/20 Ground Beef, 4 oz

307

30.5

0

19.6

Chicken (Thighs, roasted w/skin), 4 oz

270

28.5

0

17.5

Light Tuna in water, Canned , 5 oz

191

42.1

0

1.4

Tuna in oil, Canned, 5 oz

281

41.3

0

105

Whole Milk (Cow), 8 oz

146

7.9

12.8

7.9

Skim Milk (Cow), 8 oz

91

8.7

12.3

0.6

Pasta (plain, cooked), 1 c. /4.1 oz

182

6.7

35.5

1.1

Med. Grain White Rice (cooked), 1 c.

242

4.4

53.2

4

Large Egg (Chicken), 1 ea.

70

6

0

5

White Bread, 1 slice

66

1.91

12.65

0.82

Whole Wheat Bread, 1 slice

67

2.37

12.26

1.07

Medium-sized Banana, 1 ea.

105

1.29

26.95

0.39

Medium-sized Apple, 1 ea.

72

0.36

19.06

0.23

Orange Juice, 1 c.

112

1.74

25.79

0.5

Apple Juice, 1 c.

117

0.27

28.97

0.27

Raw Spinach, 1 c.

7

0.86

1.09

0.12

Cooked Broccoli, 1 c.

34

2.3

6.93

0.4

Medium Whole Tomato, 1 ea.

22

1.08

4.82

0.25

Whey Protein (LINK), 1 serving

120

23

2

2

Coconut oil, 1 tbsp

126

0

0

14

Butter, 1 tbsp

102

0.12

0.1

11.52

The total amount of calories (kcal) consumed (plus your estimated energy expenditure) would then be compared to your weight on the 7th day. If there were any gains, then you are (possibly) on the right track. If there was no net gain or a loss, then your diet (likely) needs some tweaking. Dividing the week’s worth of calories by 7 will give you an estimated daily total of your average daily calorie consumption.

Let us assume that you wish to gain an average of 1 pound per week. The common reply on many dietary courses is to add 3500 calories per week to your diet. There are some flaws in this formula. For one, the 3500 calorie figure is based on FAT gain. While it’s expected and even encouraged that some degree of fat gain be necessary if you’re looking to add a large amount of mass, you don’t want to base your dietary requirements on this figure alone. Also, everyone’s metabolism is different. For an extreme example, a relatively small, inactive person with a low metabolism is very likely going to gain more weight per calorie consumed than a large, active person with a fast metabolism.

It should be noted that 1 gram of protein and carbohydrates yields about 4 calories each, while 1 gram of fat yields roughly 9 calories.

Once you get a one-week journal of your diet completed, review it with an eye to detail. While this phase of training should allow for some leeway on the foods you eat, it’s not a good idea to have junk food take up too large a proportion of your diet. Your goal should be to eat plenty of good, healthy, calorie rich foods.

If you have a lot of weight to gain, a good goal would be to increase your caloric intake by 20% per day or so. If you eat 3000 calories a day to maintain, you’d take in 3600 to increase. At the end of a week, you’d weight yourself and assess your bodyfat levels to ensure that A) you’re gaining, and B) that the bulk of your gains are muscle weight. At the end of a week, you can reassess your intake for the week, and weigh/measure yourself to see if you need to add, maintain, or decrease your daily calorie intake from there.

Protein is an important and much debated topic regarding training for muscle growth. Most of the common advice in bodybuilding circles is to take in at least 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of lean weight. This is good advice if you’re looking to lose bodyfat to ensure positive nitrogen balance by taking in protein regularly, but during a bulk cycle the digestive system is usually already saturated with nutrients and your nitrogen levels should be high due to the protein sparing effect. You would do well with taking in .7 to 1 grams of protein per pound of lean weight on average, but more might be acceptable if you require a very high calorie count.

Sample diet

Once you determine your necessary calorie count for maintaining weight, adding to it can be made very easy through a few ways:

  • Substitute higher calorie versions of the foods you currently eat, e.g.: tuna in oil instead of water; chicken thighs or chicken breast with skin instead of without skin (just a note: the skin also contains a lot of protein by content).
  • Take in the bulk of your calories later in the day. Even this mere change can make a large difference in your weigh gaining efforts. The metabolism is usually slower during the later part of the day for most people, so that would be the optimal time to take in larger meals.
  • Add more liquid nutrition to your diet. The addition of one mere high calorie shake can be enough to easily help you gain weight without too much issue. Consider the nutrient profile of the following post-workout shake:
    • 12 oz whole milk
    • 1 serving of whey protein
    • 1 tbsp. Safflower oil (high in Omega-8 oils and Conjugated Linoleic Acid- shown to support higher anabolic function and processing of sugars)1
    • 1 serving (3.5 oz) chocolate ice cream
    • 5 grams of creatine

The nutritional breakdown for the above shake comes out to:

  • 589 calories
  • 38 g. Protein
  • 38 g. Carbohydrates
  • 34 g. Fat

The figures above are rounded to the nearest whole.

If your bodyweight is currently stable at 3000 calories a day, the addition of the above shake will give you a nearly 20% boost in your calories!

VITAL and pertinent to the above

The post-workout meal is the most vital meal of the day. For one, it replenishes any calories lost from training, and it starts immediate repair and recovery. Another very important function is hormonal. The high sugar content of the shake ensures that insulin is released. Insulin is THE most anabolic hormone in the body. It cuts both ways because it stimulates fat cell growth as well as muscle growth. Of course, if you suffer from diabetes or are insulin-sensitive, then certain alterations to your diet will be necessary.

Ensure that there’s not too much of an imbalance in your macronutrient ratios. You’ll want to keep the ratio of calories roughly at 30-40% protein, 40-50 % carbohydrates, and 30-40% fat.

If you’re new to structuring your diet, here would be a good outline for you to follow. The contents can be adjusted according to your caloric needs (figures rounded to the nearest whole):

Breakfast:

  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2 packets Instant Oatmeal mixed w/ water
  • 8 oz. Orange Juice
  • 1258 calories
  • 42 g. protein
  • 160 g. carbohydrates
  • 50 g. fat

Lunch:

  • 4 oz. Chicken Breast
  • 2 c. Cooked pasta w/1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Small salad
  • 700 calories
  • 52 g. protein
  • 76 g. carbohydrates
  • 21 g. fat

Dinner:

  • 1 can Tuna in water
  • 1 c. Cooked rice w/1 tbsp. Butter
  • Large serving of assorted vegetables
  • 581 calories
  • 47 g. protein
  • 64 g. carbohydrates
  • 17 g. fat

In between meals:

Man drinking protein shake (Shutterstock)
Shutterstock Images
  • 1-2 servings of whey protein in 8-16 oz. skim milk
    • Each serving of whey and 8 oz. skim milk comes to:
      • 211 calories
      • 30 g. protein
      • 16 g. carbohydrates
      • 3 g. fat
  • Post workout shake after training
    • Each serving of the postworkout shake (as stated above) comes to:
      • 589 calories
      • 38 g. Protein
      • 38 g. Carbohydrates
      • 34 g. Fat

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume that the above diet includes one serving of whey and skim milk in between a meal. With that in mind, the macronutrient breakdown for the entire above meal (including the post workout shake) comes to:

  • ~2681 calories
  • ~201 g. protein/ ~804 calories/ ~content ratio 30%
  • ~258 g. carbohydrates/ ~1032 calories/ ~content ratio 38%
  • ~99 g fat/ ~893 calories/ ~content ratio 33%

(“~” denotes “approximation”)

You’ll note that the above figures are not exact. That because the yields for caloric content in grams are approximations. Different type of carbohydrates, proteins and fats will yield slight variances in their calorie per g. Content. Because of that, it’s typical to expect a slight variance in figures. Still, even with the slight variance you can see that the above diet falls well within recommended ratios.

Now, let’s say that you’re following the above diet and you wish to boost your mass gain efforts by 20% or so. By merely adding one additional “postworkout” shake per day to the above diet, the new macronutrient breakdown will appear as follows:

~3270 calories

~239 g. protein/ ~956 calories/ ~content ratio 29%

~296 g. carbohydrates/ ~1184 calories/ ~content ratio 36%

~133 g. fat/ ~1197 calories/ ~content ratio ~36%

A slight bit low in protein content ratio-wise, but still within the acceptable range. Th effort of consuming just one extra shake to boost your calories by 20% (actually closer to 22%, in this case) is very efficient- as well as convenient.

You’ll also note that the diet above has quite a few lower calorie options included (e.g. skim milk, tuna in water, etc.) Merely changing these to their higher calorie counterparts- like whole milk, tuna in oil, etc. can give you a significant caloric boost without too much effort.

Given the above, it’s highly advised that you keep a journal of your dieting efforts. You may need to educate yourself on the caloric contents and other macronutrient breakdowns of the various food you plan on eating. There are many books and websites available where you can get this information in detail.

If you’re not accustomed to journaling your diet (and training), it may seem to be a bit of an inconvenience to write all of these details down. Unless you have an eidetic memory, you’ll need to have some record of your diet/training so that you know which direction you’re going in. Keeping detailed records gives you a lot more precision and control over your diet/training, and it also has the added benefit of enforcing discipline on you. You’ll be much more apt to stick to the plan if it’s in writing.

Your level of energy expenditure

Energy expenditure is an important factor to consider in the muscle building/weight gain process for a few reasons:

1) If you have a high metabolism and your day to day activities require that you expend a lot of energy, this is going to require that you consume more calories to make up for the deficit.

2) Recovery – if your daily activities are extremely strenuous enough, this in itself may make it difficult for you to recover sufficiently from your training. This can be the case even if you consume an excess of calories due to your body’s ability to recover from trauma.

3) The more activity you do, the higher your metabolic rate will be. The reverse is also true.

Even if your daily activities require that you expend a lot of energy, you can still make efforts to put on mass. In addition to the increase in calories, this might require that you follow a more abbreviated routine in order to allow for sufficient recovery from both your training and your daily workload. Fortunately, the routines in the upcoming sections are already “distilled” to a great degree- meaning that superfluous movements have mostly been eliminated from them- so they are very recovery friendly.

The following chart (courtesy of http://www.nutristrategy.com/activitylist4.htm) gives an estimated breakdown of the calories expended for various activities according to bodyweight. Please remember that these are approximations- as other factors like individual metabolism, body mass index, and other factors might affect the actual number of calories that you may burn doing the following:

Exercise & Calories Burned per Hour

130 lbs

155 lbs

180 lbs

205 lbs

Aerobics, general

384

457

531

605

Aerobics, high impact

413

493

572

651

Aerobics, low impact

295

352

409

465

Aerobics, step aerobics

502

598

695

791

Archery

207

246

286

326

Backpacking, Hiking with pack

413

493

572

651

Badminton

266

317

368

419

Bagging grass, leaves

236

281

327

372

Bakery, light effort

148

176

204

233

Ballet, twist, jazz, tap

266

317

368

419

Ballroom dancing, fast

325

387

449

512

Ballroom dancing, slow

177

211

245

279

Basketball game, competitive

472

563

654

745

Basketball, playing, non game

354

422

490

558

Basketball, shooting baskets

266

317

368

419

Basketball, wheelchair

384

457

531

605

Bathing dog

207

246

286

326

Bird watching

148

176

204

233

Boating, power, speed boat

148

176

204

233

Bowling

177

211

245

279

Boxing, in ring

708

844

981

1117

Boxing, punching bag

354

422

490

558

Boxing, sparring

531

633

735

838

Calisthenics, light, pushups, situps…

207

246

286

326

Calisthenics, fast, pushups, situps…

472

563

654

745

Canoeing, camping trip

236

281

327

372

Canoeing, rowing, light

177

211

245

279

Canoeing, rowing, moderate

413

493

572

651

Canoeing, rowing, vigorous

708

844

981

1117

Carpentry, general

207

246

286

326

Carrying 16 to 24 lbs, upstairs

354

422

490

558

Carrying 25 to 49 lbs, upstairs

472

563

654

745

Carrying heavy loads

472

563

654

745

Carrying infant, level ground

207

246

286

326

Carrying infant, upstairs

295

352

409

465

Carrying moderate loads upstairs

472

563

654

745

Carrying small children

177

211

245

279

Children’s games, hopscotch…

295

352

409

465

Circuit training, minimal rest

472

563

654

745

Cleaning gutters

295

352

409

465

Cleaning, dusting

148

176

204

233

Climbing hills, carrying up to 9 lbs

413

493

572

651

Climbing hills, carrying 10 to 20 lb

443

528

613

698

Climbing hills, carrying 21 to 42 lb

472

563

654

745

Climbing hills, carrying over 42 lb

531

633

735

838

Coaching: football,basketball,soccer

236

281

327

372

Coal mining, general

354

422

490

558

Construction, exterior, remodeling

325

387

449

512

Crew, sculling, rowing, competition

708

844

981

1117

Cricket (batting, bowling)

295

352

409

465

Croquet

148

176

204

233

Cross country snow skiing, slow

413

493

572

651

Cross country skiing, moderate

472

563

654

745

Cross country skiing, racing

826

985

1144

1303

Cross country skiing, uphill

974

1161

1348

1536

Cross country skiing, vigorous

531

633

735

838

Curling

236

281

327

372

Cycling, <10mph, leisure bicycling

236

281

327

372

Cycling, >20mph, racing

944

1126

1308

1489

Cycling, 10-11.9mph, light

354

422

490

558

Cycling, 12-13.9mph, moderate

472

563

654

745

Cycling, 14-15.9mph, vigorous

590

704

817

931

Cycling, 16-19mph, very fast, racing

708

844

981

1117

Cycling, mountain bike, bmx

502

598

695

791

Darts (wall or lawn)

148

176

204

233

Diving, springboard or platform

177

211

245

279

Downhill snow skiing, moderate

354

422

490

558

Downhill snow skiing, racing

472

563

654

745

Electrical work, plumbing

207

246

286

326

Farming, baling hay, cleaning barn

472

563

654

745

Farming, chasing cattle on horseback

236

281

327

372

Farming, feeding horses or cattle

266

317

368

419

Farming, feeding small animals

236

281

327

372

Farming, grooming animals

354

422

490

558

Fencing

354

422

490

558

Fire fighter, climbing ladder, full gear

649

774

899

1024

Fire fighter, hauling hoses on ground

472

563

654

745

Fishing from boat, sitting

148

176

204

233

Fishing from riverbank, standing

207

246

286

326

Fishing from riverbank, walking

236

281

327

372

Fishing in stream, in waders

354

422

490

558

Fishing, general

177

211

245

279

Fishing, ice fishing

118

141

163

186

Flying airplane (pilot)

118

141

163

186

Football or baseball, playing catch

148

176

204

233

Football, competitive

531

633

735

838

Football, touch, flag, general

472

563

654

745

Forestry, ax chopping, fast

1003

1196

1389

1582

Forestry, ax chopping, slow

295

352

409

465

Forestry, carrying logs

649

774

899

1024

Forestry, sawing by hand

413

493

572

651

Forestry, trimming trees

531

633

735

838

Frisbee playing, general

177

211

245

279

Frisbee, ultimate frisbee

472

563

654

745

Gardening, general

236

281

327

372

General cleaning

207

246

286

326

Golf, driving range

177

211

245

279

Golf, general

266

317

368

419

Golf, miniature golf

177

211

245

279

Golf, using power cart

207

246

286

326

Golf, walking and pulling clubs

254

303

351

400

Golf, walking and carrying clubs

266

317

368

419

Gymnastics

236

281

327

372

Hacky sack

236

281

327

372

Handball

708

844

981

1117

Handball, team

472

563

654

745

Health club exercise

325

387

449

512

Hiking, cross country

354

422

490

558

Hockey, field hockey

472

563

654

745

Hockey, ice hockey

472

563

654

745

Horesback riding, saddling horse

207

246

286

326

Horse grooming

354

422

490

558

Horse racing, galloping

472

563

654

745

Horse racing, trotting

384

457

531

605

Horse racing, walking

153

183

212

242

Horseback riding

236

281

327

372

Horseback riding, grooming horse

207

246

286

326

Horseback riding, trotting

384

457

531

605

Horseback riding, walking

148

176

204

233

Horseshoe pitching

177

211

245

279

Housework, light

148

176

204

233

Housework, moderate

207

246

286

326

Housework, vigorous

236

281

327

372

Hunting, general

295

352

409

465

Hunting, large game

354

422

490

558

Hunting, small game

295

352

409

465

Ice skating, < 9 mph

325

387

449

512

Ice skating, average speed

413

493

572

651

Ice skating, rapidly

531

633

735

838

Instructing aerobic class

354

422

490

558

Jai alai

708

844

981

1117

Jazzercise

354

422

490

558

Judo, karate, jujitsu, martial arts

590

704

817

931

Juggling

236

281

327

372

Jumping rope, fast

708

844

981

1117

Jumping rope, moderate

590

704

817

931

Jumping rope, slow

472

563

654

745

Kayaking

295

352

409

465

Kick boxing

590

704

817

931

Kickball

413

493

572

651

Krav maga class

590

704

817

931

Lacrosse

472

563

654

745

Loading, unloading car

177

211

245

279

Machine tooling, sheet metal

148

176

204

233

Machine tooling, tapping, drilling

236

281

327

372

Marching band, playing instrument

236

281

327

372

Marching, rapidly, military

384

457

531

605

Masonry, concrete

413

493

572

651

Masseur, masseuse, standing

236

281

327

372

Mild stretching

148

176

204

233

Moving heavy objects, moving van

443

528

613

698

Mowing lawn, riding mower

148

176

204

233

Mowing lawn, walk, power mower

325

387

449

512

Music, playing a cello

118

141

163

186

Music, playing drums

236

281

327

372

Music, playing guitar

177

211

245

279

Music, playing piano

148

176

204

233

Music, playing trombone

207

246

286

326

Music, playing trumpet

148

176

204

233

Music, playing violin

148

176

204

233

Nursing, patient care

177

211

245

279

Orienteering

531

633

735

838

Paddle boat

236

281

327

372

Paddleball, competitive

590

704

817

931

Paddleball, playing

354

422

490

558

Painting

266

317

368

419

Pistol shooting, trap shooting, range

148

176

204

233

Playing pool, billiards

148

176

204

233

Police, directing traffic, standing

148

176

204

233

Police, making an arrest

236

281

327

372

Polo

472

563

654

745

Pushing a wheelchair

236

281

327

372

Pushing plane in and out of hanger

354

422

490

558

Pushing stroller, walking with children

148

176

204

233

Race walking

384

457

531

605

Racquetball, competitive

590

704

817

931

Racquetball, playing

413

493

572

651

Raking lawn

254

303

351

400

Riding motorcyle

148

176

204

233

Riding, snow blower

177

211

245

279

Rock climbing, ascending rock

649

774

899

1024

Rock climbing, mountain climbing

472

563

654

745

Rock climbing, rappelling

472

563

654

745

Roller blading, in-line skating

708

844

981

1117

Roller skating

413

493

572

651

Rowing machine, light

207

246

286

326

Rowing machine, moderate

413

493

572

651

Rowing machine, very vigorous

708

844

981

1117

Rowing machine, vigorous

502

598

695

791

Rugby

590

704

817

931

Running, 5 mph (12 minute mile)

472

563

654

745

Running, 5.2 mph (11.5 minute mile)

531

633

735

838

Running, 6 mph (10 min mile)

590

704

817

931

Running, 6.7 mph (9 min mile)

649

774

899

1024

Running, 7 mph (8.5 min mile)

679

809

940

1070

Running, 7.5mph (8 min mile)

738

880

1022

1163

Running, 8 mph (7.5 min mile)

797

950

1103

1256

Running, 8.6 mph (7 min mile)

826

985

1144

1303

Running, 9 mph (6.5 min mile)

885

1056

1226

1396

Running, 10 mph (6 min mile)

944

1126

1308

1489

Running, 10.9 mph (5.5 min mile)

1062

1267

1471

1675

Running, cross country

531

633

735

838

Running, general

472

563

654

745

Running, on a track, team practice

590

704

817

931

Running, stairs, up

885

1056

1226

1396

Running, training, pushing wheelchair

472

563

654

745

Sailing, competition

295

352

409

465

Sailing, yachting, ocean sailing

177

211

245

279

Shoveling snow by hand

354

422

490

558

Shoveling, digging ditches

502

598

695

791

Shuffleboard, lawn bowling

177

211

245

279

Sit, playing with animals, light

148

176

204

233

Sitting, light office work

89

106

123

140

Skateboarding

295

352

409

465

Ski machine

413

493

572

651

Ski mobiling

413

493

572

651

Skiing, water skiing

354

422

490

558

Skin diving, fast

944

1126

1308

1489

Skin diving, moderate

738

880

1022

1163

Skin diving, scuba diving

413

493

572

651

Skindiving or scuba diving

708

844

981

1117

Sky diving

177

211

245

279

Sledding, tobagganing, luge

413

493

572

651

Snorkeling

295

352

409

465

Snow shoeing

472

563

654

745

Snow skiing, downhill skiing, light

295

352

409

465

Snowmobiling

207

246

286

326

Soccer, competitive

590

704

817

931

Soccer, playing

413

493

572

651

Softball or baseball

295

352

409

465

Softball, officiating

236

281

327

372

Softball, pitching

354

422

490

558

Speed skating, ice, competitive

885

1056

1226

1396

Squash

708

844

981

1117

Stair machine

531

633

735

838

Standing, bartending, store clerk

136

162

188

214

Standing, playing with children, light

165

197

229

261

Stationary cycling, light

325

387

449

512

Stationary cycling, moderate

413

493

572

651

Stationary cycling, very light

177

211

245

279

Stationary cycling, very vigorous

738

880

1022

1163

Stationary cycling, vigorous

620

739

858

977

Steel mill, working in general

472

563

654

745

Stretching, hatha yoga

236

281

327

372

Surfing, body surfing or board surfing

177

211

245

279

Swimming backstroke

413

493

572

651

Swimming breaststroke

590

704

817

931

Swimming butterfly

649

774

899

1024

Swimming laps, freestyle, fast

590

704

817

931

Swimming laps, freestyle, slow

413

493

572

651

Swimming leisurely, not laps

354

422

490

558

Swimming sidestroke

472

563

654

745

Swimming synchronized

472

563

654

745

Swimming, treading water, fast

590

704

817

931

Swimming, treading water, moderate

236

281

327

372

Table tennis, ping pong

236

281

327

372

Tae kwan do, martial arts

590

704

817

931

Tai chi

236

281

327

372

Tailoring, general

148

176

204

233

Taking out trash

177

211

245

279

Teach exercise class (& participate)

384

457

531

605

Teach physical education class

236

281

327

372

Tennis playing

413

493

572

651

Tennis, doubles

354

422

490

558

Tennis, singles

472

563

654

745

Track and field (high jump, pole vault)

354

422

490

558

Track and field (hurdles)

590

704

817

931

Track and field (shot, discus)

236

281

327

372

Trampoline

207

246

286

326

Truck driving, loading,unloading truck

384

457

531

605

Typing, computer data entry

89

106

123

140

Unicycling

295

352

409

465

Using crutches

295

352

409

465

Volleyball playing

177

211

245

279

Volleyball, beach

472

563

654

745

Volleyball, competitive

472

563

654

745

Walk / run, playing, moderate

236

281

327

372

Walk / run, playing, vigorous

295

352

409

465

Walking 2.0 mph, slow

148

176

204

233

Walking 2.5 mph

177

211

245

279

Walking 3.0 mph, moderate

195

232

270

307

Walking 3.5 mph, brisk pace

224

267

311

354

Walking 3.5 mph, uphill

354

422

490

558

Walking 4.0 mph, very brisk

295

352

409

465

Walking 4.5 mph

372

443

515

586

Walking 5.0 mph

472

563

654

745

Walking downstairs

177

211

245

279

Walking the dog

177

211

245

279

Walking, pushing a wheelchair

236

281

327

372

Walking, snow blower

207

246

286

326

Walking, under 2.0 mph, very slow

118

141

163

186

Wallyball

413

493

572

651

Water aerobics

236

281

327

372

Water aerobics, water calisthenics

236

281

327

372

Water jogging

472

563

654

745

Water polo

590

704

817

931

Water volleyball

177

211

245

279

Watering lawn or garden

89

106

123

140

Weeding, cultivating garden

266

317

368

419

Weight lifting, body building, vigorous

354

422

490

558

Weight lifting, light workout

177

211

245

279

Whitewater rafting, kayaking,canoeing

295

352

409

465

Windsurfing, sailing

177

211

245

279

Wrestling

354

422

490

558

 

Keeping a log of any notable activities will help you keep tabs on roughly how many calories you’re burning. If significant, this should be factored in and offset with the appropriate number of calories to ensure positive nitrogen balance and weight gain.

To continue on the above, there are some situations where you have no option but to tolerate high levels of activity (i.e. if your occupation is strenuous). Already mentioned was altering your routine by abbreviating it and consuming more calories to offset the expenditure, but in severe cases, taking extra days off might very well be necessary as well. It should also be noted that some occupational activities in and of themselves may be conducive to muscle gain like heavy moving, stonemasonry, and lumberjacking. Certain movements duplicated by these activities can be eliminates from any “structured” training format to allow for gains. A good example of this would be any direct forearm exercises for someone doing lumberjacking.

The macronutrient priority for supplementing an activity heavy lifestyle should be extra carbohydrates, then extra fats, then extra protein. The exception to that is if the activity in question is of high intensity (requiring a great degree of strength- as opposed to high volume which requires more muscular/cardiovascular endurance)- in which case you’ll want to prioritize protein intake.

Given the above, the body only has so many resources available to it. There are some occupations where it would be nearly impossible to add muscle while in its “active” phase. In situations like that, it might be more appropriate to phase your muscle building cycles for times where your occupation allows for it.

Related to this, if you are gaining weight to qualify for s specific weight class for a particular sport, your diet is going to be paramount, even more than your weight training for mass is. Your weight training program should also take into account the sport-specific training you’re doing, as you’ll want to ensure that it doesn’t cause you to become overtrained. Intense, weight-specific sporting endeavors like boxing and wrestling already include a high degree of muscular activity, so you wouldn’t necessarily complement that type of training with a full mass-gaining regimen if you’re in a competition phase.

To round off this section and to go into something vital to the process of proper dieting is the subject of hydration. It’s essential that you consume large quantities of fresh, clean water every day. This ensures that your muscles are topped off with water, and that you can recover from your activities as efficiently as possible due to the toxin flushing effect.

The minimum recommended number is 84 oz., but you would do well to consume more than that- especially if your daily activities are strenuous. This is even more important if you live in an environment where you’re exposed to high levels of heat and/or humidity, as you’ll need to replace vital fluids lost to the environment.

Your body mass index (lean to fat ratio)

Whether the goal is to gain muscle, “weight” or “bulk”, for this period of training it’s expected that some fat will be gained in relation to muscle. Provided your bodyfat levels aren’t too high, this should not cause a problem.

Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart #1: ACEACE Ideal Body Fat Percentage Chart

The chart above from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) is one of the most commonly used body fat charts.1 As you can see, women have a higher body fat percentage relative to men for a given level. Women have more fat because of physiological differences such as hormones, breasts, and sexual organs. In addition, women need a higher amount of body fat for ovulation.2

For men, [in most cases] when you get to 8% body fat, it becomes increasingly difficult to add muscle mass while maintaining that degree of leanness. It can be done, but you start splitting the results the leaner you get.

*Based on current information, a woman must have a minimum percent body fat of 13-17% for regular menstruation. If a woman’s percent body fat is too low, her periods may stop and she may experience infertility. Her menstrual irregularities may also compromise the health of her bones, normal hormonal function is necessary for bone health.*3

There are different ways of measuring body fat percentage. The most inaccurate involves measuring the differences in circumference between different parts of the body. This is due to differences in bone structure as well as the actual musculature of areas being measured like the waist and neck.

Using fat calipers offers more accuracy, and even more accurate yet are underwater weighing, near-infrared, whole-air displacement, and other methods which can be quite expensive and inconvenient for very regular use.

Because you’ll be assessing your weights and measurements each week, you’ll be able to stay on top of things enough to determine whether or not you’re getting in too many calories or not enough.

Here are some signs that you may not be getting enough calories:

  • Your weight stays the same or actually decreases, and your strength does not increase either. This is where the fat calipers come in handy because it is possible to gain muscle mass while losing fat. The quality of your calories may also be an issue here. If you’re consuming a lot of junk food, then the effect will not nearly be as good as if you were eating fresh, healthy foods.
  • You feel unenergized for your workouts and/or you fail to feel a positive effect (either a “pump” or a feeling of accomplishment) after training. Mood is very tied into the diet and activity, so a poor diet will ofter reflect itself in the way that you feel and even your emotional state.

Now, even though this is a manual designed to help you gain muscle and weight, it’s entirely possible to put on too much weight in the form of fat.

Here are some signs that you’re getting too many calories:

  • Your bodyfat levels increase more than 1% per week- especially if there’s no accompanying gain in raw mass. Though being very lean may cause a slowing of the muscle gaining process, going into higher than desired bodyfat percentage levels gives little benefit and will need to be lost once at some point. Your cardiovascular health may also become compromised if the fat gain is excessive.
  • To supplement the above comment on cardio, you’ll know you’re gaining weight too quickly if moderate activities that used to be easy for you (e.g.- climbing stairs, walking distances, etc.) become more difficult). While you may wish to focus mostly on muscle gain during this phase, it can cause harm if you allow other aspects of your fitness to fall into disuse.

The very simple method of keeping track of bodyfat (in addition to or instead caliper use) is to measure the difference between your waist and chest measurements. While heavy full body movements can increase the girth of the abdomen due to muscle gain, the rate of gain is often not nearly as dramatic as the increase seen in chest measurement. If you note little to no increase in chest measurement, but note an increase in abdominal measurement, that’s a good sign that the bulk of your weight gain is due to fat.

In keeping with the above dietary recommendations, if you find your rate of caloric increase to be excessive you can cut back to half the increase that you initially made. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Let’s say that your baseline caloric intake is 3000 calories per day. You decide to increase you intake to 3200 calories per day but find that, after a week, your bodyfat increase is too high for your tastes. You still wish to keep gaining muscle, but don’t want too much of the increase to be fat- so you cut back to 3100 calories a day to see what the effect is. You can continue this process of refinement until you achieve a satisfactory level of daily caloric intake.

It should be noted that the more muscle you gain, the more calories you’re going to need so if all goes well that calorie figure will eventually go up regardless.

Supplement use

Supplements are often considered to be a controversial subject in training circles. One thing that most can agree on is that a sound diet is paramount. Without a sound diet, even the best supplements will not give you much of an effect.

My own personal recommendations are to keep things simple. I’ve purposefully kept the list short to emphasize that, and because training and diet are paramount in comparison. There are many different types of supplements out there that are great for general health, disease prevention, etc. that should be looked into, but the list presented below will concentrate on the goal of this book- which is increased weight gain and/or muscle mass.

There are some very good supplements out there that have proven their worth over time, but there’s also a lot of “junk” out there as well. One should also be careful of wanting to get into the habit of purchasing the latest “miracle” fad supplements. Whenever you consider taking a supplement, read through the advertisements carefully. How much of the ad is “hype” and how much of it is sound and based on statements which can be assessed?

Man preparing protein shake (Shutterstock)
Shutterstock Images

Protein

A good protein supplement can be of great value to a training regimen. There are different types of proteins that are offered, and the most popular (and one of the most effective types) is “whey” protein. This form of protein was actually once considered a waste type of food- until studies showed that whey protein has one of the highest “Biological Value” (BV) ratings of any type of protein available. There are two main types of whey on the market today” whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. While both are good, the :isolate” is considered to be superior as it’s been further refined.

The main advantage of whey protein is both its absorption capabilities and it’s speed of intake by the body. For those trainees out there who consume a standard diet low in protein, whey can be an excellent addition to your diet. When mixed with a slower acting protein (as in a shake with milk), it becomes doubly potent in that now it has both slow, long term acting protein (in the form of casein- a milk protein) and a fast acting, quickly absorbed protein (whey).

One can also purchase unprocessed whey which is very sweet to the taste. The downside to this is that the protein to carbohydrate ration in this form is usually lower- and it’s often more expensive.

Due to availability, cost, or lifestyle, you may choose another form of protein to help supplement your diet. “Milk and egg” protein is still fairly popular, and has been around for generations. Vegetarian proteins are also becoming more popular, and are an excellent alternative for those of you who are on vegetarian/vegan diets. It might be worth mentioning that soy protein is also considered to be a high BV source of protein, but there is some scientific controversy over how much one should take of that type of protein due to potential estrogenic (female sex hormone) effects. Skim milk powder is also a good alternative, and it’s fairly inexpensive yet common in many part of the world.

There are also many interesting alternatives available- especially with the advent of the organic food movement. Hemp seed protein looks promising- and is reputed to have many excellent ancillary health benefits. Spirulina has been around for awhile, and still has a strong market position as well.

There’s even an innovative push being made into the field of using insect proteins. While this may sound distasteful to some, it should be noted that insects are a staple food in much of the world. Also, insects have a much higher protein to weight ratio than their animal counterparts.

There are environmental benefits of using insect proteins as well. As people become more conscious of those types of issues, you will see a greater option of these type of options available- due to price and necessity. The challenge in that area will be in removing the stigma and in making those types of proteins palatable and desirable.

Some other forms of protein supplements come in pill form- specifically the “amino acid” pills/capsules. There are two main types of these supplements: “branched chain” and free from. “Branched chain” means that the aminos are bound together with carbon atoms. The “free form” version means that the aminos are in “isolated” form. Usually, this means that the free form aminos would be absorbed more quickly.

Collagen-based proteins are normally found in gelatin based foods, but they’re also sold most frequently in liquid form. Gelatin is noted to have excellent benefits for joint health. It’s also relatively inexpensive when purchased in large quantities. Care should be taken to research the type of collagen protein you might be purchasing. Some on the market are made from low-quality sources.

There are also various “weight gainer” powders available that are fairly high in protein. If you can get a good deal on them, then by all means give them a try. With few exceptions though, your best best would be to make your own “weight gain” shake by combining a quality protein powder with your own high calorie favorites. The “postworkout shake” recommended above is an excellent example. You can make the shake as simple or as complex in ingredients as you like. Merely adding substances like honey, coconut oil, nuts, and other calorie dense foods can both greatly boost the calorie count and enhance the taste. Even sugar can be added- for the insulinergic effect described in the “postworkout shake” description above. Caution should be taken not to overdo this ingredient, though. Too much sugar is never good for you-regardless of the circumstance.

Creatine

Creatine, also known as “creatine monohydrate”, can be a cost efficient and productive addition to your mass gaining regimen. This supplement is considered to be a “cell volumizer”- in that it allows the muscles to become maximally hydrated. This not only has an effect on size, but strength as well- as muscles are chiefly composed of water. It also helps to speed protein synthesis.

There are newer versions of creatine available- namely “effervescent”, “micronized” (where each grain of creatine is up to 20x smaller), “and ethyl-ester” (an added molecular compound that is supposed to speed absorption.

The “effervescent” brand- “NO-XPLODE” is especially potent, and “pumps” during training are quite noticeable with this supplement.

The process for using creatine usually involves a loading phase and a maintenance phase. For the loading phase, you can take anywhere between 10-20 grams of creatine in several servings per day over the course of 4-6 days. This is NOT agreed upon by all advocates of the product. A maintenance phase would involve taking 3-10 grams of creatine in 1-2 servings per day. It’s suggested that you cycle your creatine use over time to prevent attenuation effect.

Creatine is often taken with a high dextrose (glucose) liquid to maximize absorption- the most popular being grape juice. Honey is also a popular alternative.

The biggest risk in taking in creatine is in not being sufficiently hydrated. It’s VITAL that you drink a lot of fresh, pure water while you’re using creatine. Failure to do so will not only minimize he effectiveness of the supplement, but it can also result in muscle cramps and stomach pain.

Creatine can also be obtained naturally in foods like beef, pork, milk, tuna, herring, cod, and salmon.

Caffeine

While caffeine is considered to be “thermogenic” (body temperature raising/fat burning) (GET REFERENCE) and an appetite depressant, when taken at the right time it can help in workout productivity. If you’re on a weight gaining cycle, caffeine should be used sparingly- preferably at the beginning of a workout and early in the day.

A favorite method of caffeine intake is to drink strong coffee, but caffeine is also prevalent in soft drinks, “energy” drinks, and even in tablet and capsule form. 100-200 mg. Dose should be enough to get the job done.

Vitamins/Minerals

In most cases, taking a vitamin/mineral supplement is often seen like a “back up” of sorts. If there’s possibly an area of the diet that’s lacking in essential vitamin and/or minerals, taking a single serving supplement like this can help. That being said, there’s no real substitute for getting your essentials from your diet. It should also be noted that there are specific vitamin and minerals that should not be taken in excess. Overdosing on any vitamins/minerals over a period of time may be harmful, but specific risks exist for overdoing the “fat soluble” vitamins- A, D, E, & K; and minerals like iron and niacin.

Anti inflammatories

If you train hard, using anti inflammatories like Ibuprofen can come in handy. I have a good friend who competed at the high amateur level who stated that taking a couple of Ibuprofen immediately after a workout delivered an anabolic effect. I’ve tried it with good results, and the studies done on them seem to show good results for older trainees. Ibuprofen can be heard on the stomach so make sure that this is A) something that is safe for you to take if you have any stomach problems like ulcers, and B) do not abuse them and cycle off of them every few weeks.

Training

Warm up/Preparation & Stretches

There are often different opinions as to how to warm up for maximum results and safety. My own opinion is that you don’t want to do too little or too much. The “too much” is usually accomplished by doing too many sets outside of your target rep range before hitting your work sets. This is different from the half-pyramid principle in which you increase the weigh each set before coming to your final, low rep/heavy weight set. In this principle, most of the sets involve are actual work sets. Another form of overdoing warm ups is doing too much activity (especially cardio) prior to your weight training. If you’re after fat loss, then doing cardio before your session is a good way to economize your time and to lend extra efforts to wards fat burning, but you don’t want to do so much at so high of an intensity that your weight training is negatively affected.

Too little warming up can lead to subpar performance and even injury.

A light cardio session is a good (partial) way to warm up, but you’ll want to ensure that you thoroughly warm all of the targeted muscles that you’ll be doing for a particular exercise by mimicking and even exaggerating the range of motion of that movement. This can take anywhere between 1-5+ minutes- depending on factors like the muscle group involved, your level of flexibility, age, and even the temperature of your training environment.

A great way to warm up, and enhance flexibility and strength by stretching is through doing what’s known as a “PNF” stretch. PNF stands for Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. This form of stretching enhances both active and passive range of motion by using a stretch-contract-stretch format.  The biomechanics of the contraction phase of this method allows an increase in the (range of motion ROM ) in the stretch phase which follows.

FINISHING your workout with PNFs is an excellent way to further stretch “pumped” tissues- affording you even more size. It’s even been said to increase the contours and convolutions in a muscle to due the expansion of the fascia.

Here are a list of some excellent PNF stretches that you can do- for both your warm up and after each bodypart is completed.

If you wish to do regular stretches only, you can do the first portion of any of the above stretches only to good effect.

NOTE: It is possible to be “too flexible” for certain sports or lifts if you have glaring weaknesses at the extreme ranges of motion (STUDY). In light if this, care should be taken that you do not increase your range of motion in an exercise if it’s not absolutely necessary that you do so. An occasional light set of high reps done at extreme ranges of motion are OK, but focusing solely on these types of movements are not in your best interests if you are after maximum strength and mass.

The same cannot be said for training at the other end of the spectrum- using limited ranges of motion with very heavy weights. Training in the strongest part of the range of motion can be very productive in developing muscle, ligament, tendon, and bone strength. The drawback to this type of training lies in the fact that some muscle groups may be neglected. This is because, in many exercises, different muscle groups come into play at different portions of the range of motion. You do want to ensure that you have balanced, even development all around- as muscle imbalances from lopsided training can cause all sorts of issues down the line.

List of Various Exercises

Here is a list of some exercises that you can use to target specific muscles/muscle groups. It would be possible to specialize on the smallest components of these major groups, but for the purpose of this type of training, rudimentary isolation work is best. This list is by no means exhaustive- Listing most of the possible exercises and their variants would require a volume of work in its own right, so only the “essentials” are listed below.

Chest:

Pectoralis Major:

  • Most flat and decline chest movements (presses and flyes)
  • Bench Presses
  • Decline Presses (slight decline presses engage more of the pectorals than most other forms of Bench Presses”)
  • Dumbbell Presses
  • Dumbbell Flyes
  • Cable Crossovers (benefit- can isolate one side of the chest at a time)
  • Dips (leaning over, chin to chest to shift emphasis to the pectorals)
  • V-Dips- Performed like the above, but with the heels of your hands on the bar and the hands facing inwards
  • Partial Bench Presses- for strength- the range of motion that most directly impacts the pectorals is the lower third. That being said, Partial Bench Presses or lockouts can contribute greatly to ligament strength and overall lifting capacity. You can also use specific ranges of motion to target weak points in your Bench Press.
  • Pushups- This exercise comes in many different varieties, and with the feet elevated can target the Pectoralis Minor. Doing them with a wide grip places more emphasis on the chest and less on the shoulders and triceps. These can also be done on bars or even explosively for power. The one armed variant is also effective at developing strength, balance, and muscle stability.

Pectoralis Minor (upper chest flare):

  • Incline Movements 35 degrees or higher
  • Incline Bench Presses
  • Incline Flyes

Back:

Latissimus dorsi:

  • Chins (Overhand)& Rows – most major upper back movements
  • One Armed Chins – uses both arms but with one of your hands gripping the wrist on the other that is gripping the bar. This is excellent for strength work and for isolating one side of the back. The very advanced version would be to use only one arm in the lifting process, but this requires a high strength to weight ratio.
  • Lat Pulldowns – Excellent for use if you are not proficient at doing Chins.
  • Various Rows – Barbell, Dumbbell, & Cable

Teres group:

  • Bent Rows
  • One Armed Rows

Rhomboids:

  • Bent Rows at higher angles
  • Upright Rows (especially slightly bent over)
  • Chins- hands facing, to chest
  • Low Rows (cable)

Trapezii:

  • Power Cleans – This exercise is also a “compound exercise”
  • Shrugs
  • Upright Rows

Erector Spinae:

  • Deadlifts- Considered “targeted” by deadlifts, but the deadlift is a very effective WHOLE BODY exercise
  • Good Mornings
  • Hyperextensions

Abdominals: It’s not entirely accurate to say that the abdominals are easily isolated, but the following list below does a fairly good job at attempting to target specific areas.

Lower Abdominals:

  • Leg Tucks
  • Leg Raises

Upper Abdominals:

  • Crunches
  • Sit Ups
  • Roman Chair Sit Ups

Obliques:

  • Twists
  • Side Bends
  • Any of the exercises for lower and upper abdominals where the legs or upper body respectively is offset or twisted.
  • Vacuums (considered a good exercise for “tightening” the waist and gut

Quadriceps:

  • Squats – The Squat is considered to be another WHOLE BODY exercise, and there are many variants of this movement. Many trainers recommend squatting to parallel, but benefits can be had and more muscle groups come into play by doing “Deep Squats” as well. If your knees can handle them, you should give them a try.
  • Safety Bar Squat
  • Front Squats
  • Partial Squats – For emphasis on strength. This particular movement is very good at stimulating whole body strength and mass, and it cam also be done in various positions along the range of motion to improve sticking points.

    Man doing lunges outdoors (Getty)
    Getty Images
  • Pause Squats – Done with a slight pause at the bottom to help eliminate the sticking point at the lower range of motion
  • Plyometric Squats- For explosiveness
  • Leg Presses – This device is a fair substitute for the squat for trainees who have knee or back issues when performing variants of that particular exercise.
  • Leg Extensions
  • Sissy Squats
  • Lunges – can be done with a barbell or dumbbells

Inner Thighs: Squats or leg presses done in a wide stance

Outer Thighs: Squats or leg presses done in a close stance

Hamstrings:

  • Leg Curls
  • Stiff Legged Deadlifts (Keystones): For maximum impact on the hamstrings, the lower back should be kept erect at all times.
  • Stiff Legged Good Mornings

Gluteus (Maximus and Medius):

  • Glute/Ham/Gastroc Raises
  • Kickbacks

Calves:

Gastrocnemius:

  • Calf Raises
  • One Legged Calf Raises
  • Toe Presses
  • Emphasis on inner and outer calf development can be had by pointing your toes outward or inwards respectively.

Soleus:

  • Seated Calf Raises

Tibiales:

This is an often neglected part of the calves, but if you’re into martial arts and do a lot of low licking, beefing up this area can prove beneficial.

  • Tibialis Raises (Reverse Calf Raises)

Shoulders:

  • Military Presses – it’s variants include the Seated Press, Press Behind Neck, Dumbbell Press. The range of motion recommended for this exercise varies, but bringing the weight to below ear and nose level affects both the amount of weight used and the muscles incorporated. With exceptions like the Push Press or the Clean and Jerk, you can keep the range of motion for the presses to ear and nose level or higher.
  • Arnold Presses
  • Push Presses – for strength- Essentially a Standing Military Press using extra heavy weight and with assistance from the legs in the pushing phase
  • Partial Presses – This exercise is excellent for strengthening the shoulder girdle, and can be done isolating various parts of the range of motion to overcome sticking points.

Anterior Deltoids:

  • Most presses towards the front
  • Front Lateral Raises- with a barbell or with dumbbells

Medial Deltoids:

These muscles come heavily into play with most pressing movements

  • Lateral Raises

Posterior Deltoids:

  • Bent Lateral Raises

The Rowing work done to target the upper back also heavily works the posterior deltoids.

Biceps:

  • Curls – these can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or cables. For maximum effect, you would fully supinate your grip in order to incorporate both heads of the biceps. Using a “curl bar” may help to transfer more of the effect towards the biceps and less from the forearms.
  • Cheat curls: Done with extra heavy weight and with the assistance of the rest of your body to develop biceps strength.
  • Pull ups – Like Chins, except your hands are facing you.
  • Body Drag Curls

Triceps:

  • Triceps Extensions – can be done with a barbell or dumbbells. Doing them with dumbbells and with a slight decline will effectively work all three heads of the triceps
  • Overhead Tricep Extensions – Can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, and one arm at a time
  • Tricep pressdowns – can be done with various type handles or with a rope for extra effectively
  • Dips – Should be done with the body upright to isolate the triceps.
  • Bench Dips
  • Close Grip bench Presses

Forearms:

This group consists of many muscles and ligaments, but we will concentrate on the most popular and effective exercises for this area.

  • Wrist Curls- There are many variants to this exercise. It can be done with a barbell, with dumbbells, seated, off of a bench or off the knees, and behind the back. These movements target the forearm flexors
  • Reverse Wrist Curls- This exercise is almost as variable as the Wrist Curl. The various Reverse Wrist Curls target the forearm extensors

Brachioradialis:

This muscle is heavily involved in most biceps work, but can be targeted by using a reverse or “hammer” style grip

Grip Strength:

This particular section deserves extra attention in that it appears to be a glaring weakness among a good majority of trainees.

Often, you’ll see trainees using straps in order to enhance their grip. Personally, unless you have some type an authentic reason to use straps (the weight being too heavy is not one of them), then you should do your best to enhance your grip strength so that it’s NOT a weak point. Merely doing all of your exercises that require sustaining the grip with your hands alone will help, but there are additional ways of targeting grip strength:

  • Thick bars – using a thicker bar for your training will force you to develop a strong, vise-like grip. This is especially true if you have smaller hands. Incorporating thick bar training into ANY work where you’re required to grip the bar will help immensely, but unless you’re specializing or looking to enhance your grip due to weakness leaving your thick bar work for forearm training exclusively will do. (AFF. LINK to thick bars)
  • Plate Pinching – This is a simple yet effective method for enhancing your grip endurance and crushing power.
  • Super Grippers – This is the most versatile of grippers on the market. You can even add more springs to the device to increase the tension well and above what most people are capable of training with.

Additional Bodypart Considerations:

The following muscle groups are often trained for various sports and for necessary balance and stability to the entire physique. There are many benefits to ensuring all-around development not just for the purposes of strength and injury prevention, but for health and training longevity as well.

If you feel the need for extra attention to the following bodyparts for size, strength, or stability, please include them in your regimen:

Neck: Strengthening the neck is vital in many different types of sports especially those where head trauma is likely. It can also be an effective way of minimizing the possibility of getting “knocked out” in a fight if you’re hit in the head.

  • Wrestler’s Bridges
  • Neck Curls

Abdominal STRENGTH-specific: In men, the lower abdomen is considered a weak link in comparison to the rest of the surrounding muscles (REFERENCE). While many trainees eschew adding weight to their abdominal work to avoid thickening the waist, it should be noted that the most intense “ab” work actually comes from doing exercises like squats and deadlifts. If you feel that your abdominals are a weak point in your training, you should consider adding weight to your exercises to even them out. This is especially relevant if your lower back is strong- as having weak abdominals would cause serious muscle imbalances in that case.

Machines for assistance work:

For the purposes of this training, most machine and device work should be kept at a minimum- unless there is a genuine physical issue for using them.

Pulleys – Pulley training does not necessarily need to be “light” but they can be used for that purpose to substitute for exercise like chins. They are excellent for really isolating specific parts of a muscle group.

Smith Machines – these are good to use for variety or if you’re looking to isolate a specific range of motion in an exercise. The track of this machine seems to make the performance of the exercise “easier” so you would usually use more weight in a corresponding exercise while using this device.

Compound “Whole Body” Movements:

If you only have time for doing the essentials or if you’re looking to abbreviate your routine, you would do best to focus on those exercises that train as many muscle groups as possible. The exercise that likely incorporates the most muscle groups is the deadlift, though it’s often debated that the back squat deserves that title. Clean and jerks are also to be included in this list.

Though not a “full body” exercise, dips work most of the muscles in the upper body with good effect.

In the next edition of STRENGTH BODYBUILDING, we’ll go over the Beginner Routine and 8 Week Strength Bodybuilding Course.

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