Return to Basics: Ensuring a More Jacked Physique – Part 1

silvio-samuel-bodybuilder

by Josh Hodnik

The book, “The Power of Six Sigma,” describes how to operate a business at its full potential by using the Six Sigma concept. It focuses on increasing efficiency and profitability by decreasing errors and waste. This concept can be carried over to other areas besides business, such as bodybuilding and fitness, to become more efficient and successful.

The most common mistake that people make when trying to improve their physical appearance is focusing on irrelevant details while overlooking the basic elements involved in making progress as a bodybuilder. We have become a culture that is constantly on the go, and it often seems that the day is never long enough. With limited time, it is most beneficial to focus on details that have the greatest impact instead of wasting time on areas that have very little value. The bodybuilding wheel has become more efficient over the years, but completely trying to reinvent it will lead to failure, as many of the basic elements have remained the same. Its time to get back to the basics and simplify things. I will cover the areas that need the most attention and the mistakes that need to be avoided in order to make progress as a bodybuilder.

Diet

The type and amount of nutrients consumed has the most influence on a bodybuilder’s physique than anything else. Regardless of the weight lifted or cardio done, muscle cannot be gained and fat cannot be lost if the wrong foods are eaten. A bodybuilding diet doesn’t have to be complex or consist of exotic foods that most people don’t eat. In fact, keeping things simple in regards to diet leaves less room for error. Protein, carbs, and fats must be consumed in certain amounts to fuel intense training sessions and to repair and rebuild damaged muscle tissue.

Protein

This macronutrient is the most important for building muscle mass, balancing blood sugar levels, and fighting off hunger. 1.5 grams or more of quality protein per pound of bodyweight, such as whey, eggs, chicken, beef, and fish should be consumed to promote muscle growth.

Fats

There are four types of dietary fats: trans fats, which are found in processed desserts; saturated fats from animal based foods; monounsaturated fats found in cooking oils; and polyunsaturated fats; which must be supplemented into the diet because the body cant produce them itself. Despite the negative rap on fat, it is another viable source of energy. Many go wrong by attempting to eliminate fat from their diet. Beyond its value as a source of energy, fat aids in the absorption of certain nutrients, it helps to keep muscle-building hormones at a normal level. Saturated fats from animal sources should be limited, but polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats should make up 20-25% of total calories consumed.

Carbohydrates

This is a bodybuilder’s principal energy source for fueling workouts. An inadequate supply of carbohydrates will force the body to look for alternate fuel sources. The body will often turn to muscle tissue, which is broken down and converted to glycogen and then used as energy. A diet lacking in carbohydrates can deplete muscle tissue and inhibit training intensity.
Carbohydrate intake should be in the range of 40-60% of total calorie intake. 80% of this should from complex carbohydrates, such as fibrous vegetables, beans, oatmeal, potatoes, and brown rice.

Substantial progress to a physique can occur when a person’s diet is really tuned in. At the same time, lack of progress will occur when diet is off target regardless of how much work is put in at the gym.

Training

We have all seen the guys doing quarter squats and half reps on dumbbell press with too much weight, trying to impress. This does nothing for development, and it increases the risk of injury. Using adequate weight will ensure that you can train the muscle through its full range of motion. Research has shown that a muscle stretched with resistance will receive the most overload, which is essential for growth. There is a time for partial reps, but it should never be the base of any routine.

It has been a misconception that there has to be a particular exercise order every time a muscle group is trained. It has always been thought that isolation exercises should never come before compound exercises. If the muscle is pre-exhausted from isolation movements, not as much weight can be thrown around during compound movements. This misconception with exercise sequence is ego-driven, but keep in mind that you are training to look like a bodybuilder and not a power-lifter. Varying the sequence of exercises will keep your body from adjusting to the workload and will help to further isolate muscles.

While I have explained the importance of isolation exercises and adjusting exercise sequence, compound movements remain the bread and butter exercises for bodybuilders. Compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, and bench press require more energy to perform than most isolation exercises. Because of this, many people skip compound movements altogether. This is a lazy way out and a terrible way to train for anyone who is attempting to reach any bodybuilding goals.

The perception in many gyms is that heavy weights and low reps are the resolution to putting on size, while getting lean comes from performing higher reps with lower weight. Both of these views are completely wrong. Muscle growth occurs when workload capacity is consistently increased. This is achieved by heavy weights and high volume. Getting leaner is achieved by diet, and this is why many bodybuilders lift just as heavy and intensely when dieting for a competition as they do in the off-season.

I have discussed diet and training and the mistakes that are often made that hinder progress. By simplifying your program, you can limit mistakes, which will in turn increase progress. It doesn’t take complex training or diet programs to make impressive gains. With diet it takes the correct amount of nutrient ratios and calories consumed, and with training it takes a consistent increase in workload capacity. It’s that simple!

In Part Two, I will cover avoiding mistakes with hormones, supplements and proper rest.  

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