I am on my bulking phase and I am trying to go heavy for 3 sets of 6-8 reps. I try to move up at least 5lbs per week but sometimes I find myself either not being able to lift the weight or I find my form is not as strict. I am starting to get frustrated with my workouts. Do you think that I would have better gains if I lower the weight and concentrate more on form rather than trying to move a ton of weight?
I know where you are coming from. Eventually we all get to the point where we can’t add anymore weight to a particular exercise without sacrificing form. When this happens drop the exercise and do something else. So for example, if you are stuck in your barbell bench press, drop it and do another bench press variation such as dumbbell bench, smith machine bench, hammer strength bench, etc. If you are stuck in your squat, drop it and do another squat variation such as front squats, box squats, hack squats, etc.
When you start a new exercise you’ll be able to make consistent strength gains for several weeks. Then when that exercise stops working for you, drop it and do something else. After a while you will be able to come back to your original exercise that you were stuck on and work your way up past your previous best lifts in that exercise.
Can you elaborate on the basic strategy you recommend for aspiring competitive bodybuilders?
I personally think that it would be best to focus on getting big first, then getting lean. You can follow a fat loss routine in the spring and summer and bulk up in the fall and winter. This usually works good for most people because they want to look their best in the summer when they go to the beach, etc. and the winter time is good for bulking up. Staying lean all the time will limit your size and strength gains.
When you do get ready for a bodybuilding contest you should start a full 6 months out. Give yourself plenty of time to lose the fat. Aim to lose 1 lb. per week during your contest diet. This will be easy to lose with proper diet and cardio and you won’t have to starve yourself and lose muscle in the process.
The only time I would recommend someone staying really lean all the time is when they have already built up some good size (i.e. a seasoned competitor) and are planning on doing several bodybuilding contests in a year.
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