If your fitness goals are to get strong and build hard, visible muscle, then you’re going to want to train in three phases according to Heath. Strength, conditioning, and a blend of the two that works for you. “If you can get to the gym 4-5 days a week, that would be perfect,” he says. “You can still do chest/tri’s, back/bi’s, legs, shoulders, and make the fifth day a cleanup day, meaning focus on body parts you may be weaker in.” Check out Heath’s guide to finding your best muscle-building routine.


I’m going to cover this in detail in a bit, but for right now, just know this: it’s VERY possible (and common) to gain weight fast in the hopes of gaining muscle fast. The problem, however, is that the majority of the “weight” a person in this scenario will end up gaining will be body fat rather than muscle mass. This is something that needs to be avoided at all costs, and I’ll show you how a little later.
The good news is that there are plenty of good hip stretches out there that you can do to relieve discomfort, decrease tightness, and increase mobility in your hips. Since your hips are involved in so many of the movements you make (both inside and outside of the gym) stretching them is a great way to keep them feeling good and ready to work for you. Add some of the 12 hip stretches Atkins demos below to the end of your workout, or spend 10 minutes each day just doing a few of them, to improve mobility in your hips.
Yes, genetically some of us put on muscle faster than others, but even then it’s fractions of a degree, not DRASTIC sweeping differences. We tend to get this question from men or women who are so thin and have such fast metabolisms, they probably need to put on 40-50+ pounds of both fat and muscle, before they would ever even think to use the word “too bulky.”
A 2001 study at the University of Texas found that lifters who drank a shake containing amino acids and carbohydrates before working out increased their protein synthesis more than lifters who drank the same shake after exercising. The shake contained 6 grams of essential amino acids — the muscle-building blocks of protein — and 35 grams of carbohydrates.
Bodybuilding became more popular in the 1950s and 1960s with the emergence of strength and gymnastics champions, and the simultaneous popularization of bodybuilding magazines, training principles, nutrition for bulking up and cutting down, the use of protein and other food supplements, and the opportunity to enter physique contests. The number of bodybuilding organizations grew, and most notably the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) was founded in 1946 by Canadian brothers Joe and Ben Weider. Other bodybuilding organizations included the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), National Amateur Bodybuilding Association (NABBA), and the World Bodybuilding Guild (WBBG). Consequently, the male-dominated contests grew both in number and in size. Besides the many "Mr. XXX" (insert town, city, state, or region) championships, the most prestigious titles[according to whom?] were Mr. America, Mr. World, Mr. Universe, Mr. Galaxy, and ultimately Mr. Olympia, which was started in 1965 by the IFBB and is now considered the most important bodybuilding competition in the world.
A: At the end of the day, the most important variable regarding weight gain or loss is calorie consumption. However, meal frequency and timing around activity can both influence workout intensity and duration thus potentially allowing for further improvements in body composition. Remember, muscle growth isn’t a pulsatile process, it doesn’t just acutely spike and then return to baseline so if there aren’t circulating amino acids within the blood stream then they’ll have to be broken down from muscle as this is the highest form of concentrated amino acids within the body. That being said, it would probably be a good idea to consume anywhere from 3-6 meals spread throughout the day depending upon your schedule and preference. Ideally, we want to stimulate anabolism through food every 3-5 hours.
But as I said earlier, the amount of protein you eat is a secondary concern. Quality comes first, so think "what" before "how much." For me, the "what" is lean and not fried. If you adhere to eating lean, non-fried sources of protein, you maximize your chances of gaining maximum amounts of muscle with minimal increases in body fat. My favorite sources of lean protein are standard: egg whites, chicken breast, 98 percent or leaner ground beef, turkey, fish, and quality protein supplements like Lean Pro8.
Some bodybuilders use drugs such as anabolic steroids and precursor substances such as prohormones to increase muscle hypertrophy. Anabolic steroids cause hypertrophy of both types (I and II) of muscle fibers, likely caused by an increased synthesis of muscle proteins. They also provoke undesired side effects including hepatotoxicity, gynecomastia, acne, the early onset of male pattern baldness and a decline in the body's own testosterone production, which can cause testicular atrophy.[42][43][44] Other performance-enhancing substances used by competitive bodybuilders include human growth hormone (HGH), which can cause acromegaly.
Eat 0.4–0.5 grams of fat per pound of your body weight. Fat is essential for hormone optimization, brain function, and joint health. Now, if you’re following a ketogenic diet (or modified keto diet), or you just feel better with more fat in your diet, you can certainly add more fat and lower your protein and carb intake to accommodate it. The 0.4–0.5 grams per pound recommendation just represents a starting point and a minimum so that you don’t eat too little fat, either out of fear that it will make you fat or damage your heart (both untrue). For more about ketogenic diets, see Onnit’s guide HERE.
More specifically, you can expect to end up in the upper half of these ranges ONLY if you are a beginner, younger, and/or have amazing genetics. You can expect to end up in the lower half of these ranges if you are an intermediate or advanced trainee, older, and/or have poor genetics. The average person can expect to end up somewhere in the middle. Additional details here: How Much Muscle Can You Gain?

Don’t take sets to the point of failure—where you absolutely can’t perform another rep. You should never get to where you’re turning purple and screaming like you’re getting interviewed by “Mean” Gene Okerlund before WrestleMania. Most of the time, you want to end your sets two reps before total failure. Not sure when that is? The moment your form breaks down, or you’re pretty sure it’s going to break down, end the set.
How to do it: Sit comfortably into the leg press machine, pressing your back against the seat and your feet firmly planted to the platform. Lift off and press, straightening your legs so your knees assume a neutral position (not straight or severely bent). Continue lowering the platform until your knees create 90° angles, then return to the neutral starting position and repeat. 
I fortunately remember the nutrition label for many foods. If it doesn’t have a label, I remember what I’ve studied. It just sticks mentally and saves me time as I don’t have to input my calories via tracking. I use to track calories (started like 5yrs ago) which did help me get a better understanding (started to remember within 6m) of which foods had what and at what amount.
If your fitness goals are to get strong and build hard, visible muscle, then you’re going to want to train in three phases according to Heath. Strength, conditioning, and a blend of the two that works for you. “If you can get to the gym 4-5 days a week, that would be perfect,” he says. “You can still do chest/tri’s, back/bi’s, legs, shoulders, and make the fifth day a cleanup day, meaning focus on body parts you may be weaker in.” Check out Heath’s guide to finding your best muscle-building routine.
As a parting thought, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of consistency and staying focused. Your workouts shouldn’t be two-hour affairs—each visit to the gym needs to be fast-paced and intense. With that as your guide and following the heavy-duty blueprint laid out here, we can’t promise it’ll be easy, but the results should be worth every drop of sweat. Just think, 10 more muscular pounds may be a mere month away.
Why it works: The RDL, as it's known, is primarily a hamstrings move, but it’s also effective in building strength in your glutes, lower back, and upper back. Be sure to feel the "squeeze" in your hamstrings and glutes as you raise and lower the bar. For an even tougher variation that'll also increase your grip strength, try doing tempo RDLs—count a few seconds on your way up, and on your way down.

With a resistance band looped around your lower thighs, lay on your right side with your arm extended along the mat and your head relaxed on your arm. Bend both knees and draw them forward slightly to bring your feet in line with your glutes, ensuring that your hips are stacked and that you maintain a small gap between your waist and the floor. This is your starting position.
Now, if you are somebody that is more of the “do-it-yourself” type, check out our self-paced online course, the Nerd Fitness Academy. The Academy has 20+ workouts for both bodyweight or weight training, a benchmark test to determine your starting workout, HD demonstrations of every movement, boss battles so you know when you to level up your routine, meal plans, a questing system, and supportive community.
From a standing position, balance yourself on your left leg. With your right leg straight and slightly off the floor, perform small circles (from the hip) in front, to the side, and then behind you. Aim for 3-5 circles both clockwise and counterclockwise at each angle. Your supporting leg glutes will be firing to stabilize your pelvis so be sure to stand tall and strong – no swaying.

^ Burd, Nicholas A.; Yang, Yifan; Moore, Daniel R.; Tang, Jason E.; Tarnopolsky, Mark A.; Phillips, Stuart M. (2012). "Greater stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis with ingestion of whey protein isolate v. Micellar casein at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men". British Journal of Nutrition. 108 (6): 958–62. doi:10.1017/S0007114511006271. PMID 22289570.
"It'’s especially important to eat a carb- and protein-rich meal immediately after a workout," Aceto says. "Right after training, it turns out that your body is really lousy at taking carbohydrates and sending them down fat-storing pathways,"” he says. "So post-training, carbs will be sent down growth-promoting pathways instead."” And when these carbs are combined with a protein source, you'’ve got a strong muscle-feeding combination because carbohydrates help deliver the amino acids into muscles by boosting insulin levels. This anabolic hormone drives nutrients into the muscle cells and kick-starts the muscle-growth process.
If you touch your phone between exercise sets, it better be to set its timer to 30 to 90 seconds. When lifting for hypertrophy, rest periods of 30 to 90 seconds encourage a quick release in muscle-building hormones (including testosterone and human growth hormone) while also making sure that you really, truly fatigue your muscles, according to Fitzgerald.
Whether you love or hate ‘em, squats are one of the best butt exercises for strengthening your backside. Experts say that if you want to run faster, jump higher and lift heavier, squatting low is the way to go. They might look easy, but prepare to work when you add a barbell, slam ball or heel raise to the mix. These squat variations not only add some power to your jumps and kicks, but they also help improve your knee stability and range of motion. So how low can you go? Try these exercises to find out.
When it comes to building lean muscle, size bodybuilders are king. That’s their ultimate goal. Sure, Crossfit, powerlifting and all the other modalities will build muscle, but that’s not their focus. They want performance and any muscle they build is a side effect. Not so with bodybuilding where muscle size and shape are the priorities. Learning how to build muscle for the sake of building muscle has some benefits to the performance athlete. It allows for ais less injury prone. Its also a fact that bigger muscle contract harder regardless of technique or form, so it’s a good strategy to throw in some bodybuilder muscle building sessions here and there to give yourself stronger muscles to then train for performance. Build the muscle bigger, then train it to perform better.
Eat 0.4–0.5 grams of fat per pound of your body weight. Fat is essential for hormone optimization, brain function, and joint health. Now, if you’re following a ketogenic diet (or modified keto diet), or you just feel better with more fat in your diet, you can certainly add more fat and lower your protein and carb intake to accommodate it. The 0.4–0.5 grams per pound recommendation just represents a starting point and a minimum so that you don’t eat too little fat, either out of fear that it will make you fat or damage your heart (both untrue). For more about ketogenic diets, see Onnit’s guide HERE.
People eat way too many carbs and keep their glycogen levels full for too long. They are always turning sugar into fat because they are always eating carbs. The body wants fats to make fat, not carbs. The body doesn’t even like storing carbs as fat, that’s because we have fat to do that. It’s less stressful to store fat as fat rather carbs as fat. People are stressing themselves out by always eating carbs which always keep their glycogen levels full. They need to carb cycle so that they aren’t gaining fat from BOTH fats and carbs. This is how combining fats and carbs in a meal CAN lead to more fat, only if glycogen is full.
The hip flexors are prone to becoming tight and shortened. They are active with each step that we take, especially while running. A major contributing factor to their tightness is that based on their location and anatomical attachments, when we sit, we are putting the hip flexors in a shortened position. Unfortunately, many of us spend a good part of our day sitting. The combination of sitting and heavy use of the muscle during activity causes it to become shortened. A shortened muscle does not generate as much power as a normal length muscle is capable of. The shortening and weakening of the hip flexors creates a muscle imbalance in the hip, which can cause problems in other parts of the body.
While the number of reps you do per set is important, of equal importance is the total number of reps you do per muscle group. The National Strength and Conditioning Association has determined that, to maximize growth, you need approximately 20–70 total reps per muscle group. Depending on which end of a rep range you’re working, this can be done in one session or over a few days (a training week, for instance), but that’s the spread you need to cover to see gains.
Choosing the right size stability ball matters—if you’re using one that’s too big or small, your body positioning could be wonky, making the move less effective, says Henwood. For the V-Lift and Bulgarian Split Squat in this workout, choose a ball that naturally has your legs at a 90-degree angle when you sit on it (your hips should be at the same height as your knees). You may need a smaller option for the Hamstring Press—opt for one that you can comfortably hold between your legs so it stays put for every rep.
In the last week leading up to a contest, bodybuilders usually decrease their consumption of water, sodium, and carbohydrates, the former two to alter how water is retained by the body and the latter to reduce glycogen in the muscle. The day before the show, water is removed from the diet, and diuretics may be introduced, while carbohydrate loading is undertaken to increase the size of the muscles through replenishment of their glycogen. The goal is to maximize leanness and increase the visibility of veins, or "vascularity". The muscular definition and vascularity are further enhanced immediately before appearing on stage by darkening the skin through tanning products and applying oils to the skin to increase shine. Some competitors will eat sugar-rich foods to increase the visibility of their veins. A final step, called "pumping", consists in performing exercises with light weights or other kinds of low resistance (for instance two athletes can "pump" each other by holding a towel and pulling in turn), just before the contest, to fill the muscles with blood and further increase their size and density.
Why less volume for the smaller muscle groups, you ask? Partially because they are smaller, but mostly because they get a ton of indirect volume while training the bigger muscle groups (e.g. your biceps get hit pretty hard while training back, triceps get hit pretty hard while training chest and shoulders, shoulders get hit pretty hard while training chest, etc.).

Muscle imbalances are quite common among strength athletes and are arguably the most common cause of their injuries. Many times this is due to a “weak link” in the kinetic chain of muscles that activate during their activity. Identifying the “weak” muscle and being able to feel, isolate and contract that “weak” muscle makes correctional exercise and rehab much easier. Bodybuilding training, with its focus on “feel” rather than movement, helps to train and develop the mind to muscle connection. This comes in handy when you need to train a muscle imbalance with correctional exercise and, in the case of injury, for rehab.


Remember my special answer: here it is… MOUTHTAPERS exist. People out there will tape their mouth closed during sleep so that they can breathe their nose. Even during the day sometimes. Why? Because the nose is directly connected to the diaphragm while the mouth is connected to the chest. Sure, increase chest mobility and your lungs may be able to expand more which will allow more air to be held, BUT HOW CAN YOU HOLD THAT MORE AIR IF YOUR DIAPHRAGM is weak? You won’t. So everything I just talked about must be done through the nose. Notice yourself breathing with your mouth and SWITCH right away. It takes work and energy. How you breathe during the day rolls over to how you breathe during the night.
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