Protein, you may have heard, is what your muscles are made of. Well, not quite. The amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of muscle, and your body needs—not wants, needs—these substances during and after training for repair and recovery. It breaks down the protein into the respective aminos, uses them for their various functions, and then you convert what doesn't get used. I break down a lot of tissue in my daily workouts, so balancing it out with adequate amounts of protein throughout the day is important.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to bulk up when you should be on a diet. While you might have muscle on your mind, most people need to get leaner first. If you’re fat and you start eating for size, you’re only going to get fatter. Get rid of the excess blubber first, to the point where you can see some abs, and then worry about getting big. You should be as low as 12% body fat before you change your diet up to focus on mass gain. That will ensure that your insulin sensitivity is high. When it is, you can eat more carbs and your body won’t store them as fat.

Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.


“Exercises such as single leg squats, regular squats, deadlifts, monster walks, side laying leg lifts, step-ups and reverse planks are some of the exercises that can strengthen the muscles," says Schulz. "You can also try a challenging lunge circuit, split squats, and deadlifts for some major toning." (And of course, if you need any further ideas, check out our roundup of the 17 best glute exercises out there.)
The winner of the annual IFBB Mr. Olympia contest is generally recognized as the world's top male professional bodybuilder. The title is currently held by Shawn Rhoden; it was previously held by Phil Heath, who won every year from 2011 to 2017. The winner of the Women's Physique portion of the competition is widely regarded as the world's top female professional bodybuilder. The title is currently held by Juliana Malacarne, who has won every year since 2014. Since 1950, the NABBA Universe Championships have been considered the top amateur bodybuilding contests, with notable winners such as Reg Park, Lee Priest, Steve Reeves, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Winners generally go on to become professional athletes.

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.


Just like building any other muscle. The slower we go, the longer the rep will take. This time under tension is what builds the muscle. We can use light weight or heavy weight, either way, fatigue is what matters. If slower equals growth then that means going heavy equals growth (because lifting heavy is lifting slow, otherwise you are lifting light) and this is true, BUT, we can create growth with light weight as well. We just have to lift the light weight until it feels heavy so our tempo changes. If we can lift a weight heavy then it’s too light, so either go heavier or keep lifting that light weight until it feels heavy. Going heavy as possible in the start just expedites the process. Heavy is a relative term, so don’t try and compete with others. Measure your own strength. Personally, I enjoy medium weight with medium reps. Just pump them out. If I go heavy heavy, this would mean I would need a weight that I can only rep 3–4x. If I can rep a weight more than 12x without getting tired, then it’s way light. But, like 8 reps, with the last rep being the hardest is how I roll. KEEP READING.
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.
How to do it: Stand tall with your feet together, and brace your core. From here—holding onto a wall, counter, or sturdy chair for balance, if necessary—lift your right foot just off of the floor so that you’re standing on your left foot. Imagine a string through the crown of your head is pulling your spine straight toward the ceiling, and engage your core to avoid leaning to one side. Hold this position for 30 seconds or as long as you can, then repeat on the opposite side.
"[Your glutes are] one of the workhorses of the body," says Jordan Metzl, M.D., an exercise physician and author of The Exercise Cure. "You use them all the time." Your glutes help support your body when you stand, help you push off the ground, and give you better balance in general, he says. So when your glutes are strong, every activity you do—from running to golfing to just walking—is positively impacted.
Most problems with the hip flexors, however, don't originate in a lack of strength but in a lack of flexibility. To understand how these muscles lose their flexibility, imagine someone with a broken arm, her bent elbow encased in a plaster cast. When the cast is removed after six or eight weeks, the soft tissues around the elbow (muscles, tendons, ligaments, and even skin) will have shortened, and the elbow won't straighten out. It will take patient stretching over several weeks to restore the range of motion. Similarly, if the hip is constantly kept in a flexed position—like sitting—for hours every day, day after day, the hip flexors will shorten and shrink, limiting your ability to fully extend (straighten) the hip.
Bodybuilders do cardio training such as running and using a StairMaster StepMill to burn fat and make their muscles more visible. “Do cardio throughout the year at least three days a week for at least 30-40 minutes, whether it be first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or after a post-workout protein shake,” says Heath. “Cardio won’t kill your gains as much as you think, you’ll see how much muscle you really have.” Break a sweat to stay lean ’round the clock.
Heath says to consume 1.25-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight for growth and he never exceeds a 1:1 meals to protein shake ratio, meaning if he has 3 shakes, he’ll have 3 meals. He suggests if you’re going to drink protein shakes, drink two and have four meals. Also, increase your protein consumption and decrease carbs to look lean. “Once I got to a certain size, I wanted to get leaner so I got to 50% protein, 30% carbs and 20% protein.”
"When placed around the tops of your shins as you move side to side, the miniband hits your hand-to-reach gluteus medius, a muscle that helps rotate your thigh inward and outward," says Nick Murtha, a trainer for Men's Health Thrive. Waking up this muscle allows you to use all your glute strength when performing moves like a heavy-loaded squat or lunge, he says.
That side note matters because the diaphragm can’t lift any weights. The best way to work this muscle is through breathing. And with any muscle, body weight should be the first place to start when it comes to building muscle and strength. If one cannot engage muscles properly with a push-up or pull-up how can one properly engage muscles during a bench press or lat pull down? They won’t..
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.
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.
As stated before, one of the primary hip flexor muscles is the psoas major. This muscle plays a role in core stabilization (something that is needed during running, squatting, and sitting) due to its attachment site at the spine. If there is a lack of core stability or poor movement patterns during these tasks then the hip flexor can become overworked/tired/fatigued (think what happens when your co workers or teammates don’t do their job, you have to pick up the slack and work harder, bringing you more stress and fatigue). It is when the hip flexor becomes fatigued that the sensation of tightness sets in. This is because the hip flexor has to “work harder” to compensate for other muscles not doing their job.
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.
First off, every single resistance-training athlete in the world should be very thankful for bodybuilding training. It was bodybuilding that brought weight training to the mainstream. The bottom line is that the average gym goer is MORE interested in how they look vs. how they perform. 99% of every client I ever trained had an aesthetic goal as their primary goal. In my 20 plus years as a trainer I can count maybe 10 clients who said, “My goal is to be able to bench press or squat or lift more weight.” It was the aesthetic focus of bodybuilding that opened the doors for all other resistance training pursuits to enter into the mainstream.
Dips. You should be able to manipulate your bodyweight in space against the influence of gravity. If you can’t perform simple movements such as pushups, dips, and chin-ups then you need to work on your relative strength. That being said, dips are an excellent muscle builder for the chest, triceps, and shoulders if they are progressively overloaded with weight. 
The primary hip flexors are the rectus femoris, iliacus, psoas, iliocapsularis, and sartorius muscles. The rectus femoris muscle has two distinct origins proximally: the direct head and the reflected head. They originate at the AIIS and the anterior acetabular rim (in close proximity to the anterior hip capsule), respectively. The tendinous fibers of the rectus femoris coalesce distally and become confluent with the other quadriceps musculature in the thigh. The quadriceps consists of four distinct muscles: 1) the vastus intermedius; 2) the vastus lateralis; 3) the vastus medialis; and 4) the rectus femoris. The rectus femoris is the only quadriceps muscle that traverses both the hip and the knee joint. The rectus femoris is a powerful hip flexor, but it is largely dependent on the position of the knee and hip to assert its influence. It is most powerful when the knee is flexed, whereas significant power is lost when the knee is extended. The rectus femoris is innervated by the femoral nerve (i.e., the posterior division of L2 to L4).
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips to come into a bridge position. Lift your left leg off the ground and extend it in front of you, keeping your pelvis level. Inhale as you slowly lower your hips toward the ground. Exhale as you drive your right heel into the ground and lift your hips. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides.
Your hip flexors are the muscles that comprise the front of your hip; you use them when you bend your hip, run or kick. Your hip flexors are susceptible to pain or injury if you place excessive or repetitive stress on them. Hip flexor pain is often the result of strains that occur when your hip flexor muscles sustain tears. Tight muscles, a direct blow to your hip or poor conditioning can lead to a hip flexor strain. While hip flexor pain should be examined by a physician, there are actions you can take to help get rid of hip flexor pain.
Stand lunge-length in front of a bench making sure your knee does not extend past your toes. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and rest the top of your left foot on the bench behind you. Lower your body until your rear knee nearly touches the floor and your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Then push through the heel of your front foot to return to standing, keeping the back foot on the bench. Repeat for required reps then switch legs.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips to come into a bridge position. Lift your left leg off the ground and extend it in front of you, keeping your pelvis level. Inhale as you slowly lower your hips toward the ground. Exhale as you drive your right heel into the ground and lift your hips. Do 10-12 reps. Switch sides.
Preparation – If you have physique or aesthetic goals then you’re going to have monitor your nutrition. That being said, it will require a bit of work to prepare some healthy meals and ensuring you’re getting enough calories. Not only that, you must approach training in the same way. If you don’t have your gym bag essentials prepped, you’ll end up wasting time looking for your belt and wrist wraps which should already be packed.
And how much should you work out? According to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines, beginners should do at least two days per week of any type of strength-training exercise. Your workout should consist of 8 to 12 repetitions each of 8 to 10 different exercises working all the major muscle groups -- chest, back, shoulders, arms, abdominals, and legs. (A repetition is how many times you lift the weight, pull the rubber tubing, do a pushup, or whatever.)
A good butt workout should target the muscles of the entire glute complex: the big, power-producing gluteus maximus, and the smaller, stabilizing gluteus medius and minimus. Below, York, Jones, and award-winning personal trainer Katie Gould share 13 effective butt exercises you can do at home with minimal equipment. All you need for these glute exercises is a flat resistance band/mini band and a kettlebell.
Knowledge – When it comes to building the best physique possible, you have to be willing to experiment and learn from your body. No one will be able to tell you what’s the most effective nutrition or training split for your individual genotype. Not only that, they don’t know your personal preference, injury history, asymmetries, experience level, or current work capacity.

While it'’s okay to chow down on the occasional fast-food choice for convenience, a mass-gain program isn'’t an excuse to gorge on pizza and chocolate sundaes. “"Rebuilding muscle tissue broken down by training requires energy -— in other words, calories,"” says bodybuilding nutritional guru Chris Aceto. "“But many people, including many nutritionists, overestimate the energy needs for gaining mass, encouraging extreme high-calorie intakes. This often leads to an increase in bodyfat, making you bigger, for sure, but also leaving you fat." In general, aim for 300-500 more calories every day than your body burns through exercise and normal functioning (multiply bodyweight by 17). And that'’s divided among six meals a day.
If you're 12 weeks out from a competition, you want to maintain as much muscle as possible while torching fat from every angle. This means low-intensity cardio – high intensity cardio speeds up your metabolism and burns fat very quickly, so you run the risk of burning muscle too, Terry says – either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, or immediately after your weights session, once you’ve depleted those glycogen levels.

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.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially in the hours leading up to your workout. This can help you feel full and reduce hunger pangs. During training, drink about 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes, more when it's hot and humid. The reason is simple: Your performance quickly begins to suffer when the body is dehydrated just 1%-–2%. And if you wait till you feel thirsty, you've waited too long. A flavorful, low-calorie sports drink is a great way to hydrate. Try drinking fluids stored at cooler temperatures; studies show that people consume more when the liquid is colder.


3. Hug it out. Start the supine hip flexor stretch the same as the glute bridge, but keep the right leg relaxed on the floor. Pull shoulder blades down and back to lift hips. Grab the back thigh of the left leg and pull the knee toward the chest. Keep the right leg straight and push its heel into the floor (to feel it in the butt). Hold for 30-45 seconds and switch legs.
If you tend to stand with a "swayback," developing awareness of the opening at the front of your hips is especially important. In Tadasana (Mountain Pose), practice lifting the ASISes, moving the tailbone down, and lifting the lumbar spine. Putting a belt around your waist, as you did in Warrior I, may help you increase your awareness of your pelvic alignment in this pose too.
In today's extra-large society, we tend to focus on the admirable guys who train hard and switch up their diet to transform their bodies by losing weight. We highlight their quests to lead healthier lives every chance we get — but there's another side of the wellness scale that can be just as difficult, depending on your body's makeup: Gaining mass and muscle.
Athletes with relative shortening of the hip flexors and accompanying weakness of hip extensors will exhibit decreased hip extension at terminal stance phase or “toe off.” Athletes who lack hip extension may also exhibit related limitation in great toe extension. Often these athletes will show decreased wear under the great toe aspect of their shoe sole and relative increased wear under the more lateral toes. These athletes may also demonstrate increased hip flexion at initial contact or “heel strike” in an effort to make up for the shorter stride length caused by limited hip extension. In patients with knee instability this will contribute to hyperextension or “giving way” of the knee.13

When a muscle contracts, it shortens. Take the biceps for example. Without getting too technical, the biceps are attached at the forearm and shoulder. When your biceps contract, they shorten and bring those two points closer together. When you rest, the muscle returns to its normal length, and the two points move farther away. Constantly contracting your biceps over a long period of time would cause them to get shorter, even at rest.

Heath says to consume 1.25-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight for growth and he never exceeds a 1:1 meals to protein shake ratio, meaning if he has 3 shakes, he’ll have 3 meals. He suggests if you’re going to drink protein shakes, drink two and have four meals. Also, increase your protein consumption and decrease carbs to look lean. “Once I got to a certain size, I wanted to get leaner so I got to 50% protein, 30% carbs and 20% protein.”
The lower the rep range (and therefore the higher the intensity and the heavier the weight), the more rest there should be between sets. So most of the time, exercises being done in the 5-8 rep range need longer rest periods than exercises being done in the 8-10 rep range, which need longer rest periods than exercises being done in the 10-15 rep range.

So, who cares right? Wrong. Everyone has seen that little old man walking with a cane, hunched over almost to the point of staring at the ground. Do you think he always walked like that? I'd bet you he didn't. Maybe he had an injury that never healed properly, or maybe after spending years and years in a similar position, his body became tighter and tighter until eventually he ended up bent over.

In contrast to strongman or powerlifting competitions, where physical strength is paramount, or to Olympic weightlifting, where the main point is equally split between strength and technique, bodybuilding competitions typically emphasize condition, size, and symmetry. Different organizations emphasize particular aspects of competition, and sometimes have different categories in which to compete.
Make no mistake: Eating for muscle is just as important as lifting for muscle. The foods you grab in the morning on the way to work, the meals you pack for lunch and mid-afternoon, what you put into your body immediately following your workout, and your final meal of the day impact your results as much as, if not more than, the number of reps you squeeze out at the end of a set. But in reality, it can be tough to stick to a "“clean"” diet when you'’re busy. We know that adding another layer of complexity to life in the form of reading food labels and studying ingredient lists just isn'’t an option for most of us. Not to mention actually preparing all those healthy meals.
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