Bodybuilding seems like a simple sport:
Lift weights, eat a lot of food and reap the fruits of your effort.
But like any sport, bodybuilding is nuanced, and you need to follow specific rules to ensure you’re progressing well and not wasting any time.
To that end, we’ve put together a list of five rules to follow for optimal results.
Let’s dive in.
Rule #1: Use Proper Technique. Always.
Proper training form is essential for achieving the best possible results. For one, proper form allows you to train, strengthen, and build the correct muscles. For instance, it’s better to curl less weight but train your biceps effectively than to lift more weight and involve your entire body.
Second, proper form keeps you safe from injuries and allows you to train consistently for months and years.
Rule #2: Breathe Correctly.
We often overlook breathing while exercising, but it plays a massive role in our performance and gym progress. Proper breathing delivers enough oxygen to the body, which we then use to produce the energy we need to keep exercising. In contrast, not breathing well deprives us of oxygen, hinders our performance, and makes us feel winded.
As a rule of thumb, breathe in before initiating a repetition, and breathe out as you’re past the halfway point. For example, breathe in, curl a barbell, begin to lower it, and exhale.
Rule #3: Don’t Skip On Cardio.
Cardio might seem unnecessary, but doing it improves aerobic capacity. Your aerobic system plays a huge role in energy production, so developing it has direct benefits. The more energy you can produce, the better you recover between sets and workouts is, and the more work you can do in each workout.
Still, don’t overdo cardio because it can make you too tired to attack the weights effectively. As a rule of thumb, aim for up to an hour of moderate-intensity cardio per week, preferably done on your rest days from bodybuilding.
Rule #4: Sleep At Least Seven Hours Per Night.
That’s right. Bodybuilding isn’t just about training hard and eating big. You also need to get your sleep in.
You do damage/tear your muscle fibers during a workout making it essential that you get adequate sleep for recovery, muscle protein synthesis, and effective fat loss. Rest is also necessary for your health, well-being, energy levels, and motivation to train and push yourself hard.
One of the best things you can do to optimize your bodybuilding results is to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. If possible, aim for eight hours.
Rule #5: Nourish Your Body Well.
Last but not least, we have good nutrition. The foods you choose to eat will play a massive role in your ability to build muscle, recover well, and burn fat when you need to.
Base your nutrition around whole foods because these will provide you with:
- Healthy fats
- Complex carbs
- High-quality protein
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamins and minerals
Also, maintain a small to moderate calorie surplus, aiming to gain around half a pound of weight per week. This rate will allow you to build muscle quickly enough without adding too much fat to your frame.
You can and should enjoy your guilty pleasure foods, but don’t let them become the foundation of your bodybuilding diet.