By: James Bull, model and rugby star
The observant will have noticed that I have generally provided 3 exercises per muscle group. The reason being that no one muscle group consists of an isolated muscle. That is why they are known as groups and I believe a 3-pronged attack will hit the area from different sides encouraging a symmetrical and overall development of the specific site. For example, the Deltoid (shoulder) comprises 3 different heads.
The exterior, anterior and lateral head, and therefore a 3 way attack is perfect for overall deltoid development and so on. In terms of exercise execution I would recommend a 3 count up, followed by a squeezing contraction of the working muscle, and finishing with a 3 count down. Further down the line speed can be utilised in the 3 up count to improve explosive power, but this is often sport specific and I would not recommend this technique at novice level.
Focus on controlled form and reducing jerky movements allowing yourself to feel the muscle working through its entire range of motion. In this sense you may have heard the term 'feel the burn' which you should experience with correct form. This in tern will probably lead to a state of DMS (delayed muscle soreness) a day or two after your session. However, DMS can be an encouraging condition - remember, no pain, no gain!
Resting periods between sets is another grey area in the iron game of bodybuilding and physical fitness. Some schools of thought would recommend no more than a minuet's rest between each set, in order to efficiently fatigue the muscles. The aim being once fatigue sets in the muscles are forced to work harder. Others would say to rest as long as you need to between sets in order that you are fully recovered and ready to make the most out of the next set. On this subject I have no individual advice other than what I would do.
Personally, I tend to listen to my body as this is the most powerful indicator of your physical state. If I feel I need to rest then I will take it and vice versa. What I would personally recommend however is to undertake a couple of light warm up sets at the beginning of each new muscle group prior to starting you official working sets, just to prepare the muscle for the inevitable onslaught by getting the blood flowing to the required area and reduce the risk of injury.
When it comes to nutrition I believe in practicing what I preach and therefore do not intend to get too anal or conservative in my advice. You can generally eat what you want in moderation as long as you are following a regular training programme.
However, as a general rule of thumb there are obvious suggestions to be made to aid you in reaching your goals quicker. Simply, lower your intake levels of carbs and fats and up that of protein. You will still need adequate amounts of carbohydrate for the purpose of energy but intake alterations can still be made. For example, cutting the amount slightly is one thing but the times at which you take them is another, i.e.; you don't require many carbs after 5 or 6 in the evening as the energy taken from them will not be utilised and instead may just wind up ultimately as stored fat. That is essentially the essence of unused energy stores. Instead it is wiser to eat carbs earlier in the day so there is more chance of them being burnt off. You require no energy to sleep and therefore do not require energy from carbs later in the day. Do not go overboard however. Do not cut out fats and carbs altogether as a person with an active lifestyle undertaking a training regime will need more energy than an individual in a sedentary state. Too often people get scared of the evil word that is 'fat' wrongly believing that fat is a bad thing. Some fats are good and we require them at a steady rate. Fats from fish for example contain EFA's (essential fatty acids) which are rich in Omega 3 & 6 oils and can actually help the bodily process of fat metabolism and breakdown. What we are actually trying to avoid is saturated fats which are of no use to us at all in terms of conditional physique goals.
Increasing your levels of protein intake can be achieved by consuming sources such as fish, lean white meats, eggs, and even by introducing decent whey protein drink into your diet. At this stage of your programme this is sufficient and it would be irresponsible of me to recommend introducing other dietary or training supplements. My knowledge of this topic is vast and if needed can be utilised later on.
Lastly, if your goal is simply to tone up then only a moderate level of calories is required sticking to the aforementioned guidelines. However, if your goal is also to build a larger physique then an increased level of calories will be required. In doing so it is essential to stick to my previous nutrition guidelines so not to increase fat levels. What we are striving for is lean body mass and not simply mass for mass sake. A careful and controlled approach to dietary intake is vital in terms of lean mass gains.
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