On the ideal male body program, cardio is not required. But, if you want to speed up your progress, you can include some cardio in!
But, don't start running like hell. Head over to the cardio for fat loss and health page for a detailed breakdown on how to best implement cardio into your routine.
No worries! It happens to all of us, no one's perfect. Whatever you do, do not reduce your caloric intake the next day after the day you cheat! If you allow yourself the slippery slope of telling yourself "It's ok if I eat too much today, I'll eat less tomorrow", you give yourself an implicit opportunity to cheat.
If you instead thought that "I shouldn't eat this because it will make my cutting phase last longer", you won't feel the same urge to eat more.
But if you do splurge, try to eat high volume, protein, and fiber foods like protein pudding on the recipes, foods, and ingredients page. The recipes there will fill your stomach up more and are just as tasty.
No. By going to the gym sick you are asking to have a bad workout and put others at risk of getting sick themselves. Take one for the team and skip your workouts for the week, it won't impact your progress too much in the grand scheme of things.
If you work out at home, you can take this time to take a deload week as outlined on the hypertrophy program page.
If you're a beginner, you don't need to take caffeine. Only at the intermediate to advanced stage do you begin to feel the noticeable difference that caffeine makes on your workouts. You can read more about caffeine on the training page.
If you're wondering what caffeine product/pre-workout works best, head over to the nutrition prep page for our top pick.
Your gym should have the basic equipment to perform the needed compound movements (deadlift, bench press, pull-ups, etc) so you can continue using those. For machines less common, like a cable machine needed for cable fly's, just switch to an exercise that hits the same muscle(s) like a dumbbell chest fly.
First, see your doctor and see what can be done to improve your condition. If they give the go-ahead to perform the exercise that you feel discomfort with, try lowering the weight and increasing the rep range to 12-15. The lower weight and higher rep range can help prevent worsening the injury. Better yet, try similar exercises that target the same muscles and switch to the one that causes the least discomfort.
Short answer: Limit your rep and/or set count to your weaker side.
For example, if your left bicep is weaker than your right, start your hammer curls with your left arm and stop 1 rep before failure. Then, perform the same amount of reps with the other arm.
This way your right arm isn't working nearly as hard as your left! Over time, your left arm will continue to increase in size/strength until both arms can perform the same amount of difficult reps.
First, check the information written on the motivation and nutrition tips and tricks pages. Once you've made sure that you have read both, implement as many of the techniques, tips, and tricks as possible.
For best results, you really should put your money where your mouth is and pledge to get lean or go broke. You can click here to learn more.
Short answer: not really. A 2016 study found that bioelectric impedance —what smart scales use to measure muscle and fat tissue— wasn't particularly accurate in comparison with more costly alternatives .
But, fret not, we have taken that into account for this guide! The users of this guide use a mixture of their progress pictures, BMI scores, and smart scale measurements to approximate their general levels of fat and muscle tissue. The guide function per usual with or without the added benefits that smart scales provide. The ideal can, and has, been reached without one.
Furthermore, the number on the scale isn't the end all be all. If you have technically reached ideal (as outlined on the training page) but don't yet like the way you look, just continue to grow muscle and/or lose weight until you are satisfied with your physique.
You can eat whenever you feel hungry. The science is still out for the best meal split as it really depends on what your goal is:
If your goal is to stay full it seems that fewer, larger meals can be helpful in increasing satiety.
If your goal is to build muscle eating 4 to 5 high protein meals throughout the day can help promote muscle growth.
But at the end of the day, the meal routine that you can stick to for the longest time is best.
If your grip is an issue, consider grabbing yourself a pair of wrist straps like the recommended pair on the workout prep page. They can offset your weak forearms and allow you to take full advantage of your strength.
Do not eat food that you do not enjoy eating, no matter how healthy it might be. Everything you eat should be something you like to eat, otherwise, you won't stick to your nutrition!
Remember, nutrition is the most important aspect you need to nail down in order to get to the ideal physique. If you're looking for healthy, yet healthy food options then check out the recipes, foods, and ingredients page.
If you have either of these issues, foam rolling is the way to go! In several studies, foam rolling has been shown to ease muscle soreness, increase range of motion, help you relax, and reduce back pain [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
How to foam roll:
- Start with light pressure and build up as you get used to foam rolling. You might find it painful at first if your muscles are tight!
- Slowly roll tender areas for 10 seconds to start, then work up to 30 to 60 seconds
When to foam roll:
- Foam roll after your workouts or on a day that you do not workout.
Most gyms have foam rollers for customer use but get the recommended one the workout prep page if you need it.
There are two types of stretching:
- Static stretches involve holding a stretch for a period of time. They are to be done after exercising.
- Dynamic stretches are active movements that cause your muscles to stretch, but the stretch is not held for a long period. These stretches to be done before exercising.
If you are tight in certain spots, perform static stretches for about 30 seconds without bouncing for each problem spot after working out. Your stretching routine shouldn't last more than 10 minutes, as overly stretching your muscles can actually hinder progress (see research above).
A few tips: for static stretches:
- Don't stretch beyond the point of discomfort. Over time, you will get more flexible.
- Don't stretch while cold
If before an exercise you find yourself tight in key areas (for example, shoulders for benchpress), perform 3 to 5 dynamic stretches by swinging your ligaments while feeling a stretch in the tight area.
As an example, if your shoulders or rotator cuffs are tight, swing your arms in large circles in front of your body both clockwise and counter-clockwise for a total of 20 seconds.
Perform similar movements for other body parts like swinging your legs forward and backward as well as side to side before squatting for 20 seconds.
You can use your weightlifting belt on exercises like the overhead press, squat, and bench press. Really, whenever you feel like your core isn't stable you can and should use your belt.
A few notes on weight lifting belts:
- Tighten your weightlifting belt around your navel as much as you can. If it feels tight, good. Then, before each rep of an exercise, inhale as much air as you can and push it against the belt. You should immediately feel the difference if performed correctly.
- If you start using a belt on an exercise, keep using it afterward! Not using your belt can lead to a sharp reduction in strength even when no muscle mass has been lost.
- Make sure you aren't placing your belt too high or too low. Doing so can lead to pinched skin and bruises.
If you want the best weightlifting belt, we've linked a near-perfect one on the workout prep page!
If the muscle mass measurement on your smart scale increases over time and your progress pictures look better, there's no need to worry! Even if the numbers on the bar aren't going up, that does not mean that you aren't growing muscle. But if you think that you have reached a weight training plateau, you can learn how to get over it on the hypertrophy program page.
For untrained male individuals, 1 to 2 pounds (0.45 to 0.9kg) of muscle gain is great progress and expected! That equals 12 to 24 pounds (5.4 to 11kg) per year.
Male intermediates —about 1 year of experience— can expect to gain about 0.5 to 1 pound (0.23 to 0.45kg) a month, or about 6 to 12 pounds (2.7 to 5.4kg) per year.
Just because you are sore does not mean that you are not growing muscle. In fact, muscle soreness isn't even required for muscle growth .
Muscle soreness, in most part, is caused by eccentric contractions and long muscle length contractions [1, 2]. This usually only happens to beginners, but if your soreness is causing you discomfort, you can use read the advice given under the "I'm sore and/or have a poor range of motion, what do I do?" toggle.
All the exercises that were chosen for each program have shown in the scientific literature to promote the most muscle growth with the least risk of injury involved. You can read the research papers analyzed by going to the training research page.
That is not to say that other exercises aren't useful or safe to perform, as you can switch out any exercise with a comparable one. For example, if you like lat pull-downs more than weighted pull-ups, switch! At the end of the day, the exercise that you feel most comfortable performing while still gaining muscle mass over time is the right one for you.
For this, head over to the workout prep page for all the gym equipment shown by science to increase your performance. Remember, start small and choose the right equipment for your needs.
Mind-Muscle Connection (MMC) is when you focus on using the target muscles to move a weight, not just going through the motions. Multiple studies have shown that having a well developed MMC can increase your muscle gains substantially, so it is a skill worth developing [1, 2]!
To practice, just make sure that you contract (squeeze) the target muscle as you are performing the movement. For example, while bench-pressing imaging squeeze in a pencil between your chest muscles. Or while performing a lat pulldown, imaging squeezing a pen between your back muscles. You should see even more muscle growth this way.
Short answer: Switch to a similar, more fun exercise!
For example, if you're bored of hammer curls then switch to regular dumbbell curls. If you're bored of wide grip pull ups, switch to wide grip lat pulldowns. As long as your alternative exercise is hitting the same muscle(s), feel free to change the programs as much as you want!
For exercises that have places to put on weight, that's where they belong (benchpress, squat, hammer curls, etc).
For exercises that don't have places to put on weight (pull-ups, back extension, etc), visit the workout prep page to locate the equipment that you need.
For example, to add weight to your pull-ups you'll need a dip belt.