Bodybuilding: Is Bodybuilding the Same for Everyone

Bodybuilding Lifestyle

Sports and Bodybuilding Lifestyles

As far as I'm concerned, bodybuilding is one of the most fascinating sports of our time. I've often wondered how far we could really go if we had all the right answers. The trouble is, we don't have all the answers-and there are so many approaches to training, it's easy to get confused. Not only that, but each of us has a different genetic makeup that determines how we react to training. There are a few basic truths though.

The first, informing principle of bodybuilding is this: When your body is subjected to stress, it either adapts or breaks down. The purpose of the ideal program is to subject your body to reasonable stress that will cause it to adapt without causing injury. Although there are obvious differences in how each of us reacts, three factors remain key to developing a physique: duration, intensity and frequency of training.


In the late 1970's and early '80s, when I was a beginner, the message I picked up at the gym was, the more one did, the better. It was normal to do lots of sets and reps 6 to 20 sets for biceps or triceps, 20 to 30 for chest, back or legs. Since I was pretty naive, I joined right in. Sometimes my workouts lasted 21/2 hours. When I look at some of my workout logs from those days, I can't imagine training that way. Now I use a preworkout warmup and stretching session that lets me minimize the number of sets I do. In fact, I rarely perform more than four sets of any given exercise, and I spend just an hour a day training. If I have two sessions scheduled for a day, I try not to go over 45 minutes at either. I find that I recover better and make greater improvements to my physique with this approach. My only real question is, Could I have done better as a beginner if I'd known then that this was the ideal program for my body?


This is the load, or physiological stress, placed on the body during exercise. Because I started out as a power-lifter, I had to use different levels of intensity. That means I had endurance, strength and power phases. Now I use a more sophisticated approach to phases which lets me change the intensity of my workouts while lessening the chance of overtraining.


This is the number of training sessions per week. Most bodybuilders tend to get into trouble here. I, for one, have trained each bodypart as often as three times a week. Now, when I'm getting ready for a contest, I keep it to twice a week. Otherwise, I work each body-part just twice every nine days. I recently decided to try a different schedule, working each bodypart once every seven days, as follows:

Day 1 Back and Abs

Day 2: Chest

Day 3: Legs

Day 4: Shoulders and Calves

Day 5: Biceps and Triceps

Day 6: Rest

Day 7: Rest

Although most exercise physiologists agree that a muscle will recover within 72 hours, I've found that when I train at a very high intensity, I need even more recovery time. I'll try this approach for six months and see how it works for me.

Duration, intensity and frequency are the keys to maximizing the benefits of your workout. How you apply these factors depends on your own body. The important thing to understand is that there's no one perfect way for all of us. Experiment and find out what works for you. Someone else's ideal methods mayor may not be yours.

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