Natural Bodybuilding Basics
What is Natural Bodybuilding?
Natural bodybuilding is all about achieving your body’s maximum potential without using steroids or other growth enhancing drugs. There are many factors that influence the muscular development of an individual: genetics, proper training, and nutrition to name but a few. However, if we ignore genetics, which we can’t control yet, then natural bodybuilding comes down to how far the mind can push the body.
Natural vs. Assisted
Many people may think why struggle to build muscle naturally when they can just take steroids and do it in half the time. Anabolic steroids have an incredible effect on the body promoting muscular development. The greatest argument you can make for using steroids for bodybuilding is the increased speed of muscular development, but many lifters simply do not have the expertise nor the inclination to supplement with these hormones.
Natural Bodybuilding Tips
Since we are not using steroids, then we need to do everything we can to maximize our growth naturally. Here is a list of some things you can do to really force your body to grow during the natural bodybuilding process:
• Don’t Overtrain
Overtraining is one of the biggest mistakes made by bodybuilders. It is done mostly by beginners, and can lead to injury or exhaustion. Also, you may actually see your muscles get smaller. Remember, the only time your muscles grow is when they are recuperating, not when you are working them out.
• Form vs. Weight
The purpose of performing an exercise is to work a specific muscle or group of muscles. For instance, when you do a barbell bicep curl you want to work your bicep muscles. So by putting on too much weight you start cheating and using your back instead of your biceps. If you use less weight and practice proper form (no rocking or swinging the weight up), you will be working your biceps much more. Therefore, always strive to perform the exercise in good form. By doing this your muscles will grow faster, and you will be able to lift that heavy weight with ease. It’s all about patience and ignoring your ego.
• Exercise Variation
One of the main properties of muscles is their unique ability to adapt. Therefore, if you are currently going to the gym and performing the same exercises for the same amount of sets and repetitions with the same weights, then your body is going to adapt and stop growing and getting stronger. To remedy this you need to add variety to your training, by substituting exercises and changing the amount of sets and repetitions you perform. This will not only shock your muscles and work all the fibers, but it will make your workout more enjoyable. One of the worst things you can do is become bored with your routine. This will kill your intensity and hurt your growth. So the next time you go to the gym, try dumbbell bent over rows instead of barbell rows, or try cable machine skull crushers instead of ez-bar skull crushers. Also, another great thing to do is change gyms if you find yourself becoming bored when working out. Sometimes going to another gym can really get you fired up.
Although we don’t think about it in this way, the body is a machine. You input stuff called food, and output stuff like work, walking, thinking, and yes working out. When you start bodybuilding the energy to lift the weights, recuperate and grow the muscles, and to digest the increased caloric intake is a huge demand on your body. Without enough rest you will limit your ability to gain muscle, decrease your immune system, and feel lethargic all the time. Many people workout and wonder why they are more tired then ever. The answer is, not enough rest. So try and get at least 6 – 8 hours per night. I really think 8 is optimal.
Protein, protein, protein. Everyone says when you workout you must intake more protein. This is true as protein is the building block of muscle. Your body needs it to repair and grow your muscles. Working out and not eating your protein, is like studying for a test and not taking it. Water intake is also vital for protein absorption and muscle growth. Protein will retain 9 parts of water to form tissues, and build muscle. So if you are going to increase your protein intake, you had better make sure that you also increase your water intake so that all of that extra protein will be properly digested and absorbed in order to build muscle.
• Warming Up
How many times do I see people walk right into the gym, without any warming up and begin working out. I implore people to spend 10 minutes on a treadmill, or 5 minutes stretching, or to at least do a few warm up sets for each body part you will work. By doing this you reduce the risk of injuries (like tears and pulls) and actually help your muscles achieve peak performance. Warming up not only loosens the body, it cleans toxins from the muscles before the workout, so there is less for the body to clean during the workout.
• Workout Clothing
Wearing sweat paints and a long sleeved t-shirt is a great way to reduce injuries to muscle and joints. By keeping your body slightly warm, you will reduce injury risks. This will also help blood circulation. Lastly, there are benefits if you are trying to lose weight, as you will sweat more, burning even more calories.
The greatest bodybuilder of all time: Arnold Schwarzenegger said that when he works out he visualizes his muscles working and growing. Visualization is the key to his success. So next time you're at the gym, don’t think about work or television or how much it hurts, just think about your muscles getting huge. Think about the blood rushing too them. Think about them growing.
Check out our Arnold thread to learn more about Arnold.
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