Modern bodybuilders understand that resting the muscles is important. They focus on one muscle group per workout, once a week. All muscles get some work during any training session, but they are trained heavily only once per week in their specific focus session. Natural muscle growth is spurred by this approach.
The modern athlete eats a balanced diet of proteins, fats, complex carbohydrates and lots of water. They also take natural supplements to augment their diet and to aid in the metabolizing of protein. Most of them eschew artificial chemical enhancements like anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and stimulants.
The modern bodybuilding world now has two approaches to contests; those where there is no regulation on how muscle size was achieved and the “natural” events where the contestants are tested for banned substances like steroids and HGH.
A modern bodybuilder’s typical weekly routine might look like this:
- Monday – Chest Day – Multiple sets of chest exercises.
- Bench Press – one warm up set, then progressively heavy, then back down to lighter rep-out weights. As many as ten sets total.
- Pec–Deck Flies – one warm up, then heavy sets. Five sets total.
- Incline Dumbbell Flies – one warm up, then increasingly heavy and one final rep-out set. Five sets total.
- Decline Dumbbell or Barbell Press – one warm up, then heavy sets, one rep-out. Five sets total.
- Push–Ups – three rep-out sets.
- Tuesday – Core and Cardio Day – Multiple sets of core strengthening exercises; leg raises, crunches, sit-ups, twists and Swiss Ball exercises; cardio on treadmill, running track, Stairmaster or similar.
- Wednesday – Back and Shoulders Day – Multiple sets of back and shoulder exercises.
- Pull-Ups – Wide-grip chins on the bar. Three sets with bodyweight, add weight belt and weights for heavy sets.
- Lat Machine Pull-Downs – Wide-grip pulling to either the chest or the back of the neck. Five sets.
- Bent Over Rowing – With a barbell or with dumbbells. Five sets.
- Seated Rowing – With a cable-and-pulley machine, perform five high-rep-low weight sets.
- Military Press – With a barbell, one warm-up and four heavy sets.
- Alternate Dumbbell Press – Seated or standing alternate presses with moderate to heavy weights.
- Upright Rowing – Using moderate weights for five sets.
- Lateral Dumbbell Raises – Use light to moderate weights, performed to the sides or to the front.
- Super Sets – To condense the workout time and shorten the time to muscle exhaustion, alternate a back exercise with a shoulder exercise. Example: Perform a pull-up set then do lateral raises with no rest between these two exercises, one minute rest before another pull-up set. Complete three sets in this manner. Then perform lat-machine pull-downs alternately with upright rowing. Continue alternating exercises this way through the entire back-and-shoulders session.
- Thursday – Core and Cardio Day – A repeat of Tuesday.
- Friday – Arms Day – A series of exercises for the biceps, triceps and forearms.
- Biceps Barbell Curls – One warm-up set, then four heavy sets performed strictly (no cheating or bouncing the bar).
- Preacher Bench Curls – With an easy-curl bar or barbell, perform five sets with a moderate weight.
- Alternate Dumbbell Curls – Seated or standing, perform alternate arm curls with heavy dumbbells.
- Concentration Dumbbell Curls – Seated with elbow on knee, perform strict curls with light to moderate weight dumbbell. Alternate arms, ten reps per side per set. Five sets.
- Reverse Grip Pull Downs – Using the lat machine, reverse your hands so that palms are facing back in a close grip. Perform pull-down curls with moderate weight. Five sets
- Triceps Press Downs – Using a lat machine or an exercise specific cable-and-pulley machine, perform heavy weight triceps press-downs with a strict form. Five sets
- Supine French Presses – Using a barbell or easy-curl bar, perform fives sets of presses from the forehead or chest to full upright.
- Dumbbell Press – Using a single heavy dumbbell, starting from behind the head and using both hands, press the weight to straight overhead.
- Revere Grip Bench Push Up – Using two benches, one to elevate the feet, the other for your hands, lower your butt to the floor and press back up using your triceps.
- Bent Over Dumbbell Extensions – With your hand on a bench, using one dumbbell, bend over until your upper body is parallel with the ground. Hold your arm (the one with the dumbbell) where your upper arm is parallel with your body and the elbow is bent at ninety degrees with the dumbbell hanging straight down. Slowly extend your arm until it is fully straightened, return to start and repeat. Five sets.
- Super Sets – In the same manner as previously described, alternate biceps and triceps exercises with no rest between exercises and one minute rest between super sets.
Fitness Club operators will tell you that their clubs are the busiest in the morning, before work and in the evening after normal working hours. More and more, however, they are seeing people taking a “workout lunch.” Instead of eating, they run over to the gym and workout for 45 minutes to an hour, and then grab something healthy to eat on their way back to the office. A salad or a hearty soup will carry them over until their evening meal, particularly if they have a nutritious snack of fresh, raw vegetables or fruit in the middle of the afternoon.