1. Success in a sport as rigorous and competitive as bodybuilding never comes easy.  It can be argued that bodybuilding is the most demanding of all sports.  Whether you want to bulk up to look more powerful, or lean out to get your body ready for the beach (or your first contest), here are the top ten most important bodybuilding principles.

    1)  Eat clean whole-foods 5-7 times per day

    It is often said that your appearance in bodybuilding is 75% determined by your bodybuilding diet.  You can’t build a championship worthy physique without proper nutrition.  Good clean protein sources like lean beef, chicken, eggs, turkey, and low-fat milk should be staples on your grocery list.  Good carbohydrate sources are a must as well and include oatmeal, brown rice, whole grain breads, and whole wheat pasta.  Don’t make a popular dieting mistake and avoid fat intake (as fats are necessary for proper hormone function).  Good fat sources are cashews, almonds, avocados, and natural peanut butter.  Spread out your calories among five to seven small meals, which will keep your metabolism roaring (meaning you’ll gain more muscle and less fat).

    2)  Be sure to consume an adequate amount of PROTEIN

    Simply put, protein molecules are the building blocks of muscle.  There is no way you will build a leaner, more muscular physique without an ample amount of protein.  Most experts recommend at least one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.

    3)  Stay hydrated

    Most people seem to forget that a significant part of muscle tissue is water.  Muscles take on a "flat" appearance when not properly hydrated.  When muscles are dehydrated, nutrients cannot be shuttled into the cells.  This leading to muscle cramping, atrophy, and even dizzy spells.  Shoot for at least one gallon of water per day and you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor.

    4)  Pre and Post workout nutrition

    The most important meals of the day are the meals before and after your workout.  Eat too little before you lift and you won’t be able to bring the necessary intensity to your workout.  On the other hand, eat too much and you will end up feeling queasy.  A good pre-workout meal is  a protein shake with 1/2 to 1 cup of oatmeal and a banana.  A good post workout meal would a shake with 30-50 grams of protein and 50-100 grams of carbs.

    5)  Focus on multi-joint bodybuilding exercises

    Multi-joint exercises such as squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and military presses burn the most amount of calories as well as increasing muscle building hormones (such as growth hormone and testosterone).  Nothing works like the basics, and these exercises should be the focal point of your bodybuilding workout.

    6)  Proper Supplementation

    Nutritional supplements have improved at an astounding rate of the last two decades.  There are now legitimate products on the market that are helping bodybuilders reach their goals at a faster rate.  Creatine monohydrate is probably the most well-researched and has been around since the early 1990’s.  Creatine increases muscular weight by as much as 10-20 pounds in many individuals.  Creatine, a high quality whey protein powder, and a good multi-vitamin are all you really need to have your supplement bases covered.

    7)  Cardio

    Cardiovascular exercise is often overlooked these days in bodybuilding.  Many fear that too much cardio will hinder muscular gains.  While that may be true among a select few, cardio is often times necessary to keep bodyfat gain to a minimum while making gains in muscular weight.  What type of cardio should you do?  Something you enjoy!  Walking, light jogging, or biking will all keep your heart in great shape and ensure most of your gains will be in the form of muscle.

    8)  Limit or totally avoid alcohol

    Alcohol serves no purpose to the hard training athlete.  As renowned bodybuilder Dave Palumbo once said "you wouldn’t put cheap gas in a Ferrari."  Alcohol deeply dehydrates muscle tissue and it can take days for your system to fully recover from a big night out clubbin’.  Alcohol also supply a whopping 7 calories per gram so fat gain is always possibility when drinking in excessive amounts.

    9)  Avoid Over-Training

    While the phrase "no pain, no gain" is popular in bodybuilding, nothing will halt your progress like over-training.  Many people fail to realize that your central nervous system (CNS) can only take so much intensity over a given span of time.  Train hard for days on end and you’ll notice yourself feeling tired, grouchy, and hating going to the gym.  The best way to combat over-training is to schedule two to three off days per week, where you rest instead of pounding away at the weights.

    10)  Stay Motivated

    Do whatever it takes to motivate yourself.  A popular bodybuilding technique is to listen to hard-rock or heavy metal music to get in the right frame of mind before training.  When you feel like quitting, just imagine how amazing you will feel after you have reached your physique goals.

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