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Jewish Journal

The commandments of bodybuilding

by Pedro Van Gaalen

March 7, 2012 | 5:58 pm

Every facet of life is governed by rules, regulations and laws, be they natural or imposed by man, and bodybuilding is no different. Here are the basic bodybuilding commandments every athlete should follow to walk along the path of bodybuilding righteousness.

1. Thou Shalt Not Overtrain

Overtraining occurs when your training volume and intensity exceed your body’s ability to recover and repair itself. It places such a strain on your body that it not only affects you physically but can also manifest mentally and emotionally. From a physical perspective, overtraining causes you to lose strength, endurance, fitness, and even muscle size and tone. It can take weeks, if not months, to recover, so it is important that you avoid overtraining by periodizing your training program, including adequate rest periods in your training week, and ensuring that your nutrition supports a healthy body.

2. Thou Shalt Go Big or Go Home

The key to making massive gains in the gym is the intensity of your training. Whether you choose to manipulate your rep and set structure or go as heavy as possible on each set, maintaining the right intensity during every workout is key. The ability to push yourself to the limit during each session is a factor of both your mental and physical capacity. Use positive affirmations, goal setting and visualization to make sure you are in the right frame of mind when you hit the gym, then push your body to the limit by using tried and trusted training techniques.

3. Thou Shalt Supplement Correctly

It is physically impossible for most bodybuilders to eat the recommended daily calorie requirements from solid food alone. As such, supplements play an important role in adding quality calories to your diet, while also ensuring that you meet the other recommended daily requirements with regard to vitamin and mineral intake. Supplements have also been formulated to offer the most effective means of getting the required nutrients your body needs to recover and perform before, during and after training. And always, remember that not all supplements are created equal. Quality is always more important than quantity, so research all the top brands to find out what products are the best performers.

4. Thou Shalt Honor the Sabbath

Rest is the cornerstone of muscle recovery. Every serious bodybuilder will know that the real gains are not made in the gym, but rather in the hours and days following a muscle-busting workout. This rest period should therefore never be sacrificed for an extra session and the basic principles of rest and recovery should always be adhered to. These include resting trained body parts for at least 48 hours between sessions, especially if you isolate them, as most bodybuilders do. The importance of proper nutrition and supplementation cannot be emphasized enough. Don’t skip a protein shake because you didn’t train, and don’t eat hollow calories from food that has no nutritive value because it’s your off day. Your rest-day meals are the most important meals, along with your immediate post-workout meal.

5. Thou Shalt Never Take Lifting Form and Technique in Vain

While going as heavy as possible and ensuring proper intensity are vital, so is maintaining proper form and technique. If the weight is too heavy and you sacrifice form to lift it, you will get injured. Proper technique also ensures that you work through a full range of motion to activate and incorporate the maximum number of muscle fibers during each lift. Even when you do incorporate special lifting techniques, like forced reps, there is still a need to keep correct form and use lifting best practice.

6. Thou Shalt Enjoy the Bounties of the Earth

The processed food of today will never deliver the nutrients our bodies need to grow, so whenever possible, select natural and organic food products. A general rule of thumb is to avoid any food that doesn’t spoil.

7. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Training Routine

There is no one-size-fits-all training technique or diet. Everybody has his or her own genetic makeup, muscle type and bone structure. As such, we all respond differently to training stimuli and nutrition, so trying to horse-shoe your buddy’s training program into your regimen may not always be the best option. Try different things and experiment with training techniques, programs and diets to find what suits your body and physiology best.

8. Thou Shalt Stay Humble in the Eyes of Thy Fellow Bodybuilders

The bodybuilders who think they know it all will never achieve greatness. Speak to just about any top athlete and you will find that they are a humble bunch who continually search for the latest information regarding the sport. They are also, more often than not, willing to share their experience and knowledge. So don’t be the one who thinks he is too good to help out a novice or share a few training tips with the youngsters in the sport.

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