Updated: Nov 9, 2020
Kind of was right. Bodybuilding is the activity of doing exercises (such as lifting weights) to make the muscles of your body larger and stronger. Or as bodybuilders would say “making major gains."
I wanted to find out the real difference, like how it made you feel, how quick were the results and most importantly what makes it so much different from just working out. I am an avid fitness person who works out 6 days a week for at least an hour. I am always up for a challenge and learning new work out methods. I decided to train and eat like a bodybuilder for 2 weeks. Following a popular regime that most bodybuilders do, and a rigorous workout schedule. Now, I give you how to become a bodybuilder.
Body builder's main objective is to become larger and stronger in one way or another. Currently, I was eating around 1200 calories a day and eating pretty frequently at 4 times a day. However, a body builder’s diet is vastly different from mine.
Bodybuilders want to try to eat 6–8 meals per day which would cause your body to store more carbohydrates in the muscles. Carbohydrate storage in the body is called ‘glycogen’ and it supports gaining muscles. My measly 1200 calorie a day diet is nothing compared to the average of 3500 calories a day that most bodybuilders consume. After doing the calculations I would need to eat an extra 250–500 calories a day to gain weight and to make more “gains”.
Meal prep food for bodybuilders. (Photo from Muscle Coach)
Meals should also consist of “clean foods” or simple foods that are a part of the main 3 nutrients groups: carbohydrates, fats and protein. Bodybuilders aim for at least 100 grams of carbs a day and copious amounts of protein as well. They also want to intake the bare minimum of fat needed to support metabolic functioning (15%) daily.
Very frequent, calorie-dense meals high in protein and carbs were the synapsis of my new diet. I also had to add an extra 500 calories per meal to my daily consumption, which was pretty hard.
Supplements are something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. In other words, supplements are helping agents. They are designed to get you results faster or support your body but, aren't a short cut way to getting where you want. (Taking whey saily won't make you stronger kids.)
Supplements. (Photo from Corpina)
The list of supplements goes on and on forever, but I wanted to use the most common, highly praised and the most effective ones. The list I came up with was the following:
Whey protein may be the most popular supplement on this list because of its accessibility everywhere. Whey protein is exactly what it sounds like; protein. Used as meal replacements and an easy way to ingest more protein without having to eat more food; whey is a staple in most body builder’s pantries. Whey is proven to help increase size and strength by giving you the extra protein you may need throughout the day, only with proper diet and exercising. Instead of eating 5 chicken breast you can eat 3 and have 2 scoops of whey protein and get the same grams of protein as 5 chicken breast would have.
Creatine is a supplement that is closely related to getting bigger. The body makes some creatine naturally, but it can be taken as a supplement in which it supplies energy where it is demanded. Basically helping bodybuilders to do an extra set or rep in a workout without feeling muscle tiredness. To effectively use creatine you must go through two phases; the loading and the maintenance phase. The loading phase consists of you taking 20 grams of creatine throughout the day for 4 days, this will completely saturate your muscles with creatine. The next phase is the maintenance phase where you take 2–5 grams a day, to maintain creatine levels from loading.
BCAA is short for branch chain amino acids and it was one of the trickier supplements. BCAA can be found in most protein products such as eggs or meats and it can help increase muscle growth. When you are bodybuilding the body is more likely to break down muscle mass as it tries to keep the body fat stores full, BCAA can help prevent this by maintaining your lean muscle mass. BCAA should be taken either 30–45 before a workout or directly afterward.
Glutamine is the most common amino acid found throughout your body. Glutamine can help increase your human growth hormone and thus increasing your size and supporting your goal to gain muscle. After deciding on these 4 supplements to support me throughout the journey my next step was the main one, workout plan!
The real difference between just working out and bodybuilding is in this step right here, workout regime. Bodybuilders often put their body’s under extreme pressure and intensity while working out giving them the ability to get so big. Reps are shortened, weight is increased and breaks are long.
I looked at the covenant website for bodybuilding fanatics bodybuilding.com and signed up for a basic muscle gaining workout schedule that would include my workouts for an entire month (I only did 2 weeks).
With everything in motion, I was ready to begin my journey into the realm of bodybuilding. As a woman, I was a bit intimidated by the thought of getting bigger but, I was still intrigued and fascinated enough to just do it.
After my two weeks of intense workouts, clean eating and supplement use I compiled these tips on how to become a bodybuilder:
Tip 1. Stretch before every single workout.
After my first workout, I felt sore but strong as I completed all my sets. The next day, however, my body did not like me very much. I could barely walk and felt like I pulled my hamstring. I then remembered I hadn’t stretched at all before working out! The technique and weight used by bodybuilding pushes their muscle to the limit, and so stretching is a must. You should always properly stretch before and after your workout, to minimize pain.
Tip 2. Take your time increasing weight. I began my squat with the heaviest weight I could do hoping to somehow skip all the progressive steps, my results: I failed. Don’t try to be stronger than you are and don’t go straight for the heaviest weight. Take your time and progress your workout accordingly. When bodybuilding, you will get stronger as you go but first you must learn to appreciate each step of your journey.
I cannot stress this enough, it sets up your metabolism and eating schedule for the entire day. When you skip breakfast not only is your blood sugar levels low, but your hunger will be suppressed for the entire day. When your body goes without food too long, your metabolism slows down and your body will start breaking down muscles, which you worked so hard to gain.
Tip 4. Meal plan is key.
Meal prep consisting of sweet potatoes, fish, broccoli, chicken breast and asparagus. (Photo from: Muscle Coach)
When eating 6 or 8 times a day, you need to have an idea of where you are getting the food from, what times you should be eating and do your meals cover all the basic requirements (protein, carbs and fat). This is where meal planning can help you! Meal planning is simply making your meals for the day or week ahead of time and packaging them up to be eaten throughout the day. It is making your lunch on steroids (no pun intended). Meal planning not only saves you time but it keeps away the stress of where you are getting your food from.
Tip 5. Don’t compare yourself to others. In the bodybuilding world it is hard not to compare yourself or critique yourself when surrounded by other individuals who are stronger, bigger and more symmetrical (symmetry in the body is one of the aesthetics that bodybuilders aim for) than you. However, it is your journey and you are competing with yourself. Stay positive and just become a better version of yourself.
During my two week experience, I learned bodybuilding is hard and takes a lot of dedication. It is a tremendous amount of food and workout planning, and upkeep to support your body through your new lifestyle. In my two weeks, I did not become a professional bodybuilder, that takes time, but I found a new appreciation for people who do this for a living. Bodybuilders have resilience, are focused and are hard workers; aspects that everyone should aspire to have.
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