Natural bodybuilders may have a leg up on their gym-loving counterparts when it comes to building muscle and cutting fat, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to put in the work to get there. Making healthy food choices, getting quality sleep, and hitting the gym consistently are just some of the things you need to be doing as you build your best body ever, but there are other things you can do too. Check out this list of 10 tips from expert natural bodybuilders that can help you bring your best self to the stage.
Top 10 Tips for Natural Bodybuilders – Bodybuilding 101 with Photographer, Fitness Model, Certified Elite Fitness Trainer and Bodybuilding Coach Maxwell Alexander
1) Eat Enough Protein
No supplement is more important to a natural bodybuilder than protein powder. It doesn’t matter if you take a whey, casein, or pea-protein powder—each and every product contains high-quality protein, which is key to building muscle mass. When you’re working toward your fitness goals, it’s vital that you eat enough quality protein every day; about one gram per pound of body weight is ideal.
2) Sleep Well
Getting quality sleep helps you recover faster and grow stronger. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Stick to a regular sleeping schedule and keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. If you have trouble falling asleep, take an evening walk or read a book in another room until you feel tired enough to fall asleep. Before going to bed, don’t look at any bright screens such as phones or laptops; they can make it hard to fall asleep as your eyes will be used to brighter light.
3) Keep Track of Your Progress
One of the most important tips for natural bodybuilders is to keep track of your progress. There are many bodybuilding charts out there and all you need to do is pick one, or make your own. If you have ever heard about rubber-banding then that is a good way to keep track of your gains, because you will know when it’s time to pull back on workouts and watch what you eat.
4) Train Intensely, But Take Rests
Getting big requires you to train intensely. However, when training intensely, your body needs longer rest periods. When it comes to bodybuilding, resting is just as important as training. If you don’t give your body enough time to recover, you’ll find yourself unable to complete workouts—which will lead you nowhere.
5) Put on Weight Between Meals
As you probably know, protein is an important part of bodybuilding—and not just to keep muscle on while you’re cutting. Most people eat plenty of high-protein foods: steak, chicken breast, eggs, fish, and so on. But when weight training or trying to gain lean mass (the goal of bodybuilding), be sure to incorporate healthy sources of protein into every meal or snack.
6) Don’t Substitute Training with Cardio
Don’t do hours of cardio in lieu of weight training. Research has shown that it takes more than five hours of cardio each week to maintain muscle mass, and most natural bodybuilders can build much more muscle by doing intense weight training. If you’re cutting calories to lose fat and your caloric needs are low, try just cutting out junk food instead. You can drop those extra pounds naturally without spending countless hours on a treadmill.
7) Plan For Success
Planning your training regimen is key to success as a natural bodybuilder. Decide what you want to focus on and learn how to train around it in order to maximize your results. This may mean increasing or decreasing your volume and intensity, or changing up movements. Be willing to adapt based on how your body feels, but also realize that adapting doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon previous plans—changing it up just means adding something new into an already successful system.
8) Listen to What Your Body Needs
When you’re following a natural bodybuilding diet, what to eat is only part of your nutrition plan. You also need to make sure you’re eating enough to fuel your workouts and recover from them so that you don’t lose muscle mass. If you aren’t making progress toward your fitness goals, take a look at your eating habits to see if they are supportive of—or sabotaging—your goals.
9) Prepare Everything in Advance
Even bodybuilders who are on a budget must prepare in advance. Plan your meals, portion out your calories, and take snacks with you so that you’re never tempted to splurge. Also, consider bringing extra protein powder or food bars with you to help tide you over between meals. Planning in advance can make sticking to your diet much easier when hunger strikes unexpectedly.
10) Staying Motivated Is Important!
Staying motivated is arguably one of your top priorities as a bodybuilder. If you let your motivation slip, all of your hard work will be undone, and you’ll have to start from scratch all over again. Motivation is an emotional response, so it can ebb and flow with your feelings. You may be super motivated when working out one day, but unmotivated when it comes time to hit the gym on another day.
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