After you've been lifting a while, you generally find you either want maximum strength or maximum looks.
When you're a weightlifter, increasing your strength is your sole objective. Powerlifters are an extreme version of this.
But why the lower number of sets and reps with high weight?
Heavy weights are well known for increasing strength, and you need more strength.
Why the 3-5 minute rest period?
This part has to do with muscle recovery and is a main difference between bodybuilding and weightlifting. The longer rest period has been shown across multiple studies to result in overall bigger strength gains. The rest also allows you to continue lifting, resulting in more gains.
More scientifically, it's the resynthesis of CP (creatine phosphokinase) that's being accounted for. CP is a chemical stored within the muscles that helps with the breakdown of another chemical - ATP. ATP is a chemical in your body that is broken down to produce energy. Think of it as firewood floating around in your body. As soon as you need it to, it'll burst into flames to get you going. Together, you have ATP-CP, a source of energy your body uses for about the first 45 seconds of an exercise. After this, the CP stores are depleted.
Because weightlifting requires explosive movements for about 45 second, you deplete your CP stores. According to research, these then take about 3-5 minutes for almost total resynthesis. Following the replenishing of CP, you can once again perform explosive (but short) heavy lifts.
Why compound lifts?
You're moving heavy weight. Your body can't do this for extended periods of time. Therefore working as many of your muscles as possible using the fewest number of lifts results in the greatest overall gains.
When you focus on how your body looks, you are a bodybuilder. You're not concerned with being strong, you're concerned with looking fantastic. Mr. Olympia is an extreme example of this.
But why the higher number of sets and reps with moderate weight? What about the shorter rest period?
Your goal here is to grow muscle fast. This happens through high set numbers combined with short rest periods. While information is still limited, we do know that when the CP from the ATP-CP is kept from fully regenerating, there is a buildup of lactate - a form of lactic acid. This accumulation then results in faster muscle growth. However, this muscle growth does reach its peak much more quickly.
Why the isolated lifts?
This is simply to give bodybuilders more control over shaping their bodies. Just imagine how frustrating it would be in a character creation screen if each time you adjusted your hero's arms, their chest changed as well.
CALORIES are how big or small you want to be.
Eat more, gain weight. Eat less, lose weight. Just be careful to never eat too little. For women, never go below 1200. For men, never go below 1500.
MACROS and EXERCISE are how you want your calories to look.
Macros are the nutrients you need a lot of - protein, fats and carbs. Exercise determines how these nutrients are used within the body. Think of the nutrients as building materials and exercise as an architect.
MICROS are how healthy you want your diet to be.
Micros are the nutrients you need in small amounts - vitamins and minerals. These keep your body running at peak efficiency.
Where do you start?
Step 1: Find a calorie total that leaves you with a look you're happy with.
Before you can do any of the specifics, you have to understand the general concepts. For calories, this means finding a general daily calorie count you like. Should you aim for a goal weight? I would argue for you to aim for a weight range based on your height and gender. This is a pretty nifty tool. Once you find a place within that range you're happy with, you've found your calorie total. And never be afraid to adjust this. Your calorie total is not set in stone nor should it be.
Step 2: Research athletic body types.
If you want a certain body type, then you need to do the exercise regimes that corresponds to getting said body. Swimming and lifting produce very different results. Running will never result in Mr. Olympia. This series of photos is a great place to start. See a body you like? Research their routine. If you can't do that routine specifically, look for alternatives.
Step two: Mess around with your macro totals.
Now that you've got the general stuff down and you're using exercise to distribute your calories, it's time to get a bit more specific with your macros. Ideally, keep protein around 25-30% since any higher is wasted by the body. For carbs and fats, that's up to you. For simplicity's sake, assume that the percentage of fat you eat will be the percentage of fat you have on your body. This is why bodybuilders only eat about 10-20% fat in their diet. During each change, give yourself about two months so you can note any differences.
Does it matter what you eat?
Are sugars/fats/carbs/sodium evil?
No. In moderation, they are necessary and enjoyable.
Does it matter when you eat?
The holidays have long been used as the last fling before the ring. You gorge yourself with the knowledge that come 2016, all the sweets and treats are out the door. This mindset, though, is incredibly detrimental to not only your body but your mind.
Be healthy and enjoy the holidays this year!
All or Nothing
You've started your New Year's diet. It goes great for a little bit but then the cravings set in. You start losing your mind because you can't have one cookie. Eventually you snap and have a cookie. But it's not just a cookie. It's a cookie that comes with the belief that you are a failure. You can't stay with this diet. Who are you even kidding? Might as well bring in a few more treats and a few more and a few more until, by February, you're back to square one.
This is extremely unfair to yourself and your potential. The reality of the situation is that you have spent that last two months (counting down from Halloween) shoving your body full of decadent sweets and rich foods. Your body has adapted to expect these foods. Suddenly, you rip away them away, replacing them with veggies and lean protein. The body overreacts, wrongly assuming you're going to starve. How do you survive this starvation? Seek out calorie-rich foods, thus triggering the cravings.
The biggest problem this time of year is the mindset of all or nothing. You stuff your face with all because, come New Year's, you'll be going on the nothing diet. This is horrible for you. For one, it's an outright lie. You know damn well you'll be sneaking treats in the new year. Two, it allows you to excuse overeating.
The secret is moderation.
Instead of finishing off an entire half pint of eggnog in one sitting, space it out over the course of the week. Don't eat that entire tin of Danish Butter Cookies in two days, eat it in two weeks.
What if you already understand moderation? What if you're trying to keep relatively healthy at company holiday parties? What do you choose from the buffet?
Instead of CHOCOLATE, choose GUMMIES.
Gummies typically don't have high fat content because they aren't made with any kind of fatty products (whole milk, whipping cream, buttermilk, butter, egg yolk, etc.). Therefore if you want to have something sweet, gumdrops are your best option.
Instead of cookies, choose PRETZELS.
Cookies, again, have a lot of fat.
Drink more WATER than ALCOHOL.
No one is saying you shouldn't drink when you need to deal with those in-laws, but to avoid extra calories, water is your best friend.
For the birds, always eat BREAST MEAT.
Breast meat is white meat and therefore the lowest in fat. Now, no matter how well the bird is cooked, the white meat will be dry. To make it juicier, it's okay to use gravy, but keep this amount relatively small.
Instead of SWEETS, choose FRUITS.
Unlike gummies, fruits actually have good things for your body, ranging from antioxidants to vitamins.
Though nuts are healthy, they are extremely fatty and do not make the best snack choice despite what other sites will tell you.
Why limit fats and not carbs?
When you eat food, you consume fuel points.
1g of carbs = 4 points
1g of protein = 4 points
1g of fat = 9 points
That's a lot of calories for just a smidgen of fat. If you really want to eat a lot during the holidays without packing on too much weight, limiting fats means you get to eat more than twice as many carbs or more than twice as much protein before you even hit fat level points.
Co-host of HeroesForge, founder of Battle to Be Better, gamer, singer and all around happy person.