The Five Rules of Bodybuilding

The Five Rules of Bodybuilding

First, let's get something straight.

I'm not talking about bodybuilding in terms of competing for trophies in bikinis on stage.

When I talk about bodybuilding I mean the process of achieving the physique that you want. The process of losing fat, building muscle, and developing willpower.

Bodybuilding doesn't just mean big muscles.

Bodybuilding is how we train the body to achieve the look we want.

Whether that's toned, fit, jacked, or roided-out.

It's all in what we do and how we do it.

The way I see it, we should all be bodybuilding.

We don't have to compete on a stage, but we should understand how to build our bodies and how it reacts to different types of training and diets.

Bodybuilding is how you figure that out.

The Five Rules

Rule #1 - Diet first.

Diet comes first. You can train for hours and hours, but if you're not getting enough fuel, you're simply not going to grow.

Muscle development requires adequate protein and calories.

If you're not eating in line with your goals, you're not going to make progress.

If you're trying to lose fat, you have to be in a caloric deficit. Roughly 3,500 calories will equal one pound of weight loss. If you break that up over 7 days, that's a 500-calorie deficit per day.

If you're trying to gain muscle, the inverse applies. Get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. If you're eating at a 250 calorie surplus, you should be gaining about a half pound of weight per week.

If you hit your numbers you are more likely to hit your goals.

If you need help hitting your numbers, I offer 1-on-1 coaching where I tell you exactly what to hit and hold you accountable to your goals.

Rule #2 - Progressive overload creates progress.

Focus on progressive overload with moderate to moderately heavy weights.

Get stronger, but also hit various rep ranges. Our muscles work in many different ways, so hit them from all angles.

If you always lift the same amount of weight, you'll stop building muscle.

Do sets of 5, sets of 8, sets of 10, 12, 15, and sometimes more. But typically focus on the 8 to 12 range. This is the rep range that focuses the most on muscle size.

Lift 3 days per week, minimum, but preferably 5 to 6.

Bodybuilding is about putting in the reps and stressing the muscle.

Pump blood, feel the burn, and you will grow.

Your body grows by adapting to stress. You have to put it under stress if you want to grow.

Rule #3 - Stick to the basics.

Stick to the basics and don't get caught up in fancy programs. Focus on the mind-muscle connection while training.

Primary movements like presses, rows, pulldowns, squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses can make up a majority of a program.

From there, simply vary the angles at which these exercises are performed. You can do the same exercise several different ways at several different angles.

This targets muscle groups in different ways leading to more growth.

On top of your basics, you can add in isolation movements for muscles like the arms, shoulders, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Typically these are the places we want to improve the most, and cables or machines really shine in this department.

With cable and machines, you can usually achieve much better muscle activation and control of the weight through the entire range of motion. Cables are often my first choice for bodybuilding isolations.

You'll improve much quicker if you stick to the basics, become proficient in the primary movements, and consistently increase the weight.

Rule #4 - Supplements are supplements.

Supplements, are just that... supplements.

They will by no means make or break you. Again, see Rule 1.

Diet is the most important thing, and supplements are for when you can spend the money. With that said, here are my most recommended supplements:

(NOTE: These are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after using one of these links, I may or may not receive a commission for assisting with the transaction. This comes at no additional cost to you.)

If you want to know more about why I use these, you can send me a message here.

Rule #5 - There are no rules!

There are guidelines, sure. But there are no rules when it comes to building the body.

There are ways to do an exercise properly and there are ways that can easily lead to injury.

But don't get caught up in all of the bullshit.

Shoot for a certain rep range, but if you want to do more, DO IT!

On the next set go up in weight. Don't be afraid to push yourself.

Maybe you thought you could hit 12 reps but you only did 8.

What's stopping you from finishing those 4 reps?

Only you and your own limiting thoughts. That's it.

Everything's your fault. So own it.

Why not "owe the bank" and pay back what you said you were gonna do?

Finish out those 4 reps, even if it takes you another five minutes. Break through those mental barriers.


Mental barriers.

Achieving the physique you want and conquering your goals are only hindered by your own mental barriers, your own bullshit.

If you're not losing fat and gaining muscle, you're not doing what's absolutely necessary.

Sure, you could be doing almost everything right, but a few shortcomings in the wrong areas can truly set you back.

Our goals aren't forgiving.

We know when we've achieved them and we know when we've failed them.

Don't compromise your goals.

Don't listen to the rules.

Do what you know is necessary.

If you need more rest take it... But if you know you have what it takes to push through to the end, then do it.

Only you know.

I can't make you...

Only you can make the decision to build the physique you want.

I'm just here to show you the way when you do...

Nick Hagood
Spartan Training & Coaching

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