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Posted on November 25 2015

Building a physique worthy of the bodybuilding stage requires understanding the different stages of competition preparation and the diets that will support the goals of each stage. Whether you want to compete or just look like you do, here’s the low-down on how these real-life terminators build their awe-inspiring muscle:

There are two main stages that bodybuilders go through, in-season and off-season. The main goal of a bodybuilding off-season is to build quality muscle while minimizing fat gain. Following this, the main goal of in-season is to lose fat while maintaining as much muscle as possible and to obtain the perfect amount of hardness and conditioning. There are those rare people who have the unfortunate case of having to strip muscle (please note the sarcasm here) but for the most part, any bodybuilder will be trying to hold onto their hard-earned muscle and will adjust their diet accordingly. Regardless of the stage you’re in, keeping track of calories and macronutrients is essential and can be easily done with many free apps available today, my favorite being MyFitnessPal. Now that you know how to track, let’s cover what you will be tracking:



Off-season is all about packing on muscle….not fat! With that being said, fat gain is inevitable but minimizing it is still preferable so, gone are the days of eating everything and anything in sight. Sure, some may still believe in the effectiveness of a “dirty bulk” but the trend in off-season dieting is moving closer to a smarter, cleaner way of adding muscle. There are still varying schools of thought on the correct method but here are the main factors:



To gain weight (hopefully, mainly muscle) you must eat more calories than your burn, that’s simple, right? There are many different equations out there and a lot of equipment that can estimate your calorie burn during exercise but the best way to determine your calories needed to gain weight is to track your calories consumed and to monitor your weight. Heart rate monitors can help you estimate calories burned but if you keep your diet consistent, this will be your best way to find out what amount of calories you gain on.



A general guideline is to consume 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. Lean protein such as egg whites, fish, turkey, and chicken are excellent sources for a lean bulk. If you’re one of those people who struggles with eating that much protein, whey or casein protein can help supplement your whole food diet to make sure that you get the necessary number of grams. If you want to get big, you must eat big and protein is the muscle-building macronutrient.

Carbs: When transitioning from in-season to off-season the super-lean bodybuilder physique is extremely sensitive to calories and macronutrients, especially carbohydrates. For this reason, it’s best to slowly add carbohydrates back into the diet in order to minimize changes to the metabolism and fat gain. The goal for off-season is generally to consume 1.5 -2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight per day. To maximize the effectiveness of the carbs and to take advantage of the changes in insulin that high-glycemic index carbohydrates have on muscle uptake, high-GI carbs are consumed after a training session. In general, the remainder of the carbohydrates should be mainly complex, low-GI carbs such as brown rice, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal. Typically, half of the daily allotment of carbohydrates are consumed at breakfast and after a training session with the remainder split between the remainder of the daily number of meals.



Intake of quality sources of fats is necessary for optimal hormone functioning. The last thing any bodybuilder wants is to negatively affect his testosterone levels while trying to build muscle. Great sources of fat are olive oil, flaxseed oil, and fish oils as well as nuts and avocados.



When shifting from off-season to in-season, bodybuilders will adjust their diets to promote fat loss.  The main variable, calories, will be progressively lowered as the weeks pass. However, there are a few ways to do this utilizing diet macronutrients and ultimately should be tailored to your physique type, ability to adhere to the diet, and the results you obtain. We are all different with different diet starting points, food preferences, and body chemistries so ultimately it will take trial and error to determine which one works best for you. Here are a few common fat-loss diet methods that a bodybuilder may incorporate into their regimen:



We all know that lowering your carbs can result in quick weight loss but going too low too soon or for too long can also lead to muscle loss. To combat this, bodybuilders slowly lower carb intake, minimizing the hormonal changes that can occur. In addition, on this typical type of diet, re-feed days are added into the diet plan whereby carbs are increased, fats are lowered, and calories are increased once every one to two weeks to reset body hormone levels and sensitivities.

2. Carb Cycling: This type of lower carbohydrate diet involves alternating any combination of low, moderate, and high carbohydrate days. It’s typically used the closer one comes to a show as an additional method to lose those last few pounds.



or all those carb lovers out there, this diet could be your worst nightmare as it involves limiting carbohydrates to an ultimate low in order to manipulate the body into burning body fat for energy rather than relying on dietary carbs. This means that once the body is in ketosis it can tap into those love handles and stubborn lower abdominal fat for energy! Luckily, research found that this diet, which was first discovered as a treatment for epilepsy, could be made easier with the addition of supplements, which make ketosis easier to enter into and can allow for more carbs and protein in the diet.



Ok, so who really wants to be average? Obviously, anyone who’s into bodybuilding already knows that average is not good enough or them so, here’s a sample workout split taken right from the man, the best, (in my humble opinion), Jay Cutler and brought to you by  Now, you can see how you measure up to that used by the best in the business.






  • ope Push-Down ope Push-DownRope Push-Down
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 100-150 pounds

  • ips ipsDips
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: Bodyweight (280-300 pounds)

  • rench Press rench PressFrench Press
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 65-105 pounds

  • lose-Grip Bench Press lose-Grip Bench PressClose-Grip Bench Press
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 185-245 pounds

  • traight-Bar Push-Down traight-Bar Push-DownStraight-Bar Push-Down
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 120-180 pounds

  • arbell Curl arbell CurlBarbell Curl
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 95-135 pounds

  • reacher Curl reacher CurlPreacher Curl
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 85-125 pounds

  • umbbell Curl umbbell CurlDumbbell Curl
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 45-65 pounds

  • ammer Curl ammer CurlHammer Curl
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 65 pounds

  • everse Curl everse CurlReverse Curl
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 85-105 pounds









  • ying Leg Curl ying Leg CurlLying Leg Curl
    4 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 100-180 pounds

  • eated Leg Curl eated Leg CurlSeated Leg Curl
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 120-150 pounds

  • ingle-Leg Curl ingle-Leg CurlSingle-Leg Curl
    3 sets of 10 reps per leg, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 100-120 pounds

  • tiff-Legged Deadlift tiff-Legged DeadliftStiff-Legged Deadlift
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 135-225 pounds

  • eg Extension eg ExtensionLeg Extension
    2 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 100-120 pounds

  • eg Press eg PressLeg Press
    4 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 10-16 plates

  • ack Squat ack SquatHack Squat
    4 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 6-12 plates

  • ront Squat ront SquatFront Squat
    4 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 135-365 pounds

  • unge ungeLunge
    3 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: Bodyweight

  • eg Extension eg ExtensionLeg Extension
    4 sets of 10 reps, 1 minute rest Jay's Weight: 120-160 pounds



The full 8-week mass-training guide can be found at

Bodybuilding Fitness Tips: The best information you can acquire sometimes is to ask those who have done what you want to do exactly how they got there and what they’d recommend. Here’s a few common tips often cited by successful bodybuilders:

1.  Technique, technique, technique. Not only is this the best way to ensure that you’re hitting the right muscle, but it’s also essential to preventing injuries, which could cost time in the gym and time is muscle!

2.Get rest! Recovery is an important part of muscle growth and not only does each muscle group need rest, but your body in general needs adequate sleep in order to keep hormones in check that could dampen muscle growth.

3.Nutrition is KEY! Your time in the gym will be maximized with a nutrition plan that supports it. Train right and eat right! Track your calories and macros and eat the right amount of each to get the results you want.

4.  Have a plan and write it down. The best reason to have a plan is for the moments when change isn’t happening or the results we want to see are not materializing. If you have a plan and stick to it, you’ll know what you’ve been doing and will have a better idea of what to change.

5.Surround yourself with likeminded people. This tip is a no brainer for any bodybuilder. The quickest way to derail your progress and motivation is to be surrounded by people who don’t have the same priorities. Surrounding yourself with those who are BETTER than you is also a great tip because you are the company you keep. So keep the best!