Ten Rules for Bodybuilding Success

Ten Rules for Bodybuilding Success
by Mike Armstrong


Every workout you miss will set your progress back almost a week. It takes that long for to recoup the losses you experienced form the missed workout and then get back to gaining again. And every workout you miss isn’t missed to someone who will best you in a contest this year or next, or the year after that.

Absolutely every champion bodybuilder has gone long periods of time without missing a workout. It is fact that the great champion Robby Robinson has not missed a workout since he moved to California in 1975. That’s nearly four years of steady training, and he had the muscles to prove it. While I never miss a workout, there are some times of the year in which train less intensely than just prior to a contest. After last year’s Mr. Universe I coasted in my tainting for about six weeks, doing only what I felt like doing in the gym each workout day. This was a resting phase at a time when I had to recharge my mind to again push for the top. If you have injuries form pre-contest training, this is also a good time to heal them.

After a rest I begin to gradually build up my trailing intensity until I am at a frenzied pace with fairly heavy weights. But if I was to keep at this pace all year long, I would soon burn out and stop making gains. So, even though I do not miss workouts, I do cycle my training to allow periods of coasting and mental and physical rejuvenation.


This rule dovetails with the last, in which I train harder at some times of the year than at others. At the times when it is appropriate to train exceptionally hard — prior to a competition or posing exhibition — I do, however, train extremely hard.

What I mean by hard training is a combination of heavy resistance short rest intervals between sets and such intensity — augmenting techniques as forced reps, negatives, super-sets, tri-sets, giant sets, burns and continuous tension. I use all of these in my training, and they are glued together to a strong mental drive.

The vast majority of those bodybuilders who don’t make gains violate one of these first two rules. They either train irregularly, not intensely enough, or both. If you can combine regularly with intensity and throw in a little bit of good diet, your progress will zoom.

But still, there are a lot of guys out there who simply don’t want to sweat. They dream about being Mr. America or Mr. Universe, but they aren’t willing to put in the necessary work to achieve such a goal. It takes absolute dedication to such a goal to achieve it, and that includes regular, hard workouts.


The opposite vector of not training enough is training too much which results in overtraining. Unfortunately there is a fine line between training to the optimum and training too much, and many enthusiastic bodybuilders cross over the line. I think the problem here is getting carried away with dong too much, not from training too hard. On the other side of the coin, if you’re training too long, there is no way you ar training hard enough, because you have to train with less intensity when you’re doing those three and four-hour workouts. When training hard, you will only be able to train about one hour or an hour and fifteen minutes.

When you’ve overtrained, you’ll know it, because you’ll dread ever going into the gym to work-out. When this happens, take a week layoff and resume training with a different routine. You would also do well to begin training, with less sets and greater intensity. Try doing no more than about 12 sets per body-part, but push every one to the absolute limit. If you do, you’ll begin making tremendous gains.


The accent in today’s bodybuilding competition is on having balanced proportions. It seems as though anyone can get good cuts with today’s ripping-up diets, and with time most can gain good mass to with these cuts. This is especially true of those who don’t mind taking a lot of anabolics. So now it seems like proportion is the break point between winning and losing.

Balanced proportions mean having no single body-part weaker than any of the others. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t let your muscles all grow at the same rate . Invariably the calves, deltoids, thigh biceps or some other body part will lag behind. Intelligent bodybuilders recognize their weak points and set about systematically to improve them. The end result is a perfectly proportioned physique.

My suggestion to you is that you give a lagging muscle group total priority in your training. Do it first in your workouts, hit it with heavier weights, rest less between sets, and generally push harder than you ever have before. Keep the lagging part constantly in you mind, and bomb the life out of it. There will be no other thing that the muscle can do besides grow. A point to keep constantly in your mind throughout your training career.


This rule goes hand in hand with the previous one, since it is the way you can most accurately identify weak body parts. There are well-qualified individuals in the sport who can give you an objective evaluation of your weak and strong points. Invariably this will be someone you do not know well, since your friends will almost always be un objective.


Nothing can keep you from attaining peak competitive condition like a haphazard approach to the contest season. It’s only when you start planning your season long in advance that you will be able to reach a competitive zenith.

I start planning my next season as soon as the last one is over. First, I go about evaluating my weak point, and plan to spend approximately six months improving them by training them harder and almost not training the rest of the body at all. Then I begin to gradually peak for a coming competition.

Over the years I’ve developed a checklist of dates along the way toward a contest at which I kick in various parts of my preparations. I plan these dates and write them on my calendar. Then it’s just a matter of sticking to the schedule. This way I’m using a road-map to my successful contest condition, rather than a winding country road on which there are no road signs.


Sleep and rest are essential to a hard-training bodybuilder, since the muscles actually grow only when resting. A lot of bodybuilders seem to get by fairly well on as little as 4 or 5 hours of sleep, but they’re usually the ones who have trouble gaining muscular bodyweight. If they could sleep more, they would not doubt gain weight faster.

In general, you need about 8 to 8 1/2 hours of sleep per day to recharge your physical and mental batteries and get set for a new day of muscle gains. I’d also suggest that you take a nap for about a half-hour each day as well.


If you want to make optimum gains, you should keep your body as clean as possible so it can work optimally. Nothing will poison your body as quickly as eating junk foods, or those foods with chemical additives. This gradually slows you down, which retards your growth rate.

If you feel like you have toxified your body with such worthless foods, I’d suggest you set about detoxifying it. Take a short juice fast, and then eat a better quality of food once you’re back on solid foods. Nothing will detoxify you like a fast, and I take them regularly.


My idea of optimum nutrition is rather complicated, but I can give you an outline of it fairly quickly. I firmly believe in fresh goods, preferably raw, so their enzymes are still intact. Cooked foods also have many of the minerals turned inorganic, so raw food seems best tome, and had certainly worked well.

I also believe in very little animal protein, other than some raw milk products. I also believe in taking goat’s milk, since it is more easily used by the human body. Beef is totally taboo, since it is loaded with saturated fats, uric acid and chemicals from the steroids farmers feed their cattle.

Many bodybuilders have said that nutrition is 75% of the battle in bodybuilding. I would go a step farther and say that bodybuilding is as much as 90% nutrition, and good nutrition can make or break you in the sport.


The twine that ties all of the preceding rules together is your mind, and keeping a positive mental attitude will take you a long way toward success. You must truly believe in yourself and your ability to succeed. Visualize yourself as you want one day to become, never doubt that you can achieve that type of condition, and you will one day succeed.

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