Question: A major concern of most bodybuilders is to build muscle mass. Whether it should be 5 kilos to get in shape for the beach or 20 kg to win bodybuilding championships. The problem is the same. How do I gain muscle mass without getting fat at the same time?
Jusup Wilkosz: For beginners it’s probably not a very big problem. If you have never exercised your muscles before, you will achieve great changes in muscle size without training intense.
Advanced athletes have to train harder. An increase in muscle fibre cross section is the combination of training, nutrition and sufficient recovery. The combination is important
Question: What is the right combination for you?
Jusup: To build muscle mass I prefer basic exercises like bench presses, squats and neck presses combined with some assistance. Eight repetitions per set is the best for me. In the past I also worked with low repetition numbers. Now I have increased this to 8. I keep this number even with lighter weights to save energy for the high loads, because they bring success. In the last set I train with 75% – 85% of the maximum strength. According to this system I also manage to constantly increase the weights.
I train intensively, but not too much. I do not believe in training beyond the pain barrier. An extreme burning sensation in the muscle indicates a high lactate accumulation and not a positive training stimulus. This lactate has to be broken down again during the recovery phase. If it increases so much that this cannot happen fast enough, the influence on the training is even negative.
In the short term, before championships, you can train with a high number of repetitions, but not to build up mass. My complete program takes about 1 1/2 to maximum 2 hours. Each muscle group is trained twice a week. During this phase I also try to eliminate weaknesses, which is hardly possible directly before a championship
Question: Do you use support/tricks to shorten the recovery time?
Jusup: I think this is essential for an achievement bodybuilder. Sauna, massage and stretching exercises can make a decisive contribution to success. Occasionally, if one is too excited, one must be able to force oneself to rest, maybe even avoid a fight.
Question:…and the role of nutrition?
Jusup: You should definitely make sure you get enough protein in your diet. At least 2-3 g per kg body weight daily. Plus complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes and pasta. Those who are troubled by a high protein intake should fall back on an easily digestible protein concentrate, as I do. To maintain the acid-base balance in the stomach, which can be disturbed by large amounts of protein, you should also eat fruits and vegetables. An excess of acid often makes itself felt by tiredness from training.
Question: What should the total calorie count be approximately?
Jusup: Don’t overdo it. An occasional look in the mirror to see whether you can still see your muscles or whether they are already disappearing under a layer of fat can often protect you from a bad dream. If you are having trouble digesting, it is better to skip a meal rather than force yourself down. Some athletes like to eat ice cream and cake in the build-up phase, so it’s better to skip them! You will find it difficult to go back on a diet once you have acquired certain eating habits.
Once you pay attention to your body’s signals, you will know what you need. Even the 5 or 6 meals a day that some people recommend are not necessary. Whoever makes it, okay. But you should not force yourself to do it.
Protein drinks do. It has always helped me a lot because I am not a big eater, at least not at regular intervals. One thing you should definitely keep in mind: Even in the build-up phase you can always look like a bodybuilder.
Exercises for the chest to build mass
The most popular chest exercise is the bench press. You lie flat on the bench so that your eyes are just below the barbell bar and lift the weight out of the rack. If you lie too high, you will bump into the barbell rack with each repetition. The weight is slowly lowered to the chest until it touches the muscles just above the nipples.
Under no circumstances should you let the weight >plump down<. You can easily break a rib. But that is not the only reason to train slowly with heavy weights: At least you can feel that your chest is strained when you lower it.
As shown here, the beginner may have difficulties with the balance. Therefore you should keep your legs on the ground at the beginning. The arms are not stretched out straight, but angled a little. This relieves the elbow joints and makes it possible to still get a weight that has become too heavy up by bringing the barbell close to the body and simply pushing it up. With stretched arms it is no longer possible to bend the arms with heavy weights. The dumbbells fall to the ground and overstretch the chest muscles. Extremely heavy weights should not be used because the strain on the tendons is very high.
A variation of flyes is cable pulling. Some athletes prefer to perform this exercise standing up, others lean forward a little. The whole chest is trained standing, but mainly the lower part. Bent over, however, one feels the exercise in the middle to upper part. There are bodybuilders who not only bring the cable together, but also cross it to achieve a greater effect.
This exercise is not a mass exercise and should therefore not be performed with weights that are too heavy. It is advisable to always pull the cable crosswise towards the end of the training. The number of repetitions is greater than for the other chest exercises; usually between 15 and 20.
Exercises for the shoulder to build mass
Dumbbell pressing has the same effect as barbell pressing, but is occasionally a refreshing alternative. Some bodybuilding stars prefer this exercise because it allows you to lower the weights lower and achieve greater stretching. However, I feel that stretching can be overdone, especially when using heavy weights, because stretching and overstretching are close together. To protect the spine, you can also do the pushing exercises on an incline bench.
Arnold – Press
With light weights this is an excellent beginning exercise. It serves to warm up the entire shoulder muscle. It is a modified form of dumbbell pressing. From the end position of the biceps curl, i.e. with the palms of the hands facing the shoulders, the weight is pressed upwards and at the same time the arms are turned until the dumbbells are parallel and opposite each other in the highest position (arms extended). This rotation causes more muscle strands of the shoulder muscles to work together.
Laterals is the best exercise for the lateral shoulder head, which has the greatest optical effect, as it is responsible for the width. Exhale when lifting the dumbbells. Even those who have pain in their joints during other shoulder exercises will be able to perform side raises without complications. The elbows are angled minimally. Lift the dumbbell to slightly above shoulder height. Always warm up with light weights before trying your best.
Back exercises for mass building
Rowing with the barbell
Without doubt the best mass exercise for back and latissimus. The back can be trained with heavy weights. Whoever does not perform this exercise correctly can damage his spine. You don’t just let the dumbbell >drive down<, you have to perform it careful/controlled. The load on the lower vertebrae is enormous when you train with momentum. Exhale when lifting the barbell. During the entire movement you should have a hollow back to protect the spine.
Rowing with the barbell
On this photo you can see the correct position better. In order to achieve a greater stretching, I stand on a piece of wood. The dumbbell is held in shoulder width. The effectiveness of this exercise can be increased by occasionally changing the grip width. If you do not have any wood available, you can stand on a bench. In this case not too heavy a weight is used. It must be emphasized that barbell rowing is also the most dangerous back exercise if it is not performed correctly.
Rowing with dumbbells
If you want to protect your back, you can also do the rowing exercise with dumbbells. The load on the spine is not so great with this exercise with light weights. The latissimus can be stretched very far. This exercise makes you sweat a lot, because it takes twice as long for 10 repetitions per arm as for 10 with barbell rowing. Some bodybuilders perform the exercise in such a way that they only rest their hand on the bench. Both legs then remain on the ground.
Exercises for the legs to build mass .
The squat is considered a basic exercise. It is the most important of the leg exercises. A powerrack is highly recommended. There is a big debate about how deep the squat should be performed. I do not think much of half squats. You should at least go so deep that the buttocks reach the height of the knees. If you have difficulty maintaining your balance, you should stand with your heel on a wood about 3 cm thick. Under no circumstances should you bend over with your upper body.
The squat with the barbell on the thighs is not quite as effective. Heavy weights are not possible with this exercise. It is rather a variation of the squat to stimulate other muscle fibres to grow. Especially after heavy leg training this exercise gives an excellent stimulus for muscle development. It takes some tome to get used to, but if you include this squat in your program, you will not want to miss it after a short time.
There are claims that the gluteal muscle at the leg press is developed too much. Basically this exercise is the same in physiological sequence for the leg muscles as squats.
In squats the upper body is moved up and down. At the leg press the legs are moving. Because we do not lie down with the trapezius muscle but with the whole back, the gluteal muscle is stretched more when the sled is lowered. You can train with considerably more weight on the leg press than on the squat. Under no circumstances should you hold your breath when pressing up. You should breath out, even with the greatest effort.
Triceps exercises for mass building
Close grip BENCH PRESS
The close grip bench press is an excellent exercise to build up mass in the triceps. This exercise is not suitable for beginners, because it has to be trained with relatively much weight. The beginner should give his tendons and ligaments time to become strong before doing this exercise. The barbell is gripped so that the hands are 10 to 15 cm apart. As in bench press, you exhale while pressing the weight up. Those with weak joints should not try this exercise.
Triceps pushing on the cable is an excellent warm-up exercise. The weights can be easily adjusted with a steel pin. This allows you to perform the first sets with less weight to prepare the joints.
After a few sets, this exercise with more weight is also ideal for building up mass. With the single grip you can feel the triceps better, but the exercise can also be done with the bent bar on both arms. Since the wrists are especially strained with a straight bar, the slightly bent bar is more preferable. Exhale when pressing down.
Performed with dumbbells, this exercise has almost the same effect on the triceps as on the cable. The upper arm does not move. Only the forearms perform the movement. The weight is not moved with momentum but with the force of the triceps muscle. During the up and down movements you concentrate fully on the muscle to be worked. Not all bodybuilders are equally enthusiastic about this exercise. I myself rarely perform the exercise. Exhale when lifting the weight.
The biceps curl with the barbell is without a doubt the most popular arm exercise. This is probably due to the fact that you can handle very heavy weights. A weight lifting belt is highly recommended for this exercise. After squats and the rowing exercise, the barbell curl can be classified as a >back breaker<. Under no circumstances will the barbell be lifted with momentum. Bending of the spine is even more dangerous if the barbell cannot be lifted in the correct position. The weight should only be lifted using the arms and without swing. Do not simply let the dumbbell fall back into the starting position afterwards. The bar is gripped at shoulder width.
To be absolutely sure that the spinal is not injured, the biceps curl can also be performed while sitting. Dumbbells must of course be used for this. The dumbbells can be held straight, or they can be rotated halfway through the movement (as shown in the photo). There are bodybuilders such as Lou Ferrigno, who perform this exercise with a little momentum. I use here my muscle power. Even when I lower the barbell, I fully tense the biceps. There are several ways to perform this exercise. The dumbbells can be lifted at the same time, or alternately. I feel a better effect when I lift the arms individually.
Dumbbell curl on the incline bench
A greater stretching of the biceps is achieved by leaning back and executing the curl in this position. The difference to the above exercise is only slight. There is little point in doing both exercises one after the other. You should rather choose one of them. Again, both dumbbells can be lifted at the same time, or alternately.
The second possibility is not so comfortable as far as breathing is concerned.
To develop enormous muscle mass is the dream of all performance-oriented bodybuilders, and this for generations. Already 20 and more years ago, victories were achieved by athletes who succeeded in achieving the best possible combination of muscle mass and muscle quality. Although the idea of what quality is has changed somewhat since then – terms such as definition or vasculosis have only found their way into >modern< bodybuilding – and yet, the comparison of two athletes with the same definition will still be decided by the athlete with the greater muscle mass. A classic example of this is Arnold’s defeat at the end of the 60s against a defined Frank Zane. Arnold then changed his strategy, reduced all superfluous body fat and from then on, although he weighed a few kilos less, looking much more massive, he was on the winning track. But it seems that lighter bodybuilders have an easier time becoming “hard” and defined than especially massive athletes. Whether it always helps them is a matter of debate. https://www.instagram.com/p/CD_Frs_ow1c/ The American Danny Padilla will probably have an answer to that. Danny is very small, from the proportions surely one of the biggest. When he stands alone on stage, he looks like a sure winner. But in direct comparison to his often one or even two heads taller competitors, the judges often set him back. That’s just the way it is in hard competition bodybuilding: you are not rewarded for the perfection of your own body, but for the overall impression you make in comparison with your competitors. Arnold was so successful because with the exception of Oliva and a few others, everyone else next to him faded away. So muscle mass is certainly not meant to attract attention on the street, it is necessary to win competitions. But how do you build it up? Many beginners believe that the bodybuilding training alone is enough to make it impossible to fit into the ready-made size after a short time when buying shirts. Surely this is enough in the beginning to achieve quickly visible success. Especially muscles, which were previously condemned to doing nothing, react very quickly to training stimuli. But soon the point has been reached where one has to deal with training and nutritional questions, even theoretically, in order to continue to be successful. Very important here is the problem of correct recovery. If a muscle is worked on in training sessions that follow each other too quickly, it can lead to overtraining after a while, which can have the opposite effect to what the training is actually intended to achieve: Reduction of muscle mass. Conversely, too long breaks also have negative effects, as a muscle loses both strength and volume if the appropriate training stimuli are not provided. Here it is important to find the middle way, which is often very difficult just by feeling. Experience has shown that it is sensible to train each muscle section twice a week during the build-up phase. That means if you go to the gym four times a week, divide the muscle groups in such a way that you need two training days for the whole body and repeat this in the second half of the week. If you have six training days, you divide the muscle groups into three days. Another important point is a sufficient supply of nutrients. First and foremost proteins, for the restoration and new construction of muscles, and carbohydrates, as energy suppliers. You should also ensure a sufficient supply of vitamins and minerals. An increased protein intake (2-3g/kg body weight per day) increases the need for vitamins of the B-complex, which play an important role in protein and carbohydrate metabolism. However, vitamins and minerals are also very important for regeneration after training, as are some loose gymnastic or endurance exercises that make it easier for the body to switch back to >normal activity< after hard work.
During my career I have always used food concentrates for protein intake, as I am not a very regular eater. Maybe you would like to try it? Since the total calorie count should not be so high that you put on unnecessary fat during the build-up phase, you should, in order to be able to consume a lot of protein and carbohydrates, limit your fat intake and the intake of “empty calories” such as sweets or cakes.
Translated with deepl and edited by me. The text is from Jusup’s booklet ‘Masse’. For questions contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org