The Principles Of Bodybuilding

Repeatedly I receive letters of thanks from bodybuilders around the world, astounded that philosophy is the chief determinant of bodybuilding success. Find out what they know!

Physics. Chemistry. Biology. Kinesiology. What do these disciplines have in common?

Previous publications have discussed the nature of logic and its application in bodybuilding endeavors. Repeatedly I receive letters of thanks from bodybuilders around the world, astounded that philosophy is the chief determinant of bodybuilding success.


Philosophy determines bodybuilding success more so than other variables [dietary habits, exercise methodology, etc.] because philosophy, contrary to popular sentiment, is the broadest SCIENCE in scope, but the most specific and exact in the meaning of its terminology.

Philosophy is the science that allows man to determine the nature of the universe available to his perceptive faculties. Perception gives rise to cognition and conception.

Through transduction, man is able to observe his environment and construct a hierarchical system of concepts by which to identify and classify the objects of reality.

This is how the human mind works: by taking metaphysical or man-made observations [sensory data], and forming theories - general rules of reality - from those primary and basic observations. This is how science integrates raw data observed from the metaphysical into theories about the nature of the universe and its functioning.


The foundation of any theory is logic. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. A is A. Put another way, a theory is a conceptual relationship that exists between two or more variables, and must be defined in its totality. Each element or variable must be absolutely defined and quantified. Only by eliminating ambiguity can a theory be formulated. From theories, principles arise.

Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Kinesiology: these disciplines are united by one common denominator: principles that govern the nature of each science, and that also serve to predict or explain the behavior or functioning of the phenomenon studied. A principle is the application of a theory to immediate events. Bodybuilding - being an applied science - has principles, too.

Outlined here are the fundamental principles underlying the process of bodybuilding. At the fundamental level, there are no other principles that govern bodybuilding. Therefore, learn them and use this understanding to achieve your bodybuilding dreams.

The Principles Of Bodybuilding


Each time you work out, your muscles are subjected to physical stress and stimuli. Stimuli causes your body to initiate the adaptation process. This adaptation process involves not only muscle fiber, but your central nervous system (CNS) and joints. Adaptation first occurs in the central nervous system. This often results in rapid strength increase.

Approximately twenty-one days are required to solidify a neuro-muscular connection. Central nervous system adaptation is the process of increasing power generation. The ability to generate maximum force in one second (watts) is made more efficient by central nervous system adaptation. This time is required by your body to increase efficiency and to coordinate the movement of multiple muscle groups through a full range of motion via explosive power.

A secondary type of adaptation is muscular adaptation.

Muscular adaptation occurs by subjecting muscle to stimulus overload, thereby triggering the release of androgenic and anabolic hormones from the endocrine systems tissue sites. Simultaneously, muscular damage is inflicted on the muscle from the work to which it is being subjected, and an increase in protein synthesis occurs.

Theoretically, adaptation should occur and, depending on repetition range, a muscle or the central nervous system will adapt by becoming bigger (in the case of muscle) or more efficient (in the case of the CNS).


Although stimulus triggers adaptation in both the central nervous system and muscle tissue, not all stimulus is equally effective at triggering adaptation.

Stimulus is effective only when its application results in the stimulation of the bodies endocrine system. The endocrine system manufactures hormones and is responsible for their secretion. Some of the hormones manufactured by the endocrine system include: hGH, IGF-1, testosterone and insulin. By placing stress upon the body, hormones are released.

However, stimulus may be applied in different ways. Hormone secretion is maximized when the endocrine systems tissue sites are stimulated simultaneously. Simultaneous stimulation will ensure maximum secretion of muscle building hormones.

To stimulate the maximum number of hormone producing tissues, multiple muscle groups must be worked simultaneously. Maximum hormone secretion will result in maximum physical adaptation. The best way to maximize hormone secretion is through the use of compound movements: barbell deadlifts, barbell squats, clean and press, and flat barbell bench press. The rapid weight gain typically associated with doing these movements is correlated with the secretion of large amounts of muscle building hormones. The increase in hormone release causes an increase in protein synthesis, and thus muscle gain.

The gains associated with isolation movements, by contrast, are largely to do the thermogenesis created by increased work volume. The production of lactic acid begins to place stresses upon the oxidative system, thus liberating lipids from fat storage sites to be oxidized as energy. The endocrine systems tissue sites are stimulated in isolation movements, but isolation movements do not capitalize on the synergy created from the stimulation of multiple tissue sites, and thus the simultaneous presence of a number of muscle building hormones.


Adaptation can occur successfully only in the presence of the appropriate macronutrients. A key concept of bodybuilding is supply and demand. In the article, Survival Strategies For The Traveling Bodybuilder!, I wrote:

"Everything ... operates according to the principles of supply and demand. It is important to determine what demand your body places upon you. Put another way, if demand is nutritional requirements brought about by…training, the supply ... must be tailored to match it."

With respect to "supply" I was referring to nutrition. If your training stimulates the body to look for minerals, vitamins and macronutrients, any attempt to repair the muscular damage brought about by weight training will not occur if they are absent or present in insufficient quantities.

Translation? You will either stay the same size, thus having wasted your time in the gym, or you will become SMALLER from your body tapping into existing stored protein [muscles] for amino acids, to repair the damage. Thus you will have wasted your time in the gym, and you will be smaller as a result.


It is estimated that a human being will spend 33% of his or her life in one of four stages of sleep. For the average person this number may well be all that is required. For the bodybuilder intense training necessitates the inclusion of increased rest periods into an intelligent stimulus and adaptation program.

The human body operates according to circadian rhythms. It is during sleep that the body repairs itself, and grows, thanks to an increase in insulin and growth hormone levels. By sleeping you are allowing your body to secrete these anabolic hormones. By depriving yourself of sleep you are making yourself prone to stress, and cortisol release. The more cortisol you have floating around in your bloodstream, the less muscle you are going to end up with on your physique.

It is of paramount importance that you allow sufficient time for recovery. In doing this you will be allowing sufficient time for adaptation.


Bodybuilding is an applied science, founded on governing principles. Adherence to these inexorable principles will ensure continual muscle gain. By structuring your bodybuilding career around the fundamental principles of bodybuilding, your success will be something realized, as opposed to something hoped for.

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