01 :: How many calories should a bodybuilder consume daily for weight maintenance?
A suggested range is 15 calories per pound of bodyweight per day. If you lift weights 3–5 times a week, add 200–300 calories extra a day. If, combined with aerobics, you work out five times a week, you may need 500 calories extra a day, but start slowly. You don’t want to gain fat.

02 :: What do you recommend for the bodybuilder who wants to put on muscle weight?
You should probably eat about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day, or get approximately 15%–20% of your total daily calories from protein, to build additional muscle. The intricate combination is to have enough carbohydrate to spare dietary protein [from being used as energy]. Many bodybuilders make the mistake of cutting down on carbohydrate and fat and using protein only.

03 :: U.S. dietary guidelines recommend getting 12% of your daily calories from protein. In your percentages, which macronutrient would decrease, carbohydrate or fat?
Fat would need to go down; however, this is difficult if your protein sources are high in fat. It’s easier to take in lean protein 3–4 times a day and concentrate on increasing carbohydrate at every opportunity.

04 :: What about the trend toward higher-fat diets?
The American Heart Association and other population data assume that the average person gets 36%–40% of his daily allotted calories from fat. The safe range for cardiovascular health is 30% or less; I recommend getting 25%–30% of your total calories from fat. If you eat more than 30%, you’ll naturally cut down on carbohydrate, which isn’t desirable.

05 :: What would be a good way for a bodybuilder to supply his or her protein intake without actually preparing and eating 4–6 meals or more throughout the day?
An inexpensive, easy way is to mix skim milk and instant nonfat dry milk. Add fruit to make a milk shake. The drink would add 14 grams of protein and no fat; do this 2–3 times a day and you have 28–43 extra grams of protein for pennies a glass. Some protein drinks and powders are $2 a glass, or $4 a day and $120 a month. [Others are much more economical. See “Protein Finder” to help plan a diet that includes ample or additional protein.]

06 :: What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of various protein sources?
Availability of all proteins is measured against the protein quality of the egg. The protein efficiency ratio (PER) is measured by the gain in weight of a growing animal over its protein intake. An egg’s PER is 1.0. If you eat 7,000 calories, you can get protein wherever you want, but don’t have 18 eggs a day. Moderation in all things is key.

Complete proteins such as eggs, milk, cheese, red meat, fish and chicken easily supply any lifter’s protein requirements, but may be expensive. Incomplete proteins such as wheat, peanut butter, beans and legumes might take more time to prepare, but it’s an effective way to moderate fat intake.

07 :: What’s the safest way for a bodybuilder to dehydrate?
Unfortunately, dehydration plays a part in observable muscle definition. Play it safe. Fluids are needed to dissipate heat, transport nutrients and eliminate waste products. In other words, you can’t dehydrate safely. Body fluid loss of only 2% will cause a throbbing heart, nausea and muscle pain.

08 :: What is superhydrating, and will it benefit bodybuilders?
Superhydrating is fluid intake over what’s normally lost by sweating, urination and other body processes. It allows your kidneys to get rid of toxins. Superhydration is done best when you slowly drink small amounts of fluids over a period so they have time to move into the small intestine and be absorbed into the bloodstream. No athlete chooses to experience fatigue, visual disturbances, dizziness and increased blood pressure [results of dehydration]. Prevent heat disorders by predicting the environmental conditions in the gym or wherever you train and taking along a bottle of water or sports drink if necessary.

09 :: What are the benefits of sports drinks?
Sports drinks take the guesswork out of it all. The manufacturers look at taste, the ability to keep the body at normal temperatures, gut-emptying and recovery times. The big thing is your ability to come back the next day and do the same amount of work. The goal, of course, is to hydrate day after day so that next week you can work harder. Several good sports drinks are available.

10 :: What is an ergogenic aid?
This is a substance or food reputed to enhance your performance above the level anticipated in normal conditions. They can’t hurt you, but may be expensive.

More calories, extra carbohydrates, vitamin and mineral supplements and a vast array of other products fall into the category of ergogenic aids. Consider your own individual requirements or deficiencies, availability of the product and advice from your sports-medicine physician and/or sports nutritionist. While it doesn’t hurt to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement within normal ranges, you should look at the harmful side effects of some supplements.

I wouldn’t use any aid that makes unrealistic promises. The only thing that builds muscle is continuous hard work and calories to support your growth and muscle development.

11 :: If the athlete is on the road or needs to quickly grab a bite to eat, what kind of fast food would be the best choice?
Most fast-food restaurants now publish the fat and carbohydrate content of their menu items. Choose low-fat foods, and ask for things without sauce. Most chicken products [broiled or baked, not fried] are good. Carry fluids and healthy snacks with you.

12 :: If an athlete needs more iron, what type of supplement might help?
Check your iron intake to match your body’s iron stores. Get a lab analysis of your red blood cell count. An iron supplement of 15 mg a day is ample, and most vitamin and mineral supplements include iron.

13 :: If a bodybuilder has muscular weakness and fatigue, what kind of a deficiency might he or she have?
It could be overwork, a lack of vitamins or too few dietary carbohydrates because you’re concentrating on too much protein. The body can use protein as energy, but more byproducts are involved and it may lead to dehydration. If weakness persists, consult your gym’s exercise scientist or a sports physician.

14 :: Do you recommend supplementation?
After evaluating an individual’s dietary intake, I usually make suggestions. If dairy is not an option, I’ll recommend calcium supplements. If fruits and vegetables are consistently low, JuicePlus or a children’s dose of vitamins and minerals may help correct, say, low Vitamin C intake. I’ve never recommended a product that’s produced abroad or can be purchased “by our dealer only.” This is a fascinating field, however, and the possibilities are endless.

15 :: Does overtraining lead to fatigue?
Overtraining is the worst problem. The bodybuilder may not have a coach on a daily basis, so he or she may overexert. At first you get exciting results, and you get so enthusiastic. The natural tendency is to press on. To correct fatigue from overtraining, get adequate rest and drink lots of water, and every other day, bodybuild! Let your body rest and adjust.

16 :: Which postworkout foods will enhance glycogen synthesis?
For resynthesis in the first 20 minutes after working out, take in juice, fruit or a fruit drink. A bran muffin doesn’t sound good when you’re dehydrated. Ross labs and Gatorade have a 60% solution glycogen-repletion drink. Grape juice is good, too. Canned juice is inexpensive, doesn’t spoil and is readily available.

17 :: What fuel sources does the bodybuilder use during lifting?
Muscle glycogen is the takeoff at the muscle site. Blood glucose is the fuel for the thinking and directing of the brain. Before lifting, have a sports drink; drink water during your workout. Afterward, drink apricot nectar, grape juice or a sports drink.

18 :: Do you have advice for someone just starting out in bodybuilding?
Of increasing concern is the individual who decides to bodybuild on his or her own without having things like height, weight, blood pressure and visual acuity checked. He or she may also want to consult a psychologist and dietitian. Food will allow you to do the things you want to do, but if you don’t pay attention, it could ruin everything. I’d consider eliminating alcohol; it compromises glycogen metabolism. I encourage all athletes to keep a diet and exercise diary with their feelings about their body. Include a reminder to take a blood-pressure reading.

19 :: How do I get abs like giant ravioli?
Getting visible abdominal muscles.

20 :: Should I do lots of situps to reduce fat around my middle?
No. Exercising the area from which you want to lose fat is called "spot reduction". Spot reduction is now believed to be a myth. Research shows that fat is lost all over your body, not just in the area that you work. Situps are also bad for your lower back (see Question 5).

21 :: How do I reduce the fat covering my middle?
The answer comes in two parts: diet and aerobic exercise.

This is controversial, but most people agree that eating very little fat and lots of complex carbs (like rice, pasta and potatoes) helps ensure that you don't add additional fat. Then you have to work at using the fat you already have stored which involves...

Again a bit controversial, but it's widely agreed that regular, moderate, aerobic exercise 3-4 times per week works best to burn fat that's already stored.

"Moderate" because intense exercise burns glycogen not fat, so keep the intensity at about the level where you are beginning to puff a little.

"Aerobic" means (very vaguely) the kind of exercise that requires you to inhale more. Some suggest that building more muscle through weight training helps as well, since muscle burns fat just by being there and moving your body about; so some weight training couldn't hurt and will probably help.

Many people agree that exercise periods of more than 20 minutes work best. But note that the longer you exercise, the more prone you are to injury since your muscles also begin to weaken. Two things which help prevent injury are:

a good warmup
5-10 minutes of light exercise to warm your muscles, try to break a sweat
cautious 20-30 sec stretches for every muscle (for an excellent source of information on the topic, see the Stretching FAQ).
For more information on exercise in general consult the FAQ.

22 :: How do I exercise the abs?
The abs are designed to perform one main task, to shorten the distance between your sternum, or breastbone, and your pelvis. The only way to do this is to bend your spine in the lower back region.

In short, any exercise which makes you move your sternum toward your pelvis or your pelvis toward your sternum is good. To do this safely, the lower back should be slightly rounded, not arched.

In general when exercising the abs, try to maintain the natural arch of you lower back. The lower back will round slightly as you perform the exercises. Don't fret about pressing your back into the ground.

23 :: What's wrong with situps?
Traditional situps emphasize sitting up rather than merely pulling your sternum down to meet your pelvis. The action of the psoas muscles, which run from the lower back around to the front of the thighs, is to pull the thighs closer to the torso. This action is the major component in sitting up. Because of this, situps primarily engage the psoas making them inefficient at exercising your abs. More importantly, they also grind the vertebrae in your lower back.

They're inefficient because the psoas work best when the legs are close to straight (as they are when doing situps), so for most of the situp the psoas are doing most of the work and the abs are just stabilising.

Putting the thighs at a right angle to the torso to begin with means that the psoas can't pull it any further, so all of the stress is placed on the abs.

Situps also grind vertebrae in your lower back. This is because to work the abs effectively you are trying to make the lower back round, but tension in the psoas encourages the lower back move into an exaggerated arch. The result is the infamous "disc pepper grinder" effect that helps give you chronic lower back pain in later life.

There may be a way to do situps safely and thus exercise your psoas muscles. If anyone knows what it is, please let the FAQ maintainer know.

24 :: Is there a specific order I should do exercises in?
According to Legendary Abs, you should exercise the lower abs before the upper abs and do any twisting upper ab movements before straight upper ab ones. Twisting exercises work the obliques as well as the upper abs.

25 :: How do I structure an ab routine?
According to the guidelines in Legendary Abs:

Try to do sets in the 15-30 rep range.
Follow the ordering rules in Question 7.
Pick easy exercises to start with and when you can happily do about 2 sets in a row of an exercise, try harder ones.
Only rest when you absolutely must, so take a short (10-15sec) rest between two sets of the same exercise, but none between lower and upper abs.
Try to take about 1 second for each rep, except for ab crunches which you do slower (2 secs/rep) for a better contraction and 1/4 crunches which you should do fast (2 reps/sec) because you're hardly moving.

26 :: How often should I train abs?
Some writers recommend doing abs at every workout. Others recommend doing them however often you do anything else in other words treating them as you would any other body part. Health For Life's Legendary Abs recommends three or four times a week.

Since most people want good abdominal tone more than freaky abdominal size, it probably makes sense to exercise the abs with lower intensity and more frequently, rather than with high intensity and less frequently.

27 :: Should I do side bends to reduce my love handles?
Nope. Love handles (the pads of fat above the hip bone at the side of the waist) are fat and only shrink with a low fat diet and general aerobic exercise (see Question 3). You can't just remove the fat from that area on its own. Legendary Abs claims that side bends develop the oblique muscles under the fat and therefore make the fat more prominent, but some people feel that the obliques simply can't get big enough to be noticeable. If anyone feels they can offer an authoritative answer on this question, please contribute.

28 :: Does the XXX ab machine/gadget work?
There are several types of abdominal machine provided in gyms and many more plastic varieties available in stores and via mail order. These things mostly are not much better than doing the ab exercises listed in this FAQ, many of them are significantly worse.

The more complex ones that you find in gyms have the advantage of progressive resistance, but you can achieve very similar effects by simply holding weight plates during crunches.

To evaluate whether a machine is worth using should be reasonably simple - if it encourages an ab contraction under a load it's good, if not don't bother. An ab contraction (as explained in Question 4) is when the sternum is pulled toward the pubic bone or vice versa as the main action.

The fundamental thing is to have good form in ab exercises, no machine can force that. If you have the form, machines are not greatly useful.

Dissenting opinions are welcomed (and will probably be included in the FAQ) as are reviews of popular ab gadgets and machines.

30 :: What final advice can you give us?
All bodybuilders should be aware of current research, but explore the reputation of those writing or producing “the ultimate.” Quality information is available from the Journal of American Dietetic Association, Medicine in Science, Sports and Exercise, and Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition.