In bodybuilding circles, it's very commonly accepted that chest is trained first and foremost in the bodybuilding week. How many "Day Ones" consist of a chest workout? Most of them! Have you ever tried to secure an empty flat bench on Monday at 6 pm in your gym? It's certainly not easy. In bodybuilding, placing chest at the forefront of your training is one of those standard tenets which are always followed. Others exist as well. Back is usually given its own day, due to it being comprised of so many smaller muscle groups. Legs are given their own day, very often at the end of the week to allow for the most possible recovery time after the workout. Traps and shoulders are usually grouped together. It's only the arms that seem to be trained with a certain uncertainty.
Some bodybuilders split up the arms. They place triceps at the conclusion of chest day, and train them after enduring a brutal 45 to 75 minute chest thrashing. They will then place biceps at the conclusion of back day. After using their bands as hooks for 15 to 25 brutal sets of back exercises, they'll expect their arms to step up the task of 9 to 15 sets of curling movements for biceps. It's no wonder so many bodybuilders are overtrained!
Other bodybuilders find creative splits. They might train shoulders and triceps together, and then create a separate day for biceps and calves, for example. They realize it's almost impossible to maintain adequate intensity for arm training following training chest or back, and they move the arm muscles to their own days. Still, they do split up the muscles of the upper arm so as to give them each their own level of attention, and own day of dedication.
Some bodybuilders have managed to master the art of multitasking. They possess the ability to train two body parts on the same day with equal intensity and attention. They enjoy what is simply referred to as "arm day". They will select one muscle group to be trained first, and they will devote exactly 50 perfect of their time and effort to this group. Then, they will set the weight down and deliver the other half of their day's intensity to the second muscle group. They may always complete one body part first for logistical reasons. Many find it's impossible to train triceps once they can no longer flex their biceps due to a pump. Or they may alternate which muscle group goes first, every other workout. Whatever the pattern, they are able to devote an entire day to properly training arms with a balanced approach.
The best arm training routine and split are the ones you're not currently using, which will allow you to stimulate and recover adequately. Experiment with different splits. The routine which brings you the most success will be different from the next guy's. And of course, you'll want to change up your split over time as the body becomes more and more used to your routine. Keep the body guessing, and keep the muscles stimulated in new ways, and you'll keep seeing sustained growth.
The Importance of Cheat Days & Meals
The cheat meal is the holy grail of bodybuilding dieting. Let's face it, pre-contest diets are very horrible things. First, the bodybuilder is deprived of the caloric surplus he's been living in for the past several months or years. In bodybuilding, the name of the game is growth, and for the first time, the bodybuilder isn't giving himself the necessary calories for growth. Next, we toss in the cardio. The bodybuilder is suddenly forced to burn body fat (and some hard-earned muscle) by handcuffing him or herself to a torture machine known as a treadmill or stepper, and spending up to an hour each day walking to nowhere. At the same time, in the weight room, the poundages being used are suddenly plummeting. Nothing will emasculate a bodybuilder faster than seeing the weight he uses in the gym plummet. Suddenly the soft newbie on the bench next to him is benching with more weight. This certainly can wreck the psyche of a man. Finally, we have to consider the addition of all of the fat-burning compounds which are consumed leading up to a contest. The use of Clenbuterol and Ephedrine (to a greater degree) can leave the bodybuilder very high-strung, jittery, nauseous, nervous, and otherwise agitated.
The cheat meal is perhaps the one refuge for the bodybuilder during what is undoubtedly pre-contest madness. It allows the bodybuilder to feel normal for just a short time. It allows the body and mind to return to that place where calories were plentiful and everything didn't taste like boiled chicken breast and plain brown rice. It returns the bodybuilder to a happy place, and can re-energize him for the remainder of the pre-contest run (or at least another week or so until the next cheat meal!) Let's check out some of the actual benefits of cheating on the diet with a single high calorie meal.
As mentioned, the bodybuilder is in a very fragile state of mind due to a wealth of factors. The pre-contest bodybuilder may feel like quitting. After all, what is he dieting for? Twelve weeks of caloric deprivation for a chance to stand onstage in posing trunks to win a six-dollar plastic trophy? No thanks! The actual goal is to deliver a better "you" that you have ever delivered before - to defeat all previous showings of your own physique. Bodybuilders lose this vision when they feel fatigued, hungry, and bored for long periods of time. Cheat meals help to eliminate these feelings, if only for a short time. They also provide small payoffs before the finish line arrives on contest day.
It's true that the metabolic rate declines as fewer calories are ingested. A cheat meal helps the metabolism spike and helps your body return to the calorie-burning furnace it once was before the rigors of pre-contest dieting were thrust upon it.