Monthly Archive June 29, 2020

BySteve Howard

How to do a Personalized Bodybuilding Program?

If you are looking for a personalized weight training program , it is undoubtedly that you are starting out and as a beginner you have a mountain of questions: Where to start? What exercise? How many repetitions? … I reassure you, no need to train 7 days a week to explode everything in 3 months. The only mistake: Copy a bodybuilding program to the letter and cross your fingers to get results.

musculation curl biceps

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the perfect bodybuilding program and miracle exercises does not exist. The good news is that if you’ve been looking to get a workout schedule, it’s because you want to structure your strength training sessions so as not to let things happen and that’s a huge deal. step forward.

Save your energy and follow this guide step by step. You will know how to make your own personalized weight training program .

Here is the summary:

Going for a strength training program to get big results and fast is not the right approach in my opinion. I like to say that weight training is a marathon and indeed, you really have to be very patient if you want big results. Be aware of what you are asking your body to: build muscle ! And training is nothing more or less than a way to “break down fiber” (to rebuild with food and rest, bigger muscle ).

The right approach is to have a personalized program for:

  • Avoid injury
  • Stay motivated and have fun
  • Do productive sessions to progress
  • Adapt it according to your strengths / weaknesses

So no need to do the latest trendy exercise. It is not for you to adapt to the program, but rather to the program to adapt to you and to your situation.

On what basis to make a custom program?

Beyond your level, you must first take into account your genetics to build a solid personalized bodybuilding program . We are not all starting from the same point. You will not progress at the same speed and you will not be as receptive as someone else to a given type of training .

génétique musculation

Your genetics give you the first clues to answer the following questions:

  • Which exercise?
  • How many sets / reps?
  • And the number of sessions per week?
  • How much rest time to take?
  • When to change your bodybuilding program?

The art of choosing your exercises according to your morphology

By far the most important part of your weight training program. The morphology is the number 1 pillar for having a square personalized bodybuilding program , efficient and optimized. If your goal is to develop your physique you have this enormous chance to choose the exercises .

Knowing how to train according to your body type means avoiding (or delaying) pathologies and selecting exercises that are effective for you.

You will understand, no need to copy the neighbor. Your levers will not be the same. The length of the limbs, the muscles, everything comes into account. This will have an impact on the stretching tension and contraction of a muscle during exercise but also its development capacity, for example it will be more difficult to make meat on a short calf rather than a long calf.

anatomie morphologie musculation

I’m not hiding from you that it will take a little experience to get to know yourself, but the earlier you do it, the faster you will progress.

This answers the question: Which strength training exercise to choose?

I would like to thank Frédéric Delavier and Michael Gundill, two French authors who were the first to popularize this approach to bodybuilding. Their books have given me so much that I can only recommend them to you, especially the Delavier method of bodybuilding 2 (and 3).

Recovery: determine the number of sessions

The speed of recovery from one session to another varies according to your genetics, your age, your pace and lifestyle … Although too often neglected for fear of “melting” or regressing, recovery is nevertheless l ‘one of the pillars of progress.

By the way, recovery is not just a matter of waiting until you have not been able to have aches, in fact, the muscle does not recover at the same speed as the joints, for example. Let’s see the different recoveries together:

  • Energetic: Have fishing for the next session – 1/2 days.
  • Muscle: Rebuild and ready to cash again – 1 to 2 days depending on muscle group.
  • Hormonal: Limit hormonal disturbances (increase in cortisol…) – 2 days.
  • Nervous system: Maintain strength and efficiency – 5 to 10 days depending on the intensity of the session.
  • Articular / tendon: Avoid ending up with tendonitis or other pathologies.

récupération sommeil

Recovery times are approximate, so it’s best to ignore this too much. In short, recovery gives the first clues to determine the number of sessions per week, in order to have a TRUE personalized bodybuilding program and to avoid being counterproductive.

Note that it will be difficult to change mother nature. You will only be able to take care of your lifestyle (food, sleep, rest…).

Knowing your limits will come with time. This may answer the question: How many weight training sessions per week?

Types of muscle fibers: how many repetitions?

Definitely, the body is a complex machine! There are several types of muscle fibers (or myocyte), each of which has a use. To be precise, there are 3:

  • Fiber I (slow)
  • Fiber II a (fast)
  • Fiber II b (fast)

Therefore, muscles will not be composed in the same way from one individual to another, whether it is the type of fiber, but also their number.

This is why we often find in bodybuilding programs a number of repetitions ranging from 8 to 12 to be executed in explosives. This range of reps and the explosiveness of the movement would make it possible to use mostly fiber type II to develop your physique, because they are the most voluminous.

Here is a table to compare the types of muscle fibers:

comparaison type fibre lente rapide musculation force masse endurance

Determine the repetition ranges of your bodybuilding exercises

Wanting to use this type of fiber in bodybuilding at all costs can slow you down in your progress. Usually we are 50/50 dialed (except the champions, the lucky ones!) But it will be different from muscle to muscle. If I take my example, there is a good chance that my triceps are denser in fiber II while my quadriceps are denser in fiber I. Indeed, I had much better results for my thighs by performing a lot more repetitions (and sets) with a less explosive movement.

I still want to reassure you! The human body is so well designed that it is possible to “change” the fiber I / II ratio just by going to weight training and training intelligently . Anyway, if you are starting out you will not be able to know if you are receptive to such training, it will take you several months / year to know yourself and modify this ratio. You just have to take this into account so as not to imitate the training of a champion.

This may answer the question: How many reps to do?

The nervous system: how many sets, determine rest times and know when to change exercise

The nervous system is the human body’s information highway, sending and receiving messages. It is precisely the somatic nervous system that interests us today, because it is it that allows you to control your muscles .

In other words, if you have a concrete nervous system, you will be strong and powerful, because you will be able to mobilize neurons quickly and in large numbers to activate the maximum of muscle fibers . And yes, strength is in the head and the size of a muscle is not the only factor (of course, big arms will always be stronger than thin ones …).

If I have to use a metaphor, having a lot of muscle mass and a wobbly nervous system is like having a Lamborghini with a Twingo engine. You are in a way “restrained” by your SN.

Wanting to build up a lot of muscle mass Without taking into account your nervous system can be disabling in the long term. Some beginners will have a more efficient basic nervous system than others. This can come not only from your genetics , but also from your sporting past .

système nerveux musculation

Why take an interest in the nervous system to create a personalized weight training program?

Well for 2 reasons:

First, to fix your rest time and the number of repetitions / sets / exercises .

Indeed, there is no point in wanting to do a lot if you can’t take it. Here is yet another reason not to copy the program of an experienced person, because it is a safe bet that you will be content to count your sets and your repetitions without really giving intensity , having, moreover, times of rest not adapted to your capacity of recovery between series. Better 3 intense sets than 5 normal sets.

Second, to know how long to keep your program and when to change your exercise

No! A program does not change every 3 months to “shock the muscle”. Once you have selected an exercise that suits you, you should do it as long as possible (it can be counted in years) to:

  • Learn and use the same nervous circuit
  • Create new neural connections
  • Thicken neural connections

This explains why we take more from session to session when we select a new exercise and that we “feel” to have done a productive job and it is precisely the opposite, it is simply that we were “constrained” by the nervous system, the time it adapts what …

A sharp drop in the number of repetitions from one set to another is a sign of an exhausted nervous system, better stop there and move on to another exercise, you will know the number of sets to do for the next time.

A drop in performance from week to week with a loss of desire to exercise is often indicative of a burnt out nervous circuit, in which case it is time to change exercise (for his bodybuilding program).

Choose a training strategy before doing your personalized bodybuilding program

A bodybuilding program must be personalized to be adapted to its genetics , but also to its rhythm of life. The questions to ask yourself before wanting to write your bodybuilding program are as follows:

  • Do I do weight training at home or in the gym?
  • What equipment do I have available?
  • How much time per day can I spend?
  • How many sessions per week can I do?

Indeed, you will unfortunately have to put aside some things, but that does not prevent you from having the most optimized program possible to achieve your goals! As we will see, there are different training strategies , each with their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see which one to choose in your case.


Full body

The Full Body consists of working the whole body in a single session. This type of training allows you to train 1 to 4 times a week.

At first glance, this ideal air training regimen, as it easily multiplies his training frequency (per week). Although it is often seen as the ” beginner’s program “, it doesn’t have to be, it is very often the opposite.

In which case to choose the full body?

The full body is best if you want to train 1 to 3 times a week , note that a full body session lasts on average 1h30 to 2h. It allows you to have flexibility in organizing your week. Indeed, if you miss a session, you can fit it another day or even miss a workout without worrying about not having worked all of your muscles during the week. Be sure to work the larger muscle groups (thighs, pectorals, back) at the start of the session and change the order of the exercises at each workout for better management of the effort. If you’re clearly low on energy, better wait until the next day. In any case, within each session a minimum day of rest!

Half Body

The Half body consists of working the upper body in one session then the lower body in another. Therefore, it is up to you to choose whether you can train 1h30 to 2h, 2 to 4 times a week.

When to choose the Half Body?

Personally, it’s a way of working that I approve of and still use to this day. As with the Full Body, the Half body also allows you to have a flexible program , according to the schedule of the week. It is therefore easy to put in a missed session or even add a fifth if you want to focus on certain muscles .

The big advantage is the working balance between the upper and lower body. We often find two types of people, those who have more facility to develop the top rather than the bottom (which is my case) and vice versa. The recovery of the thighs between two workouts is quite long, the two sessions can allow you to focus on the quadriceps during one training and the hamstrings the other day, it’s a very efficient and less trying way of doing things than putting everything in the same training.

PPL (Push Pull Legs)

As its name suggests, the PPL groups exercises by movement category:

  • Push (pecs, shoulders, triceps)
  • Pull-up (Back, biceps)
  • Legs (thighs and calves)

In which case to choose the PPL?

In short, if you are limited to 3 bodybuilding sessions per week (1h30), it is preferable. Despite the lack of flexibility compared to full body, Push Pull Legs allows you to manage your energy (and your nervous system) much better, thus making sessions more productive. As with the Half Body, it is easy to add a workout to emphasize certain muscle groups, such as your weak points .


The best way to have a most personalized program possible . Split (which means “divided”) generally allows you to organize your workouts in order to focus on one or two muscle groups per session.

When to choose Split?

As I said before, this is “usually” how it is done. At least from what I can see, a lot of people use Split to “flatten” and “club” a muscle to the last fiber. Divide to divide, without considering its goals, strengths and weaknesses reap the benefits of this strategy. Some days you can work 3 muscle groups, others just one. Some muscles will be worked only once a week, others several … The number of sets and exercises can be adjusted according to the mood of the day. So it’s up to you to manage, according to:

  • your strengths / weaknesses,
  • your recovery capacity
  • your available time.

Therefore, the Split is right for you if you want the personalized weight training program as square as possible . Of course, you will need a little experience, to make some adjustments over the weeks. However, it’s up to you if you can train more than 4 days a week.

Build your personalized body-building program in 3 steps

Now that you have the basics of your bodybuilding routine, it’s time to complete it! It’s hard to know in advance what you can do, especially if you are a beginner . To start a personalized weight training program as quickly as possible, you have to go step by step.

Step 1: Test the exercises (2 weeks)

As we could see in the previous chapter, the exercises must be (above all) selected in relation to its morphology. However, it is quite difficult as a beginner to analyze yourself and know what to choose

Note that it is much easier to analyze yourself in a photo than in front of a mirror.

I recommend that you do the “tourist” for two weeks, to test exercises . To do this, plan 3 days a week, with a Full Body as a training base to be able to test six exercises per muscle at the end of the 14 days. The idea is to select only one exercise per muscle group , preferably polyarticular .

Finally, just take stock to find out which ones are right for you (or not). Your choice will be on exercises which:

  • Gives you a good feeling (burning sensation on the targeted muscle …)
  • Does not cause you any discomfort or abnormal pain (for example, pain in the front of the shoulder on an incline curl …)

To have a list of exercises (by muscle group) and examples of workouts, I have prepared a file with examples of strength training programs starting in PDF for you.

Strength exercises to avoid

Finally, first avoid polyarticular exercises which are quite technical, where, moreover, morphology plays an important role. We find in particular the 3 exercises performed in powerlifting: the bench press, the squat and the deadlift.

However, if you are limited by the choice of exercises, or if you simply want to perform them out of desire, here are some recommendations to overcome bad morphological predispositions:

  • Bench press: If you have a thin rib cage and long arms, you can add thickness to your chest, or simply limit the amplitude, so as not to over-stretch the pecs ( broken parallel).
  • Squat: If you have long legs, you can raise your heels with a wedge or weightlifting shoes, to prevent your back from leaning too far forward. In addition, you can also limit the amplitude, usually you have to go up when you feel discomfort, which can also be due to a lack of flexibility of the ankles.
  • Deadlift: If you have short arms (and worse, long legs), you can limit range of motion with a squat rack and perform a ‘sumo’ deadlift, using flat-soled shoes is a plus, your back will thank you.

Step 2: Write your final bodybuilding program

Now that you know your routine, you must now determine the number of sets , repetitions and rest times . Of course, the program is not set in stone and must evolve as you progress.

As for the repetitions, you can base yourself on these repetition ranges:

  • Chest / back: 8 to 12 repetitions
  • Arms / shoulders: 10 to 15 repetitions
  • Thighs / calves: 15 to 20 repetitions
  • Abs: 25 to 30 repetitions

Regarding the number of series , you must refer to the first chapter (concerning the nervous system), that is to say, stop as soon as your performance drops, while keeping some juice for the rest of the session.

And finally, the rest times. Usually, we often hear rest times ranging from 1 minute 30 to 2 minutes. You can fix your rest times by getting closer to its values ​​at first. You can know when to resume thanks:

  • Getting your breath back
  • At the end of this localized burning sensation.

As a reminder, one in four failed series still represents 1/4 of shoddy work. Better to focus on the intensity of the exercise rather than the number of repetitions, even if it means doing 17 or 5 rather than 10.

Step 3: Follow your progress and anticipate the change of bodybuilding program

It’s all good, you’re ready to push! More than concentrating under the bars and letting the time do things.

Now that you know where you are going, don’t forget to keep an eye on your progress so you don’t get lost. So you can:

  • Preserve your motivation
  • Anticipate changes in exercise, program or even training method

In bodybuilding, tracking your progress is more effective than setting goals .

I want to gain 4kg of muscle in a year!

Difficult to predict the future … It answers the question “what” and not the question “how”. The objectives must be set on the very short term (from one training session to another) and not over the long term:

I will try to add 5kg on this exercise!

Why not do one more set?

What if I took less time off?

Here is what you can act on.

Use indicators of progress

Long term, you have to use indicators to track your progress and there are a ton of them! The idea is not to calculate everything down to the millimeter, but to keep the ones that we think are consistent and easy to follow. Here are a few:

  • Body weight
  • Fat (comparison in photo)
  • Load used
  • Number of repetitions
  • Number of sets
  • Rest time
  • Measurements…

It’s something that takes seconds, seconds that will save you months or even years of results for the less organized.

Obviously, you don’t have to look every day to see the slightest sign of progress. The right way is to take stock either monthly or quarterly, this is ideal for seeing noticeable changes and anticipating if something goes wrong. (For example: photos, measurements and weighing every month + note taking at each training).

The progress indicators that I use

Personally, I am still closely monitoring my progress and from experience not doing it is a disaster:

  • Loss of motivation
  • Stagnation see regression

It becomes a vicious circle… The loss of motivation will make you regress and the regression will make you lose even more motivation.

I use a lot of indicators to follow my progress, the most important:

  • Workloads
  • The measurements
  • My body weight / fat ratio

Here is an example of progress tracking for my thighs, I took the two biggest exercises:

How do I interpret the results?

I have a specific goal in my follow-up:

  • Change exercise at the right time: I correlate the loads used and my measurements . If I notice a stagnation or even a regression of the loads used AND the measurements over three months, I change.
  • Changing my eating habits: I analyze the body weight / fat ratio. If I put on pounds and too much fat at the same time, I take it easy. On the contrary, my body weight drops, I gasp. In the best case, my body weight increases without gaining fat, I stay in freewheel.

As you can see, my measurements have only increased over a year. It was the same for my performances (Series, rehearsal and workload). It was then unnecessary to change the exercise, only a few corrections to the exercise itself (highlighted in yellow), for a matter of comfort.

After a year my motivation and progress suddenly dropped, so did my measurements (as shown in the graph). I was able to anticipate to change exercises.

There can also be a correlation between an increase in measurements and body weight, which results in muscle gain. Nevertheless, to be taken with a grain of salt, especially on fatty areas.

BySteve Howard

How to make a Home Gainer?

If you want to gain mass , the Homemade Gainer can be useful. Besides, doing it yourself will be a lot more interesting than buying “out of the box” Gainers.

The most interested are mainly people who have trouble gaining weight and who want to gain muscle mass . That said, it’s a far too overrated dietary supplement for my liking (probably for the name), easy to sell to the less informed.

However, we must admit that in some cases, the Gainer can give a good boost to gain mass . The problem is knowing exactly what to put in it, to make the right Gainer for your situation, your goals and when to take it?

gainer maison

Before going into the kitchen, let’s take it step by step. Here is the summary:

What is a Bodybuilding Gainer?

It is important to remember that a Gainer is neither more nor less than a source of protein mixed with carbohydrates .

This makes gainer, an ideal high calorie snack , almost complete, easy to consume and carry.

And this is where you have to be careful! The quality of the ingredients (protein and carbohydrate) used in most of the Gainers on the market are low end. It will mainly be a simple whey concentrate with sugar, a lot of sugar, a cheap ingredient that sells for a high price. We therefore end up with a low-end, expensive gainer, with a protein / carbohydrate ratio that is far from optimal.

In the end, the promise will be kept. You will gain weight quickly, sure, but not the “right weight”. Only a little muscle for a lot of fat .

A quick note for thin people: when you’re just starting out and want to start weight gain, you neglect food and say to yourself “I have a lot of leeway”. Do not fall into this trap. Be patient and do not hide fat. It’s not aesthetic, it’s not the best level of health and it’s harder to lose it.

Make your house gainer, a safe bet!

Right now, making your Gainer home is the best solution. We inhibit (almost) all the disadvantages of a market gainer.

  • The choice of ingredients: you will be free to choose the source of protein and carbohydrate . The best for making a tailor-made Gainer (with, for example, a higher or lower glycemic index depending on when it is taken).
  • The price: it will come back to you in any case cheaper per kilo.
  • The quality: it will be difficult to do worse than a traditional Gainer.
  • The protein / carbohydrate ratio: As with the choice of ingredients, you can adjust the quantities, according to your nutritional needs . Some will need more protein than carbohydrate and vice versa.

Do you need to get a homemade Gainer?

Before taking Gainers, it is necessary to know if you really need them.

The Gainer is an easy to carry snack and allows you to multiply your meals, so it can help you reach your goals more easily if:

  • You have trouble eating or you are not eating enough.
  • You are often on the go and want to have a complete snack that is quick to consume.

In both cases, it is necessary to take stock of your diet before going any further. Nutrition is just one of the factors that promote muscle (re) construction. If your diet is already on top, but your training and your rest are totally random, then sheathing it will be a waste of money .

So you are probably asking yourself the question:

And how do I know if my diet is sufficient?

The subject is way too broad to cover everything in this article, but I will still give you the basics of sports nutrition and a method to know more or less your nutritional needs.

Sports nutrition basics

I will popularize as much as possible, this subject will be covered in detail in another article.

To have a balanced diet and adapted, it is important that your meals give you enough macronutrients and micronutrients to your body in the day.


Three in number, we find:

collation musculation

  • The proteins (4kcal / gr): Necessary to build muscle (BUT NOT THAT). The quality of the protein will depend in part on its aminogram (number of amino acids) and its biological value .
  • Carbohydrates (4kcal / gr): Used as the main source of energy by your body. (BUT NOT ONLY). The choice will be based on their glycemic index (more or less rapid sugar).
  • lipids (9kcal / gr): For the proper functioning of your body . (BUT NOT ONLY). Some fats are essential, others should be avoided and avoided.

This is really the minimum to remember.


Micronutrients are all vitamins and minerals. Also vital for the functioning of your body, the homemade gainer will give you unlike a gainer on the market.

Calculate your nutritional needs

Calorie needs will be different depending on your gender, your daily activity, your metabolism, your current weight, your age… I prefer to count macronutrients rather than calories. Look at the table to help you with your calculations:
Average values ​​for a bodybuilding practitioner :

Protein: 1.5 to 2gr / kg of body weight
Carbohydrate: 4 to 5gr / kg of body weight
Lipid: 1 to 1.5gr / kg of body weight

Example for a man who weighs 70 kg:
Protein: 2 x 70 = 140gr
Carbohydrate: 5 x 70 = 350gr
Fat: 1 x 70 = 70 gr

Daily Calories: (140 x 4Kcal) + (350 x 4Kcal) + (70 x 9Kcal) = 2590Kcal

After your calculation, you just need to write down how much you eat per day for a week and how much. At the end of the week, calculate the macronutrients (per day) and take an average. You can go directly to this site to find the nutritional values ​​of foods or directly use the MyFitnessPal application.

Even if you’re in the nails, try to incorporate a gainer during the day to have excess calories , for a good month. Take stock at the end to see any change.
You can use two indicators like your weight and your body fat . For a beginner, you should set a gap of about 2kg max per month. Beyond that you will make way too much fat over time. In this case, there is no need to take Gainers .

Note also that on days without physical activity, your body will not burn as many calories as on other days. If you practice other sports such as boxing where body weight is an important factor, it is best to match your daily calorie needs to your expenses. It allows you to gain strength without gaining a lot of weight.

If you clearly lack carbohydrate and / or protein during the day then you can move on to make your homemade gainer !

Choose the ingredients for your homemade gainer

Now is the time to play the cook, or rather the mathematician! The gainer must meet the following conditions:

  • Easy to transport
  • Quickly consumable
  • Complete

I know some people don’t necessarily like using “powder” as a source of protein. To satisfy everyone, I will give different homemade gainer recipes , with or without food supplement, but also for vegans . Gainers are in most cases in the form of protein shake .

In my experience, certain recipes and dosages are to be favored at certain times of the day. I’ll share this with you right away.

Choose your protein source

there is so much to say that it’s hard to get into everything here, I’ll keep it simple. If you are not lactose intolerant, go for ” whey ” (from milk). Here’s what to avoid:

  • Whey concentrate: cheaper but not a great composition
  • Hydrolyzate: It’s expensive and it digests (too) quickly. It can be interesting to take after a session. Some people tolerate it, for others it causes digestive problems (diarrhea …).

Isolate works well, see your budget. Casein is best if you have your snack before going to bed (digest slowly).

Personally I attach great importance to the ingredients that make up whey . The less, the better. I especially avoid sweeteners like Acesulfame-K which is present in most protein powders .

shaker musculation

If you are lactose intolerant, you may want to go for egg protein , an excellent source of protein, but more expensive. Meat protein should be avoided given the quality of the raw materials used.

If you are a vegetarian, you can use vegetable protein from soy or hemp. Namely that their anabolic potential will be much less than those of animal origin.
Regarding tastes, stay on safe values ​​(chocolate and vanilla), the rest quickly becomes disgusting. Even better, if you can stand the neutral taste, go for it! It is often cheaper and without sweeteners.

Keep in mind that taste and miscibility are not quality criteria for a protein powder , it is often the opposite. A good tasting protein powder that mixes well should alert you to the possible presence of additives or other unnecessary components.

Make your homemade Gainer without Whey

Of course, you can make your own homemade Gainer without whey, the downside is that it costs (much) more. The composition of food is not as good as that of food supplements and digestion is slower. Here are some protein-rich foods that are easy to transport and consume:

Of animal origin: Grison, dried beef, dried turkey, tuna in brine (canned), milk …

The meats are generally very salty. Compare products to avoid as much salt as possible and don’t consume too much.

Of plant origin: Spirulina, soya, (oleaginous fruits) …

Vegetable proteins are generally less interesting than animal proteins.

  • Spirulina is rich in protein but excessively expensive.
  • The oilseeds do not give the freedom to manage macronutrients, the balance is tilted in the side of lipids.
  • soy spills a lot of ink. The presence of isoflavones could have estrogenic effects (and therefore lower testosterone levels). Although some people disagree, you should still be careful about your soy intake.

Choose your source of carbohydrate

The homemade gainer offers the possibility of choosing a food with a higher or lower glycemic index (something impossible with a traditional gainer).

Simply put, the glycemic index tells you how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels, they are often called fast or slow sugars.

In most cases, “slow sugars” (low glycemic index) will be preferred. There is no point in wanting to increase your blood sugar quickly if it is not used. In this case, the insulin (hormone) will regulate blood sugar levels in the blood , most of the excess will be stored as fat.

Here is a list of foods with their glycemic index (GI), some examples:

  • top: Bread, cakes, soda, syrup, baked potato, rice (quick cooking), candy…
  • medium: Banana, honey, sweet potato, wholemeal paste, rice…
  • bottom: Oats, al dente paste, lentil, beans…

Note also that the type of cooking, the temperature and the processing of the food greatly influences its GI. For example, basmati rice cooked quickly and having had time to cool does not have the same GI as rice cooked quickly and served hot.

In any case, I recommend these two foods to compose a homemade sheather : oats (flake or powder) for a low / medium GI and ripe banana for a medium / high GI.
From experience and after numerous tests, I mainly compose my homemade oatmeal Gainers.

I replace oats with 2 or 3 bananas if I have the snack after my weight training . Since glycogen stores are low after a workout, the banana GI can quickly give the body what it needs.

Choose your source of lipid

To have a complete Home Gainer , it is best to add a source of fat to your snack. Very caloric , a good handful of almonds, walnuts or cashews will do the trick.

I only advise against adding fat if the gainer is consumed after weight training, as it will slow down digestion, the opposite of what you are looking for.

Be careful not to take any roasted / salted nuts or almonds.

Make a success of your homemade gainer: Recipe and dosage

To make it easier for you, I will give you the recipes and dosages I use to make my homemade Gainers . The oilseeds have almost the same values, you can replace those in the tables while keeping the same dosages. Remember to adjust the amounts according to your needs and the number of meals / snacks you eat per day.

Winning express house: When you don’t have time

Simple recipes to make a gross house sheathing mat , to do when you’re in a hurry. It’s far from a feast, but it’s quick to make and very complete.
When to take it: between meals, in the morning or an hour before training.

Dosage (approximately):

  • 60% carbohydrate
  • 25% protein
  • 15% lipid

With food supplement:

You can replace whey with another protein such as egg protein, the nutritional values ​​are almost the same.

Amount Carbohydrate Protein Fat Kcal
Vanilla powdered oats 100 gr 67 gr 14 gr 6 gr 402 Kcal
Pure native vanilla whey 15 gr 1 gr 13 gr 0 gr 56 Kcal
1 handful of almonds 20 gr 2 gr 4 gr 11 gr 127 Kcal
TOTAL 70 gr 31 gr 17 gr 585 Kcal
59% 26% 14%

Without protein powder:

You can replace the grison with another meat (dried beef…)


Quantity Carbohydrates Proteins Lipids Kcal
Vanilla powdered oats 100gr 67gr 14gr 402Kcal
Grison meat 30gr 0gr 11gr 2gr 60Kcal
1 handful of almonds 20gr 4gr 11gr 127Kcal
TOTAL 69gr 29gr 19gr 589Kcal
59% 25% 16%
Quantity Carbohydrates Protein Lipids Kcal
Banana (small / medium) 3 72gr 5gr 0gr 324Kcal
Grison meat 50gr 0gr 19gr 3gr 101Kcal
1 large handful of almonds 25gr 2gr 5gr 13gr 159Kcal
TOTAL 74gr 29gr 16gr 584Kcal
62% 24% 13%



Quantity Carbohydrates Proteins Lipids Kcal
Vanilla powdered oats 100gr 67gr 14gr 402Kcal
Hemp protein 25gr 4gr 12gr 3gr 103Kcal
1 handful of almonds 20gr 4gr 11gr 127Kcal
TOTAL 73gr 30gr 20gr 632Kcal
59% 24% 16%


Quantity Carbohydrates Proteins Lipids Kcal
Vanilla powdered oats 100gr 67gr 14gr 402Kcal
Soy protein 15gr 0gr 13gr 1gr 58Kcal
1 handful of almonds 20gr 4gr 11gr 127Kcal
TOTAL 69gr 31gr 18gr 587Kcal
58% 26% 15%

Home gain post-workout: for rapid muscle recovery

This homemade gainer is to be taken after a good weight training session. The stores of muscle glycogen are low and the protein + carbohydrate combination is excellent for secreting a lot of insulin. Glucose will get to the muscles faster. I deliberately removed the lipids so as not to slow down digestion. Bananas are best eaten very ripe.

When to take it: After training

Dosage (approximately):

  • 70% carbohydrate
  • 30% protein
  • 0% lipid

With food supplement:

Quantity Carbohydrate Protein Fat Kcal
Banana 3 72gr 5gr 0gr 324Kcal
Pure native vanilla whey 30gr 2gr 26gr 0gr 112Kcal
TOTAL 74gr 31gr 0gr 436Kcal
70% 30% 0%

Without protein powder:

Quantity Carbohydrate Protein Fat Kcal
Banana 3 72gr 5gr 0gr 324Kcal
Grison meat 70gr 0gr 26gr 4gr 141Kcal
TOTAL 72gr 31gr 4gr 465Kcal
67% 29% 4%


Quantity Carbohydrate Protein Fat Kcal
Banana 2 48gr 4gr 0gr 216Kcal
Hemp protein 50gr 8gr 24gr 7gr 206Kcal
TOTAL 56gr 28gr 7gr 422Kcal
62% 31% 8%
Quantity Carbohydrate Protein Fat Kcal
Banana 3 72gr 5gr 0gr 324Kcal
Soy protein 30gr 1gr 26gr 1gr 116Kcal
TOTAL 73gr 31gr 1gr 440Kcal
70% 30% 0%

Gainer maison gourmand: to savor your snack

The house gainer to do when you’re at home and want to enjoy the taste of your snack. A very complete cocktail with a fruity taste. To mix it all up, just put everything inside a Blender. You can replace blackberry and whey with other red fruits and another source of protein powder (soy, egg, etc.), the dosage is the same. You can also add a little milk, water or even ice cubes to have a slightly more liquid texture and a cold drink.

When to take it: between meals, in the morning or one hour before training.

Dosage (approximately):

  • 60% carbohydrate
  • 25% protein
  • 15% lipid


Quantity Carbohydrates Proteins Lipids Kcal
Pure native vanilla whey 20gr 1gr 17gr 75Kcal
Banana 2 48gr 4gr 0gr 216Kcal
1 handful of almonds 25gr 5gr 13gr 159Kcal
1/2 skimmed milk 200ml 7gr 3gr 100Kcal
Blackberry 30gr 3gr 0gr 0gr 13Kcal
TOTAL 64gr 33gr 16gr 450Kcal
57% 29% 14%

If you want to do this Gainer without whey , you can remove it and consume a source of protein on the side, which provides about 20 grams of protein (50 grams of dried meat or 200 grams of 0% cottage cheese for example).

Anti-catabolic home enhancer: to sleep without lacking anything

If you haven’t eaten enough during the day, you can always make this slow-digesting Whole Home Gainer. We sleep between 6 to 8 hours, so this is ideal given the time gap between the evening meal and breakfast.

The strengths and the source of protein is different. Some people don’t like to eat carbohydrates before bed, to me that’s a mistake. Personally, I don’t gain more fat and I know that if I don’t eat carbohydrates in the evening, I will be less strong and less enduring for the weight training session the next day. If you are ectomorphic and have trouble gaining weight, you can try keeping the carbs down to see how your body is responding.

When to take it: Before going to bed

Dosage (approximately):

  • 45% carbohydrate
  • 35% protein
  • 20% lipid

With food supplement:

Quantity Carbohydrate Protein Fat Kcal
Powdered oats 60gr 40gr 8gr 4gr 241Kcal
Casein 25gr 3gr 19gr 1gr 89Kcal
1 large handful of almonds 25gr 2gr 5gr 13gr 159Kcal
TOTAL 45gr 32gr 18gr 489Kcal
47% 34% 19%

Without protein powder:


Quantity Carbohydrate Protein Fat Kcal
Oatmeal 30gr 6gr 3gr 161Kcal
Fromage blanc 0% 250gr 11gr 19gr 0gr 123Kcal
1 large handful of almonds 25gr 2gr 5gr 13gr 159Kcal
TOTAL 43gr 30gr 16gr 443Kcal
48% 34% 18%

You have everything you need to make Homemade Gainers and succeed in your mass gain ! Less expensive, of better quality and adapted to your needs. Remember, the Gainer is not a quick fix, it just helps you meet your calorie needs. Stay reasonable, take one or more twice a day and space your meals / snacks for several hours (3h30 / 4h30). It’s not a prescription either, take breaks every now and then.

BySteve Howard

The Solution to Progress

Using a heavier workload, heavier from session to session is, in theory, the most effective way to build muscle mass and strength. Based on this fact, it is legitimate to wonder if isolation exercise really has a place in a weight training program.

Is this a waste of time? Do you have to focus all of your efforts on basic movements? To boost your progress, you can finally determine precisely when to do isolation exercises.

You can also find a list of movements at the end of the article to establish your own training program.


What is an isolation exercise in strength training?

Unlike polyarticular exercises, isolation movements involve only one joint. As a result, fewer muscles will intervene during the effort which allows you to concentrate more on the target muscle .

Let’s take as an example a poly and an iso for a bicep session.

The only basic movement for the biceps: pull-ups, supine grip (or fixed bar pull). Indeed, two joints are used: the elbows and the shoulders. Thus, the biceps, deltoids and some muscles of the back therefore lift the load.

As an isolation exercise , let’s mention a classic: the bicep curl (and its variations), since only the elbow joint moves.

exercice isolation curl biceps

At first glance, we might say to ourselves that ultimately, it would be even more judicious to train only from mono-articular exercises in order to balance the amount of work between the different muscles, but this way of proceeding is not optimal for establishing a strength training program. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages to find out in which case they will benefit you.


Many bodybuilders use isolation exercises as a “Finisher,” that is, they are placed at the end of a workout to consume the last grains of energy.

With this in mind, it is clear that this type of exercise can come in handy. They are much less energy-consuming and traumatic on the muscular, articular and nervous levels, than a polyarticular movement. In addition, isolation exercises are effective at congesting in addition to getting a better feeling on the target area, which gives the feeling of having done something productive.

For all of these reasons, you might be tempted to include a few iso exercises in every workout to work all of your muscles, but that would be too time consuming. The extra time spent in the gym will not match the expected results.

In fact, isolation exercises mainly do two things.

Learning and improving engine recruitment

Not feeling the target muscle on a basic movement is frustrating. At first, it is thought to be due to poor execution technique or time to adapt to the movement …

Despite your best efforts, there’s a good chance you’ll make the situation worse. Indeed, the secondary muscles will develop more, whether in strength or in mass, unlike the targeted muscle. Ultimately, this causes muscle imbalances which is both aesthetically and mechanically disabling.

By “isolating” the muscle on an isolation exercise , you learn to solicit it, to contract . So it’s more of a nervous job, we improve neuronal transmission, we create new connections.

There are many reasons for these motor recruitment imbalances:

  • The sporting past (example: a former cyclist will have an easier time recruiting his calves unlike a sedentary)
  • Genetics (You are born with strengths and weaknesses)

Thanks to this motor training, you will be able to obtain more results afterwards with polyarticular exercises. Know that every workout, good or bad, leaves a mark in your nervous system.

You can do some basic movement tests every now and then to see if the muscles can finally work synergistically, but be patient … It usually takes months or even years. A considerable gain in strength and a better feeling in general are good signals, the hours devoted to this learning are well worth it in the long term.

The magic of levers in bodybuilding: muscle insertion and bone length

Sometimes the problem is not with the nervous system itself, but rather with the wrong lever. Definitely, genetics!

Muscle insertions (where muscle is attached to bone) and bone length will have a significant impact on the effectiveness of an exercise compared to your body type.

To realize the importance of levers, you can take this test. Try to hold a dumbbell, arm parallel to the floor, elbow bent then arm straight. Result: the load seems much heavier, arms extended . So the longer your arms are, the less you will be able to handle a heavy load on lateral elevations for example.

Disadvantageous muscle insertions coupled with unfavorable bone lengths are problematic during polyarticular exercise. Take my case.

I have long believed in the myth of the miracle exercise for the pectorals: the bench press. I was convinced that by having a strict gesture there is no reason not to progress and that increasing the load was the main indicator of effectiveness. This mistake cost me a lot of time because I was taking it all on the shoulders and this gap was widening month by month.

The reason is simple, my morphology gives me bad levers for this exercise: long collarbones, long arm, thin rib cage and pecs attached high on the humerus… Stretching and contracting the pecs was less . Also, I had a hard time straining my pecs, as I had no athletic background. As the body seeks to save itself as much as possible, it places more emphasis on the secondary muscles to lift the load. In my case, it was the deltoids and the triceps.

A simple reorganization of my training schedule and hard work on isolation exercises allowed me to catch up, although we drag our weak points all our lives.


Of all the muscle growth factors, mechanical tension, that is to say the load used, remains the most effective way to gain muscle mass. The more muscles that interact with each other, the more you will be able to lift heavy loads.

As a result, it will be difficult or unproductive to handle heavy loads during an isolation exercise. It is therefore more appropriate to play on metabolic stress to gain muscle. For that, you have to favor:

  • Congestion
  • time under tension
  • burning sensation
stress métabolique congestion brulure temps sous tension musculation

All of this can be achieved with a higher number of reps, a slower negative and a controlled gesture .

In theory (and not in practice) it is therefore less effective for building muscle and gaining strength.

When should you prioritize an isolation exercise in your sports program?

It may sound complicated, but the idea of ​​this article is to make it easier for you, let’s focus on the basics.

The question to ask is simple: should you prioritize the feeling to the detriment of a heavy load?

First of all, if you are just starting out and you do not have too much bodybuilding experience, it is interesting to build your training program mainly from polyarticular exercises for two reasons. The lack of experience to analyze its morphology and the difficulty in knowing its weak points.

To accurately determine when to include an isolation exercise, it is necessary to monitor its progress with these three indicators:

  • The level of progress on your workloads
  • The difficulty in congestion, the feeling
  • The evolution of the physique as a whole (from photo)

After 4 to 6 months of regular work, it’s time to take stock. If you notice a stagnation (see a regression) in workloads and difficulty in gaining muscle where you want it, it may be better to promote isolation exercises .

Otherwise, keep the basic movements as much as possible. A few iso exercises can potentially target certain areas reluctant to muscle hypertrophy , such as the back of the shoulders, although this is not a priority.

When it comes to the wrong levers, you usually find out pretty quickly. In addition to stagnating, we have the impression that the gesture is not “natural”, sometimes causing pain. Remember the golden rule, when it hurts, it’s best to stop and move on.

Choosing the right isolation exercise in training: Machine or free weights?

Among the number of isolation exercises, it’s hard to choose … Not to mention the almost endless number of variations! If there is one thing to remember, it is that there is no miracle exercise.

The goal when you are starting out is to learn to use the target muscles . Choose an exercise that you like, that gives you a good feeling and keep it to progress on it as long as possible.

Now comes the question of machines or free weights. If you don’t have access to machines all is not lost. Conversely, if you have the opportunity to train in a well-equipped gym, you can further optimize your weight training program.

Guided devices allow you to have stable movement , you sit down and push, which allows you to concentrate to the maximum. Another advantage is that they are sometimes designed to work with better levers. For example, some pec-decks allow you to push with the elbows and not with the arms outstretched as with lying spreads. In addition to this, the variation in tension between the stretching and contracting phase remains mostly homogeneous, which guarantees optimal work.

Note: Prime brand machines even offer the possibility of modulating resistance. Example: more weight when contracting than when stretching and vice versa.

Unfortunately, despite all the settings, you will inevitably come across a machine unsuited to your body type. A feeling of forced trajectory or abnormal pain are reliable signals to know if this is right for you or not.

Regarding bodybuilding with free weights , the advantage is that with little equipment, a pair of dumbbells and rubber bands, you can do just about everything in addition to being able to adapt the trajectory to your morphology. On the other hand, you have to manage the balance and the leverage problem cannot be fixed.

Another downside, voltage variations do not always guarantee productive work. For example, when you do bench spreads for the pecs, all the tension is stretching and none of the contraction (the most interesting moment for motor learning). To limit this problem, you can use elastic bands if possible.

Isolation exercise list for each muscle

To get the most out of your bodybuilding program, you can pick from this little list. The number of isolation exercises in addition to the number of variations, whether on machine or with free load, is endless.

The key is to understand the movement , the trajectory, the variation in resistance between the phase of stretching and contraction, to let your imagination speak and best suited the exercise according to the equipment available and to your levers.


It is important to vary the angles of attack to develop the pecs as a whole. At first, if you’re having trouble feeling your pecs, focus on the angle that gives you the most sensation.

  • Spreads with dumbbells (lying, inclined or declining)
  • Cross-over with the pulley opposite
  • Peck-Deck


It is often difficult to recruit back muscles when you are just starting out. Introducing an isolation exercise at the start of the session can potentially be helpful in overcoming this problem.

  • Pull-Over at the high pulley
  • Shrugs
  • Reverse Shrugs
  • Lateral flexions at the high pulley


As with the pecs, it is more interesting to focus on one or two exercises that provide good sensations rather than wanting to target all the portions of the biceps.

  • Supine curl
  • Hammer curl
  • Incline bench curl
  • Desk curl
  • Drag curls
  • Spider curls

In addition to this article, you can read the one dedicated to bicep exercises to do without equipment.


If the development of the triceps is problematic, you can select two exercises , one with the arm along the body, the other close to the head, in order to develop the head lateral and medial .

  • Kickback
  • Pulley pushdown
  • Triceps extensions
  • French press


The specific work of forearm muscles is useful if you lack mass or grip on certain exercises such as pull-ups or deadlifts or simply to prevent certain pathologies.

  • Wrist curl
  • Wrist extension
  • Inverted curl


Isolation exercises for the deltoids help to develop harmonious shoulders. Generally, specific work is required for the lateral portion and the posterior bundles.

  • Lateral elevations
  • Frontal elevations
  • Lean forward elevations


The abdominal strap work is not just about the aesthetic. The development of this allows you to be stronger on most polyarticular exercises while providing additional protection to the spine.

  • Crunch
  • Leg raises
  • AB Wheel
  • AB Coaster
  • Side bust raises
  • Lateral leg raises
  • Pelvic rotations
  • Gainage


To protect your back, especially in the face of a herniated disc, it is essential to devote time to your lower back.

  • Good morning
  • Bust raises on bench
  • Revers hyper


Sometimes, the morphology tends to favor the work of the glutes on the basic movements. Complementary work can be useful to learn how to recruit the quadriceps or to give a more harmonious shape to the muscle.

  • Leg extensions
  • Sissy squat
  • Leg raises

If you are training at home, you can consult my article dedicated to leg exercises to do without equipment.


Too often neglected, developed hamstrings allow: to offer additional protection to the knees, to give a lot of mass to the thighs and to gain considerable strength on polyarticular exercises.


Basic movements are usually sufficient to develop your glutes . Depending on your goals, some isolation exercises can be incorporated into your program.

  • Hip extensions
  • Lateral leg raises


Generally, the body type dictates the time needed to spend on the calves. We all know someone who unfairly has naturally grown calves. If these are a weak point, you will have to devote a lot of time to rectify the situation.

  • Standing calf extensions
  • Seated calf extensions
  • Bending bust calf extensions

Conclusion about isolation exercises to ensure muscle mass gain

This list is far from complete but still enough to build your first strength training programs.

Unfortunately, it would take way too long to go into depth on all these isolation exercises and I must admit that some details can bring a real plus to accelerate your progress and to adapt better the movement to your morphology. I think I can compile my years of experience into a guide dedicated to this topic if you’re interested.

In short, polyarticular exercises and heavy loads, that is to say mechanical tension, should be favored for the muscles receptive to this type of training. Progress in strength and muscle mass gain are good indicators.

Conversely, if you stagnate and find it difficult to use a particular muscle, it is necessary to go through a learning phase. To do this, it is necessary to promote metabolic stress by increasing the time under tension, by resisting this burning sensation as long as possible and by seeking to make the target muscle congest thanks to isolation exercises .

After several months and years of practice, you can implement this type of movement in order to precisely target certain muscle portions. The goal then is to obtain the most harmonious physique possible.