6 Bodybuilding Myths and the Truth About Them

February 15, 2010

Exercise & Fitness

Mythology “in the field of bodybuilding” is most likely to be bushy and most dangerous, considering the coaches. Wrong advice that beginners receive in the gym from “seniors” may slow down progress – many of them could even come to believe that they will “carve out” hard or that they can never look as they want without resorting to needles.

Experts say that three simple principles – high intensity, progressive loading and variable frequency – are the basis in terms of gaining muscle mass. To train rationally you need to remember these tips and avoid having to think about these 6 myths:

1. Big muscles can slow you down

Muscles are responsible for every movement of your body – from an eye blink to pushing a few hundred pounds presses. This myth that says “the more muscles you have, the more they slow you down” dates from the time when bodybuilders were seen as “muscle packs”, without much agility. However, in every sport, from baseball to canoeing, athletes found out that they get better if they are stronger. What do you need to spin a bat with power? What do you nee to paddle faster? You need horsepower. And this strength is given to you by the muscles. A study in S.U.A. on a number of middle-aged golfers once again demonstrated the importance of weight training. After 6 weeks of power training, they improved their performance in golf (which they practiced, on an average, for 20 years) – no change in technique or equipment. With the help of bodybuilding training, they became faster and stronger.

2. Later, the muscles will turn into fat

Muscles and fat are two completely different types of tissue – and the experts will never stop repeating it. Preconceived idea as to which muscles turn into fat does not work, it is false. Muscles and fat can not "convert" into each other. Here is the origin of this myth. To maintain energy requirements from certain parts of the body, the muscle from that part of the body fall within the "active tissue" category.

1 pound of muscle burns around 60 calories a day. If you train well and add another 9 pounds of muscle to your body, you need 600 extra calories to maintain your new structure. That is why, on a coincidence, adding muscle is an excellent method of getting rid of fat.

If you have more muscle, you will obviously have a greater appetite – you need to maintain fuel demands. When you stop training, your muscles will start to shrink (or to atrophy) and you will not need those calories you used to eat. To be clear, if the 22 pounds of muscle you gained will disappear, but you will still eat as if you were training intensively, very soon you will have deposits of fat – because you do not consume the calories you take in. This "fall" is very easy to avoid.

Once you start creating your muscle mass, you have to maintain it – through regular visits to the gym and constant training. By doing so you will continue to look great and you will not gain any fat, because your muscles will work very hard.

3. You need to surprise your muscles, "by shocking them" with the exercises they do not expect

Many coaches say this is among the most amusing myths from the repertoire bodybuilders. The idea behind this concept is that you must always change your training, because otherwise your muscles will get bored and will not give the same good results.

Let us think about the biceps. Like any other muscle, it is caught between two points and moves in a straight line. When they contract they make your elbow bend. And the elbow always bends in the same direction. Where is the proposed change? The truth is that you can either lift bricks or bars or even high-performance devices, the action of biceps will be one and the same.

So there is no shock. Why would your muscles say: "Wow, today we are not working the biceps at the bar, but we use weights? We should grow a little …"? There is also a different type of variation. Fitness folklore says: "Train Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Your body will expect to practice on Sunday, but you will shock it … by waiting until Monday.

Leaving aside the false premise that your body "expects" to practice on Sunday, though your brain knows you will not, we have to understand why it is assumed that the body does not realize that, in fact, always repeating the same program, missing Sundays and wait until Monday to workout. The idea is not very credible. Muscles apparently are not shocked by the change in the exercise. Coaches say, on the contrary, they are designed to tolerate change.

The stomach is not too shocked if you eat spaghetti on a Wednesday after you did not eat spaghetti for a month. A rational and productive training is relatively easy to set up. Difficult part is to ignore the wrong tips that you often get in the gym.

4. You need to make quick repetitions to define the muscle and slow repetitions to increase muscle mass

To enlarge a muscle it must undergo a progression of the load. In other words, the advice of the coaches is to increase your training compared to the previous day.

If you want to you keep the muscles the same size, you can make the same exercises every time. And to shrink a muscle … it is easy: you simply do not exercise with that muscle. However, the idea that one type of exercise "defines" muscle and another type of exercise makes them grow has no basis in reality.

Muscle definition is based on two body features: size of muscles and lack of fat. So, if you want a better muscle definition, you must increase the muscle via the abovementioned progressive exercises, but you also have to reduce body fat.

Of course, some may ask if you do not burn fat by fast repetitions as cycling or jogging. Yes, any long-term activity burns calories. But if you use small weights and do fast reps to burn calories, how do you make your muscles grow?

A slow workout has much more effect on muscle growth and, at the same time, a repetitive activity for fat loss – you can try running, cycling or whatever you prefer. So next time you hear this myth, correct it as: "Repeat slowly, with large weights to increase muscle mass and less body fat for definition.

5. The muscle you add shrinks after 48 hours

Here is a myth that, fitness trainers joke, made them lose more time than in physics research. The basic idea is that you must go to the gym to lift weights every other day, because in 48 hours the body begins to lose muscle that you built recently.

Pete Sisco, an American bodybuilding trainer, tells us how he suffered an injury after a difficult lift and was recovered in 6 weeks, during which he obviously did not set foot in a gym. He shows that after that time, instead of getting back tired and having to take it slowly, all his performances increased. He was stronger and more resistant, outstripping his personal records of all exercises! He says that after 1008 hours of rest, his muscles did not weaken at all – on the contrary! Today, he works with athletes using this exact training program: they work only half of the body for 6 weeks. This means that 12 weeks pass between training each muscle group … and the results speak for themselves, they progress with each workout.

6. To get good results you must train "instinctively"

Fitness experts say it is a new generation myth, and often expressed as "Listen to your body." Obviously, you have to listen to your body when you scream in pain. But the idea that "instinct" will tell if the intensity of 13 reps in 45 seconds is more appropriate than the 9 reps in 60 seconds is quite strange.

As it is known, muscles grow when you increase the training intensity gradually. If we have these mathematical tools at hand why are we guided by something as vague and instinct? Have you seen any runner or any swimmer that throws the timer away and enters the competition and rely solely on instinct? Of course you did not. Why would a bodybuilder do this? Base his training on the instinct of bodybuilding – instinct we do not know exists.

These are only 6 of the myths that you meet everywhere in the gyms. But these being the most important, understanding them will help you detect false future problems with weight training. Growth and strength!

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