6 Most common muscle building myths and lies
There is so much information misinformation out there on building muscles that many a time a person gets confused about just what to believe to be true.
It amazes me to see so many people who go all out in the gym but keep getting mediocre results at best for their hard work. Often times getting frustrated of this and would probably quit.
If you are not a total newbie then I am sure you must have fallen for some of these muscle building myths and lies (I know I did) or probably still believe in it.
Like many people out there I too have made all kinds of mistakes possible and learned, through all the frustrating and painfully slow progress, what works best for me.
Since muscles are denser than fat, gaining muscle is a bit more difficult task than losing fat as you will have to gain a considerable amount of muscles to see some gains.
Below are the most common mistakes often made by many, in their pursuit of muscle building.
Avoiding these mistakes are very crucial if you want to see some satisfying gains. Not only will these mistakes waste a lot of your time and energy but won’t be beneficial for muscle building in the long run.
Myth 1 – You should change your workout frequently
Many fitness gurus advice on adding different exercises or changing your workout routine regularly so that ‘you can keep your body guessing’ and the muscles don’t get adapted to a particular exercise which will slow down your progress.
This myth was probably started by the fitness magazines to get more subscriptions and sell more copies every week or month as people will be eagerly waiting for the new workout routines that will magically add 5lbs of muscle in a month.
For those who don’t understand how the muscles work, this may sound very logical and interesting (as you get to do a variety of different exercises) but it’s simply a bullshit advice.
Yes, the muscles do adapt but not to a particular movement but to the weight you are lifting. The muscle doesn’t know if you are doing exercise A or exercise B. It only recognizes the stress exerted by the load. So in order to progress you have to increase the poundage, creating more damage to the muscle fiber. The muscles will recover by creating stronger muscle fiber forcing itself to grow.
Myth 2 – More sets equal more gains
Conventional wisdom says that to become good or get skilled in a particular sport or activity, the more you do it the better you become at it.
People apply the same principle when it comes to building muscles, thinking that more sets equal more muscles.
If you are an experienced gym goer you would probably know this but it might come as a shock to many beginners that more sets and more reps will not give you more gains.
Your target should be stimulation of the muscles, not annihilation.
3 sets of 3 to 4 exercises for a particular muscle (say: chest,back,legs) done with heavy weights is more than enough to break down your muscle fiber and stimulate them to grow big by providing adequate rest and nourishment.
Myth 3 – You should focus on isolation exercises instead of compound exercises
Isolation exercise may feel more effective as it targets a particular muscle and you would feel the burn, making you believe that isolation exercises are more effective than compound exercises.
The drawback with the isolation exercise is that, since only a single muscle is targeted, you can’t lift as heavy as you can in a compound exercise.
Compound exercises allow you to lift heavy weights and make greater progressions.
Since a larger area of the body is trained in a compound exercise you may not feel the burn but this doesn’t mean you are not getting the results. The heavier you train the greater will be the muscle damage thus better hypertrophy.
Squat will always be superior to leg press or leg extension in adding more meat to your quads. Deadlifts and bent over rows will add more mass to your back than any of the isolation exercises for the back.
Isolation movement should be added for smaller muscles like biceps, rear delts, middle deltoids and calves but all the bigger muscle groups should be trained with compound movements with the heavier amount of weights.
Myth 4 – You should lift heavy to get big
There are many guys who believe that simply lifting heavy equals bigger muscles. It’s true but only partially. Lifting big with proper form and technique will give you big muscles.
Lifting heavy, just for the sake of it, won’t give you any good results and you increase the chances of injuries. An exercise performed with proper form and technique will provide a maximum load on the target muscle and in a relatively safer way.
In a bench press, if you can’t do even 1 or 2 rep without taking support from the spotter or rounding your back and throwing your hips forward for every rep of bicep curl, then the weight is too heavy for you.
Lifting heavy means the weight should be in a rep range of 4- 8 reps which you can lift in a full range of motion in a controlled manner. So unless you can lift the weight in this manner it might not be beneficial.
Myth 5 – Crunching all day will give you six pack abs
This is probably one of the most popular myths that have been floating around for ages; doing X amount (100,200,500,1000) of crunches every day will give you chiseled abs.
You must have heard celebrities claiming to do so and so number of crunches every day or probably twice a day to flaunt that well-toned set of abs on the screen.
This may even seem logical as you are directly targeting your abdominals.
The thing is, it will only work on the abdominal muscle, not on the layer of fat wrapped over the muscle. Crunches won’t have any significant effect on the belly fat.
It takes a good diet plan along with a proper workout schedule tailored towards that specific goal to make those packs visible.
Myth 6 – You should not rest for more than 30 sec between sets
This is another one of the common myths that there should not be too much rest interval between sets.
The belief is if you are not out of breath and feeling muscle fatigue then your workout intensity is low and won’t make the muscles grow. If you take more than 30 sec of rest, then your muscle starts to cool down and you will lose the pump, making the next set less effective.
Rest period completely depends on the kind of load you are lifting. If the weight is relatively light and you are able to do a set of 15 reps without much difficulty, then a rest of 30 to 60 sec is enough.
But if your goal is to build muscles, you have to lift heavy (maximum amount of weight you can lift with proper form for 6-8 reps) then you have to take rest for more than 2 min, so that your muscles are ready once again to push the weight with its maximum capacity, thus creating greater stress on the muscles, forcing muscle growth.