Top 5 Bodybuilding Myths
It’s sad but true: most of the time, most people have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. This seems to be true in the work place, it’s usually true in politics and it’s almost always true in the weight room. Walk into any gym or supplement shop, and you’re bound to hear more bad advice than good.
However, there are a few BIG falsehoods that seem to give rise to all the small ones. If you want to make real, long-term progress, then watch out for these five bodybuilding myths. The people that perpetuate them typically haven’t got a clue about how to get big, lean and strong.
1. Your muscles grow in the gym
It makes sense at first. Big, strong guys spend lots of time in the weight room, so that must be where the growth occurs, right? Wrong! In fact, the opposite is true. Lifting weights actually breaks down your muscle tissue, just like any other strenuous activity. You don’t grow until you leave, eat and sleep. This misconception is why so many guys are still small, even when they spend hours at the gym every day.
All that being said, don’t start avoiding the gym because of this “overtraining” nonsense everyone talks about. As long as you’re eating and sleeping enough, you’re growing. If you’re at least genetically average, and if you’re not working a brutally hard job, you can make it to the gym five or six times per week. If you’re not getting bigger or stronger, look first to your diet and sleep habits before you start cutting sessions.
2. You need to get fat to get strong
Not surprisingly, quite a few fatties-at-heart take the whole “eat big to get big” thing a little too far. In fact, some take it WAY too far. Do you need to gain weight to gain muscle? Obviously. Will you have to accept a little bit of fat gain to get a LOT bigger and stronger? Sure. Do you need to grow belly rolls and man-boobs? Not a chance.
Unless you’re aspiring to bench 600 or squat a grand, you need to take your weight gain slowly. For most guys, two or three pounds a month is the sweet spot. That may not sound like much, but you’d gain around thirty pounds per year if you kept that up – which is what you should be doing. Bodybuilding is a marathon, not a sprint, and most attempts at fast muscle gain will yield mostly fat gain. Think about that before you try and rationalize another stack or pancakes or slice of cake.
3. Eating fat will make you fat
This isn’t just bad bodybuilding advice, it’s bad LIFE advice. Look at what most fat people eat – carbs, carbs and more carbs. The same is true for perpetually-bulky bodybuilders. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, it’s excess CARB consumption that’ll put love handles on your sides.
If anything, you should strive to eat mostly protein and fat, especially on the days you don’t train. Your body is most likely to use carbs for muscle gain immediately before and after training. At all other times, carbohydrates just spike insulin and make it all-too-easy for your body to store nutrients in fat cells.
4. Lift heavy weights for “bulking,” light weights for “toning”
This might be the single-most common bodybuilding myth. It’s so pervasive that even top-level bodybuilders still say it. The truth is, those guys have such elite genetics that they can train any which way and still see results. For the rest of us, heavy training is the most efficient path to becoming as big, strong AND lean as possible.
Think about it this way: (almost) everyone understands that lifting big weights is what stimulates muscle growth in the first place. So why, oh why, would you start training light when trying to get leaner? You’re eating less, you’re doing cardio and your body has every reason NOT to hold onto its muscle mass. The only way you can keep it is to keep up the heavy training.
5. Supplements will make you grow
Aside from protein powder – which is basically powdered food – supplements will NOT make you grow. Before you ever drop money at a supplement shop, look first at your diet and sleep habits. Are you really eating enough meat? Could you fit in more meals if you really tried? Could you work a little bit less and “spend” your extra time on a few more hours of sleep? If you answered “yes” to any of those, then you know what you really need to do. If all you had to do to gain muscle was drop some money on a pill or powder, every guy would look like Arnold.