Thanks to forums and self-made blogs, the number of so-called bodybuilding experts has skyrocketed. As a result, the web has been littered with false information and myths that have long since been proven wrong but are still believed.
Whether you’re trying to build more muscle or make it to the bodybuilding stage, I want to make sure you have the correct information.
The bottom line is, don’t believe everything you hear and dare to break certain fitness rules you were farmed to believe. Here are 5 bodybuilding myths you really need to stop believing.
Bodybuilding Myth No.1 – ‘You can out-train a bad diet’
This rumor undoubtedly started when those people who have a genetically-gifted level of metabolism realized they were eating junk and still staying lean. So to these people, you can eat whatever you want as long as you’re hitting the weights. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for the majority of us, especially those chasing a stage-ready physique.
Nutrition is more essential to bodybuilding than lifting weights, although there’s no question that the two go hand-in-hand. Following a proper nutrition program means setting your caloric limits during your bulking, cutting, or clean-bulking phases. In order to maximize muscle growth, you’ll be following a high protein, high carbohydrate, moderate fat diet. When it’s time to cut, you’ll keep the protein consumption high but start to be more selective with your carb intake. Counting your calories via an app like MyFitnessPal is going to be helpful to ensure you don’t eat too much or too little.
Let’s say you’re trying to get stage-ready and you do overindulge with no regard for caloric limits. Sure, weight training and cardio do burn some of the excess calories, but not enough to make a dent in a junk-food based diet of 4,000 calories per day. In addition, nutrition is about more than just the number of calories; it’s about the quality of those calories.
Do you think Phil Heath was eating pizza, ice cream, and French fries during his training to become Mr Olympia? Hell no!
Bodybuilding Myth No.2 – ‘Low reps build, high reps cut’
This myth started with the best of intentions; to simplify the rather complicated process of bulking and cutting. It would be nice if it was this simple, but this myth isn’t based on any actual scientific studies.
The truth is, in order to build bigger muscles, you need to put the muscle tissue under stress via the correct time under tension. This is represented in seconds as the concentric, isometric, and eccentric movements. For example, 2 / 0 / 2 would be broken down as follows:
- 2 seconds lifting the weight (concentric)
- 0 seconds pausing (isometric)
- 2 seconds lowering the weight (eccentric)
This time-based stressor triggers the need for the muscle to adapt via growth. Yes, low repetitions and heavy weights do play a part in muscle hypertrophy but it’s not the holy grail of muscle growth. To see the best muscle building results, you’ll want to cycle through a monthly periodization program with high to low repetitions. Remember; The lower the repetitions, the heavier the weights should be.
Try this routine out for size:
- Week 1: Endurance: 12 to 15 repetitions
- Week 2: Hypertrophy: 8 to 12 reps
- Week 3: Strength: 5 to 8 reps
- Week 4: Power: 1 to 5 reps
Bodybuilding Myth No.3 – ‘No pain, no gain’
There’s definitely a love-hate relationship with post-workout soreness. It’s a sure indicator that your muscle went through a tough workout, but it also limits movement for a couple days. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is all a part of the muscle building game but is it really a sign that you’re progressing?
Post-workout soreness is a terrible way to track your progress. Sure, it’s a decent sign that you’re activating the correct muscle groups, but as a way to confirm you are advancing towards your goals, it’s awful.
There are a few ways to see if you’re getting bigger and stronger that are far more reliable than your sore muscles:
- You should be keeping track of your daily workouts. This includes the exercises used, sets, repetitions, tempo, and load. You can always look back on past workouts and tweak your present-day workouts to push harder.
- To track growth, I would recommend monthly progress pictures as well as using a measuring tape around the key muscle points: thighs, waist, chest, and arms. Revel in your soreness, but stay scientific with your measurements.
Bodybuilding Myth No.4 – ‘Protein shakes are only for training days’
You step out the gym, shake up that bottle, and down a whey protein shake. That’s all you need until your next workout, right? Oh hell, no! While not as prevalent as it once was, there’s still a notion that protein shakes are not needed on resting days. The truth is they’re just as essential (in fact, even more so) on your rest days.
Protein is broken down into a complete array of the 20 bioavailable amino acids. Big deal, yeah? Well, those amino acids are the very building blocks of muscle tissue. Numerous studies have revealed the benefits of protein supplementation for protein synthesis, recovery, and growth. And if there was ever a time to drink up a protein shake, it’s during your rest days when your muscles need those nutrients to get back in the game.
Strive to consume between 20 to 30 grams of protein with every meal. Use a protein supplement twice a day, but focus on wholefood meals first.
Bodybuilding Myth No.5 – ‘You can turn fat into muscle’
How is this myth still around? It’s ridiculous. In short, no, your fat will not transform into muscle by adopting a bodybuilding-focused diet and training program. But, your body will burn fat for fuel while simultaneously increasing the size of your current muscle tissue. That’s a fact.
Keep in mind that if you’re using a traditional bulking and cutting program, you’ll gain some fat during your bulking phase. Naturally, during your cutting phase, you’ll burn this added fat. The idea is to get as big as possible, then lean out while maintaining the greatest amount of muscle mass. Having said that, this method has lost some of its popularity in recent times in favor of the year-round clean-bulk program.
And a few bonus tips, now we’re talking myths…
Those were our top 5 bodybuilding myths you should really stop believing TODAY! But that’s not all…
Since we’re talking, here’s another few bonus myths you should delete from your brain right away:
There are more and more halfwits out there that have websites, blog posts and videos that they shove down your throat on a daily basis. They always try to tell you “Don’t do cardio because it makes you fat!” What a bunch of nonsense.
Obviously they say this because they have a hidden agenda. They’re likely trying to sell some kind of pill, potion or workout that they devised to push their bottom line.
Cardio is important and it does not make you fat for the millionth time! It will burn calories, it will make you slimmer and it will also improve your cardiovascular health – thus reducing your risk for heart disease. Keep it in your program.
Eat before you work out.
This is another bold-faced lie. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with eating before you work out, but it is by no means mandatory! If you go into a workout fasted, your muscles won’t waste away and you won’t bonk either.
In fact, some say there are more benefits to working out fasted as there are to working out with food in your gut.
First of all, you will feel lighter and your breathing won’t be as labored. Secondly, you will never have to worry about vomiting or bloating. Lastly, you will actually get a high release of growth hormone and testosterone. Those two hormones are what causes muscle gain in the first place.
In the beginning, you might struggle to get used to this. But after a while, your body will adapt and all will be good.
Don’t do sit-ups.
What kind of miscreant would make a rule like this?! Why not do sit-ups? Oh, because people often interlace their fingers behind their heads and pull forward, torquing their necks into oblivion. And these are the same people who often lift their butt off the floor in between each rep to gain momentum.
OK… That’s called bad form! Don’t hate the exercise. Hate the performer of that exercise.
You should move your body through all the patterns it is designed to move through. Trunk flexion, which occurs when you do sit-ups, is one of them. This will strengthen your abs in this range of motion and improve your overall functional ability.
How you do sit-ups is what will make them a good or bad exercise. And that can be said with bench presses, kettlebell swings, hip thrusts, back rows and every other exercise you perform.
Get your facts right
Bodybuilding myths can quickly ruin your progress, but lucky for you, you’re now more enlightened than you were 10 minutes ago. But there’s no need to take my word for it. You can search up various scientific studies yourself to verify these facts.
When it comes to your health, you can’t afford to take any chances. Do your own research with sites such as NCBI. Adopt this habit and you’ll be the one setting bodybuilding myths straight.
Is there a myth I didn’t list that you wish would go away? Let me know in the comments below!