As with anything in the health industry, there’s a lot of information out there about muscle-building. There are a number of people that claim to be experts that say one thing, then another expert will say the opposite. This has led to myths arising that simply aren’t true. Today, we’re going to bust some of those myths for you.
Here are 10 muscle-building myths exposed:
1. More Protein = More Muscle
This is by far the biggest myth when it comes to building muscle. People believe that because protein is necessary for building muscle, the more protein you eat, the more muscle you will build. However, the truth is that packing your diet with as much protein as possible will not pack your body with more muscle than you thought possible.
The truth is that protein is a necessary and important part of building muscle, and you won’t build muscle efficiently if you’re not getting enough protein. But the key here is “enough.” While body builders and those trying to build muscle will need more protein than the average person, they don’t need ridiculous amounts, just more.
2. Carbs Don’t Help Build Muscle
As the focus with muscle-building is on protein, many people believe that carbohydrates are unnecessary when it comes to building muscle. The idea is that because muscle is made up of protein, there’s no need for anything but protein when it comes to increasing muscle mass. This leads many muscle builders to skip out on carbs altogether.
Carbs are used by your body for energy, which means if you don’t have them in your system when you go to build muscle, then you’re going to have a difficult time performing the exercises you need to build muscle. Of course you want to use them in moderation, but a healthy helping of complex carbs before a workout will help you reach your muscle-building goals.
3. You Need Supplements
This is one of the most common myths and it unfortunately keeps a lot of people from even pursuing muscle-building because of how expensive many supplements are. Many people have bought into the idea that protein supplements and amino acid supplements will provide your body with what it needs to build muscle.
Let’s bust that myth. You don’t need fancy supplements in order to build muscle. You just need to get enough protein, which you can get from food. Choosing high-quality protein sources like milk, eggs, and soy is an easy and inexpensive way to make sure you’re getting enough protein to build muscle. Of course most supplements will help, but you don’t actually need them.
4. More Reps = More Muscle
Although it would make sense that the more repetitions you do in a set, the more muscle you will build, but this is actually a muscle-building myth. This common belief has people stuck at the gym for hours, doing as many reps and sets as they possibly can in order to gain more muscle mass. However, there are better ways they could be using their time.
Studies have shown that it’s actually muscle fiber activation that leads to the muscles increasing in size and strength. There are a few things that you can do to activate more muscle fibers. First of all, you want to focus on complex moves that involve more muscles. Secondly, lift more heavier weights rather than a lighter weight more often and you’ll soon see those muscles bulk up.
5. Variety is the Key to Muscle Building
When it comes to muscle-building, many people believe that you have to continue to spice up your routine and choose different exercises in order to continue building muscle. The idea is that once you’ve done a certain exercise for a while, you’ve done all that you can with that movement and now have to find another one to work that muscle from a different angle for more gains.
This myth couldn’t be further from the truth! As long as the exercises you are choosing are good ones that engage a number of muscles and activate plenty of muscle fibers, they will continue to work for you. The other key is using proper form, and continuing to add weight to make the exercise more difficult, not doing a wide variety of exercises.
6. Crunches Will Zap Belly Fat
This myth goes beyond the idea that crunches will zap belly fat, as many people believe that targeting a certain muscle group will reduce fat in that area, whether it’s arms, legs, or even the chest. The idea is that the fat in the target area gets burned during exercise, and as the muscle gets worked, it “tightens” the area, causing you to look slimmer.
This myth exists because self-proclaimed fitness experts don’t know how the body actually works. What they miss is the fact that as calories are burned during a workout, they are first pulled from sugars in the bloodstream and then from fat all around the body. That means that any exercise will help zap belly fat. And, building muscle all over the body will help burn even more calories and, therefore, zap fat.
7. Eat Fat = Get Fat
This is another common myth that leads anyone trying to gain muscle to avoid eating anything with fat in it like it’s the plague. This idea is a common one that reaches beyond the muscle building world. Although it seems to make sense that if you eat fat, you will gain fat, the truth is that not all fat is created equal. In fact, good fat will help you gain muscle.
By providing your body with a number of compounds that it needs to function, including those that work to help you lose body fat, foods like avocado and flax seed will help improve your health. Bat fats, on the other hand, will contribute to overall poor health, especially when eaten in excess. These include animal fats, which is why lean protein sources are always encouraged.
8. No Stretching is Needed for Strength Training
It’s widely accepted that people need to stretch following a cardio workout because their muscles have been repeatedly worked at a fast pace. However, because muscle-building exercises are much slower and workouts are typically shorter than a cardio session, people think that they don’t need to stretch their muscles afterwards.
If you don’t stretch after a strength training workout, you’re asking for trouble. After all, your muscle has been contracted time after time during the workout. If you don’t take time to stretch it out afterwards so that it can relax and resume its normal shape, then you could find yourself with a sore muscle the next day. So, do yourself a favor and stretch after every workout.
9. Machines are Safer than Free Weights
Machines are considered by many to be safer than using free weights like dumbbells and barbells because they help you keep your body in the right position and there’s no risk of dropping them. This has led many to get a gym membership as they thought the weight set they had at home wouldn’t be enough for them to build muscle.
The truth is there are pros and cons to both machines and free weights. If used properly and with good form, free weights are just as safe as a machine. A machine, on the other hand, if not used properly, can do even more damage than free weights. Machines are also extremely limited to certain movements which can limit your ability to gain muscle while using them.
10. The ULTIMATE Muscle-Building Routine is Out There
For some reason, there are people that still buy into this myth that there is one ultimate muscle-building routine that literally anyone can use to build insane muscle mass. With this ultimate routine, even the scrawniest guy can follow it and get incredible results. However, it seems like if this routine existed, we would have found it by now.
The reason this routine doesn’t exist is that every body is different. Each person has a certain body type and a certain way their body works when it comes to muscle-building. That means that everyone has to find their own ultimate routine that works for them and works with their body to build as much muscle mass as they’re looking for.
Understanding the common muscle-building myths is an important first step on your journey to being a more muscular you. Once you know the truth, you can start applying the real advice. Since many of the myths out there will actually hurt you rather than help you, finding out what’s real and what’s not will ensure that you start off on the right foot.
The best thing you can do for yourself before trusting anyone who claims to be an expert on anything is to take some time to consider if they truly know what they’re talking about, or if they’re just looking to make a quick buck off of you. In most cases, all it takes is a little common sense and some research to be able to know for yourself what’s a myth and what’s fact when it comes to muscle building.