Here are eight big myths when it comes to building muscle:
Myth #1: Stay away from cardio
If you’re looking to build muscle, common advice is to stay away from cardio — you’ll burn up calories that your body needs for building muscle.
A study by Dr. Matthew Harber showed a link between aerobic training and increased muscle mass. He noted, “Aerobic exercise (cardio), if done properly, can lead to as much muscle growth as you’d expect with resistance training.” But here’s the key, “Intensity is more important than duration, so if your goal is growth, work up to 80% of your max heart rate.”
Intensity in your cardio workouts (80% of your max heart rate) will help you build muscle.
Myth #2: Consume protein like a beast
One of the first things many gym newbies will do is purchase a ton of protein powder, double the amount of red meat, and start snacking on protein bars.
You’re probably getting close to the amount of protein you need in your normal diet. And your body is just passing through all the extra protein you’re feeding it. According to the American Medical Association, the recommended daily allowance for those 18 years and older is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. So, for a 190-pound person, they would need 68.4 grams of protein — that’s the equivalent of 4 ounces skinless chicken breast, half a cup of low-fat cottage cheese, and half a cup of crushed walnuts in one day. If you are trying to build muscle then you should at most double your protein intake, there is no need to consume any more than that.
For those of you on a bodybuilding diet check out this post from the Hodge twins where they are quoted saying – “We eat 120-140 grams of protein a day,” says Kevin. “I don’t get a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight because I weigh 206 pounds. That’s way too much protein because your colon and kidneys are getting a pounding.”
Focus on a balanced diet. Look at how much protein you’re already getting naturally before investing in expensive supplements. More protein does not equal more muscle.
Myth #3: Heavy weight, low reps for size; light weight, high reps for cutting
When it comes to your muscle growth, there isn’t a magic ratio or different sets of exercises that will make your muscles ‘huge’ vs. ‘cut.’ “Cutting” really doesn’t have anything to do with your muscles shape and mass, you’re just essentially doing cardio with light weights and burning fat.
What muscle building ultimately boils down to is this: progressive overload. If you’re not constantly ahead of your body’s highly adaptive nature, you’re muscle mass will stay the same even if you’re still doing high weight and low reps.
Worry less about the ratio of weight: reps, and focus on outperforming your previous workouts.
Myth #4: Free weights are supreme
Only serious bodybuilders and muscle building happens in the free weights room is a general understanding.
While free weights do in fact force you to use more muscles (as you need to stabilize the weights), they are limited to some of your body’s natural movements, and the direction of gravity pulling the weight. Machines have an advantage of going against the gravitational direction of free-weights, and isolating specific muscles you are wanting to work on, particularly with the use of cables.
Don’t avoid the machine room. Mix it up with your free-weight routine.
Myth #5: If you’re not sore, you’re not growing
As the age-old adage goes, “No pain no gain,” right?
Your muscles can be sore from fatigue and diet, and have nothing to do with how hard you worked in the gym. Don’t use how sore or tired you are to gauge your muscle growth. Rely on some more measurable indicators, like your weights, reps, physical appearance.
Being sore should not be the goal, pushing yourself and meeting goals is.
Myth #6: You’ve gotta keep your muscles guessing
If you think changing your workout routine every single week is the secret to getting bigger muscles, you’re wrong.
Have you noticed that every gym has the same equipment, and many exercises haven’t changed over the years? Building muscle isn’t about ‘tricking,’ ‘confusing,’ or sneaking an exercise up on them when least expected. While variety is helpful for not getting bored, it would not necessarily help you build muscle. Remember, progressive overload is they key, and for that, you need consistency, not constant surprises.
Build a routine and consistency build progressive overload.
Myth #7: Focus on calories, turn fat into muscle
When starting off, newbies are often told to triple their calorie intake. Eat more, and don’t worry about nutrition, you’ll just turn that fat into muscle.
The British Medical Journal made the statement that there is “surprising ignorance and confusion about the metabolic process of weight loss.” Fat is mainly metabolized into carbon dioxide (that’s right, air.) The reduction of fat naturally makes your muscles pronounced and look bigger, but there isn’t a conversion from one to another. Body-fat does supply energy for working out, but that doesn’t mean you need to eat a bucket of chicken to blast through your workout.
Never ignore nutrition when it comes to increasing your calories. Always choose healthy fats.
Myth #8: You’ve gotta spend hours and days in the gym
And if you’re not working out every day, you’re not going to get results.
The idea that the longer you train, the more results you’ll get is false. Quality definitely beats quantity when working out. A high intensity, condensed workout will yield just as much, if not more results than a long drawn out gym session.
Muscles grow by tearing and repairing. Rest and recovery are just as important as working out.