7 Most Common Muscle Building Myths | Stephen Coleclough
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7 Most Common Muscle Building Myths

7 Most Common Muscle Building Myths

If you are a regular gym-goer you have probably received a lot of free advice over the years.

That’s because the gym is usually packed with self-proclaimed fitness experts who love to share their fitness tips with others!

Unfortunately, a lot of this advice is incorrect and based upon misinformation.

This post will correct the record by identifying some of the common muscle building myths.

#1 – You need to eat a huge amount of protein to build muscle

This is probably the most common muscle-building myth you will hear in a gym.

While you do require protein for growth, tissue repair, and muscle-mass maintenance, you don’t require as much as some people would tell you.

According to Nutrient Timing: The Future of Sports Nutrition, the average person only needs to consume a maximum of 2 to 2.75 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day, if you are working out intensely.

Working out intensely means you are regularly lifting heavy weights to increase muscle mass.

A paper from researchers at the McMaster University suggests the ideal amount of protein for athletes may even be lower, at 1.3 to 1.8g/kg.

If you are not interested in building muscle mass or you are not working out at a high intensity, you can get by with as little as 0.8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.

This will easily be enough to repair your muscles after aerobic workouts and light weight sessions.

Any excess protein will be converted to amino acids before being excreted from the body or converted to blood sugar through a process called gluconeogenesis.

If you are consuming more calories than you are burning, these sugars may be stored as fat, which might be the opposite of what you are trying to achieve!

#2 – Never exercise when your muscles are sore

Another common myth is that exercise should be completely avoiding if your muscles are sore.

This myth has led to many people spending their “recovery day” on the couch watching television.

Researchers now understand that light exercise can help muscles recover and alleviates some post-workout soreness.

Light exercise includes going for a walk, riding a bike, or stretching.

#3 – It’s impossible to lose weight while gaining muscle

Multiple studies have completely busted this myth!

To lose weight, you have to maintain a caloric deficit, which means you must burn more calories than you consume.

However, you can still gain muscle mass while being in caloric deficit.

All you need to do is ingest a sufficient amount of protein so your muscles can repair after a workout.

Several studies confirm this is the case including effects of cross-training on markers of insulin resistance/hyperinsulinemia and resistance training and dietary protein: effects on glucose tolerance and contents of skeletal muscle insulin signaling proteins in older persons.

#4 – To get large muscle gains you need to train everyday

It’s hard to believe that some people still believe this myth.

Training everyday does not guarantee huge gains.

In fact, you are probably going to see fewer gains because you aren’t giving your body a chance to recover.

When you workout at a high intensity tiny tears will occur in the muscle fibres.

The body will repair these tears and reinforce the muscles, causing them to grow back slightly larger.

However, the body needs time to repair your muscles, which is why rest days come in handy.

Repeatedly exercising damaged muscle fibres without a recovery period will create larger tears.

These larger tears may take weeks or months to repair – slowing your progress.

That’s why people alternate the part of the body they are working out and always include recovery days in their workout schedule.

#5 – You should only perform 8 to 10 reps of each weight

The science behind building muscle building is quite simple.

Hypertrophy (an enlargement of tissue) is caused by mechanical tension which triggers muscle damage, and metabolic stress.

The easiest way to achieve mechanical tension is to lift something heavy.

Bodybuilders have long thought that the best approach for maximising mechanical tension is to use very heavy weights and a short number of reps.

However, researchers have discovered that the same results can be achieved with lighter weights as long as they are used until failure or near-failure.

The main advantage of using lighter weights with more reps is that injury is less likely.

Varying the number of reps that you perform has also been demonstrated to improve muscle gains.

That means that performing 8-10 reps with heavy weights for some exercises and using 20-30 reps for others may give you greater gains.

It turns out that the best approach is to use both light load/high volume and heavy load/low volume exercises.

#6 – You should always train to failure

Many gym-goers believe that building muscles always requires exercises to be performed to failure – that is, until you can no longer do anymore reps.

It turns out that easing yourself into a set can help you achieve more reps on the later sets.

By starting with a moderate number of reps, you will be able to squeeze more out of the last sets.

Some research indicates that training to failure will not produce greater increases in strength.

If you are only training for strength (and not necessarily size), then training to failure may not give you as much of a boost as you thought.

One serious problem with training to failure is that many people have a breakdown in their form towards the end of the set.

This increases the risk of injury and reduces the effectiveness of the exercise on the targeted muscle.

The best approach may be to mix it up – performing early sets without failure, then pushing yourself for the last sets.

#7 – Performing steady-state cardio will reduce muscle mass

Many gym-goers who are interested in bulking up avoid steady-state cardio sessions like the plague.

Steady-state cardio is cardiovascular exercise performed at a consistent intensity for a long period.

It is usually performed on a bicycle, treadmill, or elliptical machine.

This myth is busted by research that indicates steady-state exercises do not impact muscle gains and may actually improve them.

The additional aerobic capacity that it provides will help you perform more reps with each set.

Thanks for reading 7 Most Common Muscle-Building Myths.

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Stephen Coleclough
Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a personal trainer and online fitness/nutrition coach from the UK. He loves heavy squats, smashing PRs and bacon sandwiches. You can follow him on Twitter at ColecloughPT.

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