Here are just some of the common bodybuilding myths you may hear and why you should avoid them:
Extended Workouts Lead to Greater Muscle Gain
We’ve all heard the saying “no pain, no gain” and this in itself is one of the biggest myths you’ll hear when it comes to bodybuilding. Many fitness fanatics have replayed this mantra in their head as they do one more set of reps even though their muscles are burning and their body’s absolutely exhausted. But it’ll lead to muscle gain, though, right? No, it won’t.
In a study, the Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting team were studied by European sports researchers who tracked their blood chemistry around the clock. Their findings revealed that when the weightlifters were exerting themselves with heavy lifting for over 45 minutes, their testosterone levels decreased by up to 80% and cortisol took over. Testosterone is the hormone that’s responsible for recovery and muscle growth and when it decreases by this much, it’s going to prevent your muscles from growing, leading to a plateau in your workout’s benefits.
So, exerting yourself for long periods of time will result in pain but it’s not going to lead to any more gains.
Lifting Slowly Creates Bigger Muscles
This is a more recent rumor and has fooled bodybuilders into thinking that super-slow lifting was the way forward but University of Alabama researchers proved otherwise. In super-slow lifting, the exercises take 10 seconds to complete and focus on control and coordination but as a result, these bodybuilders are burning fewer calories and are able to lift less weight.
The study compared two groups of weightlifters and found that those who were carrying out the routine faster burned 71% more calories and lifted more weight (250% more!) than those who were following a super-slow lifting routine. Gary Hunter, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., author of the study, believed that by doing the up phase of lifting as quickly as possible, strength is increased.
Eating a High-Calorie Diet Will Make You Grow Bigger
Of course, if your aim is to build up your muscles, you’ll need to be consuming more calories than you’re burning. But this doesn’t give you a free ticket to eat as many calories as you want, especially not until your metabolism becomes super-efficient.
500 more calories should be consumed by someone who wants to increase their size but these calories need deriving from clean sources such as good fats, complex carbohydrates and high-quality proteins. How much muscle you build is dependent on how able your body is at synthesizing muscles from the protein you’ve eaten. Under ideal circumstances, your body is capable of building around 0.25 to 0.5 pounds of protein per week with two pounds of muscle being produced each month.
It’s Safer to Do Leg Extensions than Squats
For a long time, squats have been wrongly accused of wrecking knees and causing injuries with leg extensions being seen as a safer form of exercise that will leave you free from injury. But a study found that exercises that use a single joint (open-chain exercises), like leg extensions, can actually be much more dangerous than exercises that engage more than one joint (closed-chain exercises), like squats.
When you do leg extensions, there’s a slight difference in when your quadriceps muscles are activated, and even though it’s a fraction of a second, this uneven compression can cause excess strain on your joints. However, because the knee’s controlled by the hamstrings and quadriceps, when squatting, these are balanced, providing your joints with the right support (so long as you’re using the right equipment too, i.e. the correct weight-lifting shoes).
To perform a squat safely, you should keep your back as upright as possible before lowering your body until you feel uncomfortable in your knees – normally when your thighs are parallel with the floor. If you do find yourself leaning forwards when you’re doing squats, you could try front squats. These are more complicated but because the weights resting on the front of your shoulders, it helps you to keep your back in an upright position.
About the Author
Tyler Watson is passionate about bodybuilding, something that grabbed his attention when he was just 19. Now having created a career around personal fitness, Ty shares his tips around the web in his informative articles.