Myth 1: You need to workout for long periods everyday to see results.
Fact: While the more is better principal is true for money it doesn’t apply here. When we’re under physical (intense workouts lasting more than one hour) or emotional stress our bodies consume glucose at an extremely high rate. To keep our blood sugar levels in a homeostasis state the catabolic stress hormone cortisol is released which forces gluconeogenesis ( making glucose from non carbohydrate sources) to be performed on adipose and muscle tissue. When muscle tissue is broken down it releases amino acids into the blood stream. Once in the blood stream the amino acids are shuttled into the liver to synthesize glucose. This ensures that our brain gets a sufficient amount of glucose to keep functioning properly. So unless you want to run the risk of catabolzing your own muscles, shorter workouts are usually a better choice. Studies also show that each trained body part needs a minimum of 48hrs of rest between sessions with back and leg muscles taking longer to recover 72 hrs. For example if you train your back muscles on Monday you shouldn’t train back again until Friday. Training body parts that have not been fully repaired will lead to over-training and quite possibly atrophy of muscle tissue.
Myth 2: Only a large amount of calories will lead to muscle growth
Fact: In order for an individual to gain one pound of muscle there needs to be a surplus of an additional 3,500 calories. Spread over a course of one week that’s only 500 additional calories per day. It is estimated that sports supplements including weight gainers are a multi million dollar a year industry. If you find it hard to put on weight you can make your own weight gainer by mixing whole milk, peanut butter and one scoop of whey protein in a blender. Anything above the 500 additional calories will not be needed and will be stored as fat. A simplistic way of determining calorie needs is to multiple your body weight by 17. Try it and save some money.
Myth 3: Following bodybuilder type routines will get you huge
Fact: Unless you are on steroids, 25 sets per body part will without question leave you over-trained. People need to understand that on top of the drug use most bodybuilders are genetic freaks, probably not me or you. Stick with 12 sets total once every 4-5 days per body part. This will ensure proper rest and recuperation between sets.
Myth 4: You need to lift heavy all the time
Fact: Studies demonstrate that individuals who vary their workouts between light and heavy cycles of training display greater strength and muscle size compared to individuals who lift at a constant weight all the time. The take home message is, while heavy weights produce greater muscle gains compared to light weights, you can’t lift heavy all the time. The body does best when it’s given enough time to repair and heal. Also keep in mind any new training stimulus will result in muscles compensating and getting bigger. So while light training may seem counter productive, your muscles will react by increasing their size once the heavy training starts up again.
Myth 5: There can only be one right way to train to make muscle gains
Fact: In this day and age everybody seems to be an expert when it comes to exercising. While it is true, intense heavy workouts are best to increase muscle mass. The fact remains any new stimulus presented to the body for the first time will increase muscle size, no matter what the program is. It’s really not the kind of workout so much as it is trying to exercise in different ways to trick your body and prevent it from adapting to the workout. Again variety is the key try these gems on for size…..
Keep in mind that while most people(men mostly) who lift weights would love to look like the bodybuilder models displayed in the magazines…the truth is most of us will not. There are 3 basic reasons for this: 1) Steroids: you just can’t be huge and ripped at the same time without them. 2) Genetics: walk into any gym and you’ll find yourself amongst average looking fitness patrons, it’s only a handful that ever look like monsters! This is due to genetics and not the way they train. 3) Diet: six pack abs are a primary result of a stringent diet. The problem is most people can’t and won’t live on steamed chicken and broccoli. I for one choose to portion control my meals and exercise on a regular basis, so that I can have the occasional slice of pizza. I may not have extraordinary chiseled abs but I also will not runaway from the birthday cake either! In these troubled times, a sound mind goes a long way….
first published in 2007