Building muscle is no easy task. If it were, you would see bulging biceps everywhere; but you don’t. Those of us who have become insistent and persistent in our pursuit of muscle, have found that there’s sometimes a right way to do things, a wrong way to approach our endeavour as well as the ever-changing circumstances our body likes to remind us about just when we think we’ve got it all figured out. In and amongst all of trial and error we’ve encountered along the way are the multitude of myths that exist with regards to building muscle. For some, this had led to an extended period of less than stellar gains, for others injury and for just about all of us, wasted time. So, in the hopes that some of your confusion can be cleared up along with saving you a bunch of unnecessary time and energy, here are some of the more common myths that exist pertaining to building muscle and the actual realities surrounding them.
Muscle Myth #1: Lifting heavy will make me too bulky
If it were only that easy. While there is a lot of truth to this one, it’s not a simple as it sounds. It is true that to build significant amounts of muscle you do have to progressively overload the muscles as a training stimulus but the muscle doesn’t just pile on in unlimited quantities. It takes years and years to build quality muscle tissue and a lot of it if that’s what you’re after or if that’s what you fear. So don’t worry yourself about putting on too much muscle if you want to lift heavy from time to time. It won’t interfere with your other sports or your mobility in the short term. And by the way, lifting heavy is only one part of the equation for putting on size.
Muscle Myth #2: To get ripped, you have to lift lighter weights for more Reps
This myth seems to circulate through the gyms quite regularly as the warmer weather approaches or when it’s contest season. The idea that doing more reps with a lighter weight will get you ripped has had an incredible number of people end up wasting their time in the gym. Getting ripped has nothing to do with going lighter and repping it out. It has everything to do with training hard, having a properly constructed nutrition plan in place, performing cardio and ensuring that your energy expenditure is greater than your energy intake; that’s what it comes down to. Well, one could say that by doing more reps in the gym, you’re putting out more energy. My answer to that would be why would you change your training strategy when what you’ve been doing has allowed you to build what you currently have? So if you want to lean up, just keep training hard and heavy (relatively speaking) and let your diet and cardio output do what it’s supposed to do.
Muscle Myth #3: You can get big by eating a little bit over Maintenance
This one seems to be a point of contention for many people lately and has left many confused as to which method is right. There are those that say you can gain all the muscle you’ll ever need by simply eating a little more than what is required to maintain your current muscle mass. Then there are others that say you have to pound the food into yourself day in and day out to accrue real size. The reality within all of this is that there is no single answer or right way. Some of you out there will be able to grow incredible amounts of muscle with only a small increase to your food while others will have to eat crazy amounts of food to get any sort of gain. Most will argue that you need to eat a lot to grow-eat big to get big and for the most part, this is probably closer to the truth. However, you won’t know for yourself until you try both methods.
Muscle Myth #4: To pack on the most muscle, stick with free weight Exercises
Free weight movements offer a plethora of advantages when trying to build new muscle. Typically speaking, free weight exercises are harder to perform by nature of the required stability it takes to complete the movements coupled with relying solely on your own hinges and levers for any sort of mechanical advantage. It’s also where most of us begin our muscle-building journey so the initial gains we see on our physiques come from free weight workouts. That said, it shouldn’t negate just how effective some of the machines you have at your gym actually are. Especially if your gym contains equipment that has been handpicked by the owner for its overall effectiveness. Take Brickhouse Gym for example. You’ll see lots of free weight stuff in there but you’ll also see the amazing pieces of equipment that Justin specifically chose from the Arsenal line to help enhance the muscle-building process of all that would be using them. So you can build just as much muscle using machines as you can free weights and because of that, your program should always include a good mix of both.
Muscle Myth #5: Working out too much makes you muscle-bound and unable to Move
If you’re training regularly and have focused all of your attention on packing on new muscle tissue and have forgotten about the importance of mobility, then yes this could prove to be true. However, if you’re a discerning creator of muscle, then you’ll understand that a more functional body is a healthier body and a healthier body is one capable of performing better and growing in a more uninterrupted way. So as long as you’re taking time to work on things like stretching, receiving muscle therapy treatment, doing yoga or just continuing to do normal things like playing sports or bike riding or swimming, then this myth will prove to be just that. You don’t have to allow yourself to get all knotted up by any means so make sure you’re giving attention to those other areas of physique development as well and you’ll be just fine.
There is so much information out there right now that you can literally bury yourself in it and still not know which way is right and which is wrong. There are lots of people readily willing to share their knowledge; whether that knowledge is fact or myth however is another question. It is up to you to find credible sources for information and from those that seem to resonate with your overall approach and goals. Then, take the time to sift through all the stuff you don’t need to know and keep hold of the information you believe will benefit you the most. After that, it’s all trial and error as we all grow from the different stimuli and different approaches. My hope is that with this article, you’ll be able to save yourself a little time and have a little more of an understanding with regards to these common muscle myths and that you can make the right decisions for yourself. In the meantime, train hard and smart and we’ll see you at the gym!
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member