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10 Bodybuilding Myths Training Database Bodybuilding Articles 10 Bodybuilding Myths

10 Bodybuilding Myths

1. Professional Bodybuilders don't take steroids This is an absurd statement often made by professional bodybuilders themselves or by the people who think that steroids are tested for in professional bodybuilding competitions. Every single professional bodybuilder and most fitness professionals you have seen on TV use some form of steroid or pro-hormone. What does this mean for the average weightlifter? It means that you shouldn't have unrealistic expectations for yourself.

2. You need to work out more than three times a week to make progress.

A completely false statement. Working out as little as once a week can have positive benefits on your musculature and your health. People today often cannot find time to go to the gym, but even working out a few times a week will give you great results. Theoretically, you can add muscle by working out each bodypart only once a week; if you are crunched for time but you can work out every muscle in one or two workouts, then by all means do so.

3. Exercises above 15 reps are for "toning."

I cringe when I see people, especially women, in gyms lifting light weight for high amounts of reps, figuring they are toning their body. Most believe this because they just started working out and found that the their muscles had become harder by doing this. However, going from no activity to ANY sort of activity will make your muscles harder, but this does not mean they are becoming toned. In fact, the only way to truly tone your muscles, defined as having your muscles be more defined, is through diet and fat reduction. Thus, if you want to tone concentrate on your cardiovascular work and your diet, rather than high rep workouts. High rep workouts do have their place though. Think of the Navy SEALS, whose workout consists of a huge volume of pull-ups, pushups, and sit-ups. They are in extremely good shape, and "toned" wouldn't be the best way to describe their physiques.

4. Eating a big meal after a workout is best.

Weightlifters often feel that in order to maximize the benefit of their workout and load up on nutrients they should eat a massive meal. The real key to post exercise nutrition is getting valuable protein into your muscles as quickly as possible. You want the protein you eat to be quickly and effectively digested. Thus, the optimal meal would be a decent amount of high quality protein (most easily obtained through a shake) and some high glycemic index carbohydrates (meaning quickly digesting carbs like sugar; Gatorade is a great source). The sugar spikes your insulin and maximizes the uptake of protein into your muscles so that the protein can build up your muscle. Eating a larger meal with slower digesting carbohydrates and fats will only slow down the digestion and absorption of the protein and will prevent the spike of insulin. The last thing you want directly after a workout is a slow release of nutrients; you want a lot of nutrients as quickly as possible. Optimally, you would have the protein and quickly digesting carb meal directly after your workout, and then later you would have a complete meal.

5. Doing long cardio sessions is the best way to get cut.

Long cardio sessions promote catabolism. When your body is in a catabolic state, it tries to break down stored substances for energy, including muscle tissue. I don't doubt that an endurance session will help you lose fat, not only because of the catabolic effects but also because your body uses a lot of fat as energy during endurance sessions, but I can tell you that valuable muscle will also be lost. Your best option for using cardio to get cut is short, high intensity cardio, such as intervals. Intervals plus a good diet are your best options. If you absolutely must do endurance work, then you have to minimize the breakdown of muscle tissue. Do this by consuming protein before and after your workout, and, if you can, supplement with glutamine, which is well known for its anti-catabolic effects. Glutamine is a completely safe amino acid, and is a great investment for any serious weightlifter.

6. A low fat diet is the best way to get cut.

When you are attempting to lose weight and get cut, minimizing your fat intake can be very detrimental to your efforts. While excessive fat is not recommended, especially since much easily available fat is not healthy, fat is necessary for hormone production. If you are trying to lose weight and get cut you want as much testosterone and growth hormone as naturally possible in your body, which will basically make your body choose fat over muscle when it turns to internal stores of energy while you diet. Fat is absolutely necessary to maintain your hormone levels (and other bodily functions) when you stress your body with a diet. If you want reduce a macronutrient from your diet, choose carbohydrates.

7. Workouts should be at least an hour long.

If you aren't supplementing with steroids, your body is not able to handle the stresses of a workout lasting much longer than an hour. Though you may feel as if you are doing yourself a good, the reality is that you are placing too much stress on your body. Too much stress can leave you tired and overtrained, robbing you of hard earned muscle gains.

8. Sit ups are the quickest way to get great abs.

This is one of the biggest mistakes made by weightlifters and bodybuilders. Oftentimes, most of their routine is pretty good and they see decent results, but when they go to work out their abs they just do endless amounts of crunches. They do most of their work in the 8-12 rep range, but then go and do 50 sit-ups. If you want to build your abs, work them out like anything else. Do weighted sit-ups or use a machine; anything to get you into the 8-12 rep range so you can actually BUILD your abs. One more thing though, building your abs is one thing, but seeing them is another. The ONLY way to see your hard earned abs is to have a lower bodyfat percentage, meaning more diet and more cardio.

9. When your muscles burn, you are stimulating growth.

Feeling a burning sensation in your muscles and a pumped sensation are indicators of two entirely different underlying processes at work. The "burn" is due to a buildup of lactic acid, which accumulates when your muscles are undergoing endurance training at a level higher than your lactic acid threshold. Put simply, you are doing so many reps (or running so quickly, etc.) that your muscle is unable to remove a byproduct of aerobic work, lactic acid, fast enough. Feeling the burn results from high rep low weight work, and thus your muscles won't get significantly larger doing it. However, it will increase your capillary density, muscular hardness, and your overall endurance, which might be your goals in the first place. The pump is from the rush of blood into your muscle during a high intensity and short duration set. The pump is a good feeling for bodybuilders, it signifies that sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is occurring, and their muscle is growing. If you are a bodybuilder, don't completely rule out workouts that give you a burn though. An aerobic workout, or some sort of circuit training, could be a big help before a contest or some other even where you would like to get cut.

10. If you stop working out, your muscles will turn to fat.

This is one of the worst myths to plague weight training and bodybuilding. You often hear it as an excuse not to lift, not to get too big, or as some way to put down a weightlifter. The fact is that muscle cannot TURN into fat no more than a handkerchief can turn into a rabbit. Muscle and fat are two entirely different things, and cannot be converted from one to the other. This myth probably started because some former weight lifters and athletes gain weight later in life, which happens mainly because they are used to eating more in order to support their workouts, and even when they stop lifting they continue with their old eating habits. Also, their muscle atrophies, or shrinks, from disuse.

Article by Andy Fairclough
Co-Founder and writer for

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