13 Biggest Lies in Bodybuilding

man in muscle back view 50597 - For Weight Control

Anyone who wants to build big muscles, hear multiple opinions, and suggestions from various people. They all vary and many times contradict themselves. Here are some of the myths or lies in bodybuilding.

1. You could be as muscular as pro body builders without enhancing agents; it just takes longer.

Despite what many of the magazines say, all professional bodybuilders use either steroids or steroids in combination with other growth-enhancing drugs. Without manipulating hormones, it just isn’t possible to get that degree of muscularity and the paper-thin skin. Many supplement distributors, to sell their products, would have you believe otherwise.

Still, that’s no reason to give up. By using state-of-the-art training principles, consuming a nutrient-rich diet, and by getting proper amounts of rest, almost every person can make incredible changes in his or her physique.

2 – To gain large amount of muscle, you have to eat a very high-calorie diet.

Well, this may be true, but not the way you are thinking. You’ll get really big if you eat a super high-calorie diet, but you’ll look like the Michelin Man’s fraternal twin. However, if you want to get big and gain muscle mass, then super-high-calorie foods are probably not for you unless you are blessed with a high metabolism. 

Unfortunately, studies show that, in most people, about 65% of the new tissue gains brought about by high-calorie diets consist of fat! Of the remaining 35%, approximately 15% consists of increased intracellular fluid volume, leaving a very modest percentage attributable to increased lean muscle mass.

According to Dr. Scott Connelly (MM2K, Spring 1992, p. 21), only about 20% to 25% of increased muscle growth comes from increased protein synthesis. The rest of the muscle growth is due to increased cells in muscle tissue. Dietary caloric intake is NOT a critical factor in development in muscle cells. 

Of all factors determining muscle growth, prevention of protein breakdown seems to be the most relevant, but adding fat tissue through constant overfeeding can increase muscle breakdown. Furthermore, additional adipose mass can radically alter hormone balances, which are responsible for controlling protein breakdown in muscle. Insulin balance, which partially controls anti-catabolism in the body, is impaired by consistent overfeeding. So much for the eat-big-to-get-big philosophy!

Stay away from the super-high calorie diets.

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3 – If you eat a low-fat diet, you will not gain any fat even if you take in large amount of calories.

The bottom line is, if you exceed your energy requirements, you’ll gradually get fatter and fatter. Eating a diet rich in fat will indeed pack on the pounds quicker because a gram of fat has nine calories as opposed to the four calories per gram of carbohydrates and proteins. When the food has less fat – the taste is different. To maintain the taste, manufacturers add more carbohydrates. So, low-fat does not mean low-calorie. The intake of carbohydrates, as facilitated by many of the weight-gain powders, will make you fat very quickly.

4 – The more you workout, the more your muscle will grow.

No, no-no. When you train your muscles too often, it does not get time to heal, and the end-result is zero growth and perhaps even losses. Working out every day, if you’re indeed using the proper amount of intensity, will lead to gross overtraining. A body part worked adequately, i.e., worked to complete, a total muscular failure that recruited as many muscle fibers as physiologically possible can take 5-10 days to heal. If you work one body part, say leg (quads) fully one day and do an upper body (chest) the next day, it may still inhibit gains. After a serious leg workout, your whole system mobilizes to heal and recover from the blow you’ve dealt it. How, then, can the body be expected to heal from an equally brutal workout the next day? 

hyperbolic - For Weight ControlLearn to accept rest as a valuable part of your workout. Your muscle increases in size during this recovery period. 

5 – The longer you work out, the better.

It just isn’t necessary to do 20-30 sets for a body part, or even ten sets like many ‘experts’ would have you believe. Research has shown that it’s possible to fatigue a muscle in one set completely. To do that, one should lift enough weight that it reaches muscle fatigue. Then continue doing reps at lower weight until you either can not do another rep. Any further contraction causes microscopic tearing. Hypertrophy is one adaption to this kind of stress. 

If you can genuinely work your muscle to the point described, it will afford you little, if any, benefit to do another set (Westcott, 1986). The exception would be the body parts that are so big that they have distinct geographical areas, like the back, which has an upper, middle, and lower part. The chest might also fall into this category, as it has a distinct upper and lower part, each with different insertion points.

6 – The training programs that are used for pro bodybuilders are good for everyone.

Many pros spend hours and hours doing many sets. It would far surpass the average person’s recuperative abilities. If ordinary people follow the routines of average pro bodybuilders, they could lose what muscle mass they did have. If they do make progress, it will take a couple of years.

7 – You can’t gain muscle if you only work each body part once a week.

If you work out — work out intensely— then it can take 5-10 days for the muscles to heal. A study in the May 1993 issue of the Journal of Physiology revealed it could take weeks for muscles to recuperate from an intense workout. The study involved a group of men and women who had worked their forearms to the max. All of the subjects said they were sore two days after exercising, and the soreness resolved by the seventh day, and the swelling improved by the ninth day. After six weeks, the subjects had only gained back half the strength they had before the original exercise! 

It takes muscles longer to heal than what you might have previously thought. For some people, especially natural bodybuilders, waiting a week between body part workouts might be just what the doctor ordered for size and strength gains!

8 – Weight training makes you bulk up; aerobic exercise cuts you up.

Manipulations in your nutrient intake are the main factor in getting cut up, and how you do, it doesn’t matter. If your daily caloric expenditure exceeds your daily caloric intake consistently, you will lose fat and get more cut.

Aerobic exercise is generally meant to improve cardiovascular efficiency. If you do it long enough, you will burn more calories and in the long run, drop the fat. However, weight-lifting can do the same thing, only better. Studies have shown that the body burns far more efficiently if you exercise at a moderate pace for periods longer than 20 minutes. (It generally takes that long for the glucose in the bloodstream to be ‘burned up,’ causing the body to dip into glycogen reserves for its energy) Once the glycogen reserves are used up, the body must metabolize fatty acids for energy. That equates to lost body fat.

In the long run, bodybuilding is more efficient than aerobics for burning up calories. By adding lean body mass, that person’s metabolic requirements are higher–muscle uses energy even while resting. The weight lifter burns fat just sitting there.

9 – If you do hundreds of sit-ups a day, you will eventually get six-packs.

There is no such thing as spot-reduction. Have you seen anyone who has six packs and not have any muscle anywhere? Doing thousands and thousands of sit-ups will give you tight abdominal muscles, but they will do nothing to rid your midsection of fat. Thigh adductor and abductor movements will provide women with’s thighs more firmness, but they will do nothing to rid the area of fat. Nothing will rid the body of fat unless the whole body approach is taken. Watching calorie intake and daily activity is the key to losing abdominal fat (and fat everywhere else). 

10 – Women need to train differently than men.

On a microscopic level, there is virtually no difference between the muscle tissue of men and the muscle tissue of women. Men and women have different levels of the same hormones. That is what is responsible for the difference in the amount of muscle a man can typically put on, and the amount of muscle a woman can usually gain. There is absolutely no reason why either should train differently than the other sex, provided they have the same goals. The only difference in training might be as a result of cultural, sexual preferences. A woman might desire to develop her glutes a little more, so she looks better in a pair of jeans. Conversely, a man might want to build his lats a little more so that he fits the cultural stereotype of a man.

11 – Eating more carbohydrates before workout is an excellent way to enhance your athletic performance.

The traditional manner in which athletes ‘carb up’ for an athletic competition usually involves first depleting the body’s stores of carbohydrates through exercise and diet. Rest, and a high carbohydrate intake then follows this. However, studies have shown that this type of preparation is unnecessary. An athlete who eats a balanced, high-carbohydrate diet and is in reasonably good shape has plenty of carbohydrates in his or her system. He is ready to meet the demands of short-duration exercises that don’t exceed roughly one hour. Anyone that does activities that last more than an hour, like long-distance running or cycling, may benefit from ‘carbing up,’ but the ability of muscles to use fat as a source of energy rather than carbohydrates in endurance events maybe even more important to performance at that level.

12 – If you stop working out, your muscle will turn into fat.

Muscles can no sooner turn to fat than gold can turn into a lead. Muscle is made up of individual cells–living, ‘breathing’ cells that undergo all kinds of complex metabolic processes. Fat cells are simply storage packets of lipids. The possibility of one changing into another is akin to the bowling ball in your storage closet, turning into a soccer ball. If you stop working out, if you stop applying resistance to your muscles consistently, they will adapt to the new condition. In other words, they’ll shrink. If the degree of inactivity or immobilization is severe, the muscles will shrink faster than the surrounding skin. One may also experience a temporary condition of loose skin, but that too would remedy itself with time.

13 – Someone with a well-built body must be knowledgeable about fitness and physique development.

Despite popular belief, just because some guy has 20″ [51cm] arms or 30″ [77cm] thighs, that does not automatically credential him as a bodybuilding expert. Well-built lifters are often regarded as bodybuilding scientists. Unfortunately, many of those bodybuilders have no idea how they got where they are. Many of them are so genetically gifted and embellish their genetic potential even further by using tons of bodybuilding drugs that they succeed in spite of themselves. With few exceptions, elite bodybuilders are the last people in the world you want to turn to for bodybuilding advice if you’re genetically average like 98% of us. You’re more likely to find expert advice from someone who has ‘walked a mile in your shoes.’

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About the Author: Adarsh Gupta