There are many misconceptions about what it takes to build a good physique. If you are a beginner, you might unknowingly get stuck in your fitness journey, and it can make hitting your goals next to impossible. Therefore, the best defence against failure is proper information.
Let us debunk the 20 biggest bodybuilding myths that will help you recognize right from the wrong and truth from the lies.
Myth #1 - Empty Stomach Workouts Helps Burn Fat Faster
According to this theory, if your stomach is empty, your body will be forced to burn fat for energy. However, your body may turn to muscle for fuel, giving you less energy for your workout and potentially causing dehydration, hyperglycemia, and lightheadedness. Some experts also warn that taking this approach may cause your metabolism to slow. Instead, eat a light, easily digestible meal 90 minutes before exercising to optimize your workout.
Myth #2 - No Pain, No Gain
There is a distinction to be made between post-workout soreness and pain. The former is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and it occurs when there are microscopic tears in a muscle and inflammation. Please do not ignore the pain; instead, listen to it to learn what your body requires. On your recovery day, work on mobility if you have soft tissue tightness. If your legs are aching, try upper body or cardio exercises." And if you have sharp, shooting, or recurring pains in your muscles, joints, or ligaments, you should see a doctor.
Myth #3 - Morning Workouts Works Best for Your Metabolism
The truth is that exercising at any time of day is beneficial and will rev up your metabolism. However, the best time to exercise for you is determined by your circadian rhythms and when your body is most ready for activity. According to one study, many people's lung and muscle function peak in the late afternoon. The issue with morning workouts arises primarily if you are not a morning person. If you don't get enough sleep, your body chemistry will be off, and your metabolism will slow down.
Myth #4 - Eating Fat Will Make You Fat
This is one myth in the nutrition world that just refuses to die. Eating fat does not make you fat. On the contrary, if you consume unsaturated fats (both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and omega-3 fatty acids, it will boost your metabolism and help achieve a better physique. Some studies have found that people who consume more unsaturated fatty acids have lower BMIs and less abdominal fat. Fat can also help you stay fuller for longer and build muscle. As a result, make sure to include avocados, olive oil, fish, and nuts in your diet.
Myth #5 - More Workout Equals Better Growth
No way. This is one of the most damaging myths that has ever existed. Ninety-five per cent of the pros will tell you that over-training was their biggest bodybuilding mistake. When you train your muscles too frequently to heal, the result is no growth and, in some cases, loss. Even if you're using the appropriate intensity, working out every day will result in gross overtraining. Accept rest as a necessary part of your workout. Learn to listen to your body and take rest days whenever needed.
Myth #6 - The Longer You Workout, The Better
It is simply unnecessary to perform 5-6 sets for a body part, or even four sets as many 'experts' would have you believe. In fact, research has shown that it is possible to fatigue a muscle in a couple of working sets completely, provided that set taxes the muscle completely, i.e. incorporates as many muscle fibres as possible. Hypertrophy is just one type of adaptation to this type of stress, and it's the type that most bodybuilders are interested in. Therefore, you don't need to spend hours and hours at the gym trying to do repetitive sets for a single muscle group as it would lead to overtraining.
Myth #7 - You Should Not Rest More Than 45 seconds in between sets
This is true if you want to improve your cardiovascular health or lose some body fat. However, to build muscle, you must allow enough time to recover fully (i.e. let the lactic acid buildup in your muscles dissipate and ATP levels build back up). To make muscles grow, you must lift the heaviest weight possible, allowing the greatest number of muscle fibres to be recruited. If the amount of weight you can lift is limited by the amount of lactic acid leftover from the previous set, you're just testing your ability to deal with the effects of lactic acid. Consider taking at least two to three minutes between sets when training hard. Keep in mind that we said, "when training heavily." The truth is that you can't always train hard. Periodization entails alternating high-intensity workouts with lower-intensity sessions to keep the body from becoming overtrained.
Myth #8 - Weight Training Bulks You Up and Cardio Cuts You Down
Manipulation of your nutrient and daily calorie intake is the leading cause behind bulking and cutting. You will lose fat and get more cut if your daily caloric expenditure consistently exceeds your daily caloric intake and vice versa.
Cardio is generally intended to improve cardiovascular efficiency, but if done for a long enough time, you will burn calories and lose fat in the long run. Weightlifting, on the other hand, can accomplish the same thing, albeit more effectively. Weight training is more efficient than cardio at burning calories in the long run. A person's metabolic needs increase by gaining lean body mass—muscle uses energy even when not used. You may burn more calories during the exercise period while performing cardio, but doing weight training results in a higher net 24-hour expenditure.
Myth #9 - If You Want Abs - Do Crunches
There is no such thing as spot reduction. Thousands of sit-ups will give you tight abdominal muscles, but they will do nothing to remove fat from your midsection. Thigh adductor and abductor movements will firm up women's thighs, but they will do nothing to remove fat. Nothing will get rid of fat in the body unless you carefully reduce your daily energy intake; in other words, you must burn more calories than you consume.
Myth #10 - If You Stop Working Out, Your Muscle Will Turn into Fat
Muscle cannot be converted to fat any faster than gold can be converted to lead. Muscle is made up of individual cells, which are living, 'breathing' cells that go through various complex metabolic processes. Fat cells are simply lipid storage packets. If you stop working out, they will simply adapt to the new situation if you stop applying consistent resistance to your muscles. In other words, they will contract.
Myth #11 - Good Physique Means Good Knowledge
Contrary to popular belief, just because someone has a great build does not qualify them as a bodybuilding expert. Unfortunately, in a society where appearances are important, well-built lifters are frequently regarded as bodybuilding scientists. Unfortunately, many well-built athletes, including professional bodybuilders, have no idea how they got there. Many of them are genetically gifted and enhance their genetic potential even further by using a plethora of bodybuilding drugs. Elite bodybuilders, with a few exceptions, are the last people you want to turn to for bodybuilding advice if you're genetically average like the other 98 per cent of us. Expert advice is more likely to come from someone who has "walked a mile in your shoes."
Myth #12 - You Should Stretch Before Training Muscles
Instead of static stretching, focus on dynamic warm-ups. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reports that "static stretches" held in place, such as reaching for your toes, have not been shown to improve performance. Instead, the ACSM recommends a dynamic warm-up that includes jogging or jumping jacks, followed by lunges, leg swings, and arm circles to raise your heart rate and increase blood flow. According to the ACSM, these types of movements may improve your overall performance while decreasing risk of injury.
Myth #13 - The More You Sweat, The More Fat You Will Burn
You may feel as if the pounds are sweating off of you during an intense cardio session. Unfortunately, this is not the case. According to a 2008 study published in the ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal, sweating causes weight loss, but only water, not fat. Sweating is your body's way of cooling down by releasing hydration that has been stored. It simply means that you need to rehydrate.
Myth #14 - Sports Drinks are Good for Your Health
When you rehydrate after working out, avoid using a sports drink high in sugar. For example, a bottle of Gatorade contains 34 g of sugar. By drinking one, you're simply stifling your progress. According to 2019 research, the popular sports drink effectively delivers certain electrolytes, but if your body doesn't require them, avoid it because you're adding unnecessary sugar, calories, and sodium to your diet.
Myth #15 - You Need to Capitalize on the Anabolic Window to Gain Muscles
You must have seen gym bros guzzling down protein shakes as soon as they complete their workouts. These individuals are attempting to capitalize on the concept of an "anabolic window," or the period following a workout when your body's protein synthesis—or muscle-building period—is at its peak. This period, according to popular belief, lasts approximately 30 minutes. However, according to a 2018 article in U.S. News & World Report, the anabolic window can last up to 24 hours after a workout. It's not that immediate protein consumption is harmful; it's just that it's not as necessary as previously thought. In a 2017 study published in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise, for example, men who drank 22 g of protein after their workouts did not gain more muscle than those who did not.
Myth #16 - You Cannot Gain Muscles without Protein Powder
This is one of the biggest bodybuilding myths prevailing in the fitness world. Gym bros are always stalking the supplement aisle and spending thousands to buy expensive protein powders. You need to get this one straight to build muscle; you DO NOT NEED PROTEIN POWDER OR PROTEIN BARS. Sure, if you use it, it's an excellent tool for muscle building, but it's no different than the cheaper protein found in any natural food.
Protein powder is also exorbitantly priced. If you want to supplement your protein intake with protein powder, that's fantastic. However, don't believe the bodybuilding myth that it's required to gain muscle- it's a luxury, not a necessity.
Myth #17 - Vitamins and Minerals aren't Important
This is an intriguing bodybuilding myth that we believe is beginning to fade. Many bodybuilders did not prioritize vitamins and minerals in their diet for a long time. Yet, various research shows that these nutrients are essential for muscle growth and that without them, muscles will not grow.
In biology, the Absolute Minimum Law states that "if one of the essential plant nutrients is deficient, plant growth will be poor even if all other essential nutrients are abundant." And it is the same with humans. So even if you're getting enough of everything else, your muscles won't grow if you lack some nutrients.
Myth #18 - You Can Turn Fat into Muscle
This is also one of the most controversial debates in the bodybuilding world. Many Instagram influencers constantly advertise that their programs help you turn fat into muscle, but this isn't the case. Burning fat and gaining muscles are two completely different things. You need to be in a calorie deficit to burn fat, and on the other hand, you need to consume more calories than you burn to gain muscles. However, there lies an exception of body recomposition where you simultaneously burn fat and gain muscle. You cannot ever turn your fat into muscles as they both are different tissues of the human body and cannot be converted into either.
Myth #19 - You Need to Have 6-8 Small Meals a Day
This is another of those bodybuilding myths that didn't start bad but quickly got out of hand. This myth had good intentions: it wanted bodybuilders to consume more calories to build muscle during off season. As a result, the myth was created to persuade people to eat more meals to gain weight and properly grow muscle. But then things spiraled out of control. And then people started changing it to small meals,' claiming that large meals are bad for bodybuilding. Then there was talk about meal timing,' and how your body won't absorb it properly if you don't space out your meals.
The point is that none of this is correct. All that matters is you consume more calories than you burn. It doesn't matter if you eat it all at once or in a slew of small meals as long as you get the calories in. Many bodybuilders follow the 'One Meal a Day diet, and it actually works.
Myth #20 - Fruits Cannot Make You Fat
Humans eat food because it provides us with nutrients and fuel, but any type of food, no matter how healthy, can cause weight gain. For example, fruit contains a lot of easily digestible carbohydrates. So when you feed your body easily digestible carbohydrates, you're basically telling it to stop burning body fat for fuel.
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