5 Common Muscle-Building Myths

When scrolling through internet websites or other social media platforms, it can be easy to come across information that leaves you asking questions. Here are FIVE common muscle-building myths that aren’t necessarily true that require shedding some light on, let’s take a look!

MYTH 1: Heavy weight, low reps for size; light weight, high reps for cutting

REALITY: When it comes to putting on muscular size, you want to put your body in a position to break down muscle fibers. Commonly, this hypertrophy occurs at the 10-12 rep range and moderate to heavy weight, so that part is true in the myth. However, when it comes to cutting, you do not need to perform light weight and high reps, at least that’s not how you should think about it. For cutting, you are looking at performing at a caloric deficit, so it’s not primarily your training where you are going to get this effect, it’s your nutrition! Sure, moving your arms or legs faster may burn more calories, but this is not the main mechanism responsible for cutting. I recommend still performing moderate to heavy volume training even when cutting.

MYTH 2: The ideal rep range for optimal muscle growth is 8-12 reps

REALITY: Lifting styles and what you do in the gym as far as weight, sets, and reps used really depend on your goals. For instance, if I want to train maximal strength, or the amount of weight I can move in a single rep, I would want to train with a heavier load but for fewer reps and longer rest periods. If I wanted to increase muscular size and not focus so much on strength, I would look at more volume work at the 10-12 rep range (to start; some may want to push to 15-20 depending on how their body).

MYTH 3: You need to surprise your muscle with different workouts

REALITY: While this seems like a common idea, look at every gym you’ve gone to…the all have the same equipment! What I am getting at is if you want to force your muscles to grow you need to perform progressive overload. It doesn’t matter if you do some fancy kickback versus a squat, you want to perform an exercise that activates the prime mover/muscle and then progressively overload the muscle in training. This is the fundamental for growing muscle. I promise you that if you hit your biceps with heavier weight and more volume than you’re used to, while performing the same exercise, you will see some serious gains!

MYTH 4: You’ve gotta spend hours and days in the gym

REALITY: In short, you only need to exercise for about 30-60 minutes a day to reap the health benefits associated. Unfortunately, most people today will bring in their phones and strike up conversations that prolong the training session. Additionally, the American Journal of Physiology suggest that cellular energy consumption increases 100-fold when performing high intensity interval training. I will say that I spend anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours in the gym on average, sometimes longer depending on my day.

MYTH 5: If I want to lose weight, I need to stop eating carbs

REALITY: Here is a figure I show my clients when they want to lose weight: Losing weight = Calories burned > Calories Consumed. When it comes to losing weight it is all about burning more calories than you eat. Many people who consume carbohydrates (breads, grains, etc.) on a daily basis tend to also hold on to more subcutaneous water, an effect of carbs in the system. It is apparent when individuals begin cutting out carbs that they may begin losing weight but it is important to note that it is highly likely to the individual putting themselves into a total caloric deficit for the day and the inclusion that retention of water weight may decrease over time.

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