There are so many fitness and bodybuilding ‘experts’ out there, who are you going to trust? It can be confusing to hear so many things from so many different people. The bodybuilding and fitness industry is a multi billion dollar industry with new ‘gurus’ popping up every day it seems. Many so called experts really don’t have a clue, they are simply in it to make money by pushing their expensive programs, or by selling worthless supplements that they promise will give you results, when in fact they do ‘jack squat’. It is imperative that you don’t fall for these scam artists and by into their crap. Over the next few minutes, I’m going to dispel four commonly held beliefs about building muscle.
Myth #1: If you want to build muscle, you have to get a ‘pump’ in the gym.
If you don’t know what it is, a “pump” is the feeling that you get as blood becomes trapped inside the muscle tissue when you train with weights. The muscles swell up and make you feel bigger, and physically look a little more muscular, and if you have low enough body fat, more vascular. While many people aim to get a nice pump in the gym, it has very little to do with actual muscle growth. It is simply the result of increase bloodflow to your muscles and doesn’t indicate that you had a good workout. You judge a workout by how you progressed from the last workout. If you were able to do more, lift more weights, do more reps, than that is a successful workout. The key is progression.
Myth #2: The more muscle you have, the less flexible you are.
This has been a long held myth, going back ages, when people started saying that bodybuilders were ‘muscle bound’ and ‘bulky’. Contrary to what many thing, if you build lean muscle mass, you will become faster as opposed to slower. Muscles guide every movement that your body makes, from running to jumping to throwing and stretching. The stronger a muscle is, the more force it can apply. Having stronger, more muscular legs means increased foot speed, just as having stronger and more muscular shoulders means the ability to throw farther. Strong muscles are able muscles, not the other way around. Those that work on their flexibility, will be more flexible, whether they are muscular or not.
Myth #3: You MUST use PERFECT form each and every exercise.
While using good form in the gym is always important, obsessing over perfect form is an entirely different matter. If you are always attempting to perform every exercise using flawless, textbook form, you will actually increase your chances of injury and simultaneously decrease the total amount of muscle stimulation you can achieve. Remember, we are not robots! It’s very important that you always move naturally when you exercise. This could mean adding a very slight sway in your back when you perform bicep curls, or using a tiny bit of body momentum when executing barbell rows. Loosen yourself up a bit and move the way your body was meant to be moved. Obsessing over perfect form will actually work against you rather than for you. There is nothing wrong with ‘cheating’ just a little bit to get an extra rep or two. Don’t make a habit of it, but doing it occasionally will actually be beneficial because it will allow you to lift more weight and push yourself even more than you were.
Myth #4: FEEL THE BURN!
This is another huge misconception in the gym. The “burning” sensation that results from intense weight training is simply the result of lactic acid (a metabolic waste product) that is secreted inside the muscle tissue as you exercise. Increased levels of lactic acid have nothing to do with muscle growth and may actually slow down your gains rather than speed them up. You can limit lactic acid production by training in a lower rep range of 5-7, rather than the traditional range of 10 and above. Once you get into the 10-15, or even higher range, you will typically feel more of a burn. I do like to occasionally go into this range. I think the key is variety. As Tony Horton says, ‘Variety Is The Spice of Life’.