Muscle Building Myths
Six Failed Muscle Building Ideas
Some myths are so persistent, it seems like they'll never die. A few of the most damaging ones are about how muscle is formed. They're harmful because if you believe them, you're less likely to engage in resistance exercises and all the benefits those workouts give. Today I'd like to clear up six of the most common false beliefs.
Let's start with the idea that if you want to "tone up" you should do high reps with light weights. It doesn't help, because that's not the way muscles work.
You can build endurance by engaging in cardio exercise. If you want to build strength and muscle size, you have to overload muscles with resistance exercises. Doing something in the middle, like moving a light weight around for 20-30 reps is a two-time loser. You're not moving the weight long enough for a cardio benefit, and it's not heavy enough to build muscle. "Toning" exercises are a waste of time.
Doing 1,000 crunches won't give you a six-pack. Abdominal exercises are great for strengthening your core but they won't reveal a hidden washboard stomach. If you want your abs to show, you've got to reduce your body's overall fat. That means eating a healthy diet and a regular routine of cardio and resistance training exercises. There's absolutely no way short of surgery to spot reduce fat.
Quit trying to keep lifting heavier weights every time you workout. To determine if a weight is heavy enough, try this test. If you can do 20 reps with perfect form, (and you're not just warming up), the weight is too light. Anytime you can do more than 15 reps with perfect form, the weight is probably too light. If you're doing 12 reps, it should be a struggle to finish numbers 10, 11 and 12.
When you're ready to add more weight, shoot for at least a 5% increase but not more than 10%. When an exact increase isn't possible, round down (not up) to the closest weight available.
You should also avoid lifting too heavy. Make sure you can do at least 5 reps of any exercise. If you lift fewer than that, you might increase your strength, but you're not doing enough repetitions to increase muscle size. Lifting too heavy can also put you at risk of hurting yourself. Avoid lifting anything you can't keep control of.
Speaking of control, never resort to cheating. It's never appropriate even when you want to get one-more-rep. The moment you engage in bad form, you're putting your body at risk of injury. Two guys I used to call the "grimace twins" were always pushing each other to get "one more rep" while ignoring how they lifted. They moved their bodies into dangerous contortions and ended up hurting themselves more times than I can remember. Every injury set them back weeks while their bodies healed.
Don't risk injury. If you can't do something properly, keep reducing the weight until you can. Pay attention to every part of the muscle during the exercise and move up only when and if you've got it perfect.
Remember that the strength of your muscle isn't strictly determined by how big it is. Resistance training doesn't automatically build huge muscles.
Exercise stimulates muscle fibers, but the muscle doesn't get bigger until you've reached a point where the majority of fibers are being activated. Every time you lift a weight you're pushing and activating more of those fibers. You can grow pretty strong before all your muscle fibers are being stimulated and they start getting bigger.
There you have it, six failed muscle building ideas that keep coming up.
- Don't waste your time on "toning" routines.
- Ab exercises aren't going to reveal a six-pack.
- You shouldn't increase your weights every time you workout.
- Don't lift heavier than you can control.
- Never cheat.
- Don't expect weight training to build big muscles.
Once you accept those facts and discard flawed thinking you'll see significantly more progress.
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