The 30 Lies Of Bodybuilding
1. You can become as big as a professional bodybuilder without taking steroids; it just takes longer.
While many fitness publications endorse the idea of pursuing a natural approach and reject the utilization of steroids among professional athletes, it's a well-known fact that all professional bodybuilders resort to anabolic steroids or similar hormonal agents to enhance their muscle mass. Achieving the remarkable size and definition they attain is virtually unattainable without the aid of synthetic anabolic substances. Some companies selling sports supplements attempt to propagate this notion to boost their sales.
However, it's crucial to understand that one doesn't have to make an ultimatum between giving up on the gym entirely or resorting to steroids. Through a meticulously planned training regimen, a thoughtfully crafted dietary plan, and proper rest, anyone can make substantial improvements to their physique. Although reaching the elite ranks of professional bodybuilding may not be a realistic goal for everyone, the potential for noticeable enhancement in appearance is undoubtedly within reach.
2. To get big, you have to eat a lot of calories.
In truth, a calorie-rich diet can lead to significant body size, often observed in the 30% of the global population dealing with obesity. If your aim is to grow without adding excess fat, it's wise to avoid this approach, except for those rare individuals with exceptionally high metabolisms, who don't gain weight regardless of their intake.
Research reveals that on calorie-rich diets, most weight gained (about 65%) is fat, 15% is intracellular fluid, with the remainder being muscle. Muscle growth primarily stems from protein synthesis (approximately 25%) and the proliferation of satellite cells in muscle tissue.
To foster muscle accumulation, preventing catabolism (muscle breakdown) is crucial. Overconsumption of calorie-dense foods, leading to added adipose tissue, can trigger catabolism and hormonal imbalances.
Therefore, it's advisable to avoid hypercaloric diets; they may eventually lead to obesity rather than desired muscle growth.
3. If you follow a low-fat diet, calorie count doesn't matter; you won't gain weight.
If you intake an excess of calories compared to your body's requirements, you will experience weight gain. It holds true that when you have a high-fat diet, weight gain tends to occur more rapidly, primarily because 1 gram of fat contains 9 kilocalories, in contrast to the 4 kilocalories found in carbohydrates and proteins.
Furthermore, fats undergo a distinct metabolic process, demanding less energy during digestion and being stored more efficiently. However, excessive consumption of carbohydrates can also lead to weight gain in a similar manner.
4. The more you work out, the bigger you'll become.
Absolutely, this is one of the most dangerous myths in the realm of bodybuilding. Approximately 95% of professional bodybuilders will attest that their most significant mistake was excessive training, and this often occurred even while they were using steroid cycles. It's easy to imagine how someone who isn't a professional athlete could fall into the trap of overtraining. Engaging in too much exercise can lead to excessive muscle fatigue, leaving insufficient time for recovery, which can result in no muscle growth or even muscle losses. If you repeatedly train the same muscle group too frequently each week, the outcomes are likely to be detrimental. Adequate rest is an essential component of effective training.
You should allocate as many rest days as you spend inside the gym.
5. The longer your workout, the better.
You don't necessarily need to perform an excessive number of sets for a particular muscle group. Research has demonstrated that even a single set, executed correctly with a weight that fully exhausts the muscle, can be sufficient to stimulate muscle growth.
This can be accomplished through high-intensity training with short rest intervals between sets. Another effective approach is using supersets, with the goal of engaging the muscle deeply and intensely. Extended breaks between sets can cause the muscle to relax and are more conducive to increasing strength rather than promoting muscle growth. If you're training effectively, there may be no need to complete 5 sets for a muscle group if you've already achieved the desired effect with just 3 sets.
6. You don't need to be strong to get big.
For various reasons, individuals, even those with the same percentage of muscle mass, can exhibit different levels of strength. The precise reasons for these differences are not fully understood, and there are numerous hypotheses, ranging from factors like muscle nerve innervation to limb length.
Moreover, it's important to recognize that strength is a relative concept. To build muscle size, it's essential to work with progressively heavier weights, not necessarily heavier than someone else's, but heavier than what you were using previously. Your strength should ideally show improvement compared to where it was 2-3 workouts ago. This progressive increase in resistance is a key component of effective strength training and muscle growth.
7. Training programs that work for professional bodybuilders are good for everyone.
This scenario is quite common in the gym. Individuals who aspire to achieve a physique similar to those depicted in posters often turn to the largest and most imposing figures in the gym for advice. However, it's important to note that many of these heavily built individuals may either be using performance-enhancing substances like steroids or possess exceptional genetic advantages. Having these factors doesn't automatically equate to having the best training techniques or that what works for them will yield the same results for everyone else.
Professional bodybuilders typically engage in more sets and have significantly higher training volumes compared to the average gym-goer. Their training regimens, coupled with the substances they use, enable them to handle such intense efforts. For the average person who goes to the gym as a hobby rather than a profession, adopting such an approach can often lead to overtraining, resulting in minimal or, at best, very modest muscle gains. It's crucial to tailor your training program to your own goals, capabilities, and recovery capacity rather than simply emulating the routines of elite athletes or bodybuilders.
8. You can't build muscle on a calorie-deficient diet.
It's challenging but achievable. Obesity and muscle mass aren't solely linked to calorie intake; factors like the nervous system and certain hormones control the balance between fat and muscle, known as nutritional partitioning.
For instance, drugs like Clenbuterol can increase muscle mass by 30% and reduce fat without altering food intake. Other substances, such as growth hormone, IGF-1, cortisol, and ephedrine, can boost fat burning without changing your diet.
You can achieve similar results by combining specific nutrients from natural sources with a targeted workout program.
9. You can't grow if you work each muscle group only once a week.
For optimal recovery, it's advisable to rest a muscle group for about a week after intense training, as it can take up to 10 days for muscles to fully recover.
10. You can't grow if you only work out 3 days a week.
For most people, a 3-day-a-week workout targeting all muscle groups is sufficient. However, with this schedule, it's crucial to watch your diet to manage weight effectively.
11. Rest periods between sets should be 45 seconds.
This holds true if you aim to improve your cardiovascular system or pursue weight loss. However, if your goal is muscle building, it's essential to allow sufficient rest for lactic acid to dissipate and ATP levels to normalize. To build muscle effectively, you should lift as heavy as possible to engage all muscle fibers.
When lifting very heavy weights, it's advisable to take 2-3 minutes of rest between sets. It's important to note that such high-intensity training can't be sustained continuously; it needs to be cycled. Typically, one maximum-intensity workout per month is adequate and helps prevent overtraining.
12. You need to use state-of-the-art equipment to maximize muscle gains.
In the realm of fitness, futuristic and intricate machines with imaginative designs often prove to be less effective than traditional free weights such as dumbbells and barbells. Utilizing free weights in fundamental compound movements like squats, bench presses, shoulder presses, or deadlifts remains some of the most effective exercises ever devised.
13. Weightlifting increases size, while aerobic exercise defines.
Nutrient intake is the key factor for both muscle definition and growth. Consuming fewer calories than you expend results in muscle gain, while a surplus leads to weight loss.
Cardio exercises mainly enhance circulatory and respiratory systems and, over time, contribute to muscle definition. However, weightlifting can achieve similar results, potentially even more effectively. Research indicates that fat is efficiently burned with moderate-paced exercises lasting over 20 minutes.
Weightlifting not only promotes muscle growth but also continues to burn calories at rest, including during sleep. While aerobic exercises burn more calories during the activity, bodybuilding has a 24-hour advantage, as it burns calories consistently throughout the day.
14. You can completely reshape a muscle through isolation exercises.
Muscle growth isn't limited to a single muscle group. Renowned bodybuilders often have massive and well-defined muscles, but their ideal shape is largely genetically determined. For instance, even though more stress may be placed on muscle fibers at the muscle's ends, they don't necessarily grow more than the rest. If they did, we'd all have Popeye-like proportions.
A compelling example can be found in a picture of a professional bodybuilder from their youth, before they reached professional status. You'll notice that their muscle shapes remain consistent over time, with only the muscles becoming larger.
15. If you feel pumped, it means you're promoting hypertrophy, or if you feel a burning sensation in your muscles, it means you're working them properly.
The sensation of a "muscle pump," while famously described by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is essentially the result of increased blood flow into the muscles due to capillary activity. It can be achieved by flexing your muscles a few times but isn't the same as the muscle stress required for promoting growth. Similarly, the "burning" sensation in muscles often results from the accumulation of lactic acid.
To induce hypertrophy or muscle growth, it's crucial to apply significant tension to the muscles, typically achieved by lifting heavy weights.
16. If you do hundreds of sit-ups daily, you'll eventually have a slim waist.
Spot-reducing fat in a specific area of the body is not possible. Doing numerous sit-ups, for example, may lead to well-developed abdominal muscles, but they will remain covered in fat unless overall fat loss occurs. Fat loss primarily relies on controlling nutrients and calorie intake, as there's no targeted exercise that can eliminate fat from specific areas.
17. If you train like a powerlifter, you'll look stocky.
Genetics indeed play a significant role in determining one's body structure, including factors like being stocky, having a flat chest, or thin arms. Engaging in powerlifting workouts may enhance muscular development but can also contribute to a stockier appearance.
To create the illusion of a more "aerodynamic" body, the focus should be on developing the back and thigh muscles to balance proportions. Additionally, maintaining a diet that manages body fat can help achieve a narrower waistline. It's worth noting that powerlifting exercises can be beneficial for bodybuilding, as they contribute to overall muscle growth and strength.
18. A high number of repetitions will strengthen your muscles and define them.
While there's evidence that high repetitions can enhance vascularity, it doesn't necessarily contribute significantly to muscle strength or definition. When a completely sedentary person begins exercising, whether using high or standard repetitions, they can improve muscle tone. The effectiveness of high repetitions in defining muscles primarily stems from burning more calories.
For muscle strength, working in the range of 5-8 repetitions with a fairly heavy weight is effective. However, to truly appreciate your muscle strength, it's essential to reduce body fat to reveal the underlying musculature.
19. Instinctive training is the best.
While instinctive training might be tempting, it's not the most effective approach for most gym-goers. It may work for individuals using steroids, as even minimal effort can promote muscle gains in that context. However, for the majority, achieving results comes from following a well-structured, periodized program with carefully selected weights.
This method involves alternating periods of intense training with lighter ones, and it has been proven to be the most efficient approach, highlighting that there's nothing instinctive about it.v
20. Women need to train differently from men.
At a microscopic level, there is no distinction in muscle structure between women and men. The variance in muscle mass is primarily attributed to different hormone levels. Therefore, if individuals of both genders share the same fitness goals, there's no inherent reason for them to train differently.
However, cultural and gender-specific factors often influence training preferences. For example, a woman might aim to develop her buttocks more proportionately, while a man may prioritize building strong arms and a broad back as a way to express masculinity. These preferences lead to variations in training approaches.
21. There are sports supplements on the market that are as powerful as steroids but safer.
The most effective products for muscle growth are steroids, and there's no equivalent substitute. While certain supplement manufacturers claim otherwise, nothing replicates the effects of steroids. However, supplements and nutrients can be highly effective, particularly if someone has an inadequate diet.
Individuals have unique biochemistry due to their genetics and dietary habits, making it challenging to predict what will work for one person versus another. This variability applies to both supplements and steroids; some individuals respond better to them than others. Dietary supplements have their advantages, such as fewer side effects and legal status, but they can't deliver gains comparable to steroids.
22. Professional bodybuilders represent the pinnacle of health and fitness.
Bodybuilding faces challenges in gaining acceptance as an Olympic sport because Olympic athletes are expected to be in peak form and exceptionally healthy. In contrast, bodybuilders are often at their worst condition on competition day, having endured weeks of intense dieting, rigorous training, and the use of potentially harmful substances.
Another concern is the enormous food consumption by some bodybuilders. In regions with long-lived people, maintaining a diet below caloric needs or at a minimum threshold is common. Excessive food intake can lead to the intake of harmful substances and free radicals. Professional bodybuilders often experience high blood pressure and cholesterol due to their massive muscle mass, which strains the heart and may shorten their lifespan.
While these athletes acknowledge their lack of overall health, weight training and a nutrient-rich diet aren't inherently unhealthy. The key is finding balance and avoiding extremes, especially in today's era where the pursuit of extreme muscle mass is prevalent. It's essential to maintain a weight appropriate for your height and not aim for a size that makes it challenging to fit through a door.
23. Weight training will bulk up your muscles and improve flexibility, thus enhancing your athletic performance.
In the best-case scenario, proper weight training may enhance flexibility. Nowadays, it's fashionable for athletes to include weight training in their regimens.
This misconception originated in the 1930s when companies promoted isometric exercises by mail, discouraging the use of weights due to shipping difficulties. This misinformation may have spread because isolation exercises can make muscles feel pumped, giving a sense of tone, and because of tendon tension, they might give the impression of joint work and increased flexibility. The reality is that a similar sensation can be achieved through stretching, with the crucial distinction that stretching genuinely improves flexibility and benefits athletes.
24. Carb loading enhances performance.
The traditional carb-loading method begins with a strict, low-carb diet to deplete glycogen stores, followed by a carb-loading phase. However, recent studies suggest this approach may not be essential. Individuals in good physical condition who maintain a balanced diet with ample complex carbohydrates can sustain high-intensity efforts up to one hour without such depletion. For longer endurance activities like cycling or marathons, carb loading may help, but the body's ability to convert fats into energy during extended efforts becomes crucial.
25. Consuming sugary foods before workouts provides energy to the body for the effort.
Simple sugars like sucrose are rapidly absorbed and don't require enzymatic breakdown for use, causing a quick spike in blood sugar. This prompts the pancreas to release high levels of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. The issue is that often, more insulin is produced than necessary, causing a temporary drop in blood sugar levels, potentially leading to increased fatigue.
For optimal performance in the gym, it's advisable to consume nutrient-dense foods with a low glycemic index, such as lentils, beans, nuts, and similar options. These choices provide sustained energy and help maintain stable blood sugar levels.
26. All anabolic steroids are extremely toxic and dangerous.
In Dan Duchaine's "The Underground Steroid Handbook," a thought-provoking question is posed: If you were to line up a box of Danabol (a popular steroid), a box of Lasix (a diuretic), a bottle of Valium, a potassium supplement, and a box of aspirin, and you consumed 100 tablets of one of these at once, which one would most likely not be lethal? Surprisingly, it's Danabol.
This example highlights the stigma associated with steroids. Steroids have been linked to various adverse effects, including cancer, brain tumors, and enlarged heart cells, which can seem like something out of a horror movie. It's important to recognize that not all steroids are the same. For instance, testosterone patches have been used for decades to enhance the quality of life for elderly individuals. Even among bodybuilders who use steroids, many experience minimal side effects.
Nonetheless, some steroids can be quite dangerous, so individuals considering their use should thoroughly educate themselves. It's crucial to remember that everyone's response to these substances is unique, and just because a friend had no side effects with a particular steroid doesn't guarantee the same outcome for someone else.
27. If you stop going to the gym, your muscles will turn into fat.
The belief that muscles can transform into fat is entirely unfounded. Muscle tissue and fat tissue are fundamentally different and cannot change from one type to the other. Muscles are composed of living cells that undergo metabolic processes, while adipose tissue serves as a storage site for fat. There is no mechanism for the transformation of muscle into fat or vice versa.
When someone stops working out and no longer stimulates their muscles through weight training, the muscles will adapt by getting smaller, not turning into fat. In cases of severe injuries or extended periods of immobility, muscles can atrophy more quickly than the surrounding skin, leading to a saggy appearance. However, this condition usually resolves itself over time as muscle function is restored.
28. Consuming medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) provides a ton of energy without making you gain weight.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) were initially utilized to assist individuals with fat malabsorption or stomach problems. Their unique feature is their high solubility, allowing them to reach the liver rapidly and serve as a quick source of energy. MCTs have also been found to mobilize fat from adipose tissue, potentially aiding in weight loss.
However, it's important to note that consuming excessive amounts of MCTs can still lead to an excess of calorie intake, which may be stored as body fat. While MCTs are metabolized differently than other fats, providing 9 calories per gram, overindulging in them can contribute to increased waistline measurements, just like any other calorie-dense nutrient.
29. If everyone took the same amounts of steroids as professional bodybuilders, they would all look the same.
Steroids come with a unique irony: some individuals naturally possess more steroid receptors in their muscles, enabling efficient binding and enhanced anabolic effects when using a particular steroid. In such cases, a person may respond more favorably to steroids due to their genetic predisposition, regardless of their diligence or usage approach.
Age is another critical factor influencing the number of steroid receptors, with the highest receptor count often occurring during the late teens. Individuals in this age group can sometimes benefit from low-dose, extended-duration steroid use, although it's generally not advisable for people of this age to use steroids.
In reality, two bodybuilders can take the same steroids at the same doses, follow identical diet and training regimens, and yet experience remarkably different outcomes. The variations in how individuals respond to steroids can be truly astonishing.
30. Someone with a well-developed body knows a lot about bodybuilding and fitness.
The common belief that having a muscular and well-defined physique automatically qualifies someone as a fitness expert is a misconception. In a society where appearances often take precedence, individuals with impressive builds are frequently seen as authorities in bodybuilding. However, many of them, including professional bodybuilders, may not fully understand how they achieved their results.
Some individuals possess exceptional genetic advantages and rely heavily on bodybuilding-specific substances, achieving their physique with minimal personal effort. Therefore, in the gym, it's important not to judge someone's knowledge solely based on their size, and it's unwise to unquestioningly accept everything they say just because they look impressive.
The reality is that sometimes, the most valuable advice comes from someone who shares a similar fitness level with you. While this perspective may face criticism at times, it's important to remember that in bodybuilding, as in all sports, the most critical organ that dictates performance is the brain. Everything starts from there, and the physical details are just a part of the equation.