6 weight-lifting myths and truths: can you distinguish between them?

The fields of weight-lifting and strength training contain a lot of erroneous advice. In a bid to brush away these myths, sometimes people end up believing correct training techniques to be myths too.  An article on the 6 most common weight-lifting myths lists a few myths that are actually not myths but truths. Here is a rebuttal to this article and a correction of some of the perceived myths.

# 1 Training more to grow more

Wrong indeed. The only disagreement is calling this a myth: it’s not a widespread belief at all promoted in magazines, online forums and blogs or even in the gym. Building muscles also requires a subsequent rest period during which time growth can occur.

# 2  Reshaping muscles with specific exercises

This is a myth but it is possible to emphasise the work done by a specific muscle within a muscle group such as the quadriceps. So if your vastus medialis is lagging behind your vastus lateralis in size, you will want to squat with your legs closer together and toes pointing slightly inwards to recruit more of the vastus medialis. Similarly, if you want to develop your upper pecs, you will do the incline bench press or dumbbell presses. It all depends on your understanding of the expression ‘reshaping a muscle’. Your genetics will play a strong role as well.

# 3 Higher reps to get cut

Of course it works. This was never a myth. Bodybuilding competitors do that during precontests and one eventually ends up winning. If you think of it, there is a lot of common sense to it. Heavy workouts to build muscles, coupled with the appropriate high carbohydrates, high protein diet. A high-rep, get-cut routine will need its own get-shredded diet to work. You won’t get muscle definition without the appropriate diet which should focus on less fat and less protein because you are building less muscle. The key aspect of this routine is the fact that you are not trying to build muscle.

#4 Keep your muscle guessing

Another shocking non-myth. Of course you need to change your workout parameters. The article says:

If you apply enough, progressive force, regardless if you use a dumbell, a barbell or even the same workout routine, your muscles will eventually get bigger.

So if you do the same barbell curl for the rest of your life, applying enough progressive force every time, then would you keep growing muscles non-stop? Until your arms are the size of tree trunks? Is there no limit to how big they will become?

Muscles do not ‘guess’ per se; what they do is become more efficient at their task so that the initial benefit you received from the barbell curl is no longer effective. Your biceps have adapted themselves to the task. So at first glance it seems this is not in your advantage. But if you think about it, this very process of muscles adapting themselves is what caused them to grow. If they were not adapting themselves to stimuli, they would not be receptive to training and all the weight-lifting in the world would have no effect. Keeping your muscles guessing is the cornerstone of bodybuilding and weight-lifting. And bodybuilding takes it further by exploiting so-called myth #2: shaping muscles to attain symmetry.

5. Eating a high calorie diet.

Pure myth. You need the right diet, not a high calorie diet, to build muscle: protein as the muscle building block and carbs as powerhouse.

6. Follow a pro’s routine to get results

Myth too but it is easy to fall for that, especially if you are a novice. The pros do this workout and if you look at their body, it must work, right? Correct, it works for them, not necessarily for you. What you should do is try to get inspired from what they do and try to adapt it to your own goals and situation.

The barbell curl is known to be an excellent exercise to fully develop the biceps. Yet with me I never made much progress. The same applies to the bench press – excellent exercise to build muscles on the pecs but little positive results for me. I found out I progress much more rapidly with dumbbell curls and dumbbell presses and so very rarely do these barbell exercises as they don’t benefit me at all. People might say an exercise is great but see what works for you.

Let’s end with the same words as the original article as they are not a myth at all:

bodybuilding is really a lifestyle.

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