There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to lifting weights and building muscle. With so much information out there, it can be really confusing; especially if you are new to exercise. But what we know for sure is this: resistance training is one of the best ways to speed up your metabolism, prevent bone loss, reduce chronic pain/injuries, make everyday activities easier and improve body composition, overall shape and tone. In this article, we discuss five muscle-building myths that may be holding you back. We also give you the inside scoop on how to make the most out of your workouts.
1) Lifting light weights and performing high reps won’t build muscle
This couldn’t be further from the truth. According to this study —- conducted by McMaster University in Hamilton, ON —- when you exercise to the point of muscular exhaustion or fatigue, the size of the weight won’t matter. Muscle hypertrophy or growth happen when a specific muscle is under tension and is pushed to failure. So if you don’t want to increase the size of a muscle, simply cut back on the volume and intensity of your training.
On the other hand, if your goal is to increase lean muscle mass, be sure to incorporate a variety of rep ranges. This will help to prevent a plateau or potential injuries. The key is to push yourself and allow yourself to get uncomfortable. By the last few reps, you should be feeling a burn. Keep in mind the heavier you go, the less reps you will be able to perform. This means that when you reach for the bigger dumbbells, you will also save time.
2) You need to train a lagging muscle everyday
If your goal is to increase the size of a particular muscle, it’s important that you don’t overtrain. In fact, every time you lift weights, you tear down muscle fibres. This means you need adequate rest so they repair themselves and grow. The consensus among most fitness professionals is that each muscle group requires at least 48 hours of recovery. Therefore, if you tend to hit the gym everyday, simply focus on one to two muscle groups per workout or do an upper/lower body split so that you aren’t overtraining. If you want to do full body workouts, you can simply train 3-4 times per week with alternate days off. Also, make sure you are consuming enough protein and calories to help build and repair your muscles.
Sample Workout Schedule:
Day 1: Quads & Abs
Day 2: Back & Biceps
Day 3: Glutes & Hamstrings
Day 4: Chest, Triceps & Shoulders
3) Lifting heavy weights will make you bulky
This is a very common fear among women. But if you want to know the truth, it’s actually quite difficult to build muscle mass. Women simply don’t have enough testosterone to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger! So if you’re feeling ‘bulky’, it may have more to do with having excess body fat on top of muscle. Take a look at your diet and add in some additional cardio; especially if your goal is to lean out and/or have more definition. When you decrease rest time between sets while increasing reps, you get more of a cardio workout, which helps to burn fat. Or, if a muscle feels too big, you can simply train it less often.
A few tips: Eliminate refined sugar, eat more vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and less starchy carbohydrates.
4) You will lose muscle when you take time off of the gym
If you are a regular gym buff, you may find it difficult to take a day off training, let alone an entire week or two! In reality, you won’t lose muscle by taking a short break from your regular routine. Just don’t make a regular habit of it. In fact, a “break” may be good for you both mentally and physically. A few signs your body may need rest include: fatigue, a cold/flu, constant muscle soreness, chronic pain, injuries, constant hunger/cravings, depression, lack of motivation or simply feeling weak and tired.
5) To have abs you must train them everyday
Abdominals are no different than any other muscle group. This means you don’t need to train them every day. In fact, your core is trained in other exercises as well, so it’s likely getting hit more often than you realize. It’s also important to note that “abs are made in the kitchen”. Therefore, if you aren’t following a clean diet, they likely won’t make an appearance — unless you have freakish genetics!
To ensure you are training your abs at all angles, be sure to incorporate weighted and non-weighted exercises such as: crunches (upper abdominals), leg lowers (lower abdominals) and twists (obliques abdominals).
Abdominal Crunch on Stability Ball (15-20 reps)
Bicycle Crunch (10-15 reps per side)
Scissor Kicks (20 reps per side)
Complete 2-3 sets total