The world of bodybuilding is filled with myths. From nutrition to exercise techniques, people continue to believe in strategies that are just myths and have no scientific backing. Read ahead to find out the truth behind some of the common bodybuilding myths.
1. Myth: You can’t build muscles with veggies.
Fact: Vegetables are filled with slow-digesting carbs, minerals, and vitamins. They build muscles.
A myth that is prevalent among people wanting to build muscle is that they would need to be non-vegetarians. Most people believe that vegetarians cannot build muscles. But that is completely untrue.
According to fitness experts, it’s a myth that muscles of the body respond better to animal-based protein. Plant-based proteins have the same effect. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Plant proteins have most of these amino acids but may lack one or two in a single protein source. To get all the amino acids while on a vegan diet, a person needs to get the protein from different sources (plants). If one can maintain the protein content required for their weight, muscle building is not a problem on a vegan diet.(source)
2. Myth: Weight training makes women turn “manly.”
Fact: This only happens when women take supplements.
Many women are scared to train with weights as they believe that it would turn their figure “manly” and bulky. Women in the fitness segment have confirmed that this is not true.
A spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, Jacque Crockford, says, “Lifting heavy weights is a great way to get the shape of the body that you may be seeking.” Weights come in handy to define, tone, and have the right curves on your body. Just lifting weights will never make a woman look like a bodybuilder. That will only happen if they ingest large amounts of anabolic steroids and train, eat, and sleep like a professional bodybuilder.(source)
3. Myth: It’s important to consume a high amount of protein immediately after a workout for muscle repair.
Fact: For an average gym-goer, maintaining a balanced diet in their meals is enough to promote muscle repair.
The belief that the post-workout window needs to include protein is a complete myth. You can actually intake protein at any time of the day irrespective of when you workout. A recent study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition confirmed that there is no significant increase in muscle mass if protein is taken just after a workout. The muscle mass gain is same for people taking protein right after a workout as it is for those who take in protein throughout the day.
The important thing to keep in mind is that it is the total protein consumption that aids in muscle-mass gain. Depending on the weight and desired muscle gain, the right amount of protein must be taken to build muscle mass. A daily protein intake of 1.4–2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day is sufficient for most exercising individuals.(1, 2)
4. Myth: Eating fat makes you fat.
Fact: Fat is not the enemy. The extra calories that we consume are the real enemy.
If you are on the road to lose weight and gain muscle mass, then abstaining from eating fat is not the right way. There are some fats that are actually good for losing weight. They make people feel full and eliminate frequent hunger pangs.
The best way to go about consuming good fats is to pair it with a lean protein source. This works great to fight off cravings. Studies have shown that including moderate amounts of fat in one’s diet is more beneficial for weight loss compared to a low- or no-fat diet.(1,2)
5. Myth: You can eat anything if you workout daily.
Fact: A proper and controlled diet is a major factor when it comes to bodybuilding.
Some people have the notion that if they are working out regularly, then they can eat anything they like. This misconception comes from the fact that if you can burn all the calories you intake, then you will remain fit.
But that’s not the case. Excercise and nutrition go hand in hand. If you want to grow muscle and stay lean, then a balanced, nutritious diet is a must. A proper fuel, in the form of food, is required for the body and its muscles to recover. There must always be a proper amount of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and fibers in your diet.(source)
6. Myth: The longer the workout, the more effective it is.
Fact: Longer workouts will just lead to overtraining. Proper nutrition, recovery, and smart training makes you stronger and bigger.
This is one of the most common misconceptions. People spend hours and hours in the gym thinking that it would lead to more success. Also, this is another reason why many people avoid joining the gym. They think they will never have enough time to workout so will never be able to achieve the desired results.
Studies have shown that shorter, high-intensity workouts are more effective. Putting the body through high-intensity workouts for short intervals puts the body in repair mode for a longer time. Such workouts are also known to aid in lowering blood-sugar levels and reducing abdominal fat.(source)
7. Myth: Performing endless reps of crunches will make you lose fat at the waist.
Fact: Spot reduction of fat is a total myth.
Spot reduction and spot toning are two terms that are used interchangeably. But they stand for two completely different things. Experts and science have repeatedly shown that targeting the trouble areas of your body for fat loss never works.
The proof for this comes from tennis players of the 1970s. When researchers were studying spot reduction, they discovered that the dominant arm of a tennis player has the same amount of fat as their non-dominant arm. This made the researchers conclude that working a certain muscle doesn’t mean that the fat around that muscle is getting burned.
But a specific muscle can be defined via spot toning. You can strengthen a certain muscle or muscle group.(source)
8. Myth: If your muscles are not sore after a workout, then it’s not effective.
Fact: Effectiveness is determined by the progress in the workout, not muscle soreness.
A common phrase that is worshipped by gym-goers is “No pain, no gain.” Even though the phrase applies to life in general, it is not so much applicable when it comes to working out.
Known as delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, the soreness becomes evident 6-8 hours after a workout. Gym freaks wear this soreness with pride. The soreness is the result of the body making adaptations to better prepare the muscles to repeat the same activity. This is why on the first day the soreness is intense and eventually decreases with time. Hence, there is no correlation between the effectiveness of a workout and the soreness. When one gets expert in a particular exercise, the soreness decreases during that particular exercise. The soreness returns when new muscles are trained.(source)
9. Myth: Sleep is for babies, not tough bodybuilders.
Fact: Sleep and recovery are two of the biggest factors in bodybuilding.
People place high importance on training and nutrition, but there is another component that is equally important—sleep.
Sleep plays a very important role for people who train and are aspiring bodybuilders. Much of the growth and regeneration of the muscles along with the processing of training stimuli take place during sleep hours. Many of the body systems run at full speed when we are asleep. Recovery is of the utmost importance to have regularity in training and building endurance. Otherwise, you would just feel tired and won’t be able to train to your potential.(source)
10. Myth: Muscles turn to fat if one stops training.
Fact: If one stops training, the muscles will shrink and the body may become a little soft, but muscles never turn to fat.
When people who do regular workouts become couch potatoes, they give out an impression that their muscles have slowly turned into fat. But that is never the case.
When a regularly exercising adult stops training, their muscles start shrinking. They become smaller in size making space for the adipose tissues or fat to replace them. Moreover, such people continue to consume the same amount of calories that they used to consume when they were working out. They do not take into account that they no longer require that many calories. So, the extra calories are stored as fat by the body. This is why a previous bodybuilder might become fat.(source)