Here we take a look at some of the more common muscle-building and bodybuilding myths that beginners fall victim to.
The health and fitness industry is full of bad information everywhere you look, so you must be wary of the sources you learn from.
If you're just starting out in the gym, you're in luck because you can avoid these myths from the get go and avoid wasting countless hours in the gym getting nowhere.
Muscle Myth #1: The bigger the "muscle pump" you get in the gym during your workout, the bigger your muscle gains.
When you train with weights its natural that your muscles burn and tighten up. For a short time you feel and look bigger and more ripped. This is what you call a muscle pump, and its a great feeling.
But so many people think about this pump the wrong way. This leads us to the first of our biggest bodybuilding myths: that your muscle pumps have something to do with your muscle gains.
This is completely untrue, muscle pumps have nothing to do with the muscle building process. Your muscle pump is only temporary, and after a while it will go away and you'll feel back to normal. Your muscles don't grow in the gym, they grow when you are resting.
It doesn't matter how big of a "muscle pump" you get, it won't affect your muscle gains at all. So ignore those people who strive for a bigger and better pump, and measure your performance in the gym on how much weight you lifted and how many reps you performed compared to the week before. That's how you build muscle successfully, slowly improving each and every week.
Muscle Myth #2: Doing high reps will "define/tone" your muscles.
This is another big misconception you will hear around the gym. I'm sure you've all seen guys doing high reps thinking they will become more ripped, or more defined. Unfortunately it's one of those common myths that is preached by some personal trainers and so-called "experts" in the fitness industry.
They couldn't be further from the truth. Lifting lighter weights for higher reps won't make your muscles more defined. If you want ripped muscles then you need to lower your bodyfat levels to remove the fat that is hiding your muscle, simple as that. Eating right and adding cardio exercise as well as your weight training is the way to do this.
Doing high reps with a light weight is a waste of time. Sure, you may get a nice "pump" and that may lead you to thinking you're doing the right thing, but it's not going to gain you any significant muscle size and strength which I assume is your goal since you are still reading.
Muscle Myth #3: The more you train, the bigger and faster your gains.
Out of the bodybuilding myths on this page, this is probably the easiest to fall to. It seems common sense to most people that the more you train in the gym, the more you'll get out of it?
If your aim is losing weight then sure, it may be true because you will be burning more calories. But if you are trying to build muscle, which is what you're all here for I presume, then the answer is a big no. When it comes to the world of bodybuilding, you must understand that training less WILL give you better gains.
Over-training is a very common problem made by beginner weight lifters, and it will impede your results. In the worst case, you may even lose muscle by training too much. To build muscle mass you must shock your muscles into growth with a few high-intensity sets with heavy weights, for each different muscle group.
That's all you need, not countless sets of the same exercise day in day out. That won't get you very far, because you aren't giving your muscles enough time to heal and grow bigger and stronger than they were before. It's a fact most people probably train a little too frequently, but in most cases this doesn't translate into better or faster results.
Check out our article Building Muscle Mass: Spend Less Time in the Gym for more information on this.
Muscle Myth #4: You should use a fixed rest-time between sets, for example 45 seconds.
Resting for a set period of time between sets is a recipe for mediocre muscle gains. To understand why, let's think back to how you actually build your muscles. You need to shock them into growth by lifting heavy weights, and using every ounce of energy you have to perform your set. The heavier the weight you lift and the more reps you do will determine how much muscle you break down. The more muscle breakdown, the better.
Just say that you have a fixed rest time inbetween each set, such as 45 seconds. Sometimes that's won't be enough to recuperate from the previous set and fully catch your breath back, especially with some of the more taxing exercises such as squats and deadlifts. Not all exercises are created equal and some are a lot more taxing on your body than others, so you should take this into account when resting between sets.
You need to give your body the time it needs to recover so that you are as close to 100% as possible for performing your next set, otherwise you are robbing yourself of extra potential gains by not being ready for your next set. So although fixed rest times may be appropriate for other fitness goals, for building lean muscle mass it's not the best approach.
Our article Build More Muscle Mass By Resting Properly goes over this in more detail.