There’s a lot of bad information out there and the fitness community is not immune to all of this fake news floating around. Some of it is obvious. There’s no miracle pill to help you cut weight and personal trainers aren’t really mad about some fitness secret getting out. You know not to click on those. They’re scams, viruses and just plain old bad news.
But not all muscle building myths are so blatant. Some are more nuanced and a lot easier to buy into. At first glance, they make sense. The science seems to be there, all the information is right and it’s coming from a pseudo-trustworthy source, not just some website with a name like musclefacts.freedom.ca. It’s easy to fall into the trap. Here we’ve uncovered the truth behind some of the most common muscle myths pervading the web. Read on. Be smarter.
You Can’t Lose Fat And Build Muscle At The Same Time
When you hear about people changing their body composition, you usually hear about it in two phases: the bulk and the cut. Thinking about it in two, completely separate stages lends itself to perpetuating the myth that you can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time. The truth of the matter is you can absolutely accomplish both at once. In fact, according to T Nation, this has been proven in a bunch of different populations, from overweight men to young women.
You’re right in assuming you need a caloric deficit to burn fat, but what many don’t realize is that you don’t necessarily need a caloric surplus to build muscle. “This is because stored fat is stored energy,” says T Nation. “So, those stored fat calories are available for the body to use as fuel for the muscle-building process.” Just don’t confuse losing fat and building muscle at the same time for turning fat into muscle. Fat is fat. Muscle is muscle. You’re replacing one with the other, not performing some body composition magic trick.
Bodybuilding Won’t Make You A Better Athlete
There’s this rumor going around that training like a bodybuilder won’t make you a better athlete. Runners need to run to become better. Rowers need to row. Climbers need to climb. It’s true that practicing your sport is going to make you better at your sport, but using isolated exercise to build muscle can help make you a better, stronger athlete, no matter the sport.
“Doing some hamstring curls and triceps extensions won’t automatically turn you into a pro bodybuilder any more than doing sprints on a track turns you into an Olympic sprinter,” says T Nation. Basically, working out like a bodybuilder doesn’t make you a bodybuilder and, unless you’re being careless and end up injuring yourself, it’s not going to negatively impact training for any other sport. “Nor is the central nervous system so fragile that performing a few sets of isolation exercises or a few sets on weight machines could somehow undercut the functional abilities and movement skills acquired from long hours of practice and competition.”
If you do a little cross training, you’re going to be fine. In fact, training in the gym can improve your overall muscle strength and stability – great news for any type of athlete.
You Have To Eliminate Carbs
Ah, the old “no carb” myth. This one’s been making the rounds for a long time and it’s easy to see why. Cutting out carbs can result in weight loss, but it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. And the pervasive no carb philosophy has infiltrated the fitness world, too. “Once a technique for those who needed to lose a significant amount of weight prior to surgery,” says Breaking Muscle, “low-to-no carb protocols have now become mainstream in the realm of fitness.”
The truth of the matter is that you need carbs. Your body and your muscle gains depend on them. Carbs aren’t the problem; carbs are fuel. You need them – and plenty of them – to progress in your workouts, no matter if your goal is to lose weight or gain muscle. The problem comes with the source of your carbs. The carbs in a KitKat aren’t the same quality as the carbs in an apple. “Carbs aren’t the enemy;” says Breaking Muscle, “a sedentary life, high sugar diets, over dieting, overeating and training with the wrong program are.”
Women Who Lift Will Become Bulky
No. Just no. Lifting weights on its own will not make a woman “bulky.” The fear of looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger has turned many women away from the weight room. There’s no reason for this. In fact, weight training can help anyone get the slim, trim physique they want without fear of “bulking up.”
“If you pick up heavy things and eat a caloric deficit (and eat the right kinds of food – actual healthy foods),” says Nerd Fitness, “your muscles will get stronger and denser; you will burn the fat on top of your muscle and you will get that ‘toned’ look you’re after.” You can lift and lift heavy and you’ll never pack on so much muscle that you look like an Olympic lifter.
The only way to ensure that you will bulk up is to change your diet and supplement your hormones, according to Nerd Fitness. “Here’s the truth: when you pick up heavy things, your muscles get STRONGER (but not necessarily bigger). If you pump yourself full of testosterone and eat way more calories that you are burning every day, you will get bigger.” That means if you’re eating a normal diet and not pumping yourself full of hormones, you won’t gain mass, just muscle.