There’s a lot of bro science and fallacies amongst gym goers and even some bodybuilders. You get the opinions of the random gym rats, even when you don’t want them. The rumors and random people’s comments aren’t exactly gospel. Here are a few common myths and the much-needed truths about them…
“Certain weight lifting exercises will hurt your body.”
The most commonly blamed exercises for wreaking havoc on the joints are deadlifts, squats and bench press. People love to blame squats for ruining your knees, deadlifts for causing back injuries and bench press for destroying your shoulders or tearing pecs. These compound basic exercises and motions are the foundation for excellent weight lifting programs. The weight does not have to be in excess to see the muscle gains you will get from doing them. There’s no need to add an astronomical amount of weight to squats for them to become effective. Deadlifts can be done with a moderate amount of weight along with a weight belt for extra back support. And, the bench press will make the chest grow without consistently pushing the limits of what you’re capable of. In short, lifting sixty to seventy-five percent of what you are capable of for eight to twelve reps will produce amazing results without causing injury to your body.
Of course, there are exceptions and limitations, such as injuries, that prevent people from training specific exercises. But, when done in the proper form, these lifting basics can create a great regime for a healthy bodybuilder. Don’t let anyone steer you away from deadlifts because they can’t hold the right form or lift too heavy for what they’re capable of and hurt themselves. When done correctly, you will reap the benefits from these compound movements.
“Free weights or bust.”
When I first started training in a gym I was told that free weights are always the preferable method to lift. I’ve even had some former trainers tell me that I should always go for the free weights first and swear it’s the best way to lift. I was scared of some free weights, used machines and thought I was wrong to do so. This was all short sighted.
There’s a time and place for both free weights and machines. When using free weights, you tend to activate secondary muscle groups to those which are being targeting for stabilization and balance – it does the job very well. For example, when doing a bench press you are working your triceps as well as your pecs. But, there are instances where machines are appropriate, like when you’re injured or becoming fatigued during a workout. Beginner weight lifting can learn the motions of a movement while using machines and progress to free weights. Both machines and free weights can be useful during different phases of beginners learning to lift as well as a seasoned pro progressing through workouts.
“Must get the full range of motion.”
This is actually a good rule of thumb to follow, meaning that achieving a full range of motion while performing various exercises is actually a good thing. Following through the full range of motion will give the muscle full expansion and contraction giving it complete development. This also prevents you from using weights that are too heavy for you to lift using shortened motions and not fully performing the concentric and eccentric motions.
A full range of motion can vary from exercise to exercise, but in terms of a squat it means dropping the tushy below the knees while squatting breaking parallel with the floor. This does not imply that you should take the range of motion to the excess. There’s no need to drop down into the hole like it’s a CrossFit competition. Lifting a weight that you are capable is key to achieving the full range of motion during exercises. Challenging yourself is one thing but injuring yourself is quite another. Full range of motion will not entail taking the exercise to the point of strain or injury – don’t overdo it!
“Fasted morning cardio is best”
This is an age-old bodybuilding favorite to cut fat. I’m even guilty of waking up at five in the morning to get an hour of cardio done on the Stair Mill before work because I was told it will burn more fat. As much as I would love to say this is so, a calorie is a calorie. You will burn the same number of calories in an hour on level eight on the stair mill at six in the morning as you will at six o’clock at night.
There’s something to be said about having more intensity in the morning. Some people may have more energy in the morning and perhaps go a bit harder than you would after a long day at work. This will add more intensity and burn more calories from harder work. If that’s the case, by all means tear up the Stair Mill at five in the morning! But, performing the same exact cardio will burn the same number of calories – regardless of the time of day.
“Calories out > Calories in = Fat Loss”
This is a simple statement, but has its truth. In the grand scheme of weight loss, this is the concept to follow. To cut fat and lose weight, there has to be more calories burned than consumed. This has been proven time after time in the bodybuilding community and there’s a large amount of scientific literature that supports this statement. But, it has to be said that a diet filled with complete and utter junk food does not give the same results as eating clean foods.
When perpetually filling your daily calories with junk foods, you will be eating small amounts due to the high number of calories they pack. You will barely be eating on top of eating less than normal – you will be hating life. Eating whole foods with plenty of veggies gives you the volume in quantity of food that will help you feel satiated and less hangry while cutting fat. Body composition also changes with the foods you eat – we are what we eat, be sure to eat healthy foods to stay healthy!
“Cut fat while building muscle.”
Someone needs to bury this load of garbage. Building muscle and cutting fat entails two entirely different methods of dieting and training to achieve the best results for each goal. Building muscle is commonly referred to as a bulking phase because it requires a surplus of caloric intake compared to expenditure. Cutting fat, as I just discussed above, requires you to burn more calories than you’re consuming.
There’s a reason why some of the best bodybuilders in the world go through cycles of each different phase – to make sure each is done effectively with one goal in mind to accomplish. This method has been proven to yield long term success that requires dedication, patience and hard work. When eating more to gain muscle, it’s not always fun watching the fat go up with the muscle mass, but it’s a necessary evil to get the job done correctly. Once your body had accomplished the goal of added muscle mass, then the body can focus on losing adipose fat. By eating less and burning more, the cutting cycle will show off all the results of bulking muscle mass.
There are exceptions to all generalities, but it’s the rare individual who can defy the fundamentals of bodybuilding. Reinventing the wheel does not always work and mostly leads to some weird off the wall workouts that trainers like to believe makes them unique. Keeping the gym and dieting simple and sticking to the basics is a great place the begin your journey and produce the results you are looking for.
Written by: Samantha Meinrod