When you start an intensive strength training programme, it’s important to undertake in-depth research in order to train safely and effectively, as well as maximize your gains.
You’ll also probably hear a lot of advice from various individuals, especially at the gym.
It can suddenly feel as if everyone apart from you is an expert; you may feel overwhelmed, and simply hold on to the scraps of information you’re able to remember, and trusting “facts” that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Believing these myths may be holding back your gains and preventing you from reaching your full potential. Following certain incorrect advice could even lead to muscle loss and injury.
#1 Muscle turns to fat if you take an extended break from training
Unfortunately, this is a long-standing myth; it’s also completely false.
Muscle and fat cells are completely different structures; it is physically impossible for one to change into the other. However, increased muscle mass does help you to burn fat more efficiently.
Research has also shown that in the 24 hours following a strenuous training session your metabolic rate is raised, and you use more calories.
#2 Females shouldn’t lift weights – it makes them look masculine
This is a very common misconception that dissuades many females from trying a weight training programme.
The truth is, it’s actually very difficult for women to naturally bulk up to the same extent as males. Females have small amounts of testosterone, it’s a normal part of a healthy hormone profile.
However, they generally don’t have the levels that are needed for muscles to develop to the same extent as a male. Instead, weight training will encourage a lean, healthy physique.
#3 You should work certain muscle groups on certain days
This is another enduring misconception, and one that you’re likely to hear quite often from individuals at the gym.
A body-part split routine involves working certain muscle groups on certain days. Although the theory seems to be extremely popular, there’s no scientific evidence in any form to back up claims that muscles should be worked this way.
In fact, a recent study found those who employed this method of working out three times a week actually gained less muscle size and mass, compared to those who undertook a full-body workout with the same frequency.
Furthermore, body-part split routines can lead to physical problems with certain body parts, as some are worked harder than others. You’re likely to start with maximum intensity, and as the week progresses, your intensity drops; the body parts that are worked earlier in the week are likely to be worked harder.
Over time, this can potentially lead to problems such as muscle imbalances, and could even lead to injury.
#4 On a rest day you should not exercise at all
Rest days from your usual routine are vital for many reasons. It’s during rest periods that your body heals itself and grows bigger and stronger.
You’ll also reach plateaus without proper rest and recovery and find it difficult to increase muscle size and strength.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise at all on rest days. Instead, try activities such as yoga classes to gently stretch tight muscles, keep the blood flowing and ensure they remain pliable.
Foam rolling is another low-impact activity that will ensure you remain active while giving your muscles a rest and allowing them to heal and grow.
#5 Free weights are less effective than machines
Believing this common misconception can seriously hamper your gains and increase the risk of injury.
Many individuals believe that machines are much more effective at building muscle than free weights, when in fact the opposite is true.
Restricting your training to machines and ignoring the benefits of free weights can lead to a hampered range of motion, as each muscle is worked in an isolated fashion. Machines force your body to move in certain ways, further limiting your movements and range.
Lifting free weights allows you to move in a more natural way, and involves all the small, stabilizing muscles that don’t usually feel the full benefits of workouts. When stabilizing muscles are trained thoroughly, they provide increased support to larger muscle groups, decreasing your risk of injury and increasing the strength and size of individual muscles.
You’ll hear lots of misconceptions and incorrect advice when you start a regular strength training programme. Sadly, some of these myths are very common and have been repeated over the years, until they are believed by many individuals to be facts.
Some misconceptions are based on outdated beliefs that have now been disproved by science.
Use your common sense when judging if a piece of information is correct, and do further research if necessary.
There are lots of great resources online, including scientific papers and studies that will help you to sort facts from fiction, ensuring you’re always getting the most from your training programme.
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