The art of growing muscle is an amazing one, we tear down the fibers through rigorous and challenging exercise, then refuel with rest and nutritious food to help aid recovery, allowing the muscles to grow. But although this process sounds simple (it is!), it has been overcomplicated, misrepresented and misunderstood. For this reason, given it is summer and a lot of us are going for that “beach body ready” look, we should reveal the truths and debunk the false narratives surrounding muscle building.
You have to lift weights
FALSE: a better word would be load. The reason you do not have to lift weights is that, although bodybuilders/powerlifters/weightlifters have proven the muscular hypertrophic benefits of lifting weights, it is not the only method. In fact, recent literature has found a greater overall muscle activation from bodyweight exercises over isolation exercises using weights, this is because the surrounding muscles are forced to become engaged for more stability, thus are also being worked to some degree. Returning to our point about load, we do suggest increasing the load for these bodyweight exercises as you progress, to help continue the growth in muscle, whether this is in resistance or degree of difficulty per exercise.
Cardio causes atrophy
We are not surprised this is a common one but this is also FALSE. To help explain this best, we’ll first begin by explaining actually how difficult it is for the body to enter atrophy, a phase the body will avoid at all costs. Muscle atrophy is defined as a decrease in muscle mass; it can be a partial or complete degradation of muscle, commonly experienced by persons being restricted in movement and/or confined to a bed when hospitalized. Firstly, it must be pointed out (especially based on its definition) muscle atrophy occurs mostly from inactivity when the muscles are not being exercised (disuse atrophy), muscles become obsolete and muscle degradation. Is it is also important to note that muscle atrophy from exercise will only really occur when the body is not receiving enough protein (protein deficiency) however this is considered a very rare disease, but what about cardio? Truth is you will lose something but it’s not muscle, you’ll lose fat of course. Fat is the body’s most efficient fuel source, thus the body will aim to burn fat first before anything else, now assuming your diet is not in check i.e: lack of protein/BCCAs, dehydration, lack of healthy fats etc, your body may begin to burn muscle away, but it must be noted this is very unlikely if your diet and training are properly managed.
You can’t grow as much muscle without protein shakes
FALSE: Protein shakes are 100% not necessary, though they are effective of course. They provide a quick supply of protein to the muscles, they can be an alternative to eating a large meal when on the go. Many different options are now available to suit all diets, the list goes on, however, they are definitely not necessary and here’s why. As we mentioned above, protein deficiency is very uncommon and although science is still unsure about how much protein we need, it is a commonly accepted guideline that we need is 1.7g per kg of body weight per day.
So there you have it, don’t fall into the common trap everyone else falls into when it comes to making those gains. There is no easy way, no magic pill and no set method for building muscle. You must learn and experiment for yourself and use current research and knowledge to discover the most efficient way of building muscle based on your own biology.
If you found this post insightful, why not check out some of our previous posts on our blog page or if you are interested in becoming a qualified personal trainer check out our main page for course information and if you have any questions feel free to email us at email@example.com.
Written by Daniyal Siddiqui.