10 Muscle Gaining myths BUSTED.
Updated: Apr 8
Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, has shape or tone and is compact & dense. People who carry more muscle on their bodies appear aesthetically appealing. We all know the importance of muscles and have experimented with numerous ways to gain muscle. It may have included working out at a gym, jogging, taking up a sport, etc. However, over the years there have been too many myths in regards to gaining muscle mass. Incorrect muscle gaining techniques not only waste our time but also exponentially increase the chances of injury. Let us bust the most popular 10 muscle gaining myths.
#1 Lifting heavy weights make us bulky:
No! Lifting weights helps to hypertrophy muscles. A hypertrophied muscle is larger. Compared to fat, skeletal muscle tissue is very compact and dense. On the other hand, fat is like fluff and will wobble and jiggle. One pound of fat occupies a lot of space as compared to one pound of muscle. Read more on the difference between fat and muscle here: What is the difference between Fat and Muscle?
Hence, a muscular person appears to be compact and dense while an obese person appears to be bulky and heavy. Also, more muscle means a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR) which means a higher potential of burning fat. Read more on muscle gaining here: How, When & Why do MUSCLES grow?
Verdict: Lifting heavy weights helps gain muscle and makes us appear compact & dense and not bulky.
#2 Cardio workouts reduce muscle size:
Cardio is one of the components of fitness and is a part of general physical preparedness. It exercises the cardiovascular system, helping to increase stamina and muscular endurance. Compared to weight training, cardio exercises have lesser potential to increase muscle mass or burn fat but, in no way do cardio workouts decrease or atrophy muscles. With a correct lifestyle, nutrition and enough sleep cardio workouts will increase muscle size and endurance.
Verdict: Cardio workouts help increase muscle size (hypertrophy) and also help with increasing muscular endurance.
#3 For muscle gain we need to shock or confuse our muscles:
This is a classic myth. Muscles can not think. Muscles only know to contract and lengthen. If there is a change in the way we exercise, our body takes time to learn new forms and techniques. The learning process is time-consuming and there is more challenge to the central nervous system to master the technique(s) with very little challenge to the participating muscle groups. Thus, it results in a waste of time.
Verdict: It is impossible to shock or confuse our muscles.
#4 Muscle gaining does not lead to fat burning:
The higher the muscle we carry on our body, the higher is our basal metabolic rate (BMR). The higher the BMR, the higher is our fat-burning potential. The exercises that we do for muscle gain are the same exercises that help with fat loss and vice versa. No exercise is done exclusively for muscle gain or only for fat loss. Read more on fat burning: 5 tips for guaranteed FAT BURN.
Verdict: Muscle gaining leads to fat burning.
#5 Muscle gain results in weight gain:
Weight loss can occur due to fat loss or muscle loss. Similarly, weight gain can occur due to muscle gain or fat gain. As fitness enthusiasts, we are interested in weight loss occurring from fat loss rather than weight loss occurring from muscle loss. Read more on weight loss vs. fat loss here: The difference between Weight Loss and Fat Loss.
Muscle gain may or may not result in weight gain. Here is a quick example:
Tom weighs 100kg and has a 55% (55kg) fat. At 6 feet tall, Tom appears obese, bulky, wobbly and unfit.
Harry weighs 100kg and has 7% (7kg) fat. At 6 feet tall, Harry appears compact, dense, muscular and fit.
Harry has only 7kg fat on his body meaning the remaining weight is coming from muscles, organs, fluids etc. On the other hand, Tom has 55kg fat meaning only 45kg is coming from muscles, organs, fluids etc.
Verdict: Muscle gain may or may not result in weight gain. We may gain or lose weight but our focus should be on gaining maximum muscle and losing maximum fat.
#6 Women should only tone their muscles:
There is no difference between building muscles, gaining muscles and toning muscles. As words, gaining muscle is more associated with men and body toning is more associated with women. However, both mean the same: increasing muscle mass. It means men can tone their muscles and women can build their muscles. Also, gender-based exercises are a scam and women should workout to their full potential and not keep focusing on lightweight exercises. Read more on women and body toning here: What is Body Toning.
Verdict: Muscle gaining and body toning mean the same so women should workout as heavy as possible.
#7 Lift heavy with low reps for size and lift light with high reps for cutting or shape:
There is no scientific evidence supporting this myth. Low weights with high reps is a waste of time. It will only tire us by the lactic acid buildup in the muscle. We should rather focus on optimising our workouts by investing less time and gaining more returns. One of the ways to do this is by lifting a weight that allows no more than 4 to 6 reps and gradually graduating to a weight that does not allow more than 1 rep. Also, muscles can hypertrophy or atrophy and the shape of muscles is decided by nature (origin and insertion points of the muscle).
Verdict: Lifting heavier with lower reps is a way to optimise workout and lifting light with high reps is a waste of time.
#8 If you don’t workout, the muscle gained turns into fat:
It is impossible for muscle to turn into fat and for fat to turn into muscle. Both muscle and fat are very different kind of tissues. Read more on the differences between muscle and fat here: What is the difference between Fat and Muscle?
In most cases gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time gives an impression that the fat is being converted to muscle. While on the other hand, gaining fat after quitting exercising gives an impression that the muscle is being converted into fat.
Verdict: Muscle can not turn into fat and fat can not turn into muscle.
#9 Supersets/ drop sets work for muscle gain:
The burn experienced after supersets or drop sets is due to the lactic acid buildup and not due to muscle breakdown. Lactic acid is a waste component and does not help in muscle gain.
Verdict: Supersets/ drop sets only buildup lactic acid in the working muscles and does not help with muscle gain.
#10 We can shape our muscles:
We can not decide on the shape of our muscles. Muscle shape is decided by its origin and insertion points. We can only hypertrophy or atrophy our muscles.
Verdict: We can not shape our muscles but only increase or decrease their size.
Cheers to the myth-busting!