Body Building Resources

Top Ten Myths About Body Building
By Jean Lam

Body building is a sport filled with popular misconceptions, blatant misinformation, and wishful thinking. Companies perpetuate these myths in order to get you to buy magazines and books, expensive gym equipment, supplements and other body building products. And some people believe myths that give them an excuse to avoid working out. Here are a few myths about body building that may be holding you back from reaching your full potential.

The more time you spend at the gym, the bigger you'll get. Actually, overtraining is the biggest mistake aspiring body builders make. Exercise damages muscle; and when you work out too often, you don't give your muscles time to heal and grow stronger. This keeps you from growing and could lead to injuries.

Many people don't realize it can take a muscle 5 to 10 days to fully recover from an exercise that has pushed it to muscular failure-or to the point where you physically can't perform another rep. And if you work out another muscle group in the meantime, you'll take your body's resources away from healing the last round of damage you did-and it will take longer to recover. If you want to see progress with your body building routine, rest is a crucial part of your workout.

You have to eat a lot of calories to grow muscle. Unless you have an extremely fast metabolism, you won't gain muscle mass by eating hamburgers and ice cream. You'll gain weight, but it will be mostly fat, not muscle. And gaining fat can undermine your efforts-it can actually change your hormone balance, bringing your testosterone levels down and inhibiting muscle growth. For most body builders, a high-fat diet is a bad idea.

Senior citizens shouldn't bodybuild. Strength training is good for everybody, and you're never too old to start. Even people in their seventies and eighties who start a body building routine see gains in mobility, strength, and quality of life. Older body builders do have to be more careful of muscle tears and injuries, however, and should probably talk to a professional trainer or doctor about working out safely before starting.

Pregnant women shouldn't lift weights. This isn't true either. Pregnant women can maintain muscle tone and keep healthy by lifting weights throughout their pregnancy. When you're pregnant, you should avoid doing exercises that target the abdominal muscles, require you to lie on your stomach or back, or require balance-and you should discuss your workout plans with a doctor or trainer before you start. But working out is generally safe for pregnant women.

The more reps you perform, the better. The whole point of performing reps is to work the muscle to its limit. If you can do that in ten reps, there's no point in resting and performing another twenty or thirty reps of an exercise.

If you use the pros' training programs, you can get the same results. Most pro body builders have bodies that are naturally designed to gain muscle. They can get big fast with frequent, high-intensity workouts. For a very small fraction of the population, those workouts will make them look like pro body builders-with the help of steroids. But for most of us, those workouts will lead us to overtrain and break muscle down rather than building it up. If you've been following a pro's workout routine for months without seeing any results to speak of, it's because you're overtraining-and the workout isn't right for your body. If this is the case, you'd be better off following a hardgainer routine that includes enough rest to allow your muscles to heal after a workout.

You can get as big as the pros without using steroids. The truth is that all professional body builders take drugs of one kind or another to look the way they do. Without it, nobody-even the most talented body builders-could pack on the muscle as quickly or achieve the degree of muscle definition you commonly see in the pros. If you choose to go the natural route, you may never look like a professional body builder-or you might come close, depending on your genetic makeup. But you will get stronger, leaner, more muscular, and much healthier.

If you stop working out, all your muscle will turn to fat. It's not uncommon for people to worry that if they grow muscular, they're in danger of seeing all that muscle turn into fat when they stop working out heavily. The truth is that muscle tissue does not turn into fat tissue. However, large, muscular people tend to eat a lot. When they're working out enough to burn those calories, they keep the fat off. But when they stop working out, they usually don't stop eating in conjunction-so they gain weight. It is possible for a muscular person to gain fat if he or she stops working out-but it's not because the muscle cells are changing into fat cells.

Body building requires a lot of expensive equipment. You don't need an expensive home gym or elaborate workout equipment to see results with your body building routine. You can gain muscle and lose weight simply by working out with free weights, and for many this is more effective than using machines. The most effective workout routines involve simple exercises like dead lifts, squats, and bench presses, which you don't need a fancy machine to perform.

You can "sculpt" your muscles. The term "sculpting" is a misnomer when applied to muscle. You can't sculpt your muscles the way an artist sculpts clay. The shape of your muscles is caused by genetics, not exercise.

When it comes to building a lean, muscular body, everything isn't as it seems. Many beginners think they have to spend all day at the gym in order to see any results, but in most cases, spending too much time at the gym can actually hurt your progress. You don't need a lot of fancy gym equipment or even a lot of spare time to see results-but you do need a healthy diet and a workout routine that works for your body.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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