Five of the Top Bodybuilding Myths Exploded

This article will debunk five of the top myths in bodybuilding. Bodybuilding is a sport/leisure activity that is riddled with misinformation. This is due, in part, to a lack of scientific participation. The vast majority of the information about bodybuilding is from presumed experts who know nothing about physiology and often take steroids. Steroid use changes the whole training equation and that which works for a drug user (training routines etc.) usually does not work for a natural athlete. The purpose of this article is to educate the reader and allow him or her to escape the common pitfalls they would encounter in bodybuilding.

MYTH 1. Specific portions of a muscle can be trained

The gist of this myth goes something like this, “You can hit the lower portion of your pecs with decline presses.” Any statement similar to this is pure B.S. The implication is that doing decline presses will make the lower portion of your pecs larger. This is physiologically impossible. The pectoralis major are the two muscles that we commonly refer to as the chest. There are also the pectoralis minor which runs underneath the upper portion of the major. The pectoralis major, when stimulated with exercise and allowed to recover will grow. It will grow as a whole (as with all muscles), not in sections. So doing an incline, decline, or flat bench press will not make your pectoralis major grow in different fashions.

The shape of your muscle is genetically determined by its origin and insertion points and no training will change this. If individual muscle cells (within a specific fiber type) grew at different rates you would have very lumpy muscles. Think about it! When selecting an exercise for a specific muscle, you should pick the one that most closely mimics the muscle’s primary function (i.e. the pectoralis major’s primary function is to pull the arm across the chest and downward— so a decline press would be best amongst the presses). Another important factor in exercise selection is your own anatomy, the length of your bones and where your muscles insert and originate. Through experimentation, most experienced lifters learn which exercises work best for them.

MYTH 2. High exercise volume is necessary for growth

The adage amongst bodybuilders seems to be, “If a little is good, more is better!” Many bodybuilders read in books and magazines and hear from other bodybuilders that you must train with twenty plus sets per body part and five to six days per week. Others start off on a limited set program because that is what they are told to do, only to graduate to higher volume and frequency workouts as they progress. Nothing could be worse! The fact is that you have a limited ability to recover from exercise. Your strength levels can go up as much as three hundred percent (in males) through proper training, however, your ability to recover from exercise remains relatively constant or increases only slightly. Performing a set of ten reps of squats with two hundred pounds is much less taxing physically than ten reps with four hundred pounds (when done by the same individual). So, as the individual gets stronger each set he/she performs will require more and more of the finite ability to recover. The point is, as you get stronger you need more rest and should perform fewer sets.

This is exactly the opposite of what most magazines etc. will tell you! This is one of the major reasons most bodybuilders make little or no progress after a short time of bodybuilding. Of course, most of the major bodybuilding magazines promote the routines of people who take steroids. Steroids change the equation dramatically. Steroids, while they work, are very dangerous and will prematurely end your life sooner or later. Train intelligently, train hard, and you will grow without them!

Proper exercise volume involves three to five sets (not including warm ups) for major body parts and two to four for smaller ones. This is only a guideline and specific individuals may be able to benefit from a few more sets (extremely rare) and others may require even fewer sets.

MYTH 3. High reps for cuts/ low reps for size

Most bodybuilders believe that if they want to lose fat they should perform high repetition (15+) training schemes. They also believe that if they want to get big, they must use low reps. First off, a set done with twenty reps will burn only marginally more kcals than a set performed with five reps. If you wish to lose bodyfat then you should do so via diet and aerobic exercise (aerobic exercise is contradictory to strength training…but that is for another article). This will have a much more dramatic effect than increasing reps. Secondly, a set performed with twenty repetitions is not akin to aerobic exercise like jogging etc. (again in terms of fat and calorie burning).

High reps will build muscle. They are probably not optimal for most individuals, but will promote growth. The problem with high reps is that they will not do a lot to increase your maximum strength output. They don’t train the fast twitch muscle fibers (which are integral to high power output) like lower repetition sets. The exact number of repetitions to maximize muscle size is a topic for hot debate and can vary widely between individuals. I recommend that for maximum size and strength you employ both low and high reps in each workout. For example: For your first set of heavy bench presses you use three to five reps. Your next set is then performed with a lighter weight for twelve to fifteen reps. This scheme will work both your fast and intermediate twitch muscle fibers which are most prone to hypertrophy (growth).

MYTH 4. You must wait 48 hours before you train a specific muscle again / more than 1 week of rest will atrophy your muscles.

The amount of recovery time required varies widely among individuals, training routines, and strength levels. The finite recovery ability that was discussed above can vary quite dramatically between individuals. If two lifters are similar in body type and strength levels, this does not indicate they will have similar recovery requirements. The intensity, number of sets performed , and frequency of your workouts will also affect recovery time. Lastly, as discussed above, as one gets stronger more recovery is required. So, to state that you should wait forty-eight hours between workouts for particular body parts is foolish. Each trainee must determine for oneself how much recovery time is required. A simple guideline is that if you are stronger during your next workout you have recovered sufficiently. If you stimulate growth during a workout and are not ill or injured, you should be stronger the next time you train. This should continue until you reach whatever genetic limits you have. This is not to say that you will never reach plateaus in your training. It means that if you do reach a plateau it is because you either did not train with sufficient intensity to stimulate growth, or your recovery requirements have increased and you did not allow for this with sufficient rest between workouts.

For myself, I am at a point in my life where my strength levels combined with stresses (work, family etc.) dictate that I wait two to two and a half weeks between training sessions for a particular body part. This obviously demolishes the theory that, “more than seven days of rest will cause you to go backwards”. As a final note, recovery demands will vary between particular muscles. Your legs may require longer recovery periods than your biceps for example. Experiment and find your optimum recovery periods and remember that you will need to adjust them as you grow.

MYTH 5. There are “shaping” and “mass building” exercises.

This one always gives me a chuckle. It implies that certain exercises (i.e. flies, cable crossovers etc.) will only tone the muscle and not build mass. This is complete bullshit! Almost all of the exercises defined as “shaping” are isolation exercises. Now, lets discuss what causes muscular growth in very simple terms. Studies have shown that if a trainee stresses his/her muscles with seventy-five percent or greater of their maximum capacity in a particular exercise, growth will result (75% you say, then why go to failure? I will discuss this in an upcoming article.). Now, why would stressing your pecs with sufficient intensity using a fly be any different than using a bench press? It would not! In actuality, doing a pec-deck fly will build the pectoral muscles more efficiently than a bench press. This is because the fly removes the weak-links that the bench press has (triceps, deltoids) and isolates the pectoralis.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not implying that you should train with only isolation movements. The beauty of compound exercises is that they target multiple muscle groups simultaneously. You have probably guessed the importance of that due to the discussions about finite recovery.

What I am trying to say is that the so called “shaping” exercises are normally more efficient at building the target muscle than some of the “mass” movements. Some of you may be thinking,”you can use more weight on compound exercises, that is why they are better—more stress on the muscle.” I call bullshit again! Your brain sends electrical impulses through the nervous system that cause your muscles to contract. It will adjust these impulses to increase the contraction’s intensity until the desired effect of joint movement is achieved (if possible). There are many factors that can affect this chain of events. In a compound movement there is more than 1 joint and muscle group involved. Each of these takes a portion of the “burden” imposed by the weight being lifted. Your muscle can only generate a finite maximum contraction at any given time. It does not matter if it is forced to do this in a single or multiple joint movement. Therefore, the single joint movement can generate as much of a stimulus to a given muscle as a compound movement and potentially even more.

Written by Chris Mason

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Vitamin C – The Facts

Vitamin C is responsible for more than 300 purposes in your body, everything from being the top anti-oxidant, producing collagen, keeping your immune system in top shape, curing some male infertility problems, lowering blood pressure and relieving stress.

Vitamin C produces Collagen. Collagen is essentially the “adhesive” that holds your body together. It is the tissue that holds your muscles to your skeleton, your skin to your muscles, and keeps you together. This may not mean much to you, but it also is needed to heal injuries faster.

If Collagen will help heal sprained joints, broken bones, cuts, and other injuries, then would it not make sense that it will mean a better and faster muscle recovery after a workout?

And what about all those days we are too sick to go to the gym? You miss training and often are not able to keep up your nutrition timetable due to illnesses. Vitamin C is being shown through continued research to stimulate the immune system; through this function, along with its antioxidant function, it may help in the prevention and treatment of infections and other diseases. Ascorbic acid may activate neutrophils, the most prevalent white blood cells that work on the frontline defence in more hand-to-hand combat than other white blood cells. It also seems to increase production of lymphocytes, the white cells important in antibody production and in coordinating the cellular immune functions. In this way also, C may be helpful against bacterial, viral, and fungal diseases. In higher amounts, ascorbic acid may actually increase interferon production and thus activate the immune response to viruses; it may also decrease the production of histamine, thereby reducing immediate allergy potential. Therefore it is easy to see how a high level of Vitamin C can help keep risk of illnesses down as well as helping to cure common illnesses such as the common cold or flu type symptoms. This can only mean extra days on the gym when you would have been lying down losing muscle.

Vitamin C stimulates adrenal function and the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline), our stress hormones; however, prolonged stress depletes vitamin C in the adrenals and decreases the blood levels. Ascorbic acid also helps thyroid hormone production, and it aids in cholesterol metabolism, increasing its elimination and thereby assisting in lowering blood cholesterol.

Vitamin C has also been shown to reduce blood pressure particularly useful to those suffering from high blood pressure as well as people that chose to use anabolic steroids where a raise in blood pressure is a common symptom. OK so now you are thinking that you could benefit from making a conscious effort to increase your vitamin C intake daily. So in what foods do we find Vitamin C ?

It is found only in the fruit and vegetable foods and is highest in fresh, uncooked foods. Vitamin C is one of the least stable vitamins, and cooking can destroy much of this water-soluble vitamin from foods.

Vitamin C is a weak acid and is stable in weak acids. Alkalis, such as baking soda, however, destroy ascorbic acid. It is also easily oxidized in air and sensitive to heat and light. Since it is contained in the watery part of fruits and vegetables, it is easily lost during cooking in water. Loss is minimized when vegetables such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts are cooked over water in a double boiler instead of directly in water. The mineral copper, in the water or in the cookware, diminishes vitamin C content of foods.

How much should I take ?

The RDA is a mere 60mgs which in my opinion is too low for a normal person let alone and active bodybuilder that puts his or her body under much more stress than the average person.

Many Doctors and nutritionists also think think that 60mg’s is too low and tend to lean towards suggestion 250-300 mgs. remember we are still talking about the normal average non weight trainer person. I think 1000-2000 mg’s is a good place to start when experimenting with Vit C amounts. You could try a little more and see if you notice and difference in recovery.

Remember, Vitamin C is water soluble, so any extra will just wash out of your system with your fluids.

Written by Yatesnightblade

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If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Vitamin C – The Facts.