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By definition, teen bodybuilders are always newcomers to the world of bodybuilding, since you need to be at least an adolescent to safely start lifting weights. Because they are just starting out, they are vulnerable to every bodybuilding myth and half-truth that circulates in the gym.
It reminds me of the stories about "Fool's Errands"? Nearly every trade has a few of these. My brother once took a summer job with a jeweler who sent him all over town asking suppliers for a "diamond magnet" to pick up the bits of diamond left from cutting. Graphic arts companies have sent many a trainee in search of the "paper stretcher" on the premise that a piece of artwork was just a little too small.
Well, bodybuilding has a few of these gems that get passed on year after year. Unfortunately, many people believe they are true. Like every great myth, there is often a kernel of truth...just enough to make it semi-plausible. But, in the end, it's still a myth and believing it ensures a waste of your time and effort. Here are six of my favorites:
1. You Need To Do High Reps For Definition & Low Reps For Mass
You get better muscle definition when you burn off excess fat. Fine. But lifting weights as a means of burning off fat is not very effective. You can burn far more calories on a treadmill or a stationary bike because you can keep doing it for hours.
The reason you lift weights is to make muscles bigger...and to do that the weights need to be heavy. Really heavy. So this myth should be corrected to: "Treadmill for definition, heavy weights for mass."
2. Yesterday Was Arm Day, Today Is Leg Day & Tomorrow Is Chest Day
Splitting a routine results in less demand of the body's recovery capacity. OK, splitting a routine helps, but that help is wasted when you train too often. Remember this: Every day is kidney day.
Every day is pancreas day. It's not just your muscles that recover...your organs do the work of recovery and they can be overworked too. What difference does it make to your kidneys that yesterday was leg day and today is triceps day? It's all the same to your kidneys. If you want steady progress (you do, don't you?) you need to FULLY recover before you try to stimulate more growth from any muscle on your body.
3. I Used To Train For Mass But Now I'm Training For Strength
A muscle can do only three things: it can get bigger, it can get smaller, or it can stay the same size. If you want more mass or more strength, you need bigger muscles. Period.
And muscle strength is like rope strength, the bigger the cross sectional area, the more strength it has. Measure your mass gains with a scale and a fat caliper. Measure you strength gains with the amount of weight you can hoist. Either way, when you get stronger, you get bigger and vice versa.
4. If You Aren't Making Gains Training Three Days A Week, You Might Need Steroids
Steroids and certain other prescription drugs do build muscle faster. But the fact is, a fixed training schedule of three days a week (or virtually any FIXED schedule) is a guarantee of staleness and plateaus.
To make progress, intensity has to be progressive! That's a 100% rule. But as intensity increases, your body needs more days to recover. Many days. Yes, certain prescription drugs can shorten that recovery, but so what? Why not skip the dangerous drugs and just take a few extra days off? Would you take drugs so you could get a haircut three days a week?
5. You Need To Periodize Your Training Between High Intensity & Lower Intensity
High doses of drugs need to be "periodized" or "cycled" because most people can't tolerate those doses. Back in the 70's when the Eastern Europeans were winning the Olympic weight events, it was discovered that those athletes trained "heavy" only part of the year.
The mistaken conclusion was that "cycling" training from high intensity to low intensity resulted in gold medals. The fact was that the drugs were so severe to the body that they could only be taken for short periods. During these periods the athletes were stronger...strong enough to win gold medals.
It was the drugs that were being periodized, not the training. The fact is that muscles only get bigger and stronger as a result of progressive overload. If you reduce the overload ZERO new muscle can be built. When you train "light" you are wasting your time and your body's resources.
6. You Need To Work The Muscles From Different Angles In Order To Develop Them Fully
Recent MRI imaging of muscles shows that different components of some muscles are worked by different exercises. Fine. Many people talk about triceps and how certain exercises work only one or two of the three heads of the triceps. So what?
Show me a triceps exercise that works 1/3 of the muscle and I'll show you an exercise to avoid like the plague. What you want are heavy, demanding exercises that call on the totality of the muscle. How can you be sure you're doing that without your own, personal MRI machine? Easy. Lift really heavy weights.
Click Image To Enlarge.
What You Want Are Heavy, Demanding Exercises
That Call On The Totality Of The Muscle.
Heavy weights call on every fiber of muscle that you have. That's how you lift heavy weights...by using ALL of your muscle's capacity. Forget the wimpy exercise that work only part of a muscle.
So when you hear these six pieces of "advice" in the gym, please don't go off on a Fool's Errand. Train smart by engineering every workout to have high intensity and progressive overload. Remember, no two workouts should ever be the same.
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