8 Myths That Are Holding You Back From Building Muscle
When it comes to fitness and nutrition, there are plenty of myths out there.
Whether it’s the belief that you need to spend more time at the gym to get in better shape or the notion that detox diets are the answer to your best body, there’s all kinds of misinformation out there.
We chatted with Kari Pearce, one of our KBK Champions and a competitive CrossFitter who earned the coveted title of Fittest Woman in America last year, about some of the misconceptions surrounding muscle building.
Make sure the eight below myths aren’t messing with your goals.
You’ll start building muscle the minute you start lifting.
This thought is often what makes women shy away from the weight rack. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that the minute they switch from cardio to strength training, they’ll pack on pounds of bulk. For better or for worse, that’s just not the case.
According to Pearce, building muscle takes time — and lots of it. You’re not going to see changes overnight. In fact, depending on where you’re starting, it can take years to see tangible results. And you’ll have to work on it throughout those years. Exercising consistently and dedicating yourself to a specific routine is key, Pearce says.
There are things you can do to build “lean” muscle as opposed to “bulky” muscle.
People often come to Pearce wanting to build long, lean muscle as opposed to bulky muscle. What those people don’t realize, though, is that different types of muscle don’t exist.
'“There’s no such thing as long, lean muscle or short, compact muscle; muscle is muscle,” Pearce says.
An extra snack or two will be enough to put on mass.
Our nutritionists recommend adding at least 500 calories to your total daily energy expenditure (the number of calories you burn in a day) when eating for muscle gain. Depending on your goal, you might even need to add closer to 750-1,000 calories.
The reason for this is because you need to feed your muscles, Pearce explains. She usually consumes a little bit of fat, along with some proteins and carbs, an hour and a half or two hours before a workout, then eats more protein and carbs post workout. That’s in addition to the protein shake she consumes during her workout.
You can eat whatever you want because you’re “bulking up.”
Just because you’re adding calories to your diet doesn’t mean those calories should be coming from junk food. According to Peace, it’s crucial to eat clean. Eating unhealthy foods is likely to lead to fat gain as opposed to muscle gain.
Rely on whole, unprocessed foods and make sure you’re getting a good mix of all three micronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) in all of your meals. If you don’t have the time (or don’t want to spend the time) meal prepping, then consider using a meal plan, like our Build plan.
Supplements are more important than food.
Chances are, if you follow fitness professionals on social media, you’ve heard of a myriad of supplements that are supposed to help you get big, fast. And while Pearce acknowledges there’s a time and place for supplements — she uses some herself — she says real food is by far the more important thing to focus on.
She says that food not only provides your body with essential vitamins and minerals that supplements don’t, but it also leaves you feeling more satisfied than a protein shake will.
HIIT training has no place in muscle building.
Contrary to what the movies might have you believe, you don’t need to restrict yourself to dingy gym basements and 50-pound dumbbells if you’re strength training. If you like higher intensity workouts, Pearce suggests choosing three exercises, all of which target a different muscle group, and creating a circuit with them.
Keep in mind that fewer reps is ideal for building muscle, though. Pearce says anywhere from six to 12 reps is an ideal range.
You need to spend hours at the gym.
Whether you’re looking to build muscle or lose weight, many people assume any sort of fitness goal requires hours of exercise a day. The thing is, an intense 45-minute workout is often more effective than spending two hours at the gym.
“I’m a big believer in intensity over time. If you go to the gym, get it done, and then get out,” Pearce says.
What you eat and how much you work out are the only things that make a difference in whether or not you gain muscle.
Although these are both critical pieces of bulking up, they’re not the only things that matter.
Recovery plays a key role, and Pearce says that along with nutrition, sleep is the most important component of effective recovery. She recommends getting eight hours of sleep per night and says that doing so will provide more results than any massage or other fancy recovery tool will.