If you want to build muscle and get strong you have to avoid the bullshit and myths that flood the fitness industry. Here are a few that will kill your gains:
1) You Should Lift Every Day
No, you shouldn’t. You need to rest some time. That’s when you grow.
Do three hard strength training workouts to build muscle, and 1-2 HIIT workouts to burn fat and boost your conditioning.
One complete day off per week is a good idea. On another day do something of a lower intensity like mobility work or go for a swim.
2) You Don’t Have to Worry About Getting Strong
Yes, you do. It’s essential. Progressive overload is the key to making gains in the gym. Always strive to get stronger by adding weight to the bar or doing more reps with the same weight. That’s the surest, most foolproof plan for getting bigger.
3) Bodyweight Exercises Don’t Build Muscle
I always find it odd that people who say this routinely list chins and dips on their top ten exercise list. This is horseshit. Resistance is resistance. As long as you are overloading your body and getting progressively stronger you will grow.
I always include chin ups, dips, glute ham raises, handstand pushups and single leg squats in my muscle building workouts.
4) Machines are Safer Than Free Weights
If you have a shoulder injury what do you think would feel better- doing pushups on rings and moving around the pain or getting locked into a range of motion you can’t control on a machine? Common sense, people…
Too much machine use can lead to pattern overload which leads to joint stress.
Now, for advanced techniques like rest-pause training, a machine may actually be safer. But it has to be one that works for your particular body type and doesn’t cause you any pain.
5) You Shouldn’t Train Heavy
If you want to get big you have to train heavy. If you just want to go to the gym to “get in shape” or sweat or whatever most people do, then you don’t have to train heavy. But I’m not even really sure what the purpose of that type of training is.
To build muscle you have to train with heavy weights in the range of 5-10 reps. If you’re older, strong or beat up you can push this to 12 or even 15 reps.
Please understand that the term “heavy” is relevant. What’s heavy to you might be light to me, or vice versa. You want to use the heaviest weight you can control and do with picture perfect technique.
6) You Should do High Reps to Get Cut and Toned
That’s from the pump and burn crowd. Getting a pump is all well and good but it’s not the only thing, and a pump alone will not lead to muscle growth.
And as far as high reps getting you cut and toned go, that’s just more bullshit. You get cut from losing fat. That’s primarily a function of diet. When the diet is dialed in you can increase fat loss with a few HIIT workouts per week. But high rep training will do NOTHING to help you lose fat and get ripped.
In fact, studies have shown that heavier weight training boosts your metabolism more than light training does.
7) You Shouldn’t Rest More Than 30 Seconds Between Sets
In the days of circuit training and over conditioning mania people have forgotten the tried and true principles of training for size and strength.
To get big you have to get strong and use a lot of weight on your sets. In order to do that you need to rest a minimum of 60 seconds and upwards of two minutes.
Some people recommend resting up to five minutes between hard sets but I think that’s overkill. That’s really for maximum power development and only applies to athletes and competitive lifters.
9) You Have to do a Lot of Crunches and Sit Ups to Get a Six Pack
You get a six pack from having your bodyfat under 12%. That’s it. You could do zero ab exercises and still have a six pack if you diet hard enough and get your body fat down that low.
When you’re really lean doing some weighted abdominal training can help because it will increase the size of the ab muscles and help them pop more with a 3D look.
But the idea of doing hundreds of crunches and sit ups to get abs is completely asinine and unfounded. Spot reduction is impossible.
10) You Should Use Lots of Isolation Exercises
Just because you can feel them more doesn’t mean they’re more effective. The best exercises are those that allow you to use the greatest amount of weight and also allow the greatest amount of progression.
That’s why a military press will always beat a lateral raise. And why a squat will always beat a leg press.
Stick with big compound movements for at least 80% of your training, then just add in a bit of isolation work for muscles like the biceps, rear delts, calves and neck.
11) You Can’t Get Anything Out of a Workout if it Doesn’t Last at Least an Hour
This holds a lot of people back from even starting to train in the first place. If you only have 30 minutes three times per week that’s fine. When I’m super busy my workouts only last that long. Hell, if you only have 15 minutes that’s fine too. Or 10 minutes, even!
It’s way better than doing nothing. If the alternative is zero exercise than 1-3 sets of dips, chins and single leg squats is obviously far superior. You can get results like that, my friends. You won’t be Mr. Olympia but at least you’ll get somewhere.
And the list goes on and on.
If you believe any of these so called “rules” chances are pretty good you’re doing yourself a disservice and getting subpar results from your training.
Or, at the very least, not getting the results you should be.
Renegade’s don’t follow the old rules.
We break them and create new ones.