“A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.” This hackneyed expression still holds true, and when it comes to bodybuilding, it’s more relevant than ever.

How do so many misnomers and half-truths make their way into the muscle building foray? The main reason is a phenomenon known as “parroting.” Once a belief, a theory, or a methodology is accepted as credible, its influence spreads and soon it’s repeated by authorities and laymen alike until it soon becomes standard thinking. Opposing viewpoints are often looked upon as erroneous due to the fact they contradict what has become known as “correct” thinking. It’s the “flat earth” mentality. It sounds reasonable. Everybody agrees. But it’s wrong. Nevertheless, if you want to disprove it, you’ve got your work cut out for you. After all, it’s easier to believe a notion that has been repeated a million times than one which is being uttered for the first time.

In the case of bodybuilding myths, what is too often accepted as fact may not only be a worthless endeavor, it can be far from benign. Utilizing improper techniques, poor dietary choices and most grievously, irresponsible drug use, will not only hinder your goal of maximum muscularity and optimal strength, it may actually inflict harm on the body you’re trying so ardently to develop.

Some of the practices stated in this article may be open for debate. If nothing else, keep an open mind to the logic of each statement. As is always the case, everyone is different and what works for one may not work for another. Yet, if you’ve been going by “the book” and are dissatisfied with your results, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate some of your bodybuilding tactics.

Common Conception #1:
Heavy training hits the larger white muscle fibers, therefore, you must train heavy if you want more mass.

Maybe not. The biggest factor is your individual body type. For example, powerlifters aren’t big because they lift heavy. They lift heavy because they’re big! Some people are born with more white fibers than others and those are the people who will respond best to heavy training. (4-8 reps per set) Of course, some heavy training is necessary for everyone in order to build even the limited amount of white fibers, but if you’re the type who has more of the thin, red muscle fibers, the 10- 15 rep range may result in more overall development.

Common Conception #2:
When attempting to lose fat, several smaller meals are superior to three larger ones.

This isn’t necessarily so. Although smaller meals will provide a more even blood sugar level and distribution of nutrients, the bottom line is still how many calories are ingested over the course of time. A big problem with eating smaller meals, more frequently, is the fact that no meal is truly satisfying. That leaves you always craving food and “nibbling” more calories than you should. What also may occur is, after a day of small, unfulfilling meals, you finally crack and go for the pepperoni pizza! For some people, fewer larger meals provide a satiation that lasts for many hours, resulting in less cravings and less overall calorie consumption.

Common Conception #3:
Aerobics should be performed on an empty stomach for maximum results. This is a theory which has gained popularity even though it cannot be accurately gauged. It’s based on the premise that, if the body is deficient in carbs, it will more effectively use fat for fuel. But carbs are present in the body even if no food has been ingested for hours. Another fact to consider is, if the body is carb depleted, it quickly goes into a catabolic state, especially when subjected to long duration repetitive stress. (i.e. aerobics) Considering these facts, the practice of running on an empty stomach could be working against your goals.

Common Conception #4:
If you’ve never used steroids before and are thinking of starting, you should take advantage of your virgin receptors and use a high dose for the most gains.

This one sounds almost too stupid to be believed but this philosophy has gained considerable credence through the ramblings of several self- professed drug gurus, many of whom permeate the Internet. Following this mentality, why not recommend that since gains from weight training are quickest when beginning a program, beginners should train everyday for 4 hours a day! The exact opposite is true. In the case of steroids, because the body is so receptive to a new stimulus, very small doses will usually bring outstanding results. Bombarding the body with excessive dosages will only result in a greater tolerance, which will subsequently require higher and higher dosages in order to obtain results in the future. Anyone who encourages excessive use or superphysiological dosages is irresponsible and untrustworthy and should be ignored, regardless of how knowledgeable they may be in the chemistry of anabolics.

Common Conception #6:
In order to avoid injury, a weight belt should be worn at all times. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support this theory. A belt produces a false sensation of security because it produces a tight, compressed feeling. In no way does this protect the muscles of the lower back. Learn proper technique and it’s almost impossible to injury yourself. Depend on a belt for protection and you’re headed for trouble.

Common Conception #7:
Rest is as good as sleep. Wrong! The body recuperates much more completely when in a deep sleep. Just being inactive doesn’t cut it. Nothing will make you feel weaker than being in a sleep deprived state. At the same time, almost any problem or illness can be cured with a good nights sleep. If you want the most muscle growth, sleep eight hours a night. Nine is better.

Common Conception #8:
Time released nutrients are better absorbed. The body absorbs nutrients in a very efficient manner called digestion. There’s no need for time released nutrients. Along

the same lines, constipation is a subject often addressed in those ancient health manuals yet almost never mentioned in contemporary bodybuilding magazines. No wonder – it isn’t exactly a compelling topic. What’s interesting to me is that the absorption of nutrients is such a hot topic but the proper elimination of waste may very well be the most important aspect in getting a constant flow of fresh nutrients to your muscles. Also, the longer you’re “backed up”, the more toxins are released into the bloodstream.

Common Conception #9:
Have a high glycemic carb drink immediately following a workout. Part of the reason for aerobic training is to deplete carb calories. Why put them right back? Protein would be a better choice but even this theory is overrated. The bloodstream contains nutrients, even after working out. (unless you’ve been fasting) Food timing isn’t an exact science. The body doesn’t know if your work out is over after you walked on the treadmill or after you walked home from the gym. The fact that your metabolism is elevated following a workout makes it a great time to burn excess calories. Rehydrate with water, not empty calorie sugar drinks.

Common Conception #10:
You don’t need supplements, only food. True, unless you want the biggest advantage that you can have. No doubt about it, many supplements are overpriced, underdosed and downright ineffective. What supplements such as vitamins and antioxidants will do is put the body in its ultimate anabolic state which in turn will lead to maximum muscle growth. They’ll also guard against overtraining and illness by saturating the system with the necessary nutrients for repair and recovery.

Nothing here is written in stone. If a particular practice has worked for you, by all means continue it. But if you’ve been wondering why something should be working, and isn’t – or if some ideas never quite clicked for you –it may be time to consider a new path. It isn’t always easy letting go of a belief you’ve followed for some time, but when something isn’t working for you, doesn’t it make more sense to let it go and move on to something that does? Think about it.

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