You might disagree, but hear me out on this; the vast majority of myths about weight gain are mostly passed down from "gym talk" and so-called experts who know nothing about how the body works.
Myths that lead to wasted time, frustration and are taken blindly as truth, can really set back your progress in the gym. Don't believe everything you hear when it comes to exercise and weight gain. Do the research yourself.
Lets take a look at some of the most common weight gain myths:
High repetitions burn fat while low repetitions build muscle:
Progressive overload is needed to make muscles bigger. Meaning that you need to perform more reps than you did for your last workout for that particular exercise. If you perform the same amount of reps at each workout nothing will change on you. If you don't change the weights on the bar nothing will change on you. Therefore, you must increase reps and weights progressively in order for changes to occur.
Definition has two characteristics, muscle size and a low incidence of body fat. To reduce body fat you will have to reduce your calories; the high repetition exercise will burn some calories, but wouldn't it be better to fast walk to burn these off?
Better still; use the low reps to build muscle, which will elevate your metabolism and burn more calories (less fat).
Vegetarians can't build muscle:
Yes they can! Strength training with supplementation of Soy Protein Isolate has shown to increase solid body weight. Studies have shown that athletic performance is not impaired by following a meat free diet, and people strength training and consuming only soy protein isolate as a protein source were able to gain lean muscle mass.
Strength Training will make you look masculine:
If it is not your intention to bulk up from strength training you won't. Putting on muscle is a long, hard, slow process. Your strength-training regime coupled with quality food will determine how much you will bulk up.
To bulk up you also require more food, and by working out you can eat what ever you want to:
Of course you can eat whatever you want, if you don't care how you want to look. Working out does not give you an open license to consume as many calories as you want.
Although you will burn more calories if you workout than someone who doesn't, you still need to balance your energy intake with you energy expenditure.
If you take a week off you will lose most of your gains.
Taking one or two weeks off occasionally will not harm your training. By taking this time off every eight to ten weeks in between strength training cycles may refresh you and heal those small niggling injuries.
By having longer layoffs you do not actually lose muscle fibres, just volume through not training; any size loss will be quickly re-gained.
By eating more protein I can build bigger muscles:
Building muscle mass involves two things, progressive overload to stimulate muscles beyond their normal levels of resistance and eating more calories than you can burn off.
With all the hype about high protein diets lately and because muscle is made largely of protein, it's easy to believe that protein is the best fuel for building muscle. However muscles work on calories that should predominately be derived from carbohydrates.
If I'm not sore after a workout, I didn't work out hard enough:
Post workout soreness is not an indication of how good the exercise or strength-training session was for you. The fitter you are at a certain activity, the less soreness you will experience after.
As soon as you change an exercise, use a heavier weight, or do a few more reps, you place extra stress on that body part and this will cause soreness.
Resistance training doesn't burn fat:
Nothing could not be further from the truth. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue and has a role in increasing the metabolism. The faster metabolism we have the quicker we can burn fat. Cardio exercise enables us to burn calories whilst exercising but does little else for fat loss afterwards.
Weight training enables us to burn calories whilst exercising but also helps us to burn calories whilst at rest. Weight training encourages muscle growth and the more lean muscle mass we possess, the more fat we burn, for an increased and elevated metabolism.
No pain no gain:
This is one myth that hangs on and on. Pain is your body signaling that something is wrong. If you feel real pain during a workout, stop your workout and rest. To develop muscle and increase endurance you may need to have a slight level of discomfort, but that's not actual pain.
Taking steroids will make me huge:
Not true. Strength training and correct nutrition will grow muscle. Taking steroids without training will not make you muscular. Most steroids allow faster muscle growth through greater recovery, while others help increase strength which allows for greater stress to be put onto a muscle. Without food to build the muscle or training to stimulate it nothing will happen. Most of the weight gain seen with the use of some steroids is due to water retention and is not actual muscle.
Strength training won't work your heart:
Wrong! Strength training with short rest periods will increase your heartbeat well over a hundred beats per minute.
For example, performing a set of breathing squats and you can be guaranteed that your heart will be working overtime and that your entire cardiovascular system will be given a great overall body workout.
Any intensive weightlifting routine that lasts for 20 minutes or more is a great workout for your heart and the muscles involved.
I can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time:
Wrong. Only a few gifted people with superb genetics and on steroids can increase muscle size while not putting on body fat. But for the average hard gainer, they have to increase their muscle mass to its maximum potential and then cut down their body fat percentage to achieve the desired shape.
In conclusion, simple basic principles that apply to all weight and muscle gain such as progressive overload, variable frequency of reps and high intensity workouts are the way to go.
Gary Matthews is the author of the popular fitness eBooks Maximum Weight Loss and Maximum Weight Gain.