“Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder but nobody wants to lift no heavy ass weight” - Ronnie Coleman. Ronnie certainly understood one of the key principles of what it takes to grow maximum amounts of muscle, which is to lift heavy ‘ass’ weight, however I am almost certain he has made some mistakes in his time as well.
So I bring to you… my top 5 muscle building mishaps.
You have to ‘feel’ the muscle for it to grow
First of all let me start by saying, activating a muscle and feeling a muscle a two different things. A muscle, by default, will be activated once it is under the force of a weight, however, being aware of biomechanical advantages, having proper technique and mentally priming your system both prior and during a lift will also enhance its total activation.
Feeling the weight on the other hand traditionally means slowing the reps down in an attempt to create the ultimate mind muscle connection and also places excessive emphasis on the ‘squeezing’ portion of an exercise.
While ‘feeling it’ and making the rep speed slower with an increased muscle contraction pause may give you a bigger pump, hurt more and make it feel like it is doing more, the reality is, that it is simply just causing more stress.
Of which, that stress is known as sarcoplasmic stress.
If you have read my article on what muscle growth is, you will know that this is not what we need to target as a primary muscle growing concept.
We want myofibrillar growth and this comes from an increase in training volume, weight lifted or the frequency of stimulation in a progressive manor, which is traditionally reduced in slow tempo sets.
So focus more on muscle activation and rep speed instead or ‘feeling it.’
Read more on how we Define Muscle Growth here if you want to know more about sarcoplasmic and myofibrillar hypertrophy.
You have to eat every 3 hours
This one has been both squashed and re-perpetuated time and time again but I will continue to squash it until its myth is no longer floating around the fitness industry.
First and foremost, muscle growth is achieved via sufficient daily caloric intake.
Secondly, muscle growth is maximised via sufficient daily protein intake.
Finally, the frequency of protein consumption is only a ‘5%er’ when it comes to ensuring muscle growth is optimal, of which it could actually be argued that consuming an adequate serve of protein is most optimal every 4-5 hours and not every 3 hours.
In a nutshell here is why:
- Maximal Protein Synthesis (MPS) is achieved via the consumption of more than 3g of Leucine (an anabolic amino acid) in a single serving, of which requires approximately 30-40g of protein from whey or meat.
- MPS can only be re-stimulated from the consumption of a food based protein source at >4hours after your previous meal.
So lets look at this from a logistical standpoint… Say you’re a female and only require 110g of protein per day and yet you believe you need to eat protein every 3 hours.
You’re awake for 16 hours of the day, meaning you will be consuming 5 meals, of which you will be consuming an average of 22g of protein per meal.
Eating this way means you will never fully achieve MPS and you could argue that muscle growth would be sub optimal.
Instead, it would be advised to consume 30-35g of protein per meal, which will only leave you with the ability to eat 3-4 meals maximum.
This alone, renders it literally impossible for you to consume protein every 3 hours if you want to ensure a maximal muscle growth response is achieved from protein consumption.
In this instance, theoretically speaking, eating protein every 3 hours would be more detrimental than eating less frequency at >4hrs between meals.
In saying all of this… it’s still a 5% er.
Instead of micromanaging your meal timing, focus more on your daily consumption of all macronutrients and eat to suit your lifestyle.
Eating more protein grows more muscle
Eating copious amounts of protein for the purpose of growing muscle tissue achieves nothing more than the following:
- A larger food bill
- A reduction in vital carbohydrate consumption
- Excessive gastric digestive stress
And… it achieves NO more muscle growth. Now that’s not to say that eating more protein does not have its benefits. Protein is the most metabolically positive macronutrient and is also the most satiating, so it is important to consume more protein during a fat loss phase,
However, eating more to grow more is simply not accurate.
The reality is, once you reach your consumption threshold based on your lean body mass, eating more protein simply offers you no additional muscle growth.
So instead of wasting time, money and calories on protein, find out how much you need to eat and allocate the remainder of your calories to carbohydrates and fats.
You have to change up your workouts to ‘shock’ the muscle
Shock can be defined as “a sudden upsetting or surprising event or experience.”
Your muscle doesn’t need to be suddenly surprised, it does however, need to be frequently stimulated and on that note, stimulated progressively.
Too many people get hung up on the concept of needing to do something ‘different’ to shock the muscle.
While it is universally agreed upon that a muscle requires a new stimulus to force adaptation (growth), it doesn’t mean that something ‘new’ needs to be a different exercise, a different training order or any other whacky change you can think about.
A new stimulus can simply be more weight each week, more total volume each session, or even more frequency. You can even change the stimulus with a simple intensity technique such as a partial rep or a slower rep scheme.
To fact of the matter is this…
Progression through volume, intensity or frequency is still recognised as the primary determinant for muscle growth, of which it is almost impossible to measure if you are constantly changing your workouts as a whole.
Instead, if you want to grow maximum muscle efficiently, write up a training program and stick to it for 4-8 weeks minimum.
Train your order of exercises the same each week but attempt to lift a heavier weight on a weekly to fortnightly basis.
If you can’t lift heavier for the same rep range, then increase your total reps for the allocated sets by 1-2.
If that’s not working, try increasing the frequency instead.
While training differently each session may be more fun, which is also important to recognise, it may not be optimal.
Instead of ‘shocking the muscle’, try increasing the stimulus you put it through in a measurable way on a consistent basis and evaluate your results based on real data, as opposed to guessing like you do every time you change a workout completely.
Having a beard makes you stronger
Based on the trends of the strongest men in the world, of which are powerlifters and strongmen, you could be fooled into thinking a beard is now a necessary component for enhanced strength and muscle growth.
I’ve trawled the Internet, searched high and low through pubmed and numerous other journal article websites and am thrilled to say that this is not currently supported by clinical research.
Sure a beard makes you look more manly…And don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be a part of the metrosexual lumberjack movement, but the reality is, I couldn’t grow a beard even if I tried.
So to all the beard growers… beware… the patchy chinned men are coming for you.
Wrapping it up
All jokes aside, whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate lifter, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype by following all the trends.
Having a beard is a trend and unfortunately the perpetuation of misinformed information appears to be the longest lasting trend around.
I don’t know why and I don’t know how false trends last, but hopefully this article has helped squash at least a few of them for you.