When trying to build muscle sometimes it’s hard to know the fact from the fiction. Everyone has an opinion on what works or a strategy that they have proven results from, but even though everybody is unique there are still more than ample similarities when it comes to gaining muscle. Especially when looking for tips online it’s hard to know who is qualified to even give those opinions or if the old wives tales some trainers swear by are anything more than conjecture.
You wouldn’t go to the fridge and drink out dated milk so why would use try and build muscle with outdated information? At some point we have all heard the 8 to 12 repetition range bandied about for optimum growth. In 1954 this was true, almost 60 years later hopefully science has learned a little more about musculature and in fact it has. Heavier weights at less repetitions will induce the type of muscle growth you want and better strength. Varying the repetition range can also help to stimulate all types of muscle growth and keep your muscles growing rather than stagnating.
With repetitions comes sets and in 1948 a physician decided that 3 sets was an ideal number. There isn’t anything wrong with that if you’re trying to do more reps that is. The number of sets is not determined by an outdated recommendation but a better rule would be that the more repetitions you do the less sets you need and so on. This will help keep the total number of repetitions equal regardless of how many you do per set.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger was hot on the body building circuit he claimed that doing 3 or 4 exercises per muscle group would ensure you worked all the fibers of the target muscle. That was in 1966. If you do the math at the old 8 to 12 repetitions that means up to 144 repetitions per muscle group, and frankly if you can do that many you aren’t working hard enough. The harder you work the less time you can spend sustaining the same intensity and it is unlikely you will get anywhere close to 100 repetitions. A more realistic number would be 25 to 50 total repetitions such as 5 sets of 5 or 15 repetitions of 3 exercises. If you can reach a higher number you aren’t working out smart.
Whenever we work out we are conscious of the threat of injury and keeping your knees from going past your toes is dangerous. In theory this would be true as in 1978 Duke University discovered that keeping the lower leg as vertical as possible would minimize shearing forces on the knee. However in 2003 the University of Memphis did a much more updated study that found that it also increased hip stress over 1000% trying to keep the knees behind the toes which in turn caused more frequent back injury. Athletes that can focus on remaining as upright as possible to reduce stress on the hips trying to keep forearms perpendicular to the floor while squatting.
When you lift weights it is important to draw in your abs at the same time. This isn’t really a myth, it is in fact true but the myth is that doing so does not support your spine at all. The research, conducted in 1999, was accurate in deciding that pulling in abdominal muscles while lifting helped prevent back pain but this is not unanimously true as different exercises will require different muscles. By focusing on what may be the wrong muscles for your body to lift you often neglect the right muscles and are in fact more prone to injury. It is better to simply brace the abs but not necessarily draw them in to improve stability and performance.
Building muscle can be a confusing process if you don’t know where your information comes from. To avoid using outdated science make sure your research methods thoroughly before just going with what everyone else is doing and hoping for the best results.