Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Muscle Myths

Links:

Muscle Myths
Multiple Responses:
1.
The Truth Behind 7 Muscle Myths
Stop listening to the false info from guys at the gym...

The guy lifting beside you looks like he should write the book on muscle. Talks like it, too. He's worked out since the seventh grade, he played D-1 football, and he's big.

But that doesn't mean he knows what he's talking about. Starting now, ignore him.

The gym is infested with bad information. Lies that start with well-intentioned gym teachers trickle down to students who become coaches, trainers, or know-it-all gym-rat preachers. Lies morph into myths that endure because we don't ask questions, for fear of looking stupid.

Scientists, on the other hand, gladly look stupid—that's why they're so darn smart. Plus, they have cool human-performance laboratories where they can prove or disprove theories and myths.

Here's what top exercise scientists and expert trainers have to say about the crap that's passed around in gyms. Listen up and learn. Then go ahead, question it.

1. Slow Lifting Builds Huge Muscles
Lifting super slowly produces superlong workouts—and that's it. University of Alabama researchers recently studied two groups of lifters doing a 29-minute workout. One group performed exercises using a 5-second up phase and a 10-second down phase, the other a more traditional approach of 1 second up and 1 second down. The faster group burned 71 percent more calories and lifted 250 percent more weight than the superslow lifters.

The real expert says: "The best increases in strength are achieved by doing the up phase as rapidly as possible," says Gary Hunter, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., the lead study author. "Lower the weight more slowly and under control." There's greater potential for growth during the lowering phase, and when you lower with control, there's less chance of injury.

2. More Protein Builds More Muscle
To a point, sure. But put down the shake for a sec. Protein promotes the muscle-building process, called protein synthesis, "but you don't need exorbitant amounts to do this," says John Ivy, Ph.D., coauthor of Nutrient Timing.

If you're working out hard, consuming more than 0.9 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a waste. Excess protein breaks down into amino acids and nitrogen, which are either excreted or converted into carbohydrates and stored.

The real expert says: More important is when you consume protein, and that you have the right balance of carbohydrates with it. Have a postworkout shake of three parts carbohydrates and one part protein.

Eat a meal several hours later, and then reverse that ratio in your snack after another few hours, says Ivy. "This will keep protein synthesis going by maintaining high amino acid concentrations in the blood."

3. Squats Kill Your Knees
And cotton swabs are dangerous when you push them too far into your ears. It's a matter of knowing what you're doing.

A recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that "open-chain" exercises—those in which a single joint is activated, such as the leg extension—are potentially more dangerous than closed-chain moves—those that engage multiple joints, such as the squat and the leg press.

The study found that leg extensions activate your quadriceps muscles slightly independently of each other, and just a 5-millisecond difference in activation causes uneven compression between the patella (kneecap) and thighbone, says Anki Stensdotter, the lead study author.

The real expert says: "The knee joint is controlled by the quadriceps and the hamstrings. Balanced muscle activity keeps the patella in place and appears to be more easily attained in closed-chain exercises," says Stensdotter.

To squat safely, hold your back as upright as possible and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or at least as far as you can go without discomfort in your knees).

Try front squats if you find yourself leaning forward. Although it's a more advanced move, the weight rests on the fronts of your shoulders, helping to keep your back upright, Stensdotter says.

4. Never Exercise a Sore Muscle
Before you skip that workout, determine how sore you really are. "If your muscle is sore to the touch or the soreness limits your range of motion, it's best that you give the muscle at least another day of rest," says Alan Mikesky, Ph.D., director of the human performance and biomechanics laboratory at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

In less severe instances, an "active rest" involving light aerobic activity and stretching, and even light lifting, can help alleviate some of the soreness. "Light activity stimulates bloodflow through the muscles, which removes waste products to help in the repair process," says David Docherty, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at the University of Victoria in Canada.

The real expert says: If you're not sore to the touch and you have your full range of motion, go to the gym. Start with 10 minutes of cycling, then exercise the achy muscle by performing no more than three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions using a weight that's no heavier than 30 percent of your one-rep maximum, says Docherty.

5. Stretching Prevents Injuries
Maybe if you're a figure skater. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed more than 350 studies and articles examining the relationship between stretching and injuries and concluded that stretching during a warmup has little effect on injury prevention.

"Stretching increases flexibility, but most injuries occur within the normal range of motion," says Julie Gilchrist, M.D., one of the study's researchers. "Stretching and warming up have just gone together for decades. It's simply what's done, and it hasn't been approached through rigorous science."

The real expert says: Warming up is what prevents injury, by slowly increasing your bloodflow and giving your muscles a chance to prepare for the upcoming activity. To this end, Dr. Gilchrist suggests a thorough warmup, as well as conditioning for your particular sport.

Of course, flexibility is a good thing. If you need to increase yours so it's in the normal range (touching your toes without bending your knees, for instance), do your stretching when your muscles are already warm.

6. Use Swiss Balls, Not Benches
Don't abandon your trusty bench for exercises like the chest press and shoulder press if your goal is strength and size. "The reason people are using the ball and getting gains is because they're weak as kittens to begin with," says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S. You have to reduce the weight in order to press on a Swiss ball, and this means you get less out of the exercise, he says.

The real expert says: A Swiss ball is great for variety, but center your chest and shoulder routines on exercises that are performed on a stable surface, Ballantyne says. Then use the ball to work your abs.

7. Always Use Free Weights
Sometimes machines can build muscle better—for instance, when you need to isolate specific muscles after an injury, or when you're too inexperienced to perform a free-weight exercise.

If you can't complete a pullup, you won't build your back muscles. So do lat pulldowns to develop strength in this range of motion, says Greg Haff, Ph.D., director of the strength research laboratory at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The real expert says: "Initially, novice athletes will see benefits with either machines or free weights, but as you become more trained, free weights should make up the major portion of your training program," says Haff.

Free-weight exercises mimic athletic moves and generally activate more muscle mass. If you're a seasoned lifter, free weights are your best tools to build strength or burn fat.

2.
7 Muscle Myths
Fact vs. Fiction
The guy lifting beside you looks like he should write the book on muscle. Talks like it, too. He's worked out since the seventh grade, he played D-1 football, and he's big.

But that doesn't mean he knows what he's talking about. Starting now, ignore him.

The gym is infested with bad information. Lies that start with well-intentioned gym teachers trickle down to students who become coaches, trainers, or know-it-all gym-rat preachers. Lies morph into myths that endure because we don't ask questions, for fear of looking stupid.

Scientists, on the other hand, gladly look stupid—that's why they're so darn smart. Plus, they have cool human-performance laboratories where they can prove or disprove theories and myths.

Here's what top exercise scientists and expert trainers have to say about the crap that's passed around in gyms. Listen up and learn. Then go ahead, question it.

Myth #1
Lifting incredibly slowly builds incredibly big muscles.

Lifting super slowly produces superlong workouts—and that's it. University of Alabama researchers recently studied two groups of lifters doing a 29-minute workout. One group performed exercises using a 5-second up phase and a 10-second down phase, the other a more traditional approach of 1 second up and 1 second down. The faster group burned 71 percent more calories and lifted 250 percent more weight than the superslow lifters.

The real expert says: "The best increases in strength are achieved by doing the up phase as rapidly as possible," says Gary Hunter, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., the lead study author. "Lower the weight more slowly and under control." There's greater potential for growth during the lowering phase, and when you lower with control, there's less chance of injury.

Myth #2
If you eat more protein, you'll build more muscle.

To a point, sure. But put down the shake for a sec. Protein promotes the muscle-building process, called protein synthesis, "but you don't need exorbitant amounts to do this," says John Ivy, Ph.D., coauthor of Nutrient Timing.

If you're working out hard, consuming more than 0.9 to 1.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight is a waste. Excess protein breaks down into amino acids and nitrogen, which are either excreted or converted into carbohydrates and stored.

The real expert says: More important is when you consume protein, and that you have the right balance of carbohydrates with it. Have a postworkout shake of three parts carbohydrates and one part protein.

Eat a meal several hours later, and then reverse that ratio in your snack after another few hours, says Ivy. "This will keep protein synthesis going by maintaining high amino acid concentrations in the blood."

Myth #3
Leg extensions are safer for your knees than squats.

And cotton swabs are dangerous when you push them too far into your ears. It's a matter of knowing what you're doing.

A recent study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that "open-chain" exercises—those in which a single joint is activated, such as the leg extension—are potentially more dangerous than closed-chain moves—those that engage multiple joints, such as the squat and the leg press.

The study found that leg extensions activate your quadriceps muscles slightly independently of each other, and just a 5-millisecond difference in activation causes uneven compression between the patella (kneecap) and thighbone, says Anki Stensdotter, the lead study author.

The real expert says: "The knee joint is controlled by the quadriceps and the hamstrings. Balanced muscle activity keeps the patella in place and appears to be more easily attained in closed-chain exercises," says Stensdotter.

To squat safely, hold your back as upright as possible and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or at least as far as you can go without discomfort in your knees).

Try front squats if you find yourself leaning forward. Although it's a more advanced move, the weight rests on the fronts of your shoulders, helping to keep your back upright, Stensdotter says.

Myth #4
Never exercise a sore muscle.

Before you skip that workout, determine how sore you really are. "If your muscle is sore to the touch or the soreness limits your range of motion, it's best that you give the muscle at least another day of rest," says Alan Mikesky, Ph.D., director of the human performance and biomechanics laboratory at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

In less severe instances, an "active rest" involving light aerobic activity and stretching, and even light lifting, can help alleviate some of the soreness. "Light activity stimulates bloodflow through the muscles, which removes waste products to help in the repair process," says David Docherty, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at the University of Victoria in Canada.

The real expert says: If you're not sore to the touch and you have your full range of motion, go to the gym. Start with 10 minutes of cycling, then exercise the achy muscle by performing no more than three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions using a weight that's no heavier than 30 percent of your one-rep maximum, says Docherty.

Myth #5
Stretching prevents injuries.

Maybe if you're a figure skater. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed more than 350 studies and articles examining the relationship between stretching and injuries and concluded that stretching during a warmup has little effect on injury prevention.

"Stretching increases flexibility, but most injuries occur within the normal range of motion," says Julie Gilchrist, M.D., one of the study's researchers. "Stretching and warming up have just gone together for decades. It's simply what's done, and it hasn't been approached through rigorous science."

The real expert says: Warming up is what prevents injury, by slowly increasing your bloodflow and giving your muscles a chance to prepare for the upcoming activity. To this end, Dr. Gilchrist suggests a thorough warmup, as well as conditioning for your particular sport.

Of course, flexibility is a good thing. If you need to increase yours so it's in the normal range (touching your toes without bending your knees, for instance), do your stretching when your muscles are already warm.

Myth #6
You need a Swiss ball to build a stronger chest and shoulders.

Don't abandon your trusty bench for exercises like the chest press and shoulder press if your goal is strength and size. "The reason people are using the ball and getting gains is because they're weak as kittens to begin with," says Craig Ballantyne, C.S.C.S. You have to reduce the weight in order to press on a Swiss ball, and this means you get less out of the exercise, he says.

The real expert says: A Swiss ball is great for variety, but center your chest and shoulder routines on exercises that are performed on a stable surface, Ballantyne says. Then use the ball to work your abs.

Myth #7
Always work out with free weights.

Sometimes machines can build muscle better—for instance, when you need to isolate specific muscles after an injury, or when you're too inexperienced to perform a free-weight exercise.

If you can't complete a pullup, you won't build your back muscles. So do lat pulldowns to develop strength in this range of motion, says Greg Haff, Ph.D., director of the strength research laboratory at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.

The real expert says: "Initially, novice athletes will see benefits with either machines or free weights, but as you become more trained, free weights should make up the major portion of your training program," says Haff.

Free-weight exercises mimic athletic moves and generally activate more muscle mass. If you're a seasoned lifter, free weights are your best tools to build strength or burn fat.

3.
7 Common Muscle Myths, Busted!
Learn the truth to help sculpt the lean, toned body you've always wanted

Myth: Cardio is Best to Burn Fat
While cardio burns more calories than resistance training during your workout, lifting weights torches more fat overall. In a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women who completed an hour-long strength-training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than those who skipped the weights. The more muscle owned, the more fat burned.

Myth: Lifting Weights Will Make You Bulky
Muscle hypertrophy (growth) occurs very slowly over a period of weeks, months, and years. I've heard people say that after they started lifting weights, they grew so much muscle that their jeans felt uncomfortably tight and too small. While that may be true, strength training is not the cause. Because muscle is denser than fat, it squeezes the same amount of weight into less space. That means the more muscle you build, the tighter your body will be. A poor diet and lack of exercise, as opposed to a weight-training program, create the appearance of bulk.

Myth: Unused Muscle Turns to Fat
Your body doesn't work this way. Muscle and fat are two completely different tissues. If you stop strength training, your muscles will begin to shrink and muscle tone and density will change. At the same time, fat cells gradually begin to replace the lean muscle tissue, creating the illusion of weight gain, but muscle will never actually transform into fat.

Myth: Stretching Before Your Workout Prevents Injury
There is no scientific study that shows stretching before exercise will improve performance. Stretching increases flexibility, but most injuries occur during normal range of motion. The best way to prepare for your workout and reduce your risk of injury is to warm up (We love this dynamic warmup from celebrity trainer Joe Dowdell) and slowly increase blood flow to your muscles.

Myth: Cables and Resistance Bands are Best for Getting Toned
Somewhere along the line, cables and resistance bandsbecame known as the go-to tools for toning muscle, while free weights were considered better for building muscle. There's no real basis for these labels. A muscle contraction is a muscle contraction, regardless of the tool and form. The same resistance can be achieved using bands, cables, or free weights.

Myth: Eating an Excess of Protein Builds Muscle
While it's true that protein aids in hypertrophy (growth), muscle growth requires a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. When your body has adequate amounts of carbs and fats to burn during your workout, it spares protein. Without sufficient carbs and fat, your body will use protein stores for energy.

Myth: Lunges Burn Fat from Your Hips and Butt
"The more lunges I do, the more fat I’ll burn in my hips and glutes." Sound familiar? The truth is, you can do a thousand lunges a day and never lose fat from your hips and glutes. Your body doesn't work that way. Fat is burned systematically or from all parts of your body. So despite focusing on training one muscle group, you can't fool your body into using fat from one specific area.

4.
6 Muscle Myths
You've probably heard that muscle turns to fat once you stop lifting weights, and other such widespread misconceptions. I sought to debunk this and other weight training myths with the help of certified strength and conditioning specialist Everett Aaberg, director of education and personal training for International Athletic Club Management in Dallas and author of Muscle Mechanics .

What we discovered will ensure that you don't end up feeling like a dumbbell.

Myth #1: One week in the gym and I'll look like Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Fact: It takes time for a muscle to grow in size and strength. It also takes the right combination of muscle stress, recovery time, nutrition, hormones, and genetics. Simply put, unless you're taking steroids, you won't see rapid changes in size, although you might notice some quick improvement in strength in the beginning.

In general, if you're lifting weights three times a week, you can expect to see results in an average of 10 weeks — faster if you're eating a low-fat diet or have low body fat.

Myth #2: Lift weights, gain weight.
Fact: This is true, but it can be misleading. If you add muscle you will add weight, but it will take up less space than the same amount of fat so you'll look better. Plus, muscle speeds up your metabolism so you burn more calories day and night trying to maintain that muscle mass. No weight loss plan is complete without strength training.

Myth #3: Lighter loads equal long, lean muscles.
Fact: If you can lift a weight 40 times without feeling fatigued, you're not challenging the muscle enough to develop good muscle tone or get significantly stronger. And doing 40 reps doesn't get your heart rate up either, so you're certainly not burning fat. Instead, choose a weight that will cause muscle fatigue after no more than 15 repetitions. For the best results in endurance, muscle tone and strength, mix up your workout by using a variety of weights (from 50% to 90% of maximum capacity) and repetitions (between 5 to 20 per set). Doing higher reps with lower loads helps build endurance; lower reps with higher loads helps build strength.

Myth #4: If I hit the gym, I'll ruin my speed.
Fact: Weight training, especially at a high intensity or with explosive movements, can actually help runners, cyclists and other speedsters get faster by building strong, powerful muscles that can rapidly react when called upon to accelerate. Bonus: A well-rounded weight training plan also reduces injuries by balancing key muscle groups and reinforcing vulnerable joints.

Myth #5: The only way to get stronger is to load on the iron.
Fact: Heavier weights are optimal to build strength but they aren't the only means toward a powerful physique. Slowing down the tempo while lifting and lowering weights stresses the muscle and forces it to get stronger.

Myth #6: If I quit lifting weights, my muscles will turn to fat.

Fact: Muscle and fat are two distinct types of tissue, so it's physiologically impossible for one to "turn into" the other. Muscle will lose tone, however, if it's not used, which may result in a flabby appearance where you used to be solid. And if you don't adjust your diet and workout after you quit training, some of that food you're eating will turn to fat.

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