In this article we focus some Myths related to Bodybuilding as at some point, someone probably told you that working out with weights would make you muscle-bound or cause a woman to look like a man. Certainly, most good bodybuilders have been told that their muscles will turn to fat if they stop training.
There are six main “muscle myths” that must be exposed. In each case, we will discuss the myth and then reveal the truth underlaying it. This process should dispel any remaining doubts you might have about becoming a body-buildings.
- BODYBUILDING TRAINING WILL MAKE YOU MUSCLE-BOUND. This is probably the most persistent muscle myth, and it suggests that working out with weights will make your body so tight and
inflexible that you won’t be able to scratch your own back or participate effectively in athletics. Actually, scientists began investigating weight training and bodybuilding more than 30 years ago. They quickly discovered that weight workouts actually improve body flexibility. Indeed, almost all bodybuilders are far more flexible than the average person. Those who aren’t have invariably been injured while participating in some other sport. As an example, a shoulder separation incurred while playing football can easily limit shoulder flexibility and function. Speaking of football, superstar Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears has used progressive resistance weight training to build massive arms and shoulders. He can walk 50 yards on his hands, punishes anyone who tries to tackle him, and has never been seriously injured despite being near to the top of the NFL’s “hit list” for several years. He’s flexible and then some!
- ALL OF YOUR MUSCLES WILL TURN TO FAT ONCE YOU STOP WORKING OUT. It is physiologically impossible for muscle tissue to be converted to fat. What actually happens when you suspend your weight workouts is that your muscles gradually atrophy, or shrink in size and strength. This process takes about a year to run its course. Then why are some former bodybuilders fat today? The answer to this question is true for ALL of the numerous athletes in any sport who have become fat after retiring from competition. When you train virtually every day for several hours you regularly burn up relatively large quantities of calories. As a result, you can consume more food than you can if you are physically inactive. But when you suspend training you no longer burn up so many calories. So, if you continue to eat the same amount as when you were working out every day, you will accumulate a caloric excess and gradually gain body fat. The obvious solution to this problem is to decrease your caloric consumption to compensate for the calories you are no longer burning off in your workouts. If you follow this advice, you will never grow fat after you cease heavy training with weights. In actual practice, few bodybuilders ever stop training for very long. As they grow older they don’t train as intensely as when they were competing, but they still hit the gym almost every day. Once you have the iron fever, you’re usually hooked for life.
- BODYBUILDING WILL MAKE A WOMAN LOOK LIKE A MAN. As noted in the foregoing section on men versus women, women don’t secrete the same amounts of testosterone as do men. Therefore, they simply can’t develop a man’s muscle mass and quality. Additionally, a woman secretes large quantities of estrogen, which guarantees the integrity of her femininity. Unless she makes the disastrous mistake of taking male hormones, no woman will look masculine as a result of her bodybuilding training.
- BODYBUILDING TRAINING CAN STUNT YOUR GROWTH. There are a somewhat disproportionate number of male and female competitive bodybuilders who are below the national average in height, leading some individuals to conclude that bodybuilding workouts can stunt one’s growth. Taller athletes are usually naturally selected for other sports in what could be called a sort of “sports Darwinism.” Having a more compact torso and short limbs allows the bodybuilder to attain the proper proportions needed to win a contest. As a result, body-building tends to naturally select short or medium-statured men and women. There are numerous tall bodybuilders, such as Lou Ferrigno (6’5″) and Dr. Lynne Pirie (5’9″). Scientists have determined that any type of physical activity will tend to stimulate height increases rather than inhibit them. Proper diet can also result in height increase, and bodybuilders consistently follow health-promoting diets. Certainly, parents needn’t worry that their sons and daughters will end up being short in stature simply because they decide to become bodybuilders.
- BODYBUILDING TRAINING WILL WRECK YOUR BACK, KNEES, ELBOWS, AND OTHER JOINTS. Such spinal or joint injuries are much more common in other sports than in bodybuilding. As long as you follow the warm-up procedures we will outline, and maintain the correct biomechanical (body) positions for each exercise, you needn’t fear to damage your joints through bodybuilding training.
- BODYBUILDING TRAINING CAN SLOW YOU DOWN. As with the myth about becoming muscle-bound, scientists proved more than 30 years ago that heavy weight training improves speed rather than detracting from it. Reaction time can’t be improved through weight workouts, but a stronger muscle can contract faster and more strongly, thereby moving a limb more quickly. Sprint speed, for example, is a direct function of thigh and calf strength. In modern athletics, virtually all athletes include weight training in their overall conditioning regimes. They certainly wouldn’t do this if heavy weight workouts inhibited their speed because it could reduce their athletic ability.