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Looking for a quick and easy way to grow big muscles? Sorry, we don't know of any, but we do know seven facts about growing muscle the hard and slow way that at least saves you money and disappointment.

Myths about building muscle abound--and can cause you either to waste time and money or to follow unnecessarily complicated muscle-building routines or to take supplements that don't really work. Here are seven of the most commonly repeated myths about muscles debunked.

Muscle Myth #1. You can lose fat and build muscle at the same time.

Most of us want instant results when we set out to get back into shape. We want trimmer waistlines, firmer thighs, and we want to lose the excess bulk in our behinds. We want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Unfortunately, that is just not the same the body is set up metabolically.

Before our bodies can burn fat, our fat cells have to liquify it so it can be transported to the muscles for fuel. The liquification process for fat only takes place when a fat-dissolving enzyme is activated. For this to happen, insulin levels have to be low. However, muscles absorb amino acids to make protein (for strength) and glucose to make glycogen (for bulk) only with the help of insulin.

Working out hard temporarily makes the muscles a lot more sensitive to insulin, so to a very limited extent, you actually can lose fat and make a little muscle, but it only takes a tiny snack, as little as 40 calories, to turn off fat burning and turn on fat storage.

Muscle Myth #2. Getting back into shape is easier if you have ever been in shape because your muscles "remember" how to be big and just need to be reactivated with a protein shake.

There really are not any tiny little brains in your muscles. It just isn't true that muscles "remember" being in good shape. However, if you have ever built muscle, you have activated DNA in your muscles that can be quickly reactivated as long as you work out, and work out hard. But the added advantage of having ever once been in good shape is limited to faster protein synthesis in muscle in response to exsercise.

Muscle Myth #3. There's a single best time of day to exercise.

It's true that the "fast twitch" fibers in muscles are less active in the morning and more active in the late afternoon. That's because it's easier for muscles to generate the energy they need for quick movement when they are warmer, and body temperature is lowest in the early morning but peaks late in the day. However, for most kinds of muscle building exercise, speed is not essential, and the muscle-building effects of resistance exercise are the same any time of day.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • Fatouros IG, Taxildaris K, Tokmakidis SP, Kalapotharakos V, Aggelousis N, Athanasopoulos S, Zeeris I, Katrabasas I. The effects of strength training, cardiovascular training and their combination on #exibility of inactive older adults.Int J Sports Med. 2002 Feb. 23(2):112-9.
  • Prior BM, Modlesky CM, Evans EM, Sloniger MA, Saunders MJ, Lewis RD, Cureton KJ. Muscularity and the density of the fat-free mass in athletes J Appl Physiol. 2001 Apr
  • 90(4):1523-31.
  • Photo courtesy of Jay by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/thephotofiend/6950775849/
  • Photo courtesy of Guillermo Barrios del Valle by Flickr : www.flickr.com/photos/altamar/3614810134/

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