Thread: Some Myths Exposed
10-13-2002, 12:09 AM #1
Some Myths Exposed
Here is an article I came across on the Testosterone Mag... Hope it clears up some myths++ it has some exclent tips for U strength athletes out there.......
4 Weightlifting Myths Dispelled
by Chad Waterbury
We all love catch phrases:
Go heavy or go home!
No pain, no gain!
Go for the pump!
These slogans look good on cheap, ripped-up muscle shirts, but many just don't make a lick of sense in the real world. I'm here to tackle four of the most common myths you probably hear spouted as fact by some meathead at least once a week in the gym.
Myth #1: Low rep training doesn't build muscle!
This is one of the most absurd myths making the rounds. Low repetition training (under five reps) with a large load (85 to 100% of one rep max) recruits the greatest percentage of Type IIB fibers, which have the highest potential for muscle growth. I could easily end the argument with that statement since it pretty much says it all, but I'll give more examples for those of you with inquiring minds.
How many times have you read an article by a strength coach who said something along the lines of, "Olympic athletes perform low repetition training for the majority of their cycle and they gain little or no muscle weight, so low-rep training doesn't cause much, if any, muscle growth." Baloney!
Did these same strength coaches ever think that maybe these lifters didn't want to gain weight so they could stay in their respected weight class? If so, it would be easy to control the amount of muscle weight gained by merely decreasing the number of total calories consumed each day. If they consumed maintenance or sub-maintenance level calories each day, they wouldn't grow any appreciable amounts of muscle regardless of the training method. Therefore, the amount of muscle an athlete gains could easily be controlled (or maintained) by their caloric intake.
Second, the number of sets performed would have a greater influence on muscle growth than the number of repetitions. For example, a trainee might read about the benefits of low-rep maximal training for gaining size and strength. Since he currently performs three sets of ten reps for each body part, he decides to increase the load and decrease the reps to three per set. Now the trainee is performing three sets of three reps for each body part. No wonder he doesn't grow any muscle; he's only performing nine total reps!
If this same trainee would perform ten sets of three to five reps, the muscle growth would be much greater. Therefore, total volume determines the amount of muscle growth elicited, not just reps. (By the way, executing ten sets of three to five reps is one of my most successful methods for adding muscle mass to clients.)
Given the two previous explanations, it becomes apparent that the total number of sets (volume) and caloric intake are what determines the amount of muscle growth. Therefore, lift heavy with some volume and add calories if you want to grow!
Myth #2: You gotta get sore to grow!
It's tough to convince people this myth is untrue. Trainees like immediate responses to weight training programs. Males especially are infatuated with fast muscle growth (I include myself in this category). Unfortunately, training that causes soreness creates a false sense of accomplishment. In other words, soreness will cause an immediate increase in girth measurements, but it's not due to added muscle; instead, a certain degree of swelling accompanies medium to severe soreness. This swelling is what's making the tape measure your new best friend. Within a few days, the soreness (and swelling) is gone and so is the new "size"!
But what about the talk of soreness causing increased secretion of growth hormone , Testosterone and IGF-1, therefore leading to increased muscle growth? Sorry buddy, but I ain't buying it. Early in my training career I thought this statement was true, but years of experience have shown otherwise. From my observations, I can tell you the studies I've read supporting such a claim aren't translating into new muscle growth. Kind of reminds me of HMB — all research and no results. The same is true with severe muscle soreness.
I could do many things to your body to make it sore (hit you in the biceps repeatedly with a tire iron, for example) and it wouldn't elicit a muscle growth response! I'm not the first strength coach to make such a statement but it bears repeating. Make no mistake about it: extreme muscle soreness slows the recovery process. If you want fast muscle gains, avoid severe soreness. You can take that statement to the bank (and tell them I sent you).
Myth #3: Adding weight to the bar every session is the only way you'll make progress!
There are many factors involved in making progress; adding weight to the bar is just one of them. In short, progressive overloading is overrated.
I have great admiration for the book Supertraining by Siff and Verkhoshanksy. Not only is it one of the best books ever written on strength and conditioning, but it also does an excellent job disputing some common weightlifting myths. One of my favorite parts of the book deals with progressive overloading. Basically, progressive overload refers to a need to constantly increase load in order to develop greater strength levels.
Remember the legend of Milo? He was the fella who carried around a calf everyday. As the calf grew and got heavier, Milo got stronger with each passing day carrying that sucker around. That's progressive overloading. Sounds simple, huh? But check out this excerpt from the Supertraining book:
Closer examination of the Milo tale reveals an incomplete ending. Milo, being an enterprising strongman, obviously would have sought further increase by lifting progressively heavier bulls. If he had progressed very gradually, the implications are that he should have been lifting well over 500kg after a few years. Similarly, if you began your first bench press with 60kg at the age of 16, then increased the load by only one kilogram per week, you should be lifting 580kg at the age of 26 and 1100kg at the age of 36 years. [Note: That's 2420 pounds!] That this will not happen is obvious. In other words, progressive overloading produces diminishing, and ultimately zero, returns (1).
In other words, that Milo tale might very well be a bunch of bull! I'm not saying that progressive overloading is useless and I don't think Siff and Verkhoshansky were either. Instead, the concept isn't as clear-cut and simple as it seems. Merely adding more weight to your barbell every session isn't going to turn you into a strongman. It's just not that simple.
Myth #4: It takes weight to lift weight!
If you're a powerlifter, this phrase might've been engraved on your blood-stained weightlifting belt by your great grandma, Mabel. Basically, the statement refers to a greater ability to lift a load due to an increase in body weight. Initially, this statement might appear to make some sense (which is why it's hung around so long), but once you understand the details, it's just plain dumb. A physicist would slap you in the face with a pocket protector if you said this in his classroom.
Here's a sample scenario for you to ponder. Let's take a 200-pound weightlifter with a maximum squat of 400 pounds. We'll call him Sammy No-Squat, since he's as pathetic at squatting big iron as Ray Mentzer was at explaining biochemistry. Sammy decides to hire a powerlifting coach to improve his miniscule squat numbers. The coach takes one look at Sammy and says, "Boy, you need to put on some weight if you wanna squat big!"
So Sammy spends the next six months eating everything under the sun. At the end of six months his body weight has escalated to 240 pounds. Sammy retests his squat, only to find out it didn't improve one bit! In fact, it was a little harder to lift the same amount of weight. How can that be given the staying power of the powerlifting phrase, "It takes weight to lift weight"? Let me explain.
When you perform a squat with just your body weight (no external load), you're moving approximately 75% of total body weight. Therefore, if 200-pound Sammy performs a body-weight squat, his muscles are actually lifting about 150 pounds of weight. To take this a step further, if the heavier 240 pound Sammy decides to perform a body weight squat, his muscles have to lift 180 pounds of weight. It's easy to see in this example that he has to lift 30 pounds more body weight due to his feeding frenzy. Now let's carry over these numbers to the weight room.
When the lighter Sammy squats with 400 pounds of iron on his back, his muscles have to lift a total of 550 pounds (400 pound load plus 150 pound body weight). Given the same load, the heavier Sammy has to lift 580 pounds (400 pound load plus 180 pound body weight). So now, Sammy's 400 pound squat takes more effort to lift at his new, heavier body weight. He has to lift 30 pounds more weight! Combine this with the fact that he didn't change his squat routine (i.e. he didn't get any stronger) and you'll understand why his squat didn't improve with a heavier body weight. His muscles have to produce more force to lift the same load!
Now, I must state that an increase in body weight will help you push more weight, but we're talking about lifting more weight. Also, more body weight may aid your efforts when attempting to lower a load due to the laws of physics, but the last time I checked, no one was handing out trophies to the person who could lower the most weight.
Also, there's the theory that increasing the girth of your waist (i.e. base) will aid your efforts at the bottom of the squat when reversing the movement. In most cases, I've found this to be unnecessary. By utilizing the correct coaching tips, I can get my clients to expand their waist enough at the bottom to achieve the same effect without making them add eight inches of blubber to their waistlines by overeating.
Now, you might be thinking, "I know tons of lifters who improved their powerlifting numbers by gaining weight, so that statement must be true." Sure, many have, but their strength was from an increased level of muscle, not body weight. If a lifter was on any decent weight-training program and consuming a hyper-caloric eating plan, approximately 60% of added body weight would be from muscle. Therefore, if Sammy gained 40 pounds of body weight, then 24 pounds of it should've been muscle! Obviously, 24 more pounds of muscle due to sarcomere (muscle fiber) hypertrophy will make you stronger! Therefore, the phrase should be restated as, "It takes more muscle weight due to sarcomere hypertrophy to lift more weight."
So don't think you have to lose your granite mid-section just to squat or deadlift more weight. Add muscle, not plain old body weight, and don't forget that extra body fat will probably hinder your efforts to squat and deadlift more weight.
If I could leave you with one phrase to summarize everything in this article, it would be: If you want to lift big, you must learn to think big. Now there's a phrase for your ripped-up muscle shirts!
About the Author
Chad Waterbury is a strength and conditioning coach with Bachelor of Science degrees in Human Biology and Physical Science. Currently, he's studying Graduate work in Physiology at the University of Arizona. He operates his company, Chad Waterbury Strength & Conditioning, in Tucson, AZ, where his clientele consists of members of military special forces units, athletes, professionals and non-athletes seeking exceptional physical performance and development. You can contact him through his website, ChadWaterbury.com.
1) Siff, Mel. Verhoshanksy, Yuri. (1993) Supertraining. (pg. 87) Denver, USA.
10-13-2002, 05:39 AM #2Retired Vet
- Join Date
- Nov 2001
Thanks, good reading. Almost all of which I agree with. I'm glad to read about the muscle soreness, I've been preaching the same thing for year, I almost NEVER get sore from my workouts unless I take a break and resume training at the same weight I left a few weeks earlier.
10-13-2002, 01:47 PM #3
I can't believe how much bad information is out there! This guy obviously knows his stuff but he seems to be so set in his ways he can't see the wood for the trees.
If this chap cared to consider the physiological adaptations caused by heavy weight, low rep overloads then he'd realise that the adaptation is a two part process - muscular and neuromuscular. Hypertrophy does occur but potentially less so than with higher rep work (where the hyper-adaptation occurs solely within the muscles).
He has also lost the understanding of what progressive overload training is (similar to the HST training theory problems).
Progressive overload is NOT adding weight and triggering muscle growth.
Progressive overload is about KEEPING the weights / reps (the bodypart workout) as an overload so that the body has to keep adapting.
I.e. if you kept the reps / weights the same workout after workout eventually (if you are eating right and getting enough rest and not overtraining) the workout would no longer cause overload to the muscles involved and no adaptation would occur.
You increase the weights and reps as and when required. The easiest way to do this (and most common) is to take your main sets to faliure. This is progressive overload! If you did 8 reps the workout before and 9 this time then you have progressed the load on the muscle and hence kept the overload.
Weights / reps can increase as a result of GETTING stronger - not the other way around!! How could you increase your weights and reps to GET stronger in the first place?
This is so obvious that I'm baffled why anyone can misunderstand this concept?!!
Anyway, I'd better go and have a herbal tea or something to calm down! LOL!
10-14-2002, 03:22 AM #4
I read that same article last night. I was shocked about the paragragh about being in pain after working out. I just started the HT program and after a good pec workout, I was not feeling any kind of pain in my chest, triceps, or shoulders. So I thought that I didn't work hard enough.
10-14-2002, 04:04 AM #5
Agree with all points per se but am not sure if low reps (4-5) are the best way to go , esp. regarding lower body. Tom Platz built his enormous thighs doing squats with a minimum of 15 reps , and regularly did 405 for 25-30. I have found these (not at the 405\25 level YET) to be of enormous benefit and do not make shit of my knees. For some reason I get decent results from lat work with low reps,strict from and heavy weight.
10-15-2002, 11:14 PM #6
just wondering what to do not to get sore? i mean i lift the right way, without cheating. and i like to isolate the muscles, and i get alot of sleep. but alot times im still sore when i wake up. please give me more info on this. id especially like hear about this from bouncer...
10-16-2002, 08:50 AM #7New Member
- Join Date
- Oct 2002
I agree with most of the points.However I believe the key to progress in this sport is understanding what works for *you*.Some pros reportedly almost never squat(Gunter because of his height does not find squats rewarding),some do only 1 set per body part(Mentzer),others do 45 sets(Michalik).But all of em have championship physiques.In the iron game,*nothing* is cast in iron.Just my 2 cents.
10-17-2002, 10:32 PM #8
That myth,remark, or whatever u call it about heavy weights i think can be somewhat dispelled by MR. O himself in his quote:
"Every one want to be a bodybuilder, but ain't nobody want to lift no heavy ass weights"
Not saying that this works for everyone but it definitely works for some including Mr. O himself
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