I was asked recently about some of the biggest misconceptions and excuses that exist when it comes to muscle building. Read on for my answers…
Question: There is a lot of conflicting training advice out there online, in books, on TV and especially in magazines. What do you think the top myths or misconceptions regarding weight training are?
Answer: That you need a high volume of training. This is a myth that has been passed down from one generation to the next and people continue to blindly follow this protocol without thinking rationally. There is no hard evidence anywhere that you need to use high volume training to get bigger and stronger. Sure lots of guys with great genetics and/or a great pharmacist make progress on high volume training but that doesn't mean it's the right way to train.
That you need to hit muscles from a multitude of angles for full development.
That you need a full dynamic warm up before weight training. You don't. Before sprinting, yes; before lifting, no.
That bodypart splits are the most effective way to train.
Another misconception is that you need a boatload of supplements to make great progress. The bottom line truth is that most supplements suck and do nothing but drain your wallet.
Another sad misconception is that you can't make great progress without steroids. This is a self defeatist attitude and is simply not true.
Question: Other comments that I have heard coaches say are that the only way to put on any muscle size, is really going to be based on genetics. So they are saying for example that skinny kids can't and will never be able to put on size.
Answer: That's the biggest copout under the sun and an excuse that really makes me sick. Genetics are responsible for how far you may eventually go but the fact of the matter is most people will never truly reach their genetic potential. If you use this excuse it shows the world that you have no heart whatsoever and are destined for failure. Using the hard-gainer excuse as a crutch will guarantee you sub par results in your training from now til eternity.
I have some of the worst muscle building genetics imaginable but I never let that hold me back. I have also trained some genetic misfits who made incredible progress and eventually were getting asked what steroids they were on. This is because they had the balls to train like they needed to and had the dedication to eat and rest as much as was needed. Most people simply don't have what it takes; so the only genetic capacity they may be missing is mental toughness.
For a coach or trainer to say or write that is even worse than just the average trainee or athlete saying that. Making a comment like that shows that you have no heart and no balls, and in that case you should never, EVER be coaching or training ANYONE!
Question: It has been said as you get older it get harder and harder to put on size and strength. Some even say that it can't be done. What do you say to older athletes or even coaches that say this?
Answer: This is just like the hard-gainer excuse; it's nonsense. One of my good friends is named Mark Crook (his brother Paul played guitar in Anthrax for seven years and is now lead guitarist for Meatloaf) and we first met right after his 40th birthday when he came to me to help him get bigger and stronger. He took his bench from 155 to 275 in one year and gained over 20lbs of muscle. Mark's enthusiasm led to a friend of his coming in to my gym a year later and he experienced similar gains. I have had several guys in their 40's and 50's experience tremendous gains in size and strength over the years.
It may not happen as fast and as easily as it does for a 20 year old but it can be done. You just have to take into account that your recovery ability may be a bit lower and as such you need to keep your volume lower and be very smart with your training.
Also, you have to remember that most guys don't even hit their strength peak til sometime around 30 or so. Most of the biggest and strongest guys I know are all in their mid to late 30's. So the day you hit 40, this doesn't just do a complete 180 and you shouldn't be on your training deathbed at 50. Just keep training hard and if you believe you will get stronger then you will.
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