When you take the time out of your week to get to the gym and work on a weightlifting program, one of the most important indicators of effectiveness is efficiency: you want to make the biggest gains in the most efficient amount of time. You are a busy guy, and the last thing you want to do is work your butt off at the gym, sweating and straining through a weightlifting regimen that is ineffective, or worse, detrimental to your health and efficient muscle gains.
If you are starting a workout regimen from scratch, or even building on knowledge that you think you already have, then the best place to start is with a professional trainer. But, while that is sound advice, the reality is that not every guy can afford a trainer to design a proper program and monitor that his form is perfect.
If you are working on your own to design a weightlifting program to bulk up, shape your body, or lose weight, then start by looking at the common errors that people make, based on weightlifting myths that have been floating around, in some cases, for years. Figuring out the wrong way to work out is a good first step toward doing it right.
You need to work out every day in order to bulk up
The definition of “regular workouts” is by far one of the most common misconceptions when starting a workout regimen. This is a failure of human logic in many ways. If you want to get good at something, logically, your first impulse is to work at it every day. This is not helpful in weight training. In fact, working out every day can actually handicap your muscle growth.
The process of bulking up muscles involves both challenging your muscles and allowing them to recover. As you work your muscles to failure, the fibres tear and need time to heal in order to be prepared for the next all-out session. If you work a muscle to total muscular failure, it needs 5-10 days to heal. If you don’t give your muscles time to heal, you will not see development, and, in fact, it could result in losses. Your muscles’ healing time as important as the time you spend challenging them.
A good rule is you should spend about as many days out of the gym as you do in the gym. In a week, every time you go to the gym, work out a different set of muscles. For example, work out your legs and butt on day one, abs and chest on day two, and arms and back on day four. This type of schedule means that you will be giving each set of muscles about a week to heal before you work them again.
Rest time is also a factor within your workout. When you are doing multiple sets, the tendency is to wait about a minute between sets. If you are truly working your muscle to failure, training heavily, you should be resting two to three minutes between sets. This allows lactic acid build-up in your muscles to dissipate. If you do not allow the lactic acid to dissipate between sets, it will limit the amount of weight you can lift that next set, reducing the challenge presented to your muscle.
Concentrated workouts mean that you will see gains in one area
Spot reducing is a myth. It is true that if you work on muscle, it will develop. However, weight training does not automatically lead to fat loss around that muscle. In order to see a well-defined muscle, you must lose the layer of fat that covers said muscle. For instance, no matter how hard you train your abs, you are not going to have a washboard stomach until you lose the beer belly.
The thing about weight loss is that you cannot choose where you are going to lose your weight. Fat reduction and weight loss is systemic, which means that your body will take the weight from everywhere. You cannot choose which part of your body gets leaner first, no matter how hard you train a certain part of your body.
Lift weights to build muscles, do aerobic exercise to lose weight
The general consensus with people who exercise moderately but who are not well educated in the physiology of the body is that, if you want to lose weight you should do aerobic exercise, but if you want to build muscle size and definition, you should lift weights. This is a myth for a few reasons. It is true that aerobic exercise does burn more calories while you are active than lifting weights.
Aerobic exercise is also very good for developing a strong, healthy heart. However, if your goal is weight loss, you do not have to choose between the two: they simply work in different ways.
Weightlifting is the one scientifically proven way to raise your basal metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate measures how efiiciently your body burns calories while it is at rest. The only way to raise your metabolic rate is to build lean muscle tissue, and the most efficient way to do that is by lifting weights. So, while aerobic activity burns calories while you are active, lifting weights in order to raise your metabolic rate, means that your body is burning more calories all the time.
And again, to reiterate, while you may be building muscle mass when you weight lift, you are not going to see muscle definition until you lose the weight covering those muscles.
Heavy weights and fewer reps = muscle mass; low weight and more reps = muscle definition
This has been a long-standing myth in women’s fitness training. Because they do not want to “bulk-up,” it has long been the rumour that lifting less weight with more reps will give you a lean, toned body shape, while lifting very heavy weights, with fewer reps, causes you to build big, bulging muscles.
The only thing that lighter weights and increased reps will give you above the alternative is heightened strength endurance. The key to building mass is to challenge your muscle to failure every session, and then allow it te rest time it needs to recover. There is no hard and fast rule to how may sets of reps you do. If you can reach full muscle failure in just one set, lifting very heavy weights while maintaining proper form, then there is no need to keep repeating sets.
To achieve this in just one set, you must incorporate as many muscle fibres as possible in your set, to the point of what is called isometric rigour (muscle fibres freeze up and the muscle becomes hard). If you continue to do reps after isometric rigour, you will tear the muscle. One of the best ways to accomplish one-set muscle-failure is to do break-down sets where you rep out on your max weight, then drop down to a lower weight and continue doing reps until you cannot lift any more.
The myths presented here are among the most common, and relate directly to your workout regimen. They do not take into account the nutritional needs of efficient bodybuilding. They are good start to being effective in the gym, however. Maintaining good form and being consistent with your workout schedule, along with proper knowledge about how the body builds muscle and loses weight are all key pints in determining if you are working your way to a better body, or just spinning your wheels in the gym.