Busted! Get these 6 fitness myths out of your head ASAP

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Mike Harrington

Many people fear that strength training can cause massive muscle development. But you don’t have to look like a bodybuilder to reap the benefits from this form of training. This is just one of 6 common fitness myths we’re breaking down today at foodspring. Let’s get into it!

Myth 1: “Bodybuilding is all about bulking up!”

Lifting weights and strength training don’t have to equal rippling pecs. Every body is different and reacts differently to the same stimuli. One person may bulk up in no time, while another may never do so. In fact, it’s harder for women to build large muscles because they naturally produce less testosterone, the hormone that influences protein synthesis and muscle growth.

Even two people following the exact same training plan can see dramatically different results.

No matter your gender, strength training is simply a way to improve overall strength. We often associate strength training with weightlifting, but the two don’t have to go together. Though weightlifting is an integral element of weight training and bodybuilding, there are many other ways to train your muscles.

Strength training comes with many benefits. In addition to increasing muscle mass, it also increases basal metabolic rate and calorie expenditure and helps you lose fat. And it’ll enable you to be more physically active in your daily life.

Seeing those results is a huge motivator and a boon for both mental and physical well-being. Overcome your preconceived notions and add strength training to your fitness routine stat.

Myth 2: “If I stop working out, my muscles will turn to fat!”

The truth is, it’s not physically possible for muscle to turn into fat. When we eat well and train regularly, we achieve a state of hypertrophy or muscle growth. If you stop working out for an extended period of time, this process is reversed. Muscle fibers do shrink when they’re not used, but they do not magically transform into fat.

You only have to worry about gaining body fat if you stop working out and begin to eat more high-fat, high-calorie food. In this case, your once firm muscles may appear flabby, but that still doesn’t mean those muscles have suddenly become fat. Instead, it’s an indication that the makeup of your body is changing and that you now have more fat stored in this area.

A white woman in a pink top does a plank in a gym. She has lean, non-bulky muscles, dispelling the fitness myths of strength meaning bulk.

If you have to take an extended break from exercise for a reason like pregnancy, illness, or vacation, and are concerned about gaining fat during that time, eating a well-rounded diet will keep your mind at ease. And remember that your body knows what it needs. Sometimes, that’s a bit more body fat to help it through the hard times, so don’t be hard on yourself for unexpected weight gain. Know that, when the time comes, you’ll be able to regain your strength and lose weight if you wish to do so.

Myth 3: “I have to work out every day to stay fit.”

Did you know that your body continues to build muscle at rest? That’s why recovery days are so important to any fitness routine. Your body even burns calories during this time because of the energy required for the muscle building process. So you can lose weight at rest, too!

After a hard workout, your muscles are still stimulated for hours after the effort. Known as the afterburn, this process encourages your body to repair damaged muscle tissue and prepare them for the next workout.

Eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and scheduling recovery days is the best way to support this process. The more uninterrupted time your body has to recover, the stronger and more ready it will be for your next gym session. And if you try to cut it short, your muscles may not develop as quickly and you’ll be at a higher risk of injury.

Let’s use the glutes and legs as an example. If you want to strengthen these muscle groups, they need time to recover. Beginners should focus on training these areas two times a week, while the more advanced can dabble with three sessions. Not in the mood to relax on the couch on your break day? Partake in a restorative exercise, like a brisk walk or a gentle yoga session, to make things more interesting.

To avoid symptoms of overtraining such as frequent fatigue, apathy, and loss of strength, we recommend at least 48 to 72 hours of recovery time after each training session. This all depends on your program, though. For example, you can work out two days in a row, but you’ll want to focus on different muscle groups each day so the other has plenty of time off.

Myth 4: “Eating a lot of protein isn’t healthy!”

Eating enough protein is essential for maintaining important body functions and increasing muscle mass. But there’s no such thing as too much protein, because the body simply disposes of what it can’t use. On the other hand, not eating enough protein can weaken your body and limit muscle growth. It’s important to increase protein consumption to fit your physical needs. The more you workout, the more protein you’ll need on a daily basis.

Protein is the building block of muscle. The body breaks it down into many different amino acids which contribute to the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system, among other things. These amino acids are essential to everything from muscle building to nutrient absorption.

Our tip: Try to incorporate a variety of protein sources into your diet. Meat, dairy products, plant-based alternatives and an assortment of grains, legumes, and vegetables all contain varying amounts of this ever-important nutrient. If you find it difficult to meet your daily protein needs naturally, our Shape Shake 2.0 makes it easy to do. Packed with protein and easy to prepare and consume, they’re a quick solution for any gymhead. Plus, they’re tasty and refreshing after a hard workout!

A woman of color with a small smile and curly dark-brown hair holds a canister of Shape Shake 2.0 meal replacement shakes in front of a mocha-colored background.

Discover our Shape Shake 2.0

Myth 5: “Eating more than three meals a day will cause weight gain!”

Though we’re taught from a young age that we should only eat three meals a day, switching it up doesn’t necessarily equate to weight gain. Think about the 10,000 calories Michael Phelps used to eat in a day! You won’t gain weight as long as what you eat is in line with your calorie expenditure. The more calories burnt, the more energy you’ll need. Additionally, many find that they prefer to eat a number of small meals throughout the day rather than three large ones. Something different works for everyone.

Our tip: Use our guide to calculate the amount of calories you need to eat to accommodate your energy expenditure, and how much you need to cut for weight loss.Calculate my calories

Myth 6: “Supplements are only for men!”

There are plenty of people who don’t identify as men that benefit from the addition of supplements to their diet. However, eating a well-balanced diet is often more than enough to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is key to meeting your nutritional requirements, but deficiencies can be caused by a number of factors, like hormones, illnesses, and seasonal changes. For example, taking vitamin D supplements during the winter may help ward off the cold weather blues when you really have no other way to get the sunshine vitamin.

While you don’t have to take supplements to reach your exercise goals, they can be helpful, especially if you’re short on time. That’s not a free pass to rely on supplements alone. In general, try to combine them with a balanced diet of whole foods and plenty of protein, carbs, and healthy fats.

Fitness Myths: Our Conclusion

Arm yourself with this new knowledge and you’ll always have what it takes to reach your fitness goals. You’ll never need to fear that weight training will cause you to bulk up, or that you’re not taking enough supplements, and you’ll always know what nutrients you need and how much effort you need to make to be successful.

  • Strength training isn’t all about weightlifting and doesn’t always equal massive muscle gains. It’s totally possible to obtain lean muscle.
  • If you stop working out, your muscles will shrink, but they won’t transform into fat cells. Weight loss is still achievable even during extended periods of no exercise.
  • You don’t have to work out every day to reach your goals. In fact, taking rest days will speed up your progress and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Eating plenty of protein is essential for muscle growth. You can’t eat too much protein because your body will dispose of what it doesn’t use.
  • Eating more than three meals a day won’t make you gain weight if your calorie consumption is in line with your calorie expenditure.
  • Anyone can use supplements, but most people don’t need to if they’re consuming a balanced diet.

Sources for this article

We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.