In an effort to shed some light on what the sport of bodybuilding is like, I am devoting this blog post to clarifying the most common misconceptions which I hear from people.
Misconception #1: You have to train for many hours every single day to get big. I know very few people who have the time to work out for several hours per day on a daily basis. In addition, if someone lifts heavy for many hours, and does it every single day, that person is overtraining. There are numerous problems with overtraining: 1. gains diminish because the body doesn’t have time to repair itself, 2. injuries tend to occur, and 3. energy levels plummet. If you train with intensity, you should be able to get a GREAT workout which stimulates muscle hypertrophy in as little as 20 minutes.
Misconception #2: Bodybuilders are all meatheads. I know that there are people who assume that bodybuilders are a bunch of angry, dim-witted people. My experience has revealed that such an assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Many of the best and biggest bodybuilders have careers in non-fitness fields like law, medicine, engineering, and law enforcement, and are considered to be leaders in the community. In addition, many are very well-educated, very friendly and approachable, and have big hearts. So before you assume that a pile of muscle equates with a mean and stupid motherf*&$er, try getting to know a bodybuilder.
Misconception #3: Bodybuilders have zero body flexibility. If you have ever gone to a bodybuilding event and watched bodybuilders, women’s physique competitors, or fitness competitors perform their routines, you will often get to see some of the best athleticism and flexibility around. I have seen male bodybuilders easily perform splits onstage, which is something I haven’t been able to do since my gymnastics days when I was a child! As long as weightlifting is performed slowly and with a complete range of motion, flexibility should not diminish at all. If weight training was so detrimental to flexibility, you wouldn’t see athletes from other sports round out their training by lifting weights. As always, a good stretching regimen can keep muscles and tendons supple.
Misconception #4: If you stop weight training, you will get fat. The only thing that happens when someone stops weightlifting is that the muscles will atrophy and exhibit a soft appearance, similar to a deflated balloon. So it really isn’t fair to pin an increase in storage fat on lack of weight training. Food intake is what tends to fatten up a former bodybuilder who has hung up the weights, because the strict meal plan also falls by the wayside, contributing to an increase in storage fat.
Misconception #5: In order to get big, bodybuilders have to take steroids. This is by far the most controversial misconception. Are there bodybuilders who take steroids? I am sure there are. Do they all take steroids? Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of people in the bodybuilding world who will staunchly defend the gear-free lifestyle. Haters want to hang onto the ridiculous notion that in order to grow appreciable size, there must be some illicit secret to it all. Perhaps if they stopped flapping their gums and hit the weight hard at the gym, they might harvest some muscle of their own.
Misconception #6: Women who train with weights will become very big and muscular. As a woman who lifts pretty heavy and does it up to six days per week, I speak from experience when I say that this is a big, fat lie. I still have curves and look feminine, and my muscles aren’t bursting out of my clothing like a she-Hulk. I have said this many times before, and I will say it again: lifting heavy weights will NOT make a woman overly muscular!