Are These Muscle Growth Myths True or False?

When it comes to strength-focused fitness goals, there are lots of ways to effectively improve your muscular endurance or strength. But if it’s size you’re after, you want to get specific with your training, diet, and other lifestyle habits for best results.

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But don’t just mimic the bodybuilder in your gym or try whatever program is trending on social media at the moment. Instead, get the muscle-building facts from experts who have literally studied what it takes to safely grow muscles that last. 

Check out a handful of the most common muscle growth myths below, and then learn what you should be doing instead to increase muscle mass without sacrificing mobility, stamina, or your overall health. 

First, How Do Muscles Grow?

In order to fully understand how your training method of choice can impact a muscle-building goal, it helps to have a reminder on just how muscles grow in the first place. 

Building muscle comes down to resilience. Essentially, muscle fibers are injured when stressed, such as during a tough weight lifting workout, and as cells are repaired, they come back stronger. Repeat that cycle consistently with adequate intensity and volume (reps x sets x weight) to cause cellular and muscular adaptation — called muscle protein synthesis — and muscles will grow stronger and larger as a result.

Myth: Cardio has no place in a muscle-building program. 

Fact: Cardio is essential to all fitness programs — including muscle building. 

You might think that to build real muscle mass, you have to avoid the treadmill at all costs, but this could actually be slowing down your progress, says Hannah Davis, C.S.C.S., creator of Body By Hannah. “Cardio done strategically can still allow you to build size and stay cut [aka have defined muscles],” she says. Davis recommends HIIT training as the cardio of choice for anyone looking to build muscle mass as it “will add to your total strength training volume that helps build muscle mass, but also helps you build endurance and stay lean,” she explains. 

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