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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

BUSTED! 3 Muscle Myths Debunked

Sometimes people say things because they sound good, and the fitness industry is not exempt.  Whether it's to make you feel better, motivate you or sell you something, there are thee common myths I've heard time and time again about muscle.  Knowledge is power, so arm yourself with the truth to avoid getting caught up in gimmicks and lies.  

Myth #1 Muscle weights more than fat.

One pound of muscle weighs one pound.  One pound of fat weighs… pound.  They're both one pound.  The confusion may result because one pound of fat and one pound of muscle do not look the same.  

Muscle is considerably denser then fat.  If you were to weigh one cubic inch of fat compared to one cubic inch of muscle, yes muscle would weigh more but only because it's more dense. The differences in density and volume of fat vs. muscle explain why it is possible to maintain or even gain weight but lose inches and/or experience a drop in clothing size.  

Myth #2 If you stop lifting, your muscle will turn into fat.

There are muscle cells and tissues.  There are fat cells and tissues.  A muscle cell can never turn into a fat cell.  A fat cell can never turn into a muscle cell.   Every individual has a set number of fat cells in their body and this number can not be changed.  Fat cells simply shrink and enlarge as you lose/gain weight.  Similarly, if you stop lifting weights your muscle cells will shrink over time but never will they turn into fat.  Of course it is possible (and likely) that if you were to quit exercising without adjusting your food intake you would gain weight, therefore increasing the size of your fat cells which could contribute a softer, dare I say, squishy look.  

Myth #3 You can create long and lean muscles if you do the right exercises. 

Can you create lean muscle?  Yes.  Muscle by nature is lean.  Can you create long muscles?  Not so much.  We've all see workouts and exercise programs claiming to create long and lean muscles but the truth is it is marketing.  It's marketing aimed at playing into the fear of getting bulky. Your muscles have a fixed start and end point that can not be changed.  You can actually change the length of a muscle through lack of exercise or strength training but the key is that change in length, according to Bret Contreras, will not change aesthetics.  To read more about this myth, check out Contreras' article.

Your turn:  What are some common myths you've heard used in the fitness world?

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