This is the third part of the BIG LIES series.
The BIG LIES in this post are described as such in the context of drug-free, genetically normal bodybuilders. But some of the big lies are TRUTHS in the context of bodybuilders who are drug-fed and genetically highly gifted.
Never mind what the drug-fed genetic freaks can build muscle on. What works for them doesn’t work for drug-free, genetically normal bodybuilders.
LIE #13: THE POWERLIFTS WILL MAKE YOU LOOK BLOCKY
If you’re naturally stocky (with short limbs and a broad torso), the three powerlifts (properly done) will make you a larger-muscled stocky person.
If you’re naturally lanky (with long limbs and a narrow torso), the three powerlifts (properly done) will make you a larger-muscled lanky person.
And if you’re neither stocky nor lanky, the three powerlifts (properly done) will make you a larger-muscled neither stocky nor lanky person.
To build muscle, the squat, the bench press and the deadlift are outstanding exercises when performed properly.
Stocky bodybuilders are usually especially suited to the squat and the bench press. Lanky bodybuilders are usually especially suited to the deadlift, and invariably have trouble barbell squatting with correct technique for an adequate range of motion. Lanky bodybuilders may be better off with the parallel grip deadlift rather than the barbell squat, and the parallel bar dip rather than the bench press.
LIE #14: TO BUILD MUSCLE, FOCUS ON THE PUMP
You could train specifically for a pump, using light weights, low to moderate intensity, high reps, and little rest between sets, but that won’t build much muscle for most bodybuilders, if any muscle.
When you train properly, you may get a pump (depending on you, the exercise, and the particular way you train), but the pump would be a side-effect only. It’s possible to train well and yet not experience much of a pump.
What matters is bodybuilding progress, not pump per se.
LIE #15: YOU CAN TOTALLY RESHAPE A MUSCLE
If you have flat biceps, you can’t build muscle in just the area required to produce a peak.
If you have high calves, you can’t build muscle in just the low area to fill out the bottom part.
And if you have a four-pack ab formation, you can’t develop a distinct six-pack.
But what you can do is develop much larger muscles of the same shape that you started with, and shed body fat so that you can see the lines of your muscle shape clearly. And that combination will transform you.
LIE #16: SOME FOOD SUPPLEMENTS ARE AS EFFECTIVE AS STEROIDS FOR BUILDING MUSCLE, BUT SAFE
“Works as well as steroids” is a line that’s been used to promote some food supplements. But it’s a lie.
Only other powerful anabolic pharmaceuticals are as effective as steroids.
No matter how well you train, if you don’t supply sufficient nourishment your body won’t be able to respond to the growth stimulation in order to build muscle.
And even if you train very well, and eat very well, too, if you don’t rest sufficiently between workouts, and sleep enough each night, you still won’t be able to build much if any muscle.
You must get the whole package of bodybuilding-related components in good order.
But as part of the supply of sufficient nourishment, some use of food supplements may be helpful, but it’s not essential. If you don’t eat well, and thus are deficient in some nutrients, food supplements could plug the nutritional gaps. But it’s much better to fix your eating so that you eat nothing but healthy, nutrient-rich food.
Then, if you can afford some food supplements for nutritional “insurance,” or for a nutritional boost during periods of specially demanding training, that may be helpful.
Overdosing on a single nutrient—protein being the one that many bodybuilders overdose on—won’t compensate for shortcomings elsewhere.
Get plenty of protein, of course, but also get sufficient healthy fats. As noted in LIES #4, “A low-fat diet undermines if not prohibits muscle growth even if your caloric intake and protein consumption are adequate. The phobia of dietary fat that many bodybuilders seem to have seriously undermines their ability to build muscle.”
Many bodybuilders would be better to substitute healthy fats for some of their protein intake.
LIE #17: TO BUILD MUSCLE, INSTINCTIVE TRAINING IS BETTER THAN STRUCTURED TRAINING
Effective training—especially for drug-free, genetically normal bodybuilders—must be within a specific overall framework, or otherwise the muscle growth will be minimal, or non-existant. There’s nothing instinctive about such training.
Some super-duper responsive bodybuilders can chop and change their training routines a great deal and still make progress, but they aren’t typical of the huge majority of bodybuilders.
Even if some pros do train “instinctively,” what they do is based on their experience of what’s effective for them. But those men are so responsive that what works for them is often in a different world to what works for normal bodybuilders. Pretty much any training works for them, although some approaches work better than others.