7 BS Facts About Muscle That Everyone Thinks are True

Brad Borland
Written By: Brad Borland
November 16th, 2015
Updated: June 13th, 2020
34.8K Reads
7 BS Facts About Muscle That Everyone Thinks are True
Do magazine headlines and tips from fitness gurus leave you scratching your head? Be wary of these BS muscle "facts" that everyone thinks are true.

You’ve heard it all and then some.

So called “facts” about how to build muscle and lean out.

Words like must, always, and never are thrown around like the law of the land. Self-proclaimed experts and know-it-alls cascade the internet with fitness rhetoric that is downright BS. Advice that's taken as gospel one minute is thrown out as garbage the next.

One rule of building muscle is that there are no rules. Everyone is a bit different regarding how they build muscle, but there are a few general concepts that help the majority.

Some long-believed notions, however, can be disputed when it comes to creating your own program. Below are 7 common “facts” that I am calling BS on.

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1. You Must go to Failure on Every Single Set

Training to failure has been debated for quite some time. You need to stimulate the muscle and coax it to grow back and recover larger and stronger than before, but taking every set to muscular failure is a bit extreme.

Taking it a step further, some gym-goers load up each set with tons of intensity techniques like forced reps, negatives, and strip sets. They end up beating their bodies into the ground with little hope to fully and effectively recover.  For the first few sets of a series, pyramid up in weight going just a rep or two short of failure then take your top few sets to muscular failure. Use intensity techniques sparingly.

2. You Build Muscle Only Through Low Reps and Heavy Weight

You’ve heard the old adage that you have to lift big to get big. But at what expense? I’ve seen countless lifters squat tons of weight for low rep sets and have little muscle to show for it. Yes, some lifters can lift super heavy and stay in the low rep ranges and grow. But the majority of us who find it difficult to pack on muscle need a higher rep range (8 to 12) to place the stress on the muscle, not our joints.

Heavier sets and lower reps are still fine to do every now and then, but the majority of your training should be performed with controlled technique and weights you can handle.

3. You Have to eat Tons of Food

Stuffing your face is fun and takes a lot less self-discipline than adhering to a strict, get lean diet. But is it necessary for gaining muscle? If a little is good, a lot must be better, right?

7 BS Facts about Muscle: You Have To Eat ALL The Food

If your goal is to stay lean while building muscle, you'll want to make small increases in calories (the healthy kind). This allows you to gain muscle at a slow and steady rate without the added body fat. Increasing calories 300 to 500 over maintenance is all it takes to start gaining muscle. Once you have completed about 4 weeks of a steady but slight surplus, reevaluate your plan and see if you need to make any minor adjustments.

Related: How To Calculate Your Daily Calorie Intake

4. To Lean Out, You have to Switch to High Reps

I bet someone has told you that to lean out you must go on a super low calorie diet coupled with a weight training regimen of higher "fat burning" reps. The theory goes that the higher reps will burn the cuts into the muscle (or something like that). Nonsense.

Contrary to that belief, heavier weight in moderate rep ranges (as discussed before) will enable you to reach your goals faster. Since the heavier weight will build more muscle, it will also burn more fat at rest and help you get leaner.

5. You Must Avoid Carbs to Lose Fat

The low carb craze is still in full effect. Cutting carbs a little or carb cycling is one thing, but cutting them out completely, or to severely low levels, is a muscle building disaster.

If your goal is to build muscle you need carbs. Carbs give you energy for intense training. They are also protein sparing, meaning that they fuel energy stores while letting protein do its job: build muscle. Of course a little goes a long way, so it’s not a green light to go overboard and adopt an all-you-can-eat mentality.

Related: Should You Cut Carbs To Lose Fat?

6. You Can't Do Isolation Exercises

7 BS Facts about Muscle: You Can't do Isolation Exercises

You'll probably hear that using compound, multi-joint exercises is best for building muscle and getting stronger. Some even use these lifts exclusively without any consideration for unilateral lifts (using one side of the body at a time) or other key isolation lifts.

Isolation exercises have their place in most routines. Barbell curls, triceps work, shoulder lateral raises, and shoring up weak sides of the body all have their advantages. The majority of your lifts should be multi-joint, but including some smaller isolation lifts will fill in the gaps and put the finishing touches on your physique.

7. You Must Eat as much Protein as Possible

Just as you would adopt the mentality of all-you-can eat, you may also think you need to eat boatloads of protein for any hopes of building muscle. The debate over how much protein the body can digest at any given meal is ongoing, but whatever the body doesn’t use it will most likely store. And its preferred method of storage is body fat.

Whether you care to believe it or not, you don’t need massive amounts of protein to build muscle. You see the mass monsters in magazines claiming to eat 400 or 500 grams of protein per day. For us mere mortals, start with 1 gram per pound of bodyweight as a rule of thumb. That should be plenty to support your intense training efforts on the gym.

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Posted on: Sun, 07/09/2017 - 21:07

One thing I know is true: Your diet is key to building a strong physique. if you work out regularly like I do, then proper food intake is key to you're success. I consume breakfast within 30 minutes of a workout in the morning. I do not exercise at night because I cannot go to sleep after being pumped up. I would not follow any of the myths referenced above. You need to do what works for you. Do not pump iron to failure because you're body has already given out and you may not even realize it. You're form has relaxed and you may not have realized that. Improper form leads to injury. Enjoy working out and staying fit.

Posted on: Thu, 01/07/2016 - 05:26

About #2 I somewhat agree with you. From my experiences to build muslce, is first do sets with low reps and high weights and after 2 weeks do fewer reps with lower weight. When I vary this, my muscles will grow faster

Posted on: Mon, 12/28/2015 - 09:59

I would have to disagree with most of this article from my own experience. The way to gain a lot of muscle is to take it to failure each set and to keep the rep count in the 7 range. Doing 8-12 reps without going to failure isnt going get you anywhere unless you are using PEDs.

Posted on: Tue, 11/24/2015 - 16:27

Love your articles Brad really informative. Number 2 is a BIG myth I try and dispel in the gym all the time.
Personally I do boxing and I like to build my muscle via a combination of compound movements and rowing.

I was surprised rowing could build muscle but it can. One of the best site for rowing I found was this one: http://rowingmachinestoday.com/

All the best Brad can't wait for your other articles

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Posted on: Wed, 11/25/2015 - 22:42

Thanks, Matthew!

Posted on: Thu, 11/19/2015 - 05:44

Yea ! Of course! It's true!

Posted on: Tue, 11/17/2015 - 05:13

You have to just eat chicken, broccoli, and rice for every meal

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Posted on: Tue, 11/17/2015 - 11:04

Good one!

Posted on: Tue, 11/17/2015 - 13:13

Chicken at every meal.... Believe it or not, I have a coworker who does just that!

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Posted on: Tue, 11/17/2015 - 16:04


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Posted on: Mon, 11/16/2015 - 22:28

Have you heard any BS "facts?"