Men’s Health debunks 7 muscle myths. More from Scott Quill:
- Lifting incredibly slowly builds incredibly big muscles: "The best increases in strength are achieved by doing the up phase as rapidly as possible," says Gary Hunter, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., the lead study author. "Lower the weight more slowly and under control." There's greater potential for growth during the lowering phase, and when you lower with control, there's less chance of injury.
- If you eat more protein, you'll build more muscle: More important is when you consume protein, and that you have the right balance of carbohydrates with it. Have a postworkout shake of three parts carbohydrates and one part protein.
- Leg extensions are safer for your knees than squats: "The knee joint is controlled by the quadriceps and the hamstrings. Balanced muscle activity keeps the patella in place and appears to be more easily attained in closed-chain exercises," says Anki Stensdotter, the lead study author.
- Never exercise a sore muscle: If you're not sore to the touch and you have your full range of motion, go to the gym. Start with 10 minutes of cycling, then exercise the achy muscle by performing no more than three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions using a weight that's no heavier than 30 percent of your one-rep maximum, says David Docherty, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at the University of Victoria in Canada.
- Stretching prevents injuries: Warming up is what prevents injury, by slowly increasing your bloodflow and giving your muscles a chance to prepare for the upcoming activity. To this end, Dr. Gilchrist suggests a thorough warmup, as well as conditioning for your particular sport.
- You need a Swiss ball to build a stronger chest and shoulders: A Swiss ball is great for variety, but center your chest and shoulder routines on exercises that are performed on a stable surface, Ballantyne says. Then use the ball to work your abs.
- Always work out with free weights: Free-weight exercises mimic athletic moves and generally activate more muscle mass. If you're a seasoned lifter, free weights are your best tools to build strength or burn fat.