Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on YouTube
Is calories in versus calories out “bad science”? Are all calories the same? Will dieting damage your metabolism? Do you have to eat big to get big? Does sugar make you fat and unhealthy? Does eating carbs at night cause weight gain? Answers to all those questions and more in this podcast.
In this podcast, I’m sharing an excerpt from the audiobook version of the latest fourth edition of my bestselling book, Bigger Leaner Stronger. In case you’re not familiar with it, Bigger Leaner Stronger is a fitness book for men who want to gain muscle, lose fat, and get healthy faster than they ever thought possible. In this episode, I’m sharing chapter 7, which is all about the biggest diet myths and mistakes that derail many people’s progress.
You’re going to learn about calories in and calories out, the myth that carbs and sugars make you fat and unhealthy, clean eating, and a lot more.
And if you like what you hear in this selection, you’re sure to enjoy the rest of the audiobook.
Let’s get to it!
0:00 – Get the BLS audiobook: https://geni.us/AefbLX
10:44 – The 10 Absolute Worst Diet Myths and Mistakes
Mentioned on the Show:
Bigger Leaner Stronger Audiobook: https://geni.us/AefbLX
BLS eBook: https://legionathletics.com/products/books/bigger-leaner-stronger/
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hey there. Welcome to another episode of Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today. I’m your host, Mike Matthews, and in today’s episode I’m gonna be sharing another feature from the audiobook from the new fourth edition of my book, bigger, leaner, stronger, which is live right now. So if you like today’s episode, you probably will like the rest of the book and you can go.
The audiobook, wherever you get audiobooks online, the ebook is also updated to the fourth edition. However, the hard copy, if you want a hard copy, currently it’s the third edition because, well, it’s almost impossible to time exactly correctly, especially these days with lead times production, lead times constantly changing, however, I have placed the order about a month ago, a little bit more than a month ago now with the printer, and I am selling through the remaining copies of the third edition fairly quickly.
So I think the new fourth edition, the hard copy should be live online. Um, Let’s say by the middle of March is likely. And so if you want a hard copy, unfortunately you have to wait, uh, at least a little bit if you wanna be notified when that is available. Probably the best way is just to get on my email list because I’ll be sending out some emails letting everybody know that officially all of the formats are now live.
So if you wanna get on my email list, uh, just go over to Legion Athletics dot. And scroll down to the, the bottom of the site. In the footer you’ll see a little field where you can get on Legion’s email list, which I also communicate to at some point later this year or next year, I may start doing a newsletter separate to Legions, but for now, if you get on Legion’s list, you are also going to hear from.
I share content once or twice per week on average little essays that I write, and I like to alternate between educational and inspirational slash motivational, or at least what I, what I hope is inspirational slash motivational. And so anyway, if you like my musings on health and fitness, you probably will like my little newsletter, which currently is basically Lesions newsletter.
Alright, so today’s episode is Exercise Myths and Mistakes. So the last feature was Diet Myths and Mistakes, and I thought it would be cool to follow it up with a chapter from the book on exercise myths and Mistakes. And so in this episode, you’re gonna learn a little bit about genetics and the myth that some guys just don’t have the genetics to get big and strong.
It’s just not there. It’s not true. Some guys respond better to training than others. And this, this applies to women as well, but all men and women can get into great shape. Not all men and women can get, uh, jacked or equally jacked necessarily, but everyone can get into great shape, especially if they’re willing to just be consistent and be patient.
Another myth is that strength training makes you stronger, not. That is not true, or at least it’s mostly untrue. I talk about body recomposition, building muscle and losing fat at the same time. Yes, you can do that or many people can do that. There’s a myth regarding changing exercises that you should change your exercises, your strength training exercises up very frequently and more.
There are. Going to be 10 myths of mistakes discussed in all in this episode. And again, if you like this episode, you are probably going to like the rest of the book, so you can go pick up an ebook or an audiobook wherever you buy eBooks and audiobooks. Those are the new fourth editions, and the hard copy is.
Four to six weeks out or so. And lastly, if you are a woman, a lot of this information applies equally to you as it does to men. However, I also have a new fourth edition of Thinner, linear, stronger Coming, which will also receive some features here on the podcast to notify you that it is available. I have not forgotten about you.
And lastly, I should also just mention that I am also updating the workout journals that go with BLS and tls. So the year one challenge for men and then the year one challenge for women. Those are being fully updated as well to contain, uh, all of the material that corresponds with the new fourth edition books as well as the workouts.
I have changed the programming a little bit. I’ve made it a little bit better, I think, and that is all reflected in the new journals that are. Chapter 11, the 10 Absolute Worst Exercise. Myths and Mistakes. The Big Ideas, one. Your genetics can’t stop you from getting fit. Two. Many people can build muscle and lose fat at the same time.
Three. Cardio is optional when dieting. I am building a fire and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match. Mia Ham,
nine of 10 people you see in the gym don’t train correctly. I could write an entire book cataloging the most common mistakes, but here’s a small. They spend too much time on the wrong exercises. They under train and overtrain muscle groups. They use poor form, especially on the more technical exercises they use too little or too much weight.
They rest too little or too much in between sets. In fact, what most people do in the gym doesn’t even qualify as training, but merely exercise. What’s the difference? Exercise is physical activity done for its own sake to burn calories or improve energy levels or mood, whereas training is a systematic method of exercising done to achieve a specific long-term.
Like increased strength, muscle definition, or athleticism. There’s nothing inherently wrong with exercise. It beats sitting on your keister, but only training can give you the body you really want. While exercise can make you healthier, it guarantees nothing in the way of fat loss or muscle gain. The two biggest physiological levers you need to know how to work to build your best body.
Unfortunately, most gym goers don’t understand this, and that’s why weeks, months, and years can go by with them doing the same old exercises, lifting the same old weights, and sporting the same old bodies. There are many training myths and mistakes that contribute to this plight, but in this chapter, we’ll confront the 10 that make building muscle far more difficult than it should be.
One, some guys just don’t have the genetics to get big and strong. Two, strength training makes you stronger but not bigger. Three, you can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time. Four. You should change exercises frequently. Five. Strength training is dangerous. Six. You must use bands, machines, and other contraptions.
Seven. Exercise doesn’t help you lose fat. Eight. Strength training isn’t effective for losing weight. Nine. You have to do a lot of cardio to get and stay lean. 10. You don’t need to do isolation Exercise. Let’s knock the starch out of these fallacies, starting with number one. Myth number one. Some guys just don’t have the genetics to get big and strong.
For many, genetics is an unpalatable word associated with things that we want to change but can’t. Like height, beauty, and athleticism. I won’t blow smoke. Muscle building is heavily influenced by genetics and there are hard limits to how much muscle we can gain. There are many physiological reasons for this, but you can get a fairly accurate estimate of your muscle building potential by analyzing your bone structure.
Research shows that people with larger bones tend to be more muscular than people with smaller frames. Bigger boned people also tend to have higher testosterone levels and gain muscle faster when they start lifting Weights the point burly people have more genetic potential for size and strength than bony ones.
Now you’re probably wondering how you measure up. Two good indicators of your overall bone structure are the circumference of your wrists and ankles. Height being equal. People who have wider wrists and ankles tend to be naturally more muscular and have a higher potential for muscle growth than those with narrower ones.
Now, if you’re like me and don’t need to pull out the measuring tape to know that you have slender bones, I have good news. Even people with shoddy bodybuilding, genetics can gain more than enough muscle and strength to look and feel fantastic. Most guys only need to gain 20 to 25 pounds of muscle and reach intermediate level strength to look and perform like SCOs.
Something literally any guy can do with the right plan, no matter how skinny and weak he is when he first touches a barbell, it doesn’t have to take a lifetime either. It’ll happen faster in some people than others, but for most guys, it requires no more than three years of consistent training.
Myth number two. Strength training makes you stronger but not bigger. If there’s one mainstream misconception that causes more harm to men’s physiques than any other, it’s this one. The idea that heavy weight lifting is mostly for gaining strength and not muscle. If you primarily want to get bigger, we’re told you should always use lighter weights and do more reps.
Eight to 12 reps per set is often promoted as the promised land. This is incorrect backward actually, because the most reliable way to get big is to get strong, and the best way to do that is to lift heavy weights. There are several reasons for this that we’ll discuss in more detail in the next chapter, but they can be summarized like this.
Heavy weightlifting produces large amounts of tension in your muscle, causing a great activation of muscle fibers, collections of long thread like strands called myofibrils. That contract, and as you’ll soon learn, generating higher levels of tension in your muscles over time is the single most effective way to stimulate muscle growth.
This explains why your number one goal as a natural weightlifter should be to increase your whole body strength. And the most effective way to do this is to lift heavy weights with exercises that involve multiple joints and muscle groups compound exercises. That doesn’t mean that you should never lift lighter weights or that you can’t gain muscle with them, though only that your bias should be toward higher and not lower intensity training.
For this reason, in the bigger, leaner, stronger program, you’ll train in just two rep ranges, four to six reps for compound exercises and six to eight reps for isolation exercises. Exercises that involve a single joint and focus on one muscle group. Wait a minute, you may be thinking if that’s true, then how can some people be way stronger than they look?
You may answer steroids, superior genetics, or flawless technique. And while these things can be factors, especially with strength athletes, the most important one is something less understood anatomy. While we all have the same muscles all located in the same general regions, they’re attached to our skeletons in different ways.
These discrepancies are usually small, only a centimeter or two, but they can translate into huge differences in natural strength. The mechanisms are highly technical, but they add up to greater mechanical advantage because muscles function as levers where they attach to your bones greatly impacts how much force they can produce and thus how much weight they can move.
Studies show that thanks to anatomical differences, strength can vary by as much as 25% among people with identical amounts of lean mass. Some people’s muscles and bones are also arranged in a way that allows them to lift far more than you’d expect based on their size. Short upper arms give an advantage on the bench press.
The bar doesn’t have to move this. Long arms and short legs are ideal for the deadlift for the same reason and short femurs improve your squat strength. Fortunately, as in the case of genetics and muscle building, whether we were born to move mountains of weight bears little on our ability to get into great shape only on our prospects as a strength athlete, if you’re reading this book to build a strong, muscular, lean, and healthy.
Take comfort because none of that requires an anatomical leg up. Myth number three, you can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time. Yes, you absolutely can. Well, most people can at least, and you’re probably one of them. Here’s why.
If you’re new to weightlifting, less than one year of proper training or 15 pounds of muscle gain, or are getting started again, you shouldn’t have any trouble building muscle and losing fat at the same time. Two, if you have at least six to eight months of effective training under your belt and have gained at least 10 pounds of muscle and aren’t coming off of a long break, you probably can’t do both and will have to optimize your regimen for one or the.
Muscle gain or fat loss. Why are those the rules? Why can’t everyone gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, regardless of their circumstances? Physiologically speaking, fat loss and muscle growth have irreconcilable differences that stem from their relationship to the body’s energy balance. When you maintain a calorie deficit, your body fat levels, But so does your body’s ability to create muscle proteins.
Testosterone levels also decline in cortisol levels rise when calories are restricted for extended periods of time. This consequence makes it easier to lose muscle while dieting and partly unravels why most people can’t gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. By restricting our calories to lose fat, we also restrict muscle growth.
This isn’t. So with people new to resistance training, though, they can get bigger and leaner at the same time. When you first start weightlifting, you can gain muscle at a very fast rate because your body is hyperresponsive to it. So many guys can gain up to 20 pounds of muscle in their first year of strength training.
Whereas the best someone like me could hope for is a pound or so of muscle gain over the next year. This newbie gains phase generally lasts six to eight months for most people, and it can easily overpower the muscle related disadvantages of a calorie deficit. In other words, cutting can still slow down muscle growth when you’re new, but it can’t halt it all together.
Eventually this blessing fades however, and with it goes your ability to recomp recomposition your body from that point, you’ll need to cut when you want to lose fat and preserve muscle and lean gain when you want to gain a substantial amount of muscle Maintenance is the medium state, no fat loss or gain, and minimal or no muscle growth.
Myth number four, you should change exercises frequently. How many times have you heard that you need to constantly change your workout routine to continue making progress? That you have to confuse or shock your muscles into growth by regularly subjecting them to new exercises and workouts? This sounds Sens.
If we want to improve something, whether it be a skill or some aspect of our fitness, we have to continually push boundaries and tackle new challenges. Wouldn’t that imply then that we’d have to regularly subject our muscles to new types of physical demands that doing the same workouts every week would result in stagnation?
While it’s true that doing the exact same workouts again and again will lead to a slu. The muscle confusion theory misses the forest for the trees. Your muscles have no cognitive abilities. They’re not trying to guess what workout you’ll do today and can’t be confused by fancy workout. Programming muscle tissue is purely mechanical.
It can contract and relax. Nothing more. That said, there’s validity to the basic premise that muscles won’t keep getting bigger and stronger unless they’re forced to. Where muscle confusion goes Astray, however, is the type of stimulus it emphasizes. You can change up your workout routine every week, heck every day, and still hit a plateau because change doesn’t cause muscle growth.
Progressive tension overload does. And more so than any other single strength training factor. This term refers to increasing the amount of tension your muscles produce over time. And while there are several ways to accomplish this, the most effective one and the one that forms the nucleus of bigger, leaner, stronger training is to progressively increase the amount of resistance your muscles have to work against.
In other words, the key to gaining muscle and strength isn’t merely changing movement patterns, rep ranges or rest intervals. It’s making your muscles work harder, and that’s exactly what you’re doing. By gradually increasing resistance levels loads in your training, bigger leaners stronger will also include less workout variety than many mainstream body building programs.
Unless you have to change exercises sooner because of injury, equipment, availability, hotel, gym, for instance, or other obstacles, you’ll do the same exercises every week for eight weeks at a time and some exercises. The most important ones will never get benched. Some people think that a rigorous procedure like this sounds less enjoyable than a more diverse one, but that’s only until they learn how effective it is.
By not making frequent changes to exercises, you have enough time to get attuned to your routine, plus hone your exercise techniques plus accurately track your progress equals an equation for remarkable results.
Myth number five. Strength training is dangerous. Many people think strength training heavy weightlifting is dangerous, and I understand why. When you compare deadlifting squatting and bench pressing large amounts of weight to other forms of exercise like jogging cycling or calisthenics strength training looks daunt.
Poke around on the internet and you’ll find plenty of material to feed this perception. Personal stories range from the tame mild joint and muscle aches and the like to the downright horrific, with some longtime power lifters and bodybuilders so incapacitated that they can’t even tie their shoes until the ibuprofen kicks.
And so strength training has been saddled with a bum wrap for decades now. Thankfully, the tide is turning and strength training is gaining currency, but many people still think that its risks far exceed its rewards. Ironically, however, research shows that when done properly, strength training is remarkably.
And one review of 20 studies Bond university scientists found that body building produced an average of just one injury for every 1000 hours of training, nearly four years of training, five days per week. Researchers also noted that most of the injuries tended to be minor aches and pains that didn’t require any type of special treatment or recovery protocols.
In most cases, a bit of extra r and r won the day. As you’d expect more intense and technical types of weightlifting like CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting and power lifting result in more injuries, but fewer than you might think. These activities produce just two to four injuries per 1000 hours of training.
Whereas studies show that sports like ice hockey, football, soccer, and rugby have injury rates ranging from six to 260 per thousand hours, and even long distance runners can expect about 10 injuries per thousand hours of pavement pounding. Therefore, you’re about six to 10 times more likely to get hurt playing beer league sports than by following strength training programs like bigger, leaner, stronger.
You’ll get a bigger payoff with strength training too, because it delivers a number of health and fitness benefits that you can’t get from other types of exercise. Here’s a short list of what a well-designed strength training routine can do for you. Stronger and healthier joints, more muscle mass, better heart health, improved brain health, greater longevity and quality of.
More bone density, faster metabolism, improved flexibility, and those perks are just the highlight reel. When you compare the upside of strength training to the long odds of getting hurt and the mildness of most of the injuries that do occur, the choice is clear to strength. Train is far smarter than not to.
Whether we realize it, we make these types of judgment calls every day. Every time we step into a car, take the stairs instead of the elevator or play with a pet, we’re accepting a certain amount of risk. The only surefire way to avoid this element of living would be to never leave our beds. But even then, we’d have to contend with fallout, associated with lack of physical activity, like muscle loss, impaired sleep, and an increased risk of heart disease, type two, diabetes and cancer.
All we can do then is assess outcomes and probabilities of situations we face and try to tilt the scales in our favor as much as we can. And as to strength training, it’s easily disarmed with proper programming, technique and recovery, which you’ll learn about in this book. Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome.
Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend or a loved one or a not so loved one? Who might want to learn something new. Word of mouth helps really bigly in growing the show.
So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. Myth number six, you should always slash never do this type of workout split.
A workout split refers to how your workouts are organized in terms of which exercises you do and which muscle groups you train in each session, and everyone seems to have a different opinion on what works best. Some people claim that the traditional body building method of training one major muscle group in each workout is optimal others to cry.
The body part split, however, and beat the drum for something. Like the full body split or upper lower split. Still, others disagree with all of that and are convinced that you should organize your training around movement patterns or some other feature or factor. Separating the sheep from the goats can be difficult too because you can find sciencey explanations for many of these assert.
The main problem, however, is that all of these opinions focus on brush strokes instead of the big picture. Ultimately, it isn’t a workout split that drives muscle growth. Your biceps don’t care if they get trained in an arms pull or upper body workout. Your muscles will grow when you do the right amount of the right exercises with the right amount of weight and the right amount of rest and post-workout recovery.
Your workout split is just a tool that helps you accomplish those ends, not a target unto itself. And therefore, no single workout split is best for everyone under all circumstances at all points in time. For example, if your goal is to maximize the development of your upper body muscles while still growing your lower.
The best workout split for you will look very different than if your goal is to compete in a power lifting competition, which requires tremendous lower body strength. There are other factors to consider when choosing a workout split too, such as other demands and obligations in your life, training experience and personal preferences, et cetera.
Now if you’re like most guys reading this book, your goal is probably similar to the one I just outlined, a lot more upper body, muscle and strength with enough lower body development to maintain good proportions. And you probably also care about staying injury free and highly engaged in your home and work life.
And to do all of that, you don’t have to follow one particular workout. Many can do the trick, but you must follow a few non-negotiable training tenants that I’ll share in the next chapter and ask for which type of workout split is used in bigger, leaner, stronger. It’s a mashup of the push pull legs and upper lower splits.
Essentially a push pull legs routine with extra chest, arms, and shoulders work to grow those muscle groups as fast as we can. This scheme works extremely well for people who new to proper strength training, but you should know that it may not always be the best way for you to train, especially if you want to get as big and strong as your genetics will allow.
Eventually, you’ll likely need to modify this program or use another workout split altogether to reach your ultimate goals, which is why I wrote a follow-up book to this one called Beyond Bigger, leaner, stronger. Myth number seven, exercise doesn’t help you lose fat. When most people want to start losing weight, they start doing cardiovascular exercise.
And although they may end up wearing out their running shoes and giving their spin bikes countless sweat showers, they rarely see meaningful changes in the mirror or on the scale. Researchers have long noted the same thing in studies. When people exercise for a few weeks or months, even vigorous exercise, like high intensity interval training, they lose less weight than you’d expect and sometimes none.
A study published in the journal, obesity reviews found that people who followed a cardio program either moderate or high, I. Only lost about two pounds of fat after 12 weeks on average. That’s 0.2 pounds per week. An amount so small, it’s hard to even measure. Even more. Eye-opening are the results of a review study published by Queens’ University.
After analyzing 31 studies, they found that weight loss outcomes got worse as the duration of exercise increas. People who followed an exercise plan for several months lost just seven pounds on average, and people who followed an exercise plan for six months or more lost almost nothing. As a result, many journalists, doctors and fitness authorities have declared that exercising for weight loss.
It’s like trying to bail out a boat with a sieve, a fruitless.
But if you give them 49.99 and 78 easy hourly installments, they’ll give you access to their proprietary patent, perpetually pending breakthrough training techniques guaranteed to melt belly fat faster than a roid hornet. Now I digress. All of this anti exercise rhetoric has a soft underbelly. However, because none of the research used to support it controlled people’s calorie intake properly.
And what do you think happens when you put a bunch of overweight people on an exercise program without addressing anything related to nutrition and lifestyle? They burn more calories. Whoop, whoop. But then get hungrier and eat more wmp wmp. This compensatory eating response associated with exercise is caused for constant hand ringing.
You just eat more after you work out, oh, the humanity, but it’s merely a natural, healthy, and necessary response to increased energy expenditure. After all, if we didn’t get hungrier after strenuous exercise, humans would’ve starved to death long ago. Luckily, while this reaction to exercise isn’t under our control, appetite will increase.
How we act on it is moreover, if you follow the nutrition guide I gave you in the last section of this book, You’ll significantly dampen the unwanted appetite of effects of frequent exercise. So while exercise alone doesn’t guarantee anything in the way of weight loss, what happens when you do a few hours of the right kind of exercise per week and eat properly as you’ll learn how to do in this book, you lose fat, you lose it quickly, and you enjoy the process.
Myth number. Strength training isn’t effective for losing weight. This misbelief has a kernel of truth in it because while literally correct, it’s also misleading strength training is indeed a bad way to lose weight. But when combined with proper dieting, research shows that it’s a fantastic way to lose fat faster while preserving or gaining muscle.
A Duke University study illustrates this point perfectly. Researchers recruited 196 obese or overweight men and women ranging from 18 to 70 years old and split them into three groups. One group one did three one hour resistance training workouts per week. Two, group two jogged three days per week at a moderate intensity for about 45 minutes per session Three.
Group three did both resistance training and cardio workouts after eight months. Guess which group lost the most weight? No, it wasn’t group one or three. It was number two. The cardio only. The kicker. That was also the only group that lost muscle as well. And guess who lost the most fat while also gaining muscle?
That’s right. Group number three, the resistance training and cardio group. In other words, adding resistance training to the cardio workouts resulted in less weight loss due to muscle gain, but more fat loss.
There’s another myth related to this one that’s worth addressing here. Higher rep and lower weight training is better for fat loss than lower rep and higher weight training, mostly because more reps burns more calories than doing fewer reps. This can seem intuitively true because higher rep training typically feels harder than lower rep work, but research shows otherwise.
The differences in energy expenditure between, say, doing 20 rep and 10 rep sets are negligible. What’s more? Although strength training doesn’t burn that many calories, 300 to 400 calories per hour, usually it can boost the number of calories you burn after your workouts and raise your basal metabolic rate over time.
Studies show that heavier weights and fewer reps, seven reps are fewer percent produces better metabolic effects than lighter weights and more reps too. We also have to remember that the primary reason to include strength training in a fat loss regimen isn’t calorie or fat burning, but preserving or gaining muscle mass while you lose fat.
This improves body composition of course, but it also helps you lose fat faster because the less muscle your body breaks down for energy, the more body fat it must burn instead. And again, the best way to do this is to lift heavy weights.
Myth number nine, you have to do a lot of cardio to get and stay lean. You’ve probably heard that you must sacrifice excessive amounts of time to the treadmill or StairMaster to look good. Allow me to disabuse you of such nonsense when it comes to improving your body composition. Cardio is a mixed blessing.
It contributes to your fat loss efforts by burning energy, but not as much as you’d think. For instance, guess how much energy? 30 minutes of vigorous running burns, about 300 to 500 calories, depending on how much you weigh. And guess how easy it is to eat that right back? A handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt and an apple does the trick.
Or if you’re the more indulgent type, a modest size chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk. My point isn’t that you shouldn’t eat these foods when you want to lose weight, or that the energy you burn during cardio doesn’t matter. Only that cardio just doesn’t burn as much energy as we wish it did.
Just like strength training. Another reason to limit cardio when you want to build a lean and powerful physique is it can interfere with muscle and strength gain in two ways. One in the short term by making you more generally fatigued, which makes it harder to progress in your training two in the long term, by disrupting cell signaling related to muscle growth.
That doesn’t mean that you should completely shun cardio, though it does have health benefits, including some that you don’t get from strength training, and it can help you maintain a higher total daily energy expi. Which means faster fat loss and easier weight maintenance. And once you learn how to do cardio correctly, you can enjoy these benefits without suffering any of the downsides.
More on that soon. Myth number 10, you don’t need to do isolation exercises.
As you learned a moment ago, compound exercises are fantastic for gaining muscle and strength. However, some people put them on a pedestal as all you need to fully develop every major muscle group, a group of muscles highly involved in pushing, pulling, and squatting in your body. Isolation exercises they say may be.
But they’re superfluous. If you do enough squatting, bench pressing deadlifting, and overhead pressing, you can find research to support this idea. Studies conducted by scientists at the Federal University of Goya, the University of the Amazon, Santa Cecilia University and elsewhere. Have found that adding isolation exercises to compound exercises didn’t significantly increase muscle growth or strength in untrained and trained men and women As the authors of an unpublished meta-analysis noted though, most of these studies were conducted in such a way that it made it almost impossible for isolation exercises to show benefits.
When the authors analyze the results of seven studies on this. They found that isolation plus compound exercises increased muscle size by about 3.8% versus 3% with just compound exercises That wasn’t statistically significant, large enough to indicate a cause effect relationship, but it would be practically significant when considered in the context of months and years of continued training.
Think of it this way. If I told you that you could increase muscle growth by 27% by spending an extra 20 to 30 minutes in the gym each week doing a few relatively easy exercises, would you do it? Does Dolly Parton sleep on or back? Another reason to include isolation exercises in a strength training routine is working your muscles in several different ways, in different directions and at different angle.
Produces better results than just one or two ways. In a study conducted at the University of Sao Paulo, for instance, researchers found that despite doing the same amount of weekly volume, people who did a combination of lower body exercises that included the Smith machine squat, deadlift, leg press, and lunch gained more strength and experienced more balance and proportionate muscle growth than people who only did the Smith machine squat.
The same effect has been noted in several other studies as well. Researchers at Laina State University found that training with three different exercises produced more symmetrical and complete growth of the thighs, biceps, and triceps than training with one exercise scientists at the Federal Institute of Su suggest of Minaj Rice.
Found that six months of bench pressing produced consistent growth of the chest muscles, but not the triceps, which plateaued after about eight weeks. This suggests that adding triceps exercises would’ve produced more triceps growth. A research team at the University of Tokyo found that squats produced very little growth of the rectus emeris.
A muscle in the middle of your thigh. Which also suggests that including an isolation exercise that targets this muscle, like the leg extension or Bulgarian split squat would be beneficial. To summarize my case for doing isolation exercises, one, isolation exercises allow you to continue training specific muscle groups when it’s no longer practical to do so with a compound exercise.
For instance, your chest and shoulders will probably be bushed after several sets of bench and dumbbell pressing, but your triceps may be up to a few sets of an isolation exercise or while your low back and forearms are typically shagged after just a few sets of deadlifts, your lats and hamstrings aren’t.
Two isolation exercises allow you to train a muscle group in different positions and through different ranges of motion, which likely improves muscle growth. For example, bench pressing and overhead pressing compound exercises. Train your triceps in a very different position than tricep extensions or dumbbell pullovers isolation exercises.
Three, doing the same three or four exercises every week for months on end gets boring and boring. Workouts tend to be less productive than engaging ones. Four. Repeating the same exercises in the same way for long periods of time probably increases the risk of repetitive stress injuries, a gradual buildup of damage to tissues from repetitive motion.
Especially when you start using heavier weights. While the lion share of your gains will come from compound exercises, by supplementing them with the right isolation exercises like you will in bigger lean or stronger, you’ll get even more muscle and strength out of your training. You’ve just learned some of the most fundamental lessons in the muscle building rack.
Lift heavy weights progressively overload your muscles. Use free weights, constrain cardio, and do a combination of compound and isolation exercises. You’ve also learned the biggest reasons why so many people flounder in the gym. They lift lightweights, change exercises too often, prioritize the wrong exercises, and do too much cardio.
We’ll carry this discussion further in the next chapter where you’ll get the bigger, leaner, stronger playbook for building workouts that build muscle and strength key takeaways. Exercise is physical activity done for its own sake to burn calories or improve energy levels or mood. Whereas training is a systematic method of exercising done to achieve a specific longer term goal, like increased strength, muscle definition, or athleticism.
The most effective way to increase your whole body strength is to lift heavy weights with exercises that involve multiple joints and muscle groups, compound exercises. If you’re new to weightlifting, less than one year of proper training or 15 pounds of muscle gain, or are getting started again, you shouldn’t have any trouble building muscle and losing fat at the same time.
If you have at least six to eight months of effective training under your belt and have gained at least 10 pounds of muscle and aren’t coming off a long break, you probably can’t do both and will have to optimize your regimen for muscle gain or fat loss. The key to gaining muscle and strength is making your muscles work harder by gradually increasing resistance levels loads in your training.
Your workout split is just a tool that helps you do the right amount of the right exercises with the right amount of weight and post-workout recovery, not a target unto itself, and therefore, no single workout split is best for everyone under all circumstances at all points in time. The primary reason to include strength training in a fat loss regimen isn’t calorie or fat.
But preserving or gaining muscle mass while you lose fat, which improves your body composition and helps you lose fat faster because the less muscle your body breaks down for energy, the more body fat it must burn instead. Doing cardio has health benefits, including some that you don’t get from strength training, and it can help you maintain a higher total daily energy expenditure, but it doesn’t contribute to fat loss as much as you may think.
It makes sense to include isolation exercises in your strength training routine. Because they allow you to continue training specific muscle groups when it’s no longer practical to do so With a compound exercise, they allow you to train a muscle group in different positions and through different ranges of motion, which likely improves muscle growth.
They keep workouts fresh and engaging, and they help you avoid repetitive stress injuries. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people.
Who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have, uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do. Better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.