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MUSCLE MYTHS 50 HEALTH & FITNESS MISTAKES YOU DON’T KNOW YOU’RE MAKING Michael Matthews


Copyright © 2012 Waterbury Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions of this book and don’t participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with, or ask them to buy their own copies. This was hard work for the author and he appreciates it. This eBook is a general educational health-related information product and is intended for healthy adults, age 18 and over. This eBook is solely for information and educational purposes and is not medical advice. Please consult a medical or health professional before you begin any exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program or if you have questions about your health. There may be risks associated with participating in activities or using products mentioned in this eBook for people in poor health or with pre-existing physical or mental health conditions. Because these risks exist, you should not use such products or participate in such activities if you are in poor health or have a pre-existing mental or physical health condition. If you choose to participate in these risks, you do so of your own free will and accord knowingly and voluntarily, assuming all risks associated with such activities. Specific results mentioned in this book should be considered extraordinary and there are no “typical” results. As individuals differ, then results will differ. Cover Designed by: Damon Freeman Published by: Waterbury Publishers, Inc. www.waterburypublishers.com Visit the author’s website: www.buildhealthymuscle.com


OTHER BOOKS BY MICHAEL MATTHEWS

Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body If you want to be muscular, lean, and strong as quickly as possible, without steroids, good genetics, or wasting ridiculous amounts of time in the gym, and money on supplements...then you want to read this book.

Click here to learn more about this book!

Cardio Sucks! 15 Excellent Ways to Burn Fat Fast and Get in Shape


If you're short on time and sick of the same old boring cardio routine and want to kick your fat loss into high gear by working out less and...heaven forbid...actually have some fun...then you want to read this new book.

Click here to learn more about this book!

The Shredded Chef: 114 Recipes for Getting Ripped If you want to know how to forever escape the dreadful experience of “dieting� and learn how to cook nutritious, delicious meals that make building muscle and burning fat easy and enjoyable, then you need to read this book.

Click here to learn more about this book!


You Have Been Lied to, and It’s Time to Learn the Truth The health and fitness industry is notorious for scams, fallacies, and pseudo-science. Welcome.

The War Against BS and Broscience Learn about the biggest lie factories in the industry, and how to inoculate yourself.

SECTION ONE: Weightlifting Myths Myth #1: I have bad genetics Myth #2: I’m a hard gainer Myth #3: Deadlifts are bad for your back Myth #4: Squats are bad for your knees Myth #5: You have to work your abs more to get a six-pack Myth #6: You can turn your fat into muscle Myth #7: Low weight and high reps gets you toned Myth #8: Women should train differently than men Myth #9: The more sets you, do the better Myth #10: You can "shape" your muscles with certain exercises Myth #11: You need to "feel the burn" and get a huge pump to grow your muscles Myth #12: You should always stretch before working out Myth #13: You can get rid of fat by working out a particular area of your body Myth #14: It's okay to cheat if you're going heavy Myth #15: Once you stop training, all your muscle turns to fat Myth #16: You should eat whatever you want when you're bulking Myth #17: Weight training makes you inflexible


SECTION TWO: Cardio Myths Myth #18: When doing cardio, you want to get your heart rate into the "fat burning zone" Myth #19: Your body kicks into fat loss mode after 20 minutes of cardio Myth #20: You have to do cardio to get lean Myth #21: You shouldn't do cardio when bulking Myth #22: You should do cardio before lifting weights Myth #23: You should warm up with cardio before lifting Myth #24: Sweating more during cardio burns more fat

SECTION THREE: Diet & Nutrition Myths Myth #25: Exercising on an empty stomach burns more fat Myth #26: Fruit juice is good for you Myth #27: The body can only digest 30 grams of protein per sitting Myth #28: I won't have to watch what I eat if I exercise a lot Myth #29: Don't eat at night if you want to lose weight Myth #30: Stay away from egg yolks Myth #31: Eating fats makes you fat Myth #32: Don't drink water while eating because it interferes with digestion Myth #33: Diet sodas are good for dieting Myth #34: Salt is bad for you Myth #35: Certain foods have "negative calories" Myth #36: I don't need to count calories if I watch my portions Myth #37: Eating a lot of protein is bad for your kidneys Myth #38: Most carbs are bad Myth #39: One cheat day per week is okay


Myth #40: Meal timing doesn't matter

SECTION FOUR: Supplement Myths Myth #41: Steroids make you look awesome Myth #42: Store-bought test/HGH boosters work Myth #43: Fat burners get you ripped Myth #44: Creatine is hard on the kidneys Myth #45: Protein bars are a good snack

SECTION FIVE: Lifestyle Myths Myth #46: Stress and cortisol make you gain weight Myth #47: Sleep isn't that important Myth #48: I don't have the time/opportunity to diet and exercise Myth #49: Alcohol doesn't affect muscle growth or fat loss Myth #50: I'm overweight because I have a slow metabolism

WOULD YOU DO ME A FAVOR? You’re awesome for buying my book, and I have a small favor to ask...

OTHER BOOKS BY MICHAEL MATTHEWS More practical health and fitness advice to help you get into the best shape of your life.


You Have Been Lied to, and It’s Time to Learn the Truth This is the book I wish I had when I started training nearly a decade ago—back when I was full of wrong ideas. You know—when I thought that my genetics weren’t good enough, that I was a hardgainer, that a really sick pump was the key to muscle growth, that the secret to a great chest was pounding away on the bench press, and when other fallacies were foisted upon me by workout magazines and trainers (many of whom get their information from magazines). Like many other guys, I would hit the gym regularly only to see little or no results. Naturally, this leads to frustration and many guys eventually quit or turn to steroids or develop unhealthy eating habits. Fortunately, I chose the path of better education, and I hope this book will help you get great results from training naturally and eating healthily. Because the fact is—and this is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the last ten years—building a great body just isn’t that complicated. It’s like good sex—sure, it requires effort, but the principles are few and simple and if you stick to them, you get the job done. Here’s what it boils down to: If you’re willing to train for 45 minutes per day, 3–5 times per week, and follow a sensible eating plan, you can have a great body that you’re proud of. And if you’re not already a seasoned lifter, you can easily gain 15–20 pounds of lean mass in your first 10–12 weeks of training—a pretty dramatic change. In this book I’m going to address a bunch of myths and bogus claims in a scientific and straightforward manner. I’m not going to bother with pictures or fluff material because you can get more than your fill of that in other fitness books or on various websites. I’m going to give you the straight facts and help you approach your training and nutrition in a smarter way. But first I want to talk about the lie factories that spawn many of these bunk fallacies and how you can avoid the many more variations that are sure to come. So let’s get to it.


The War Against BS and Broscience A couple decades ago, there wasn’t enough information on working out. These days, with the Internet and magazine racks full of glossed-up magazines featuring roid monsters, the workout information market is like a mountainous garbage dump. Somewhere in the muck are the basic, workable truths—the stuff we’re actually looking for—but they’re greatly out-numbered by the worthless crap. If you hit the Internet and start participating in bodybuilding forums, you’re entering a land ruled by broscience and idiocy, where it’s almost impossible to sort out what’s true and workable, and what’s not. “What’s broscience,” you ask? Broscience is the predominant brand of reasoning used by amateur bodybuilders where the anecdotal stories of drugged-up guys that really have no idea what’s going on inside their bodies takes precedence over credible scientific research. Just because a guy looks good thanks to steroids doesn’t necessarily mean he has good advice for you (and steroids definitely don’t guarantee you a great body). A million bad advices fall under the heading of broscience. You should do high reps and low weight to tone your muscles—BZZZT. The more sets you do, the better— BZZZT. Deadlifts are bad for your back—BZZZT. Wrong, wrong, wrong, bro. And what about the magazines? Here’s a fun fact that you probably didn’t know: MuscleMag, IronMan, Flex, Muscular Development, Muscle & Fitness, Muscle Media, and the rest of the mainstream bodybuilding magazines are owned by supplement companies and are used simply as mouthpieces for their products. Yup. MuscleMag is controlled by MuscleTech; IronMan is controlled by MuscleLink; Muscular Development is Twinlab’s shill piece; Muscle & Fitness and Flex are owned by Joe Weider, and are thus promotion catalogues for his companies, such as Weider, Metaform, MuscleTribe, and several others; and MuscleMedia is the EAS cheerleader. The primary goal of these magazines is to pimp supplements for the companies controlling them, and they work damn well. The magazines push products in various ways. They have pretty advertisements all over the place, they regularly run “advertorials” (advertisements disguised as informative articles), and they balance the sales pitches with some articles that actually provide workout and nutrition advice (which also, in many cases, end with product recommendations of some kind). So, this is the first blow that magazines deal to you: They give you a lot of “advice” that is geared first and foremost to selling you products, not helping you achieve your goals. The supplement companies know that if they can just keep getting these magazines into people’s hands, they will keep selling products. So, how do they ensure that you will keep buying? By coming up with a constant flow of new advice and ideas,


of course. And this is the second, probably more harmful, blow: They inundate you with all kinds of false ideas about what it takes to get into great shape. If they told the simple truth every month, they would have maybe twenty articles or so that they could reprint over and over. Instead, they get quite creative with all kinds of sophisticated (but useless) workout routines, “tricks,” and diets (that include certain supplements to really MAXIMIZE the effectiveness, of course). The bottom line is that you can’t trust these types of magazines. They’re nothing more than shiny lobbyists for the supplement companies. So how do you get good information, you wonder? Well, this book will give you a great head start. Forgive the shameless plug, but another book of mine, Bigger Leaner Stronger, is also an excellent resource that gives you everything you need to create your own training program and diet that will help you achieve your goals as efficiently as possible. I also like StrongLifts.com and SimplyShredded.com for no-BS training advice that actually works. Alright, now that we have all that out of the way, let’s get to the myth busting, shall we?


Section One: Weight Lifting Myths


MYTH #1: I have bad genetics This one gets tossed around a lot. Genetics are a favorite scapegoat for people who can’t build enough muscle or lose enough fat. But how much do they actually influence your results? A lot less than these people want to believe. Sure, your genes determine certain things like which muscle groups tend to be your “strong points,” your natural hormone levels, and where you tend to gain fat, but they’re not standing in your way in terms of gaining muscle or losing fat. You can get in amazing shape if you know what you’re doing. Period. I’ve known quite a few “hardgainers” over the years that have gained 30, 40, and even 50 pounds in their first two years of training correctly (and with no drugs). I’ve known countless people who were convinced that they were genetically programmed to be fat get in the best shape of their lives once they fixed what they were doing wrong. Now, genetics can make it easier or harder. Some guys have naturally high testosterone levels, which means faster muscle growth and a leaner physique. Some people’s metabolisms are naturally faster than others, making weight loss an easier endeavor. Genetics also play a role in the shape of your muscles. Not everyone can have that perfect square chest or ridiculous bicep peak. But none of these things are limitations. So, who cares if you gain muscle or lose fat slower than the other guy? As long as you get to where you want to be, the added time is irrelevant. And big deal if you can’t have the same aesthetics as that fitness model. You can still look awesome and feel great, and that’s what it’s all about.


MYTH #2: I'm a hard gainer This is a cousin of the “bad genetics” myth and is a common gripe of skinny guys everywhere. They believe that their bodies are genetically programmed to stay scrawny and that they can’t gain large amounts of muscle, regardless of how hard they train or how much they eat. Sometimes they turn to steroids and sometimes they just quit. While it’s true that some people have an easier time putting on muscle than others due to hormone levels and genetic predispositions, nobody is doomed to have a forever-frail physique. The thing is, every person I’ve known that has made the hardgainer claim was training and eating incorrectly—every single one. They were all making several (or in some cases, all) of the following mistakes: working out too little or too much (not giving your body enough rest is severely detrimental to gains), lifting too light and wussy, doing the wrong exercises (relying mainly on isolation machines and not doing compound mass-builders is a sure way to stay small and weak), and eating way less than they should’ve been eating each day. I’ve also seen quite a few ex-“hardgainers” start training and eating correctly and get big fast. If you’re an ectomorph type who has had trouble putting on size, I actually envy you. Your natural leanness is a blessing because when you start lifting hard and eating properly, you’ll build muscle like the rest of us, but you’ll put on less fat, making you look better. And when you want to cut down to super-lean body-fat levels, you’ll find it much easier than most. Yet another benefit of being an ecto is that you don’t need as much muscle mass to look big when you’re lean. Fifteen pounds put on a lean frame can be quite a dramatic change, and if you know what you’re doing, that’s two to three months of work, tops. If you want to know exactly what to do to accomplish that, then I recommend you read my book Bigger Leaner Stronger for the full answer, but I’ll summarize a few points here: 1. You must eat enough to grow. Here’s a simple way to calculate your needs: • Eat 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. • Eat 2 grams of carbs per pound of body weight per day. • Eat 1.5 grams of healthy fats per 5 pounds of body weight per day. For a 150-pound male, it would look like this:


• 225 grams of protein per day • 300 grams of carbs per day • 55 grams of fat per day That’s about 2,600 calories per day (protein has about 4 calories per gram, as do carbs, and fats have about 9 calories per gram), which should be enough to maintain steady muscle growth. If, for some reason, it’s not, then you would simply add 200 calories per day and see how that goes for a couple of weeks. If you’re still not happy, add another 200 per day. As long as you’re training correctly, you will start gaining muscle once you hit the dietary “sweet spot.” 2. You must eat 6–7 times per day. Not only would it be almost impossible to eat that much in only 2–3 meals per day, it would be unhealthy to try. Instead, eat 6–7 smaller meals per day (one every three hours or so) that add up to your total caloric and nutritional requirements. 3. Lift heavy and make sure you’re doing compound exercises. The ideas that you have to “feel the burn” and “get a huge pump” are myths that I will be addressing. Muscle growth comes from overload, not fatigue, and overload is caused by one thing: heavy weight. The training method that has worked best for me and countless other people who wanted to gain muscle fast has simple principles: • Go to failure every set. • Adjust your weight so you can only do 4–6 reps. When you can do six, go up in weight. • Do nine heavy sets per workout. • Train one muscle group per day (five training days per week). And in terms of exercises, you must be doing the following exercises every week: • Squats • Deadlifts • Barbell or dumbbell bench press • Military press or dumbbell press These are the primary mass builders and I promise you that you’ll never build a great physique without doing them regularly and heavily.


MYTH #3: Deadlifts are bad for your back Most guys that use this myth to skip deadlifts are really just saying, “I don’t like deadlifts because they make my va-jay-jay sore.” The fact is deadlifts are one of the most intense and rewarding exercises you can do (along with squats, which many guys also love to skip). And much to the contrary of this myth, deadlifts are good for your back and actually strengthen it from bottom to top—when they’re done correctly. When done incorrectly, well, it can be pretty scary (search for “bad deadlift” on YouTube if you want to cringe). Proper deadlifts have other benefits. They train quite a few other muscles such as the trapezius, abs, calves, quads, and hamstrings. They also trigger increased growth hormone and testosterone production, greatly enhancing your gains from all of your workouts. As long as you don’t have an existing back condition, I highly recommend you start deadlifting right away. Before you do, however, make sure you have perfect form down. To learn it, head on over to BodyBuilding.com and watch their video on the exercise (http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/barbell-deadlift).


MYTH #4: Squats are bad for your knees If by “bad for my knees” you mean “will make my hair gel run,” then yes, squats are “bad for your knees.” In all seriousness, the worst leg exercise for your knees is actually the leg extension machine, which puts a ton of strain on your kneecap. The squat, however, is a very natural, functional movement that allows you to work out your legs in the way they were intended to move. It’s also the best overall leg exercise that you can do. Put simply: You’ll never have great legs unless you do squats. As with deadlifts, however, the key to keeping squats safe is to have perfect form. The most common mistake I see guys making is loading the bar up and then performing half- or quarter-reps. That is bad for your knees. Another dangerous habit is leaning too far forward at the bottom of the squat, putting undue strain on your neck and lower back. Proper form starts with your feet, which should be shoulder-width apart and slightly turned out. As you squat down, you should keep your chest pushed out and you should be looking upward. And I’ve saved the best for last: You need to squat until your legs form a 90-degree angle (until your thighs are parallel to the ground). Anything less than this is cheating, which means you either need to suck it up and get lower, or drop the weight until you can. As a whole, the movement should feel like you’re sitting straight down into a chair and standing straight up. If you’re not squatting every week, I highly recommend you start; you might be amazed by not only how quickly your legs respond, but also how it affects your overall strength and growth (due to increased testosterone and growth hormone production).


MYTH #5: You have to work your abs more to get a six-pack These days, having “six-pack” abs is basically synonymous with being sexy and inshape. Workout magazines are constantly touting new ab workouts. There are a plethora of new supplements released every week that promise to kick your fat burning into high gear and help you get a lean, rippling stomach. There are quite a few “ab” gurus online selling eBooks on the “secrets” of getting a six-pack. Well, I have good news for you: Having awesome abs is much easier than you might think. You don’t have to train your abs every day to have a six-pack (this would actually lead to overtraining and stunt your gains). You don’t have to do 50 reps per exercise to have a six-pack. What do you have to do? What is the mystical secret to a sexy stomach? Get your body-fat percentage under 10%. Yup, that’s the big secret. As a guy, when your body-fat percentage reaches the 7–9% range, your abs will pop whether you train them or not (they’re actually one of the body’s naturally stronger muscle groups as they hold the body upright all day). So how do you get your body-fat percentage below 10%? You can’t burn “stomach” fat by doing crunches—that’s not how the body works. All you have to do is follow a diet designed for weight loss and do cardio a few times per week until you’ve reached your goal. (There’s actually a very precise way to calculate your dietary and cardio needs, which I go over in my book, Bigger Leaner Stronger.) Now, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t train abs, because you should. Having a strong core helps with other lifts and a regularly trained set of abs usually looks better than one that gets no training (I say “usually” because some guys just have awesome abs despite rarely training them). But they should be trained like any other muscle group—work them once or twice per week, with 9–12 sets per workout. You should also know that some people’s abs are shaped better than others’. Some guys will never have a symmetrical six-pack because that’s just not how their muscles are formed. Some guys have small abs that look almost under-developed, which can be remedied with ab training.


ARE YOU READY TO BUILD THE BODY OF YOUR DREAMS? If you’ve ever felt lost in the sea of contradictory training and diet advice out there and you just want to know once and for all what works and what doesn’t—what’s scientifically true and what’s false—when it comes to building muscle and getting ripped, then you need to read the rest of this book. Muscle Myths was written to debunk the most commonplace and harmful gimmicks, fads, myths, and misinformation in the health and fitness industry. Here are just some of the things you’ll learn in this book: 

Why you don’t have to cut carbohydrates (carbs), or fat, or eat weird combinations of food to lose weight.

The truth about supplements and why 99% of them are a complete waste of money (and the few that are actually scientifically proven to work).

What it actually takes to “tone up”—and it’s not doing “shaping exercises” (these don’t exist) or doing a million reps every workout.

Why women shouldn’t be training differently than men if they want the lean, toned, and sexy type of body that they see in magazines, TV shows, and movies.

The scientific secrets of getting a six-pack. Forget 6-minute gimmicks, doing endless crunches, and hours of grueling cardio—it’s actually pretty easy when you know what you’re doing.

Training and diet methods that will completely shatter any perceived “genetic barriers” that you think are holding you back from building a muscular, lean physique that you love.

The proper way to stretch so you don’t sap your strength and risk injury. (Most people do this wrong and suffer the consequences without even realizing it.)

And much more.

Click here to buy this book now and learn the no-BS truth of how to get bigger, leaner, stronger, and healthier!


OTHER BOOKS BY MICHAEL MATTHEWS

Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body If you want to be muscular, lean, and strong as quickly as possible, without steroids, good genetics, or wasting ridiculous amounts of time in the gym, and money on supplements...then you want to read this book.

Click here to learn more about this book!

Cardio Sucks! 15 Excellent Ways to Burn Fat Fast and Get in Shape


If you're short on time and sick of the same old boring cardio routine and want to kick your fat loss into high gear by working out less and...heaven forbid...actually have some fun...then you want to read this new book.

Click here to learn more about this book!

The Shredded Chef: 114 Recipes for Getting Ripped If you want to know how to forever escape the dreadful experience of “dieting� and learn how to cook nutritious, delicious meals that make building muscle and burning fat easy and enjoyable, then you need to read this book.

Click here to learn more about this book!


Muscle Myths: 50 Health & Fitness Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making