With conflicting information and research constantly emerging, it can be tough to know what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to strength training. Here are three commonly cited misconceptions, along with the truth about sculpting a great physique.
Myth: Lifting super slow leads to a better burn.
Reality: While it’s important to lift weights in a controlled manner—especially on the down phase of the movement—for both the safety and effectiveness exercise, lifting super slow will not only add more time to your workout, it also won’t burn as many calories as traditional resistance training.
When University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers compared traditional resistance training (1 second to lift and 1 second to lower) to super slow training (10 seconds to lift and 5 seconds to lower), less turned out to be more. Fast lifting provided a workout that was 2.6 times more intense and resulted in a total net energy expenditure that was 48 percent higher than the poky exercises.
So if you are trying to lose or maintain weight, these findings suggest that traditional training may produce better results, given the additional number of calories burned.
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Myth: In order to build strength you have to use gear.
Reality: No equipment? No problem! Bodyweight exercises eliminate many of the commonly cited excuses people have for not exercising since they can be done anywhere, anytime without breaking the bank. Plus, because many of these moves are closed-chain exercises that involve multiple joints, studies have shown that they can better enhance strength performance compared to many open-chain exercises that people perform using equipment.
For example, squats not only elicit more activity in the quadriceps, they also generate approximately twice as much hamstring activity as seated knee extensions, according to research from the American Sports Medicine Institute. And bodyweight exercises are more functional, meaning they’ll better prepare you for the activities of daily life, both inside and outside of the gym.
Myth: The more protein consumed after a workout, the better you’ll build muscle.
Reality: While yes, it is true that protein is an important part of post-strength training nutrition, before your reach for that bar or shake, it’s key that you get the other half of the equation too. Carbohydrates play a crucial role post-exercise in terms of increasing the amount and rate of glycogen storage in the body, which helps to initiate the recovery process, according to research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.
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In addition, studies have shown that consuming carbs within an hour after a sweat sesh can help to enhance protein synthesis, so to maximize your workout results, it’s recommended that you consume a postworkout snack or meal that provides 3:1 carb:protein ratio (yes, you read that correctly—more carbohydrates, less protein) within 45 minutes to an hour after your last rep.