Myth #3: Muscles must have 48 hours of rest.
Some believe that if you don’t give a muscle group 48 hours of recovery you’ll “overtrain” the muscle.
How long a muscle needs to recover depends on the volume and intensity of your training, and how well you eat and rest.
While it’s true that it may take 48 hours or even longer for a muscle to recover after working it to its limit, it’s probably also inadvisable to train in this manner consistently. One way to progress in workouts aside from increasing intensity or volume in individual workouts is to simply increase frequency.
Think of it as squeezing more training volume in over the course of weeks or months, instead of just focusing on how much you can do in your current workout. At a certain point, it’ll become very difficult to progress in intensity by increasing weight or reps.
When you reach this point, increasing frequency (and thus volume over time) is an easier way to progressively overload and see progress. Plus, you’re probably already training certain muscles unconsciously on back-to-back days.
Your core and abdominal muscles are used on virtually all big lifts. If you do a push/pull/legs split, you’re inevitably going to hit your upper back when you bench or overhead press. If you squat or deadlift on leg day, you’ll likely be using a good amount of forearms and upper back.
Tons of exercises use more than just the main muscles they target, and it can be hard to draw the line when deciding which exercises should be done on what days.
Myth #4: You must follow a body-part split.
Body part splits are workout routines in which you only train certain muscles/muscle groups on certain days. Chest day, back day, etc. While they can be beneficial depending on your goals and how advanced you are, they’re overused by the vast majority of lifters.
A recent study found that a full-body routine 3 times a week induced a greater hypertrophic response compared to a 3-day split. The takeaway is, if you’re only in the gym a few times a week, it’s better to do full-body workouts.
Similarly, if you’re in the gym 6 or 7 days a week, there’s still no reason to split the body into more than two groups. Doing an upper body/lower body split has a distinct advantage over a push/pull/legs split – you hit each body part more often, and it’s much easier to maintain optimal muscle balance. That means no shoulder problems resulting from push/pull imbalances.
Myth #5: You can’t gain muscle in a caloric deficit.
The amount of muscle you gain depends on a lot: how advanced you are, how much time you have to train, how much rest you get, and how you eat.
Eating right, training, and recovering properly are the most important factors in gaining muscle, and as long as you are not in a huge deficit (more than 500 calories) you’ll still make gains.
But won’t the person eating in a surplus make more gains?
Yes, possibly, but not by much. And for the “dirty bulker,” when it comes time to cut, they often find the extreme change in diet stressful both on their mind and body. They might even start losing muscle during their cut or develop metabolic damage.
Over the span of a few years, the lifter who eats a balanced diet at or around maintenance level calories will likely make better gains than the individual who’s constantly switching between bulking and cutting cycles.
I’m not saying that bulking or cutting don’t have a place. They do. Some people find that bulking even helps them overcome training plateaus. But bulking and cutting should only be used temporarily, not long-term.
Rule of thumb: Don’t use your training goals as an excuse to binge on donuts.