There is so much ‘bro science’ and random myths that get tossed around in the bodybuilding world- it’s not even funny anymore.
I know so many of us can think of endless things we were told when we started lifting- that are no longer true.
So, hopefully, I can dispel some bodybuilding myths today and stop these lies from ruining your training at the gym!
#1 – The ‘Anabolic Window’ (You need to eat within 30 minutes of a workout)
This is a HUGE bodybuilding myth that while busted, is still spread around like wildfire.
I literally facepalmed when I was working out at my old high school’s gym and noticed a paper on the table that forced their weight lifters to eat within the ‘Anabolic Window’- citing that if they didn’t they would grow no muscle.
Strangest thing ever, and it was worded really weird too basically not giving you an option to refuse the meal. Obviously, the coaches had good intentions, but the ‘anabolic window’ thing is a huge myth.
Multiple studies have come out counteracting the SINGLE study that suggests an anabolic window.
And that’s not to mention literally the hundreds of thousands of men and women who lift weights that don’t eat right away after their workout and still have incredible amounts of muscle.
So, no need to rush to eat food right after a workout. You’re fine to wait. But, eating soon after a workout isn’t a bad idea, getting protein to your muscles is always better sooner rather than later.
#2 – If you don’t eat fat, you won’t gain any fat.
When I was in high school a few years ago, everybody on the football team believed this. WHAT?!
Not to put my best friend Ian on blast here but, when he told me “It just makes sense. So I cut out all of the fat in my diet, and I won’t put on any”- it almost made me lose brain cells.
Like literally most of his diet didn’t even have fat anyways, so how would he explain some of his weight gain over the past 5 years? (He usually eats super healthy)
Now look, I can see where people could hear this and believe it. I mean, you eat protein and it turns into muscle, so wouldn’t it make sense that fat turns into fat?
Well, it doesn’t ultimately work like that. Your stomach breaks down everything into calories, and the protein only provides amino acids that help build the muscles (the rest turns into calories)- it’s actually not the specific protein/meat you’re eating being directly being converted into other muscles.
And the truth is, fat is one of the healthiest macronutrients out there for your health. Believe it or not, fat is one of those foods that help keep you super full (so you don’t have urges to eat more), so in a way, it almost has the effect of getting rid of fat.
That’s kind of how the idea of Keto came around, only eating fats and proteins. You’re so full throughout the day you don’t eat enough calories to actually gain any fat.
The only way to gain fat is by eating more calories than you burn every day.
So, keep on eating your fats in moderation, they’re good for you.
#3 – Eating raw eggs is good for bodybuilding.
UGH, I hate this bodybuilding myth so much. It’s so common even in 2021 just because of Rocky.
So please, just cook them. That whole Rocky thing was just a big myth.
And I’m sure there are a hand full of people that do eat raw eggs, but ultimately it’s just like drinking water with how low the protein content is.
Please, just cook them. Please.
#4 – Fruit is bad for bodybuilding.
How did this bodybuilding myth even get started?
Even today I see people ignoring how powerful fruit is for bodybuilding.
Sure, fruits aren’t the ‘superfoods’ vegetables are. But, they are incredibly filling, have tons of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and have natural sugars.
They give you much more energy than relying on caffeine drinks, and they will fill you up for much longer.
I try to eat fruit every day, and I think it’s one of the reasons I can still be so energetic even when I am super sore from a workout. That stuff is great for you.
(And as I covered in my ancient article, Are fruits good for you, Harvard has cited that they help protect against cancer, so that’s more reason to eat them!)
I think people stayed away from fruits because it has low protein and they wanted to focus on high protein foods, but for most people fitting some fruit into their diet isn’t a problem.
So, if you love fruit and you were not eating it anymore because you started lifting, consider this myth busted- and get back to enjoying the best fruit ever: pears. (nobody can debate me on this by the way, I am right)
#5 – You shouldn’t eat carbs when bodybuilding.
Thankfully this myth is kind of old, but it has been getting some attention from the people that do Keto.
Look, the bottom line is, you can be a bodybuilder with or without carbs. Most bodybuilders will eat carbs just because it makes the process 100x easier to build muscle.
These guys usually argue that old-school bodybuilders didn’t really eat carbs. However, the counterargument is that carbs weren’t as common back in the day as they are today. Old school bodybuilders had grocery stores that stocked the essentials and didn’t have the abundance of candy stores in 2021 have.
Overall, this myth is just busted because a majority of current bodybuilders eat hundreds of grams of carbs daily.
#6 – Ice cream and pizza are bad bulking foods.
Ice cream and Pizza are some of the BEST bulking foods out there!
People are always saying that these foods are just bad for your gains, but it’s quite the opposite– they are one of the BEST bulking foods out there.
Rich Piana used to eat ice cream every single night and we all know he is literally one of the biggest bodybuilders ever. (With 23.5 inch arms!)
Ice cream has a ton of calories, a decent amount of protein, AND IS DELICIOUS. It is known as being a super food for putting on muscle when you have a hard time getting those calories in for the night. Ice cream is one of the BEST foods for bulking.
Pizza is also phenomenal for bulking. With a ton of protein, calories, fat, and carbs- you can’t go wrong. Furthermore, it tastes incredible.
#7 – Creatine is a roid.
Gosh, I hate this one so much.
I hear so many people that are new to the gym just assume anyone on creatine is on ‘roids.
Creatine is absolutely NOT a roid in any way shape or form. All it really does is make your muscles LOOK bigger by forcing more WATER into them, but it doesn’t make your muscles deflate or shrink if you have less creatine in you.
Plus, Creatine is found NATURALLY in meats like steak- so if you’ve ever had meat, you might want to consider yourself a ‘roid user.
Studies have shown that taking creatine increases muscle growth a very tiny bit, but nothing really noticeable. It’s really all about the appearance, it just makes your muscles pop out more.
It doesn’t affect anything else, and you can freely stop/start taking creatine as you wish. It’s like a nutrient.
So, consider this bodybuilding myth busted- creatine is NOT a ‘roid.
#8 – You need a good protein powder to grow muscle.
I have been against this bodybuilding myth forever.
Gym bros are always sitting there stalking the supplement aisle at Target or spending thousands at GNC for protein powders- it’s all useless.
You DON’T need protein powder or protein bars to grow muscle at all. Sure, if you use it- it’s a great tool to help build muscle, but it’s no different than the cheaper protein you get in any foods.
Protein powder is also grossly overpriced. If you want protein powder as a way to boost your protein intake, that’s awesome. But, don’t listen to the bodybuilding myth that it’s needed to grow muscle- it’s a luxury, not a necessity.
#9 – You can’t put on muscle after 40.
I know so many older men that don’t like going to the gym for fear of not putting on any muscle.
The truth is, while you won’t be any giant, you can still put on a really decent and noticeable amount of muscle that will still turn heads even at 40.
I’ve seen some seriously ripped guys in their 40s, and it truly is not only incredible for their physical appearance- but it’s incredible for their health.
Being active at that age will do a ton for you. Look at old school bodybuilders and how long they’ve lived– they exercised regularly and they live really long lives, in fact, more than the average life expectancy.
So, don’t be scared of the gym. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to become the hulk, but you can still be very close and it will do a lot for your health and libido.
#10 – Cardio ruins muscular gains.
This is a really common bodybuilding myth that really should’ve been squashed a long time ago.
How many of you have started doing cardio and that weird gym bro approaches you screaming, “BRO?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING BRAH, YOU’RE GONNA KILL YOUR GAINS, GET OFF THE TREADMILL”
I mean, this myth doesn’t even make sense. Why would cardio stop your muscle from growing…if anything, it would make sense for it to increase your muscle growth.
- Read: Does Cardio Kill Gains?
The origin of this myth isn’t from complete idiocy, however. The idea is that if you do cardio, you will burn more calories. And if you don’t eat enough calories to gain weight, you won’t gain muscle.
So, do your cardio, but remember to eat to compensate for your exercise. This way you will reap the benefits of cardio- but still, gain your muscle.
Honestly, it’s like a cheat meal that isn’t a cheat meal. You can often eat a ton of dessert after a cardio session and not really gain fat. (that’s why I always recommend doing cardio while bulking)
#11 – Vitamins and minerals aren’t important.
This is a really interesting bodybuilding myth that I think is starting to fade away.
For a long time, many bodybuilders didn’t focus on vitamins and minerals in their diet.
I have always been a big believer that these nutrients are important for muscle growth, and without them- muscles won’t grow.
It’s this law in biology called the Absolute Minimum Law that says, “if one of the essential plant nutrients is deficient, plant growth will be poor even when all other essential nutrients are abundant”.
And I figure, it works the same way with humans. If you’re deficient on one nutrient, your muscles won’t grow- even if everything else is good.
So, your mom was right when she was forcing you to take those multivitamins growing up- they were good for you!
#12 – You need to exercise to burn fat.
I still hear this bodybuilding myth all the time.
People are always telling their friends or relatives to exercise to burn fat- when this is all wrong.
The only thing that matters is calories in versus calories out. If you eat less calories than your body burns every day, you will lose weight and fat without having to exercise.
Sure, if you exercise- you burn more calories- so you could burn fat this way. But, if you start overeating to compensate for that exercise, then you won’t be losing any weight at all no matter how much exercise you’re doing.
Doing some running or cycling is always a great way to help burn more calories so you can eat more and still lose weight, but you need to remember to not eat too much- otherwise, your hard work will be meaningless!
#13 – Women with muscle are unattractive.
So many women stay away from the sport due to this gross bodybuilding myth.
Simply put, women with muscle are attractive. In fact, science says that men are more attracted to women with muscle than women without muscle.
If you’re a woman who has stayed away from the sport fearing you might scare away your crush- consider this myth busted- and start hitting those weights.
#14 – Diet Soda is horrible for bodybuilding.
Most people are quick to say that diet soda is horrible for bodybuilding.
Ultimately though- it’s a great tool to use.
I covered most of this in my why you should drink diet soda when bodybuilding article.
Simply put, diet soda helps suppress your appetite when you’re trying to cut (lose weight).
Additionally, it’s zero calories and has a decent amount of caffeine in it. So, it dual functions as a good pick me up after a workout- or even a pre workout!
With zero calories, you won’t put on any fat drinking it. So, if you’re someone who normally drinks adult beverages or even normal soda- you can switch to diet soda and still enjoy that soda while losing weight.
While soda, in general, isn’t the healthiest thing to drink- if you are a diehard soda fan, switch to diet instead and you won’t be seeing any fat gain from it.
#15 – You should never eat fast food if you’re a bodybuilder.
This is one of the bodybuilding myths I HATE the most.
People are always saying, dude, you can’t eat fast food if you’re a bodybuilder, it ruins your muscles and is so bad for you!
If we are talking about 20 years ago, then maybe you could say fast food is bad for you.
But, in 2021, fast food places more often than not have super great and healthy food for you.
In fact, I tell all my bodybuilding friends to eat at McDonald’s- and I even made a whole guide on the best foods to order to gain weight or lose weight for cheap.
I also used to be a big Taco Bell fan, so I also made a bodybuilding guide for that too if you’re interested.
The reality is, these places give food with super high protein and super high calories. And after a tough workout, you need both.
The hardest part of bodybuilding is eating. Most people say dirty bulking sounds fun until you realize how hard it is to actually eat all of that food every day!
So, when you order at a fast food place you are using it to help build a ton of muscle on your body. In fact, most of the food at McDonald’s or TBell is actually really healthy.
Now- not everything is all sunshine and unicorns at these places.
So, it’s best to do your research and make sure you are buying the best food possible there. I cover all of that in my guides above, but you can usually reasonably assume that a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is much healthier than chicken nuggets due to how they are made.
#16 – Train until it is impossible to train anymore.
You know, this bodybuilding myth isn’t necessarily one founded in bad faith.
It’s a good idea to train really hard and give your workout everything you’ve got. Ideally, you shouldn’t just sluggishly move around the gym and go easy on the weights. Remember, you need to make those muscles work!
But, in general, coming to the gym and working out for 3-4 hours and going 100% until you pass out or literally can’t even pick up a 5-pound weight isn’t always the best idea.
Remember, train hard but there’s no need to push yourself beyond your limits and hurt yourself.
#17 – Don’t touch sugar if you’re a bodybuilder.
Look, sugar isn’t the best thing for us.
But, sugar is still very important in not only bodybuilding- but your health as well.
Don’t overeat your sugar as most Americans are doing, follow the recommended daily allowance of sugar by the FDA.
I see too many ‘fitness influencers’ telling their fans to completely cut out sugar, when in reality this can be very harmful and dangerous to your health.
A little sugar is needed to survive. If you don’t believe me, ask anybody that is diabetic.
My point is, don’t overeat your sugar- but don’t listen to those doofuses on social media that say to cut it out completely. Otherwise, you’re going to end up in the hospital.
#18 – It’s possible to gain muscle and not gain fat.
One of the weirdest and most controversial arguments in the bodybuilding world is ‘can you build muscle without gaining fat’.
Some models say that you can build muscle without gaining fat, and many serious bodybuilders say it is impossible.
Truth be told, you will always put on some fat when you’re bulking. Even if you’re clean bulking or whatever- you will always put on some fat. That’s just how it is.
I think many models get confused because they put on such a little amount of fat that they don’t really notice it. You will always gain fat when gaining weight, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will gain a lot of fat, either.
What’s the takeaway? You’ll always gain fat no matter what, but you probably won’t gain any significant amount of fat. It will be gone in just a few weeks when you start your cut.
#19 – It’s impossible to look toned without roids.
I think this bodybuilding myth just comes from people that don’t want to put in the hard work.
You can look great without ever taking any performance enhancers in your life. It just takes hard work and dedication.
This myth is busted.
#20 – Fasted cardio burns much more fat.
Ugh, I hate that I had to bust this bodybuilding myth. I love fasted cardio and I always thought it burned more fat than normal cardio.
But, according to the science, fasted cardio just does not burn more fat.
One study claims you can burn up to 20% more fat doing fasted cardio. But there are also a ton of studies claiming that it doesn’t burn any more fat than normal cardio.
Look, I love fasted cardio and I still swear by it. But if you hate doing fasted cardio and you’re trying to do it just to burn more fat- it’s best you just do a form of cardio you enjoy instead.
#21 – You can’t eat more than 30g of protein in one sitting.
I have no idea where this myth even came around from.
It would sound like an evolutionary failure if we humans have evolved for billions of years and just wasted the food we ate once we reach a certain amount of protein.
I mean, you have to think that our ancestors would not eat for days and when they finally hunted an animal, they had to eat most of it at once. It wouldn’t really make sense if our body just got rid of anything above 30g of protein.
You can eat as much protein as you want in one sitting, it will all be digested and used.
However, in my early Biology days it did say that if someone ate too much protein at once, some of it would not be digested and just sent as ‘waste’. But, it wasn’t a large amount and it didn’t just automatically discard the rest of it.
It is better if you do split up the protein throughout the day instead of eating it all at night so your muscles have protein throughout the day, however.
#22 – Machines are useless.
This one gets my blood boiling. I was always told to stay away from machines as people said they didn’t grow muscles and they were bad for you.
For months I didn’t use machines because I thought they were useless, and I missed so many muscle gains because of it. Once I started using machines my physique blew up.
Don’t listen to this myth. Do your compound lifts, use barbells and dumbbells first and foremost- but using machines for accessory work si sure to help create a perfect physique.
#23 – Bodybuilders look big but are actually weak.
I think this one is just because people are jealous of bodybuilders.
People are always saying that while bodybuilders look big, they are actually really weak and aren’t strong.
While bodybuilders aren’t as strong as powerlifters– they certainly are WAY stronger than normal people. You can’t have all that muscle without lifting heavyweight.
#24 – Bodybuilding stunts your growth.
This one kind of makes sense, but it’s not true at all.
A lot of this started because one guy in the family would bodybuild and be way shorter than his brother that doesn’t lift at all.
People ignore the fact that this guy is probably lifting to make up for his shorter height and impress the ladies with his muscle. (Whoops, did I just write about my 5’8 self)
The truth is, it’s just chance. And I think there’s something in us shorter guy’s brains that make us want to exercise more than our taller counterparts. Let me know if you agree with me in the comments below…
#25 – Without good genetics, you can’t become a bodybuilder.
This is another one of those bodybuilding myths that I think is made by people that are too lousy to join the sport.
I hear it so much, “you need good genetics to become a bodybuilder”. This is absolutely not true.
Genetics are very rarely important in bodybuilding. I’d say genetics would only ever matter if you wanted to compete at a top level bodybuilding competition (like Mr.Olympia or Arnold Classic). And even then, most of that goes down to hard work and ironing out your muscular imbalances.
If you’re just trying to look buff or big, genetics don’t matter at all. And even at the competition levels, genetics don’t really matter either.
If you’ve been letting this genetic myth hold you back, drop it- and get yourself in the gym.
#26 – Don’t eat a lot.
I remember kids at the lunch table at school telling me to eat less because I started going to the gym.
Don’t make the same mistake I did, to build muscle you need to eat a lot. In fact, you need to be gaining weight every day otherwise your muscle will never grow.
I know it sounds backward, eating a ton of food to make your body look better- but it is the truth!
#27 – You can turn fat into muscle.
This is also one of those super controversial arguments in the bodybuilding world.
A lot of Instagram influencers are always advertising that you can turn fat into muscle with their programs, but unfortunately- this isn’t really true.
If you just started working out, you can turn some fat into muscle, but not anything really significant. You’ll have to do a different bulk/cut phase where you gain a lot of weight and then lose a lot of weight at separate times.
Some people have said they eat at ‘maintenance’ calories and see slower results, but they say it works. Oftentimes doing this ‘maintenance’ thing can technically work if you really get into specifics of it, but it is far slower than just doing normal bulk/cut cycles.
#28 – Eating 4 hours before bedtime puts on fat.
I used to eat up this bodybuilding myth like candy before I came to my senses.
Eating 4 hours before bedtime doesn’t automatically turn all of that food into fat. Otherwise, a lot of my fellow bodybuilders out there would look like Snorlaxes.
This myth isn’t completely made up though. My allergist tells me to not eat hours before bed because it can cause inflammation that can affect my allergies and sleep. And if you think about it, losing sleep makes you put on more fat and less muscle- so in a way, it’s kind of true.
But, for the majority of people out there- eating before bed doesn’t affect anything. Even for me, it makes such a tiny difference in my muscle growth it’s not even noticeable.
So, eat as much as you want before bed. I used to be a really busy kid in college and often had to eat a ton of food in the little free time I had before bed.
#29 – If you workout for more than an hour, your muscle breaks down.
Oh my gosh, I kid you not, one of my best friends believes this myth wholeheartedly.
He literally yells at me if I am in the gym longer than 60 minutes.
I have no idea how he thinks our body starts a clock the minute we pick up our first barbell and starts ticking to that 60-minute mark- and suddenly- POOF, no more muscle growth.
Like, the idea doesn’t even make sense.
And look, overtraining is a myth unless you’re an Olympic-level athlete.
#30 – You need to have 6-8 small meals a day.
This one is another one of those bodybuilding myths that wasn’t started in bad faith, but quickly got out of hand.
This myth had good intentions: it wanted bodybuilders to eat more. Typically, in American culture, it is custom to eat 3 big meals a day. But, this is simply not enough food for a bodybuilder to grow muscle.
So, the myth was born to try and make people eat more meals to gain weight and properly grow muscle.
But, then things got out of hand. And suddenly people started changing it to ‘small meals’ and saying that big meals aren’t good for bodybuilding.
And then things started getting to ‘meal timing’ and saying if you aren’t spacing out your meals then your body doesn’t absorb it properly.
Point is, none of that is true. All that matters is that you eat more calories than the calories you burn that day. It honestly doesn’t matter if you eat it all at once, or in a ton of tiny meals- as long as you get the calories in.
There are a lot of bodybuilders that do the ‘One Meal a Day’ thing, it’s actually really interesting.
Conclusion of 30 Bodybuilding Myths
So, there you have it. 30 Bodybuilding Myths BUSTED.
Let me know what bodybuilding myths you fell for, and I’ll add them to the article!