Fitness, Personal Training, & Exercise Science

Debunking Common Muscle Building Myths

As a personal trainer, you likely see a number of clients who come to you looking to build muscle. Whether they’re looking to get toned, shredded, or any variation thereof, of course you want to do everything you can to help them reach their goals.

At the same time, those who are new to weight lifting and muscle building may not have the basic knowledge they need, which is where you come in. Specifically, there are a few commonly perpetuated myths about building muscle that you should debunk for your clients before you get them started with a personal training program.

Myth 1: Never Eat Before Bed

While it’s true that clients looking to lose weight should never eat immediately before bed, the opposite is actually true when it comes to building muscle. That’s because when your clients go to bed on an empty stomach, even after a long day of lifting weights and working hard, the body will have no choice but to dip into stored muscle as an energy source while they sleep. As a result, the body is unable to build muscle and properly recover as it needs to.

For the best results, you should actually encourage your clients to enjoy a small snack before bed—ideally one that’s high in protein—which will help fuel the recovery and rebuilding of the muscles.

Myth 2: Hit the Weights Daily

You and your clients have likely heard the common expression, “no pain, no gain.” However, you really shouldn’t let your clients subscribe to this idea when it comes to building muscle. While it’s true that you should be pushing clients to their limits in order to help them achieve results and make progress, pain isn’t always an indication of a good workout. You need to make sure that your clients know not to overdo it, as working the muscles too hard can prevent them from being able to recover and grow larger.

Specifically, clients should be taught that if they’re going to hit the gym daily, they need to be working out different target muscles each day. This way, they can give their other muscles the rest and recovery time needed. For example, after working out the upper body one day, it’s best to wait 24-48 hours before working out those same muscles again. This is why many people who lift weights regularly have a dedicated “leg day,” “arm day,” and so on.


Myth 3: Muscles Are Made in the Gym

One of the biggest misconceptions you’ll want to debunk for your clients right off the bat is that muscles are primarily made in the gym. This really couldn’t be farther from the truth; as you know, your client could work out religiously seven days a week and never see any results due to a poor diet, lack of sleep, or otherwise bad nutrition at home. You’ll want to make sure that your clients understand, then, that the majority of their progress happens not in the gym, but at home. The nutritional choices they make, along with their sleeping habits and overall lifestyle, will ultimately determine their results. 

Myth 4: You Can’t Build Muscle Without Weights

Finally, make sure your clients understand that there are ways to go about building muscle and strength that don’t involve lifting weights in a traditional sense. In other words, just because your client doesn’t have a barbell set or dedicated weight room at home doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a great muscle-building workout outside of the gym. There are all kinds of exercises designed to help build muscle without the need for equipment; calisthenics, for example, are exercises that rely solely on one’s own body weight to achieve increased strength and muscle mass. Consider teaching your clients some of these calisthenics workouts that they can do at home in between personal training sessions with you.

Overall, there’s a lot of misconception floating around out there when it comes to muscle building and weight lifting, especially among beginner weight lifters. By being aware of these myths and debunking them for your clients, you can better inform and enable them to achieve their desired results.


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