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7 Beginners Workout Myths That Are Costing You Muscle Gains

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7 Beginners Workout Myths That Are Costing You Muscle Gains

by Dejan Antic | Follow Dejan on Twitter

Beginners WorkoutWorkouts for beginners involve a lot of misconceptions and confusion in general.

I remember when I was first starting out, it was hard. It wasn’t hard because I had to push myself outside of my comfort zone but because of the sheer volume of information about beginners workout available that I needed to get through.

One might argue that a lot of information is good since it lets you pick out the most important stuff but when you’re a beginner that’s not the case.

I was completely lost. I spent countless hours searching the web for a routine that would get me started in the right way.

Unfortunately for me, 90% of workouts for beginners I found on the web, were written for the genetically gifted people which in my experience is not your average fitness enthusiast. The routines were all about training 5 to 6 days per week, doing almost every single exercise you can in the gym.

Sure in the beginning you’ll make progress no matter what you do (just even walking into the gym will be better than sitting home on the couch) but in the long run a more common-sense approach to training is needed if you want to build a head-turning body.

So in order for you not to make the same mistakes as I did, let’s bust some myths.

Beginners workout myth no. 1

“For optimal muscle gains, you need to train at least 5 days a week and each workout should last at least 2 hours.”

While the above statement might be true for some sports, when it comes to building a great physique, this statement is pure nonsense.

Somehow we always think that more is better ergo the more we’ll train the better our physiques will get.

Visiting the gym too often for long training sessions will probably get you overtrained. If you’re overtrained you can kiss your muscle gains goodbye.

You get big muscles by allowing your body to rest in between the training sessions.

This is why a high volume training routine is not suitable for a beginners workout.

What you should aim for is doing a low volume, high intensity workout routine.

A low volume, high intensity workout routines are short in duration and intense. The shortness of the routine allows you to be maximally focused on your main compound lifts like deadlift, squats, bench, etc. since these are the exercises that will allow you to build the most muscle.

This means no more fooling around in the gym, doing endless sets of decline ab crunches.

Keep your workouts short and intense.

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Beginners workout myth no. 2

“You need to hit your [insert-minor-muscle-group-here] from different angels in order to stimulate growth”

This one is rather similar to the first myth.

Some people in the fitness community believe that the only way to build bigger arms (or any other minor muscle group) is to blast them with countless sets of different exercises. This will work the target muscles from different angles, increasing the potential for growth.

So if you’re training your biceps for example, you’d do sets of preacher curls, seated-incline hammer curls, reverse-grip barbel curls and so on.

Luckily, all of these exercises combined won’t have the same anabolic effect for your arms as weighted chins.

Compound movements, like weighted chins in this example, are far more superior for developing your smaller muscle groups than any other isolation movement. This is because compound movements produce a much bigger muscle building effect in your body than all of the isolation exercises combined. By doing compound movements you’ll get bigger release of testosterone, growth hormone and other biochemicals responsible for muscle growth.

Remember that your body works as a unit, so you should train it accordingly. Believe me that your arms won’t grow no matter how many sets of bicep curls you do if you’re deadlifting 100 lbs or can’t even do 8 pull-ups with your body weight.

Focus on compound movements, your arms will be grateful.

Beginners Workout myth no. 3

“You should train for hypertrophy, screw strength.”

If i got 1 euro every time I heard that, I’d be a millionaire by now.

If you want to gain muscle mass then you need to bring your main lifts up to a decent level.

Here are the main lifts you should bring at least to an intermediate level:

  • Deadlift: body weight x 2
  • Squat: body weight x 1.6
  • Chin-ups or pull-ups: body weight x 1.2 or 8 reps with body weight.
  • Bench press: body weight x 1.2

Your workout routine should focus on getting these lifts up to the respected numbers. Don’t even think about doing a specialization routine for your arms until you hit those numbers.

If you have your diet and rest all set up correctly, you should experience amazing muscle growth once you reach even intermediate level numbers.

You can’t mention lifting heavy weights without mentioning the next myth.

Beginners workout myth no.4

“Screw form, what matters is that you’re lifting heavy.”

When lifting heavy weights you need to have your form dialed in as much as possible.

When starting out spend quite some time reading and watching videos about how each exercise should be performed. Youtube is a great resource for watching videos about how to perform exercises correctly.

It’s especially important that you get accustomed to the squat and deadlifting technique. Use light weights to get into the groove first and then progress forward by using heavier weights.

I had to learn the importance of good form the hard way.

4 years ago I was doing a set of bench press to failure. Since I was stupid enough to go to muscular failure, without any spotter near me or safety pins that could catch the weight, I suffered a muscle injury that took 3 years to fully heal.

If you think that you won’t be able to complete the last rep in good form then don’t do it. Taking sets to extreme muscle failure will only worsen your lifting technique, which could potentialy lead to a muscle injury.

Remember that being able to train is a privilege.

Beginners Workout myth no. 5

“In order to get a six pack, you need to do a lot of crunches.”

If you want to build your abdominal musculature then doing endless sets of crunches is a complete waste of your time.

You get a visible six-pack by first building some ab muscles and then shedding the abdominal fat that’s covering the muscles. Doing direct ab work won’t help you get rid of abdominal fat nor will it help you to build up your abdominal musculature.

What I’m going to tell you now is going to probably save you hundreds of hours in the gym.

A simple routine that focuses on deadlift, squats and other compound exercises will go a long way to developing that elusive six-pack.

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Beginners Workout myth no. 6

“Dude check out the latest issue of Muscular Development! Can’t wait to try [insert-current-mister-Olympia]’s workout … man I’m going to get freakishly big!”

A lot of beginners believe that if they follow the training programs of their favourite professional bodybuilders (found in most health magazines), they will get big like them.

Here’s a truth bomb for you … you’ll never likely get as big as the pro guys.

Why, I hear you say?

Well first of all, they have insane amounts of discipline, secondly they’re are genetic freaks and last but not least, a lot of them (if not all of them) are using steroids to reach their ultimate physiques.

For the above reasons professionals are able to thrive on routines, that for a normal guy would result in an overtraining kamikaze.

If you’re serious about building a great physique, then one of your top priorities should be to find out what kind of training works best for you. Switching routines every two weeks won’t allow you to figure this out.

Start by choosing a workout routine that works your whole body and stick to it for a minimum of 3 months. Simple routines done over a reasonable periods of time will get you far. The only condition is that you must be willing to put in the effort.

Beginners Workout myth no. 7

“Bodyweight exercises will get you far more bigger than deadlifts and squats ever will.”

Doing bodyweight exercises like push ups, chins and dips just with your body weight, will only increase your endurance after a certain number of reps is done.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with doing only bodyweight exercises, you’ll probably have hard times getting the physique of your dreams.

You get stronger and bigger by increasing the weight you lift every workout. If you’re doing pull-ups, instead of increasing the number of reps you do, try lowering the number of reps and increase the weight you’re lifting. For chins, just stick a dumbbell between your legs for additional resistance.

While doing 30 pullups in one go is sure an impressive feat, it can’t be compared to you being able to deadlift 500 lbs.

I hope this article helped you get rid of some common bodybuilding myths. In case you know of some other myths I forgot to mention in this article, please mention them in the comment section.

If you enjoyed this article, you're going to love this!

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Lord

Thank you dude for your tips. I fully appreciate your article. I love it. I’m 23 years old and I don’t know what should I do and what my first move to gain muscle because I’m so tired for being fat and having a big tummy. Thanks for your article it was very big help.



Glad to hear you find my articles useful :) A lot of work and effort has gone into writing them.

If you want to know more about building muscles, I strongly suggest that you also read this article right here – http://nobrainermuscle.com/gain-muscle-mass



What are your qualification? I don’t want to be rude or anything, but I feel the things you where saying about how it’s impossible to become as shredded as our favorite body builders (without steroids) is totally wrong. From what your about page says is you should just trust what I say because I’ve tried and failed at many things and because I love fitness…



Hey Dallas, thanks for the comment :)

I feel that it’s impossible to get to those levels, but I can’t provide a definitive proof to prove that. I’ve been in the iron game long enough to see, how genetics play a major role (dare I say it, most important role) in the muscle building/fat loss process. I have some friends who’ve put a lot of hard work and effort into sculpting their bodies over a period of more than seven years, but their progress is dwarfed when compared to the progress of a few friends of mine, who’ve been sporadically “exercising” for a couple of months and who’ve been following a diet that would make most people gain fat – obviously they have an awesome genetic profile.

This is not to say that you can’t reach an amazing level of physical development if you’re genetically normal, that’s not my point. Quite the opposite is true – you’re able to reach an impressive level of fitness, by doing smart work with consistency. The only thing I tried to say with the statement in my article is that, the physiques of the bodybuilding elite, while alluring for sure, are out of reach for us normal people.

And that’s not only due to genetics, you have to consider that the pros have massive sponsorship, have been completely devoted to the sport for 10+ years, have insane amounts of discipline, have an environment that supports them with their goal of becoming a Mr. Olympia and so on and so on.


David Jones


He’s not saying you can’t get shredded or increase size without steroids. He’s simply saying that the average human (especially a beginner) cannot hope to jump into complex hypertrophy-based isolation exercises without over-training. It’s 100% true that with crazy discipline, you can achieve a great body without steroids. It’s also 100% true that without steroids, you will never be as big as the giants you see in the magazines. You know what else is 100% true? Like he said, there is no point in isolating or working different angles on minor muscle groups until you basic lifts [deadlift, squat, bench, weighted chins (I’m going to through in overhead press and bent over barbell rows)] are at a proficient level. The goals mentioned in the article, for those movements, is reasonable (and attainable in less than 6 months for most people following a 3 workout a week 5×5 plan). BTW, he never said you couldn’t get shredded w/o steroids. There is a difference between shredded and sidewalk crackin’ huge AND shredded. The fastest way to achieve tremendous growth is through putting in work with the lifts that most people pass up in the gym (squat/deadlift/military press/bench press/rows-weighted chins). I don’t care about his credentials. I’ve been on the stronglifts 5×5 plan for a month, and I’ve added 5 pounds to my squat and 10 pounds to my deadlift EVERY workout so far. It works.



Hey David,

Very well said my friend! :) And you got me laughing when I read “sidewalk crackin’ huge and shredded” :D


Ivan Ivkovic

These aren’t even myths because nobody ever says this. Unless they’re plain stupid.



Hey Ivan,

These are myths because there’s a ton of people out there who believe in these statements :)



1,2,3, and 6 are popular myths. I think most people are aware the others are rubbish. Certainly, a lot of novices think 5 days a week and hypertrophy are the way to go. I’ve tried convincing some otherwise, even developed solid beginner strength programs, but usually they drift back to body part splits, ‘hypertrophy’ ranges, a lot of isolation exercises, and pretty much always stay about the same size, same strength, same musculature until they give up deciding it’s not for them. One warning sign of a beginner who has got entirely the wrong idea is the mention of ‘leg day’. Leg day is a day done by advanced bodybuilders, not novices and not strength athletes. The latter train movements, not body parts. So, yes, most of your myths are truly widespread, a couple are a little dated (once were myths). I’m pretty sure almost everyone now knows a 1000 crunches/sit ups only leads to a sore back. Most are aware of the importance of good form. far fewer know what good form is.



If you are doing pullups, you can go for 1 armed pullups or muscleups. It is too bad bw exercise is often associated with tons of easy reps but look at a gymnast



If you’re strong enough to do them, then by all means do them mate :)



hey could you give me an example of a good beginner whole body work out routine?



Thank you for taking the time and effort to help us.



You’re welcome!



I forget to ask you. is it normal to not see a noticeably physical change in the muscle growth but growing stronger at the same time? I’ve been training for the last 4 months and I’m noticing improvement in my ability to push/lift more but no noticeable physical difference. thanks in advance and sorry for my bad English.



Hey Ramo, muscle gains usually follow strength gains. Keep at it and I’m sure that the muscle gains are sure to follow.


Mikael Lundqvist

You can get impressive strength using bodyweight exercises only.
In fact it’s an advantage in bodyweight training that you move your body instead of weights because of the compound nature in it which makes your strength and muscle mass grow a lot faster.
Try more advanced exercises if the usual squats and push-ups feel too easy. Hindu push-ups, squats and pull-ups are my favorite exercises which made wrestlers in India and Pakistan so impossible to beat.




I encourage everybody to give bodyweight exercises a go. For more info, check out my premium bodyweight training course called Anabolic Rewiring Method.



Good article, but you have complely missed out the most important part; providing an adequate workout routine for beginners.



Tom, check the comment section in this article — Gain Muscle Mass

Otherwise, you can check out my premium training guide called Anabolic Rewiring Method. In this guide I share with you how to use bodyweight training to build the physique of your dreams. In case you have any questions, let me know.


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