By Bill Phillips and the Editors of Men’s Health
Quick! Let’s free associate. Complete this sentence:
_ SETS OF _ REPS.
Did you answer 3 and 10? Of course you did. It’s the Pavlovian response. After all, anyone who’s ever picked up a dumbbell knows that doing 3 sets of 10 reps of each exercise is the quickest way to build muscle.
Except it’s not. In fact, it’s the quickest way to get nowhere with your workout routine, says Michael Mejia, C.S.C.S., a long-time Men’s Health fitness advisor.
Truth is, today’s most sacred exercise guidelines originated in the ’40s and ’50s, a time when castration was a cutting-edge treatment for prostate cancer, and endurance exercise was thought to be harmful to women. Worse, so-called fitness experts across the country are still spewing these same old conventional wisdoms, despite plenty of research indicating that they (the experts and the wisdoms) aren’t wise at all.
Chances are, these are the rules you exercise by right now. And that means your workout is long past due for a 21st-century overhaul. We asked Mejia to do just that. Here are the five muscles myths he most commonly hears. Hopefully, we’re about to bust them for good.
MYTH #1: DO 8 TO 12 REPETITIONS
The claim: It’s the optimal repetition range for building muscle.