mind pump male fitness myths

7 Male Fitness Myths That Slow Your Gains | Mind Pump

Check out the Mind Pump Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • 1) You don’t have to lift heavy to get big. All rep ranges build muscle.
  • 2) Stop 1-2 reps short of failure for the best results
  • 3) Rest & recovery days are necessary for muscle growth
  • 4) You don’t have to eat yourself into a coma to get big
  • 5) Steroids don’t guarantee muscle growth
  • 6) Often, the biggest guy in the gym knows the least about fitness
  • 7) There are no “girly” exercises


  • Mind Pump consists of Sal Di Stefano (IG: @mindpumpsal), Adam Schafer (IG: @mindpumpadam) and Justin Andrews (IG: @mindpumpjustin)
    • The trio have 50 years of combined fitness experience as personal trainers

Myth #1: You Have to Lift Heavy to Get Big

  • Higher reps/lighter weights aren’t for “toning,” and lower reps/heavier weight won’t get you bulky
  • If you always lift heavy, you’re likely sacrificing form & range of motion, both of which help build muscle
  • FACT: All rep ranges build muscle, and the one you’re not used to builds the most.
    • “A weight, rep range, or exercise is most valuable when it’s new or almost new” – Sal Di Stefano
    • For instance, if you always train with heavy weights/low reps, the second you move to lighter weight/higher reps, your body will respond tremendously well
    • Ideally, switch up your rep ranges every 4-6 weeks

Myth #2: No Pain, No Gain

  • (i.e., you need to continuously train to failure to build muscle)
  • When most people train to failure, at least a rep or two before that, their form breaks down—this defeats the purpose
  • It’s counter-intuitive—studies show that continuously training to failure builds less muscle
    • “The studies support this 100% … Training to failure has little to no value and slows down progress.” – Sal Di Stefano
  • Sal’s advice: For optimal muscle gain, stop 1-2 reps before failure 
  • Think about it; what’s going to give you a better tan: sitting under the sun “until failure” (i.e., until it burns the shit out of you) or getting ~20-30 minutes of sunlight daily?

Myth #3: A Greater Intensity (More Sets/Workout Days) is Always Better

  • It’s like medicine—you won’t get better faster if you take 5x the recommended dose 
  • If you over-train, you’ll hinder your workouts. Proper rest and recovery are necessary for muscle growth.
  • Ask yourself, “Why am I going to the gym in the first place?”
    • To beat yourself up and see how hard you can work out? Or to get your body to build muscle?
  • “If you’re an athlete and you want to train, test, and push your mental capacity, do it on the field. The gym should be relegated to getting your body to progress, respond, get stronger, correct muscle imbalances, and prevent injury.”Sal Di Stefano

Myth #4: You Have to Eat Big to Get Big

  • This goes along with the wrongly-stated advice: “There’s no such thing as over-training, only under-eating”
    • Sal adds: “This is probably the dumbest, most-damaging myth of all-time”
    • Some people take this to the extreme, eating tons of unhealthy foods to gain muscle (but, as a side effect, they add a TON of body fat)
  • There’s some truth to this myth, but you don’t have to eat as much as you think to build muscle
    • To gain 1 lb. of muscle per week, you only need a weekly surplus of ~300 calories
  • The key to building muscle: send the right signal via weight lifting. If your body wants to build muscle, it will.
    • “If your workout isn’t stimulating muscle growth, and you’re force-feeding yourself, you’ll just get fatter; you won’t build any more muscle” – Sal Di Stefano

Myth #5: Steroids Guarantee Muscle Growth

  • They definitely have an effect, and they can work, but nothing’s guaranteed
    • “Steroids won’t do much if they’re not paired with an excellent workout routine and a good diet. If you have a shitty workout routine and go on steroids, you won’t get much out of them. They’re not a miracle drug … The guys that are massive with lots of muscle—they’ve been taking steroids and following a solid workout routine for a LONG time.” – Sal Di Stefano
    • “You can take all the steroids in the world, and if you’re just a regular person, you’ll be nowhere near a professional athlete or bodybuilder” – Sal Di Stefano

Myth #6: The Biggest Guy in the Gym Know the Most About Fitness

  • “Sometimes it’s true; a lot of times it’s not. Often, the biggest guy in the gym knows the least when it comes to training. Often, the biggest guy in the gym was born the biggest guy in the gym.” – Sal Du Stefano
    • (i.e., they have great “muscle-building” genetics)
  • Examples of this myth are all over social media
    • Influencers tout their workout routines, but the fact is, they could have done anything in the gym and still looked good. Some people are born to build muscle and shed body fat.

Myth #7: Men Shouldn’t Do “Girly” Exercises

  • Hip thrusts, lunges, yoga, stretching, mobility work—do all of these. They have tremendous value.
  • Think yoga is too “girly” for you? 7-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger did ballet to improving his posing skills!
  • FACTS:
    • If you spend time priming your muscles & warming up before lifting heavy, your performance improves
    • A lack of mobility hinders your lifts

Additional Notes

  • Female Fitness Myths Exposed! was one of Mind Pump’s most popular episodes
  • When it comes to fitness, consistency is king. An inferior program is superior when done consistently.
  • “The real mark of being a man… is not being afraid to try new things and not caring what everyone else thinks” – Sal Di Stefano
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