1 — You can get as big as a pro bodybuilder without taking steroids; it just takes longer.
Despite what many of the magazines say, all professional bodybuilders use either steroids or steroids in combination with other growth-enhancing drugs. Without manipulating hormones, it just isn’t possible to get that degree of muscularity, the paper-thin skin, and the continuing ability to pack on mass, despite sometimes having poor workout habits and relative ignorance of the principles involved that many pro bodybuilders have. Many supplement distributors, in order to sell their products, would have you believe otherwise.
Still, that’s no reason to give up. By using state-of-the-art training principles, consuming a nutrient-rich diet, and by getting proper amounts of rest, almost every person can make incredible changes in his or her physique. The competitive bodybuilder circuit may not be in your future, but building the kind of physique that gains you respect is certainly achievable, as are self-respect and robust health.
2 — In order to get really big, you have to eat a super-high-calorie diet.
Well, that’s true; you’ll get really big if you eat a super high-calorie diet, but you’ll look like the Michelin Man’s fraternal twin. However, if you want to get big, lean-tissue wise, then super-high- calorie diets are probably not for you unless you are one of those very few people with metabolicrates so fast you can burn off these calories instead of depositing them as fat. Unfortunately, studies show that, in most people, about 65% of the new tissue gains brought about by high-calorie diets consists of fat! Of the remaining 35%, approximately 15% consists of increased intracellular fluid volume, leaving a very modest percentage attributable to increased lean muscle mass.
According to Dr Scott Connelly (MM2K, Spring 1992, p. 21), only about 20% to 25% of increased muscle growth stems from increased protein synthesis. The rest of the muscle growth is directly attributable to increased proliferation of the satellite cells in the basal lamina of muscle tissue, and dietary energy (calories) is not a key factor in the differentiation of these cells into new myofibres (muscle cells).
Of all factors determining muscle growth, prevention of protein breakdown (anti-catabolism) seems to be the most relevant, but adding adipose [fat] tissue through constant overfeeding can actually increase muscle proteolysis (breakdown). Furthermore, additional adipose mass can radically alter hormone balances which are responsible for controlling protein breakdown in muscle. Insulin balance, for one, which partially controls anti- catabolism in the body, is impaired by consistent overfeeding. So much for the eat-big-to-get-big philosophy!
Stay away from the super-high calorie diets unless you’re a genetic freak, or you’re woefully lean and don’t mind putting on fat [or you’re using appropriate pharmaceutical supplements].