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Famous Myths Answered

Q: Are bare foot squats beneficial to building stronger quads?

A: This unique style of training is credited to the old days of bodybuilding with legends such as Ed Corney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Frank Zane. The belief behind this myth is that squatting with no shoes will allow more concentration on the quadriceps. This myth is partially true, although it can have some detrimental consequences.

The bare foot frees the heel from being raised from a shoe, which allows instability and more range of motion with the weight (Ex. Squatting with no raised heel allows you to drop lower). Squatting barefoot is recommended only if athletes slowly transition into it.

To start, begin by wearing some loose tennis shoes, preferably NOT running shoes. Running shoes generally have high arches and provide too much support. It’s just like taping your wrist every time you perform a bench press. This does nothing but hinder you joint strength and flexibility. A good shoe to begin this transition is  “Chuck Taylors.” These shoes provide little- to- no support, and are flat footed, which is why they are similar to squatting barefoot.

After you become bored with these shoes, you can move onto Vibram FiveFinger shoes. These are similar to socks and are form fitting to the foot. Made popular by runners, these shoes provide just enough support to allow a wide range of foot mobility to maintain ankle strength and balance.

The final transition stage is completely barefoot, so make sure to invest plenty of time in the Vibrams before you start. If not, your feet will not be ready for the change and could possibly increase your chances of injury.

Being aware of the dangers associated with barefoot squatting is imperative to the novice weightlifter. Barefoot lifts can put you at risk of over-pronation and subsequent to ankle sprains or plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a painful injury that causes swelling and pain directly under the heel as you walk or run. People with high arches who decide to wear non-supportive orthotics or those who barefoot squat are at higher risk of plantar fasciitis. Squatting shoeless is widely practiced among athletes who require unstable surface training in order to build ankle stability and strengthen ligaments and tissues.

Q:  Is vascularity only linked to good genes?

A: This is a highly debatable topic that I see in many forums, so I will touch on it briefly. Genetics can do wonders for people, including their vascularity, but it solely responsible for having large veins. Regardless if someone bodybuilds or doesn’t do anything; they can still have rope veins. This doesn’t necessarily mean genetics caused their veins to be bigger, it just means that their skin is different from others. The name “rope veins” got its popularity from bodybuilding, when athletes were at one time judged on how vascular they were. This is because having veins protruding through the skin is a high indicator of how good one’s condition is before a show.

For some people, however, this isn’t the case. Rope veins, or whatever you prefer to call then, are usually seen in leaner individuals, especially males. As body fat decreases, the subcutaneous fat drifts away to show these underlying veins. It is a mark of thin skin as well, and can be seen in people who tan easier vs. a fair-skinned individual.

Once bodybuilders cut back on water, it thins the skin and shows off these “road maps” even more. This may seem nice, but remember that cutting water will dehydrate muscles, causing them to look smaller.

Genetics also may permit someone to be leaner, and therefore have visible veins, but that doesn’t mean you can’t, too. Actually, veins are highly associated with muscular maturity. As the skeletal muscle goes through hypertrophy, it grows wider and wider, thus, squeezing the vein diameter. You see, the vein itself is a blood transporter to the heart. It is visibly seen with contractions of muscles, which is why veins appear easier to the naked eye as you are lifting. This same principle applies as we grow in size. The veins are pushed in tighter among muscles, and the venous pressure becomes higher, causing a rope vein to appear. Investing years to constant resistance training may impact muscle capacity size and render larger veins.

Q: Will creatine give me permanent muscle gains without excess water?

A:  Creatine is probably one of the most widely-used supplements among young athletes. It’s the first thing they generally use in order to put on size, largely due to peer influence. Coaches used to distribute creatine monohydrate to their athletes in order to help their strength levels. The crazy thing is that it worked –10-15 lbs in no time. The use of the supplement spread like wildfire among high schools everywhere. Once studies started being conducted, they found that creatine is largely dependent on H₂0, thus, causing muscle cells to increase in size. The creatine itself is actually an added fuel to the body. Phosphocreatine is the chemical compound produced to exert force for muscle contractions (occurring in the first three– to- nine seconds of exercise). Supplementing this with additional creatine will actually extend the muscle’s ability to generate peak force for a longer period of time. Recent studies have shown that athletic performance was largely increased with creatine supplementation in vertical jumping. Those who had creatine in their body gained five to- 10 lbs in less than 3 weeks versus the control group.

In addition, creatine contains a concentration of carbohydrates. This gives the user an advantage because the additional carbohydrates before or after a workout can allow for more stored glycogen. Creatine has a loading phase that is not necessary, so keep that in mind when reading the instructions. Many bias sources speculate that creatine monohydrate can cause renal failure and possible damage to bodily organs if ingested over recommended doses. No studies have been proven to show that creatine does any damage to the kidneys or other parts of the body. Studies are inconclusive.

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