Is Intermittent Fasting Bad for Muscle?

The are real benefits to intermittent fasting. Even just flexibility of food choice and the freeing up of time otherwise spent on meal preparation make it worthwhile, let alone other purported claims such as life extension. But is intermittent fasting bad for muscle? Some people think so, and as proof they say there are no really big guys who fast. It seems like a reasonable observation on its surface, but it’s mistaking cause and effect.

Is intermittent fasting bad for muscle? Clock & burger picture
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Bench Press for Chest Growth

It’s chest day, and that means it’s time to the bench press. You walk into the gym ready to produce so much power that you shift the planet’s orbit—there’ll be no choice for your stubborn chest but to grow.

But afterwards you hobble out, shoulder joints stinging, deltoids and triceps aching, and chest feeling annoyingly fresh. Not exactly what you had in mind, so what went wrong?

Bench press for chest growth: muscle anatomy drawing
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Best Weekly Training Frequency?

It seems like a simple question. But if you ask what the best weekly training frequency is you’ll find yourself in the middle of a war of ideas. One camp swears by training no more than once a week, and the other by multiple times a day. The approaches are confusingly different.

So who’s right? How many times per week should we train for the fastest gains in muscle and strength?

The best weekly training frequency graph
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Squatting Every Day

Squatting every day

Squats are hard. They can cause the type of fatigue that requires days to recover from, and that’s why it’s commonly advised to train them no more than once per week.

It’s reasonable advice …that I totally ignored. Instead I opted for the if a little is good a lot must be better line of thought (which rarely has any merit. Unless you’re talking about chocolate), and decided to try squatting every day.

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Lifting and Joint Health

If you lift weights you’ll eventually be forced to give some thought to joint health. Well, unless your name is Ronnie Coleman and you have bomb-proof joints. But even Ronnie Coleman succumbed to injuries and required corrective surgery. [Edit, boy did he ever. It emerged he had a number of surgeries well into the double figures.]

Thankfully for the rest of us, lifting and joint health aren’t mutually exclusive.

Old anatomy picture of knee joints
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Ronnie Coleman Backstage

The first professional bodybuilder I saw in person was a New Zealand champion. Even though he was well below the level of the top Americans, it was an amazing experience and I’d never seen anything like it. It’s incredible how much muscle the body can carry.

But Ronnie was on a different level.

Ronnie Coleman, 8-time Mr Olympia, most muscular pose
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