Many people who embark on a program to lose weight and get in shape focus on dieting and cardio exercise. Strength training and building muscle (hypertrophy)can be often overlooked.
I often hear comments such as “I don’t want to get big and bulky” or “I don’t want muscles, I just want to lose weight” when I ask the question “Why don’t you include resistance training in your exercise program?”
I’m not sure where the myth and fear of strength/muscle building stemmed from, but it is a myth/fear that I would like to see disappear
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I’m going to discuss some evidence-based reasons on why building muscle is not only important, but should be the cornerstone of your program.
Improved functional capacity
We know from research and practical experience with older individuals that there is a clear relationship between the loss of skeletal muscle and a decrement in functional capacity.
Shockingly, by the time a person reaches 40 years of age, they will have loss ~50% of the strength that they had in their 20s.
This loss of strength increases as we get older if we don’t do anything about it.
Losing our functional strength essentially means that we lose our independence and our quality of life. This means that we can no longer do the things we enjoy doing. A structured, resistance training program will reverse this loss of functional capacity and increase the quality of our life.
Muscle is major determinant of metabolic rate
Skeletal muscle is the main tissue where our energy currency Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is utilized. This makes our muscle mass the major contributor
to metabolic rate or energy expenditure.
Besides being very important for maintaining healthy weight, muscle tissue is also the largest site of lipid (fat) oxidation and glucose disposal.
Muscle tissue helps us maintain healthy blood glucose and triglyceride profiles that reduce our risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Basically, our muscle is a furnace that utilizes many calories just to maintain itself.
Skeletal muscle is responsible for about 66% of the amount of calories we expend over a 24 hour period.
Muscle crucial to immune system
A healthy amount of muscle tissue is directly related to a healthy immune system. Skeletal muscle is the major reservoir and site of protein synthesis. This means that muscle tissue provides the fuel necessary for cell turnover and immune function
. So a healthy amount of muscle feeds the immune system and keeps out immune system healthy.
Muscle improves self-image
Building muscle demonstrates that our self-image will be enhanced because it improves body shape. Research shows that resistance training to improve body shape helps give people a more positive outlook and increases their interest in sex and intimacy.
One of the most important reasons why building muscle is important is its role in healthy aging. Research demonstrates that as we age, we lose the ability to preserve muscle mass. This age-related decrement in muscle mass is really the underlying reasons on why we “get old”.
Conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and overweight/obesity
really stem from a lack of muscle tissue. Studies have shown that these conditions are preventable and can also be reversed with a structured, resistance training program.
So is building muscle important? I think so and I highly recommend that it should be the cornerstone of a successful body transformation program.
I have been in this field for over 20 years and have witnessed many people focus on the wrong things and actually do more harm than good to their bodies.
A program based on research that gets results will enhance the quality of your life, prevent many ailments as we age and improve our self-image by enhancing our bodyshape. Building muscle is very important!
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