9 Reasons Muscle Is Good (And You Should Get Some)
Okay, I am beyond sick and tired of hearing this from females:
- “I lift light weights for higher reps to tone.”
- “If I lift heavy weights, I will get too big.”
- “Doing squats will make my butt bigger.”
And from males:
- “I just want definition and don’t want to bulk.”
- “I need to use light weights and high reps to get cut.”
For the love of Jack LaLanne, are you kidding me? Ugh!
These beliefs are long-standing, and have their genesis in a lot of things, including training lore, muscle and fitness periodicals, books, and specious Inter-web sites. But please, understand these points:
- Lifting heavy weights does not guarantee bigger muscles.
- High reps performed with light weights do not guarantee becoming “cut.”
- High reps performed with light weights can actually develop bigger muscles, all other factors being equal.
- Muscle “tone” and definition have more to do with diet and genetics as opposed to any exercise prescription.
- Male or female, the average (drug-free) person needs to work their butt off to grow even a little muscle.
The Golden Rule of skeletal muscle is this: having more of it is a bonus. Whether male or female, you should train hard to build it or at least preserve your existing levels. Why?
- Skeletal muscle is metabolically active. Build it and it will burn more calories throughout the day. Work it hard and it will require more energy during the recovery process. It is not rocket science; it just takes strength training with effort.
- Building and strengthening skeletal muscle fortifies the bones, ligaments, and tendons. This will minimize the risk of injury that can occur in sport competition, training, getting out of your car, or playing with your kids.
- Skeletal muscle gives you shape, "tone,” and that “fit” look. Build muscle - lose fat - look great.You’ll have more self-confidence. You’ll look good at the beach or pool. You won’t be afraid to buy those clothes you’ve been wanting. Bottom line: skeletal muscle is sexier than fat. Do the math.
- Want to do the "cardio" thing? It is skeletal muscle that moves the body. Work it hard and guess what? You’ll stress your heart-vascular system. Try a high-energy twenty-minute workout as opposed to a low-level fifty-minute walk in the park. It will burn more calories during the session and post-workout during the recovery time.
- Skeletal muscle helps you live longer. A study from Tufts University found the more muscle you have the better your chances of a longer life. More than either blood pressure or cholesterol, muscle was determined to be the top biomarker for longevity.1
- More skeletal muscle means more insulin receptor sites. More insulin receptors means it's easier for your body to minimize fat and stay lean.
- Skeletal muscle can improve your posture. Having the strength to hold good posture can help other things, as well - it can help with chronic pain due to sciatica and other back ailments.2
- Skeletal muscle makes everyday activities easier. Becoming stronger and building muscle gives you a fighting chance each day when you must lift, bend, and stretch. Also, you’re better able to fight fatigue with more stamina.
- Combat sarcopenia by strength training. Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscle tissue. The harsh reality is we lose muscle mass as we age, up to 50% between the ages of 20 and 90. Additionally, menopausal women between the ages 40 and 50 will lose 1% of their muscle mass each year, and replace the lost muscle with fat. Not a desirable option.
There are way too many health problems associated with an over-abundance of body fat. I can’t think of any when you have more skeletal muscle. The message, loud and clear: don’t be afraid to build skeletal muscle. Include strength training in your training program or workout regimen. And remember to work as hard as you can to stimulate those muscles to grow.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.