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Why You Need to Build Muscle

MUSCLE + BEING STRONG RULES!

In today’s fitness-conscious world, many focus on and feel the need to “lose”: weight, inches, or clothing sizes. Nowadays, shrinking is a hot ticket goal!

While maintaining a healthy body weight is extremely beneficial for many health reasons, there is a major factor being overlooked when it comes to longevity and overall health: muscle mass!

Startling fact: muscle mass decreases approximately 3-8% per decade after the age of 30 IF you are doing NOTHING to offset that loss! Like anything else, maintaining and building muscle takes (intentional) time, effort and planning. IF you don’t use it, you are already losing it!

So then what’s the delay? How come sooo many are rapidly losing muscle mass instead of maintaining and building more?

The first barrier is perception! When referencing muscle, majority immediately think the big a$$ bodybuilder-type muscle mass. This misconception is especially common among women who fear getting “bulky” and thus avoid exercising with weights/strength training at all costs.

First of all, let’s put this rumor to rest. It takes TIME and conscious EFFORT to build massively huge muscles like bodybuilders. I’m talking several hours spent exercising daily with insanely heavy weights while following a super specific eating plan. Us every day, general population folk are NOT doing either so, have no fear! Lifting weights/strength training will NOT make you bulky!

Scientific fact: muscle takes up less space than fat (see image below) and having muscle is exactly what creates the appearance of a “toned” or “defined” physique. Fat fills up / takes up more space and creates the ‘bulk-like’ appearance.


 

 

Most importantly, and the focus of this blog, is how muscle makes you stronger, more able, keeps you independent, and makes your life BETTER! You, me and everyone else – we ALL need muscle to complete daily tasks, participate in activities and enjoy hobbies.  Here are just a few examples of why you need muscle / strength to perform in everyday life:

  • Get out of bed & stand up

  • Push a cart at the grocery store & carry grocery bags

  • Take your fury friend for walks

  • Pick up your kids/grandkids

  • Practice sports & activities with your kids /grandkids

  • Open the refrigerator door

  • Sit on the toilet

  • Bend over to put on your shoes, pull on your pants

  • Pull clothes outta the washer/dryer

  • Reach for stuff on tall shelves

  • Carry laundry baskets, fold laundry, put it away

  • Take out the trash

  • Push the vacuum

You may think having muscles is just for those grunting, sweaty bodybuilders at the gym but that is SO not the case! The involuntary loss of muscle mass is one of the major causes and contributors to disabilities in older adults.  And, if you currently can live independently and do things for yourself, you probably think you’ll be “fine” and able to maintain that for the rest of your life. However, if you don’t use it and aren’t doing anything to build/maintain muscle, you are losing it right now as you’re reading this!

It is NEVER too late to start thinking about your future self. If you want to continue to live and function independently, play with your kids/grandkids, enjoy hobbies and leisure travel, move well, and age gracefully, today’s blog is teaching you:

  • 6 Reasons you NEED muscle mass

  • How to increase/build muscle, regardless of your age or fitness level


WHY YOU NEED MUSCLE!

Here are 6 reasons why maintaining and increasing muscle mass as you age is the make-or-break for living the longest, best possible life:

  1. Independence: Maintaining muscle mass and strength allows older adults to perform daily activities and maintain functional independence. Strong muscles are necessary for activities such as using the bathroom, carrying groceries, climbing stairs, and getting up from a chair.

  2. Metabolic health: Muscle tissue is metabolically active and plays a significant role in regulating metabolism. During the aging process, your metabolism naturally slows down and loss of muscle mass exacerbates this decline. Having more muscle mass increases your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories your body needs to perform basic life-sustaining functions), which can aid in maintaining a healthy weight and reduce risk of metabolic conditions such as obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

  3. Bone health: Muscle and bone health are closely related. Regular strength training (lifting weights) stimulates muscle growth and promotes bone density and strength. Maintaining muscle mass will absolutely reduce the risk and progression of osteopenia, osteoporosis and fractures; common concerns and conditions far too many encounter with age. Weak muscles and brittle bones increase your risky of not just falling, but a prolonged recovery process for healing.

  4. Injury prevention: Strong muscles act as protective buffers for joints and bones by providing stability and support to the body.  This dramatically reduces your risk of falls and related injuries.

  5. Rehabilitation and recovery: In case of illness, injury or surgery, having a good baseline of muscle mass can significantly aid in the recovery process. Muscle strength facilitates rehabilitation by allowing individuals to regain their functional abilities more quickly compared to those who are weaker.

  6. Quality of life: Being physically strong and capable enhances the overall quality of life as we age. Maintaining muscle mass enables adults to engage in physical activities they enjoy AND contributes to mental well-being AND boosts self-confidence.  If you plan to enjoy or continue enjoying retirement – grandkids, leisure travel, pickleball, golfing, going to events and dinners – you need to stay active, maintain strength and build more lean muscle mass.


HOW TO BUILD MUSCLE!

Now that you understand the importance, time to learn HOW to increase your muscle mass to live happy, healthy and strong for life!

While there’s no magic pill or shortcut to gaining muscle, the combination of a proper diet and targeted exercise is key and our two biggest areas of focus at Results Fitness! Here’s what your body needs to build/maintain muscle mass so you can age with grace and live your best life!

  1. Strength Training: First of all, to effectively build and maintain muscle, you NEED a structured, well-designed strength training program. Cardio based workouts, while still great, do not build muscle.  When you strength train or lift weights, you create microscopic damage to your muscle fibers.  Sounds scary but that is a good thing! These tears are achieved via progressive overload: gradually increasing the demands on your muscles to stimulate further development. This can be achieved by increasing the weight lifted, the number of repetitions or the intensity of your workouts. Side note: all of our Small Group Personal Training Sessions are strength-based workouts designed to guarantee you maintaining the muscle you have while building more / getting stronger! As a results, you feel better, move better, can perform daily activities with ease/without limitation and enjoy your life!

  2. Well-balanced diet of REAL Foods: Second, through proper rest, recovery and most importantly, nutrition, your body repairs and rebuilds these fibers which results in muscle growth and increased strength! To build and maintain muscle mass, what you eat is equally as important to your workouts. Supporting your workouts with proper nutrition is vital for maximizing muscle mass. When considering what to be eating and how much, follow these guidelines:

  • Prioritize Protein: Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, so it’s essential to prioritize your protein intake. Aim for high-quality protein sources such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and plant-based proteins. Distribute your protein intake evenly throughout the day to support muscle protein synthesis.

  • Calculate Your Protein Needs:  To determine your protein requirements, aim for approximately 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. However, individual needs may vary based on factors like activity level, age, and goals. Need help figuring out exactly how much you need? Guess what? A nutrition coach -ME! – can help you do exactly that!

  • Eat Complete Proteins:  Not all proteins are created the same, especially when it comes to powdered proteins versus those you eat. You need complete proteins containing all nine essential amino acids for muscle growth and repair. Animal-based protein sources like meat, poultry, fish, and dairy are complete proteins. For vegetarians and vegans, combining different plant-based protein sources such as grains and legumes can provide a complete amino acid profile. 

  • Examples of incomplete proteins: Certain protein powders, protein bars, nuts/almond, milk, chocolate milk.

  • Time Protein Intake: Distributing protein intake evenly throughout the day supports optimal muscle protein synthesis. Aim to include a source of protein in each meal and snack. Additionally, consuming protein-rich foods or supplements within 30-60 minutes post-workout can enhance muscle recovery.

  • Don’t Neglect Carbohydrates:  Carbohydrates are crucial for providing energy during workouts and aiding in muscle recovery. Opt for complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. These sources offer sustained energy and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

  • Choose Healthy Fats: While protein and carbohydrates take the spotlight, healthy fats are equally important. Include moderate amounts of sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish. Healthy fats support hormone production, joint health, and overall well-being.

  • Hydrate Well:  Proper hydration is often overlooked but critical for muscle function and recovery. Aim to drink water regularly throughout the day, especially during and after workouts. Adequate hydration helps maintain muscle performance and supports nutrient delivery to muscles.

  • Optimize Micronutrient Intake: Micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, play a significant role in muscle health and growth. Ensure your diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts to provide essential micronutrients.

  • Consider Caloric Surplus:  To build muscle, you generally need to consume more calories than you burn (caloric surplus). However, the surplus should be moderate and well-balanced to avoid excessive fat gain. For most, a slight surplus of around 250-500 calories per day can do the trick. Once again, here is where a nutrition coach can help!

  • Practice Portion Control:  While meeting your calorie and macronutrient needs is important, portion control is essential. Be mindful of portion sizes and listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Overeating can lead to excessive weight gain, which may be counterproductive to your muscle-building goals.

Increasing muscle mass requires a strategic dietary approach. Prioritize protein intake, distribute it evenly throughout the day, and choose complete protein sources. Incorporate complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and ensure optimal hydration. Consider your caloric needs and practice portion control to support muscle growth while minimizing fat gain. Remember, consistency and patience are key when it comes to achieving your desired muscle mass.


Moral of this muscle story? Having and building muscle is for EVERY BODY, EVERY AGE and EVERY FITNESS LEVEL! Muscle is NOT an aesthetic attribute reserved for bodybuilders. It is a very crucial, very necessary thing to live and survive. If you are not (proactively) training and using your muscles both at home and via strength-training exercise programs, you are rapidly losing the muscle you do have. Without muscle / strength, your life will become hard, you will not being able to do everything you enjoy and there will be a point where it will be too late.

Each passing day is the opportunity for you to train for the life you want to live both now and in the future. Make your health a priority, your future self will thank you!


 

Stay Fueled

 

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