Muscle. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Do you think about it? Do you realize why it is so important? Muscle is not just for bodybuilders and athletes. It is for everyone. It is vitally important for women. Muscle is critical for our health, our functional strength, our ability to do day-to-day activities, and our body composition.
Why Should You Strength Train?
- Improve / Maintain muscle strength
- Improve / Maintain coordination
- Improve / Maintain balance
- These 3 things together help to prevent falls & related fractures
- These 3 things together allow us to perform everyday activities
- Strengthen our bone mass – bone density and strength
- Decreased bone density = osteoporosis and fractures
- Change our body composition to one that is leaner and less fat
- Body composition (body fat – lean body mass %) Weighing less on the scale won’t necessarily get us a lower body fat %, in fact, we can have higher body fat & less lean body mass when we simply aim to lose weight.
Body fat is what we need to keep our eye on; reducing fat so that we have more fat-free mass no matter what we weigh. Fat and weight loss often coincide, but they are different. Our body weight is a reflection of our relationship with gravity and our weight includes our bones, organs, muscle, blood, fat and water. Our bodies are more than 60% water. Our body weight varies throughout the day and it varies day by day and week by week; 2 variables are water and stored glycogen. When you weigh yourself you are getting all that information. If your bones are stronger due to a resistance training program then they are stronger and heavier. We want and need that kind of weight.
Let’s talk muscle. Typically, when we talk about Muscle, we are referring to skeletal muscle. There are 3 types of Muscle – Skeletal, Smooth and Cardiac. Skeletal muscle is a series of muscle that moves the skeleton. The nervous system is the control center for movement production, and the skeletal system provides the structural framework for our bodies. To complete a cycle of movement production, the body must have a device that the nervous system can command to move the skeletal system and that is the muscular system. Muscles generate internal tension which manipulates the bones of our body to produce movements. Muscles are the movers and stabilizers of our bodies. Tendons are the structures that attach muscles to bone and provide the anchor from which the muscle can exert force and control the bone and joint. Ligaments connect bone to bone, provide stability and input to the nervous system. Muscle, just like Bone, is living tissue. Muscle needs calories and stimulation via exercise to maintain and grow. The stronger and fitter our muscles are the Better we are.
Progressive strength training takes us out of our comfort zone and builds our foundation of strength, brick-upon-brick. Working in a way that stimulates and continually challenges our muscles is what strength (resistance) training is. True strength training isn’t aerobic exercise with weights. Strength training is using resistance that keeps our muscles under tension, and challenged. Our bodies adapt, so our training shouldn’t stay the same. There are many tools to use for strength training: Bodyweight properly utilized, resistance bands, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, etc. There are techniques and tools that are utilized in periodized training such as Supersets, Complexes, and Circuits. For the beginner, focus on learning basic compound exercises with good form and building a foundation of stability and strength to build upon.
We all should be builders of our bodies. We only have one so shouldn’t we build it to be as strong, healthy & functional as possible? To have stability, balance and mobility- we need our muscles. To do everyday activities with independence and reduced risk of injury – we need our muscles. To have the body composition we want – we need our muscles. Don’t have fear of morphing into a rippled muscle bound “bodybuilder” if that isn’t what you want. Trust me – that doesn’t happen easily or casually. Becoming a builder of your body = Smart.
When it comes to fighting obesity which is about having less fat – we need our muscle. Muscles need calories; Muscles shape and define our bodies; Muscles move our bodies and keep us balanced and coordinated. Be aware that many weight loss plans are detrimental to our muscles, our bones, our metabolism and our health. If we take care of our muscles we can become fat-burning machines as a normal course of business; we will have stronger bones; we will have a good framework for our bodies that will improve our functional strength, balance and coordination. And yes –look pretty darn FABulous.
Maintain a nutritious diet that keeps you thriving, don’t lead a sedentary lifestyle and have strength training in your life – Do it for the Health of It.
Stay Healthy. Be STRONG. Get After It.