No matter your age, gender or fitness level, building muscle should be a top priority.
When we talk about ‘building muscle’, people often imagine turning themselves into a big, muscly body-builder. While this is a natural first reaction, that’s not what we’re talking here (unless that’s what you’re aiming for!). We simply mean building and maintaining an optimum level of muscle mass and strength for your body type.
To function normally and undertake even the most routine of activities (like sitting down, standing up, and climbing stairs), we must all have a musculoskeletal system that is in pristine working order. At Big 5 Fitness, we place emphasis on building and maintaining muscle, while reducing fat.
If you don’t train or stick to any particular dietary regime, muscle mass generally peaks from 18 to 25 years old in men, and 16 to 20 years old in women. Optimum muscle strength can be expected a little later, at about age 20 for women, and age 30 for men.
After our early twenties, building and maintaining muscle must be a top priority to stop the otherwise inevitable declines in strength and agility, and increases in fat and weight gain due.
Keep reading to find out why building and maintain muscle should be a top priority.
Muscle Promotes Insulin Sensitivity
Muscle plays a number of very important roles in your health and wellbeing, particularly when it comes to your metabolic health. Muscle is able to store glucose (which is also known as carbohydrates) as glycogen. Thus is the fuel that our bodies use every time we move (whether we’re lifting weights or using a computer). Muscle is basically your own private store of glycogen, which you deplete when you move or exercise, and top up when you eat carbohydrates.
As such, it is crucial to build muscle when trying to maintain a healthy metabolism—muscle ensures you use the calories from recently consumed carbohydrates for your daily activities, as opposed to turning these calories into stored fat.
Muscles Help Increase Your Metabolic Rate
Following on from insulin sensitivity, it seems that the more muscle mass, the higher your resting metabolic rate. So, even if you’re doing absolutely nothing, your body will still burn calories—all thanks to your muscles.
One kilo of muscle uses approximately 12 calories to sustain itself, as compared to one kilo of fat, which uses just 4 calories per day.
And, if you’ve done a resistance training workout (preferably at Big 5 Fitness), you’ll burn even more calories because your muscles will then be ‘activated’.
Muscle Helps Fight The Signs of Ageing
Amongst the elderly, there are dangerous symptoms and consequences associated with loosing muscle mass and gaining fat, making muscle retention vital after the on-set of middle age. As we get older, we generally slow down or stop exercising altogether, which accelerates the rate of muscle loss.
If you don’t regularly use your muscles, they can deteriorate rapidly. To keep your muscle mass and strength in peak condition, then you must dedicate time and energy to maintaining it. As you get older, your body has more than enough jobs to do without trying to maintain your muscle mass and strength for no particular reason. Your muscles naturally begin to break down, with your body focusing on maintaining the functionality of your heart, lungs and other vital organs. If this starts to occur, then you become more susceptible to falls and less able to recover from illness or hospitalisation. It makes it even more crucial to place muscle building at the top of your fitness regime.
Building Muscle Helps Fight Obesity
The rapid increase of overweight and obese people poses serious diet related health risks. From Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, and even certain forms of cancer, there are a number of chronic diseases related to being overweight.
The problem with ageing is that it places a toll on your body, particularly if you don’t take care of your body. Obesity is inflammatory, and inflammation causes muscle breakdown throughout the entire body. Combined with the natural muscle wasting that is associated with ageing, the two can combine in a somewhat vicious cycle that is hard to break. Once you start to loose muscle mass and strength, it makes simple tasks like walking much harder, accelerating weight gain and the increasing the risk of illness.
Muscle Strength Reduces the Risk of Injury
Building muscle helps protect your bones and joints from injury and deterioration, and even supports healthy joint function. Having a healthy amount of muscle mass can also help to preserve and maintain bone density. Bone density is important in preventing a number of diseases such as osteoporosis, particularly for women and the elderly.
Muscle Training Offers A Range of Perks
Weight training and resistance training, which is what you need to do in order to build muscle strength and mass, can actually improve your balance, boost blood-sugar control, and even improve your quality of sleep.