Not many people would say gaining weight is a good thing. Yet gaining muscle is a good thing for most people whether thin or overweight, young or old, male or female, there is no down side if you do it the right way and for the right reasons. No one expects you to look like a body builder, if you do not want to, but adding strength training to your daily routine can be a big payoff where health aging and appearance are concerned.
Why should you add a little muscle to your physique? The benefits of gaining muscle are:
- improving physical appearance and appearance of aging sagging skin
- increasing metabolism (more muscle burns more calories, actually 6 calories/day vs. 2 calories each day fat)
- defying aging (there is a 5% decline in muscle mass each year after the age of 40)
- lowering risk of injury and falls (joints become more stable as the connective tissue in muscle gets stronger)
- preventing or reversing diseases such as bone loss in conditions like osteoporosis and metabolic conditions such as insulin resistance or diabetes, (regular resistance exercise training has been shown to increase ‘insulin sensitivity’, meaning the body can intake and utilize glucose more effectively, Pollock et al., 2000).
- Improving self-image and self-esteem
By the time we reach fifty muscle mass is reduced by 10% and the loss continues as we age. Muscle strength is especially important for seniors who rely on it for typical daily living activities such as walking, doing chores or carrying groceries. Get into good habits now to prevent the loss of mobility. You can counteract the normal process of muscle loss as we age by gaining muscle.
- Move your muscles. Pick a large muscle group (legs, chest, back, stomach) and train your body. Use a weight that is heavy enough to make you work and that you can also control (too much weight may cause injury). Do the exercise 8-12 times and repeat two to three times. Consider lunges, squats, hamstring curls, chest presses, sit ups (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3827/How-perfect-sit-ups.html) and back (http://www.projectswole.com/weight-training/the-top-5-best-back-exercises/). But do not forget smaller muscles too: arms, calves, trapezium…
- Feed your muscles protein. According to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology, to build muscle the rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, eat 150 grams of protein. A breakdown looks like this:
2 oz. protein at breakfast ( 2 eggs) to total 14g
2 oz. protein snack ( 2 cheese sticks ) totals 14g
1.5 oz. protein snack (1/2 can tuna) 10.5g
8 oz protein dinner (steak) 56g
2 oz. snack (peanut butter)14g
From here figure out the amount of carbs and fat you need. Adam Campbell, Mens’ Health suggests, uses this formula to calculate calories, http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/gain-fast-muscle.
- Sleep well. The jury is out on the safety of synthetic growth hormone. Natural human growth hormone is highest at night while you sleep. It is involved in muscle growth. So rest up to support muscle growth.
I’ve given you 6 reasons to gain (muscle) weight and 3 simple points on how to get better health and quality of life. Whatcha gonna do? It is up to you.