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The Importance of Building Muscle as We Age

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When you think of building muscle, do you envision big grotesque bodybuilders with fake tan lotion flexing them for anyone that will give them attention?

Do you think of the guy at the gym who’s grunting loudly, lifting way too much weight with veins popping out of their head?

If so, I’m not surprised.  Not enough is done to stress the health importance of building healthy lean muscle tissue as we age.

I’m here today to tell you about the more practical / normal side and importance of building muscle.  The side that notes its benefits to your health.

While some individuals are strictly interested in obtaining muscle for aesthetics, for many, this isn’t the soul interest.  Instead, you’re more interested in knowing what  health benefits weight lifting will have for you…

Far too many people overlook the many health and fitness benefits that weight training has to offer, and because of this, experience problems down the road with their body such as decreased bone density, a slowed metabolic rate, increased stress levels and other negative consequences that are associated with constant stress and a neglected aging body.

Luckily, weight training – if done properly, can prevent not only all those issues listed above, but many more.   As you enter your 40′s, your muscle mass begins to decline.  By the time you reach 50, you begin to lose muscle at a rate of 1 to up to 5lbs per year depending on your level of inactivity.  At this point, the amount of muscle you lose starts to outpace the rate at which you increase muscle mass.  Thus creating a deficit, says professor of geriatrics Robert Wolfe, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and director of the Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity.

Here are some of the most critical benefits you’ll get when starting up on a muscle building program.

-Increased Bone Density

With weight lifting being one of the best weight bearing exercises you can do, the stress on the body will increase your bone density and help ward off Osteoporosis (dangerously low bone mass), Osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis).  My mother was recently diagnosed with Osteopenia so you can bet I’ve got her doing all sorts muscle building weight lifting exercises.  She works with one of our trainers and also participates in our Women’s Only Boot Camp.

Weight lifting, being an anaerobic and anabolic process, helps to promote the building of muscle tissues / fibers.

Some have argued that running is a good muscle building exercise.  It’s really not.  It actually promotes a decrease in muscle mass.  Weight lifting is going to be much better at preserving your bone mass.  Weight lifting is also a non-impact exercise which is actually much easier on your Hips, Knees and ankles.

-Decreased likelihood of Injuries

One very overlooked and rarely mentioned benefit of weight lifting is that when you strength train, not only are your muscles going to get stronger, but you’ll also be strengthening the ligaments(connect bone to bone) and tendons(connect bone to muscle), thus reducing the chance they become injured when participating in other physical activities.

Injuries can be extremely frustrating.  Especially when you’re making great strides towards your goals.  In most of all non-trauma all injury cases, the injury is a direct result of a tendon, ligament, or muscle not being strong enough when a stressful force is applied.

Since weight training targets the deep tendons and ligaments, as well as the muscles, it’s the best injury prevention out there.

-Reduction of Health Related Risks

Studies have demonstrated that regular weight training can have a positive effect on your health by showing a decrease in becoming insulin resistant, developing high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

Put a solid weight training program together with a clean, healthy diet and you’re dramatically decreasing your chances of developing these chronic life threatening illnesses.

-Prevent Fat Gain

The more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolism.  There are many studies out there showing that gains in muscle mass increase the amount of fat burned by your body.  Different studies give different numbers but from what I’ve seen, every 1lb of muscle added to your body can burn anywhere between 6 and 50 extra calories per day.   This results in being able to maintain a much more consistent body weight without worrying quite as much if you have a cheat meal here and there.  Your increased resting metabolic rate will help you to burn more calories while at rest.

So with all the positive points above, I have to address one big hang up and myth out there that keeps a lot of people for wanting to lift weights.  And that is…

Am I going to get big, heavy, too muscular, look like a body builder, have veins popping out everywhere, etc…

The answer is NO!

Those guys and girls get super big because the EAT to get that big.  They take in as much as 10,000 calories per day.  Not only from food, but from high calorie shakes, and who knows what else.  They also train with extreme intensity, heavy weight and low number of repetitions(hence the awful grunting).

The calories alone won’t make you muscular – Just look at Michael Phelps.  The multiple Olympic gold medalist.  During the Olympics, it seemed all you’d hear is about how he consumes 12,000 calories per day.  He works hard…  How come he doesn’t have big muscles?  It’s because of the type of training that he is doing.  Without that combination of training method, high calorie diet, and performance enhancing drugs, bodybuilders would never get that big.  The calories are the building blocks for all that muscle.

Chances are, you’re most likely going to be eating somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 calories per day.  Enough to replenish muscle but not nearly enough to stimulate undesired growth.  Therefore, you have absolutely nothing to fear.

Hopefully it’s now clear that building muscle is very important to your health.  The aesthetic benefits and fat loss are just the icing on the cake.  No, do not get up and get cake :-)

Weight training can be intimidating to start but also dangerous if not done properly.  Working out with one of our Personal Trainers you’ll have a weight training and weight loss routine custom tailored to your specific needs, wants, and goals.  You’ll also avoid doing it incorrectly or ineffectively.  If you’d like to learn more about how we might be able to help you, please call us or sign up for a FREE consultation below…

Click Here To Sign Up For a Free Consultation

If you’re currently not doing or chose not to include weight training as part of your current workout program, it is without-a-doubt one of the biggest mistakes you could make as far as your long-term health and fitness level is concerned.  Don’t let this extremely important exercise pass you by any longer.

Dennys Passeto, CPT

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