At the mention of the word muscles, our minds drift to a well-chiseled body that is admirable to most if not all. The attention drawn to those with ‘guns’, six-pack abs and a firm glute is immeasurable. Over time, gaining muscle was associated with bodybuilding and was only left for men. Recently women have crossed over to the weights section of the gym determined to tone and grow their muscles. Muscle tone is important to for all of us, the question is how does we go about it safely?
Strength training can initially be done using your own body weight, resistance bands, weightlifting machines and free weights. Strength training may help you build and maintain muscle as you age and keep your bones strong, which may help prevent osteoporosis. If you are starting out, using a weightlifting machine may be safer than dumbbells. As you get fit, you may want to add free-weight exercises with dumbbells. Proper form is critical when lifting weights. You may want to schedule a session with a fitness profession to learn which exercises to do and how to do them safely.
Beyond looking good, strength training has a myriad of potential benefits including:
- Increasing metabolic rate. Muscles cells use up energy while fat cells store energy. By gaining more muscle there is an increase in the body’s energy requirement which in turn improves the metabolic rate
- Strengthening your bones and tendons which prevents bone breakages and tendon sprains and tears
- Boosting strength to carry out daily activities with ease
- Promoting insulin sensitivity. Higher muscle mass and reduced fat mass is associated with improved insulin sensitivity
- Protecting against obesity. Building muscle encourages one to be physically active and this reduces the possibility of a sedentary lifestyle that can result in obesity
- Reducing the risk of diseases
Building muscle is not a one-day affair but a lifestyle. It all starts by envisioning yourself with the body you desire, picking up the dumbbells (if not available, add some water to your 2-liter water bottles) for the ‘guns’, trying out the Russian twist for the abs and sumo squatting for your glutes and thighs. To get the body you desire, nutrition is critical. Muscles are “30% gym, 70% kitchen.” Finally, it is imperative to get adequate sleep to give you muscles ample recovery time.
Train hard, eat right and sleep tight!