The Benefits of Building Muscle
Muscles, guns, buns of steel, six pack washboard abs, cannons. We idealize and fantasize about having strong and defined muscle, but why? Sure, it makes you look great, but building muscle mass can have drastic positive effects throughout your life.
But I Don’t Want to Get Huge!
A lot of people are afraid to strength train because they are worried about getting too big. This really isn’t something you should worry about. While starting to build muscle only takes a little bit of work, it takes significant amount more effort to build a lot of muscle, and it’s very easy to lose it. As soon as you’ve built enough muscle, you can shift over to just maintaining that muscle.
How Do Muscles Change Size?
The unique structure of muscle cells is incredibly complex. The fact that they can work together to contract and squeeze and enable the body to move in coordinated action is a marvel. But it’s their ability to deliberately change in size and strength that separates it from other body systems. This power to increase the size or strength of muscle is called hypertrophy, and is the reason for strength training. We can take advantage of this process to improve our power and appearance, making exercise an incredible tool for improving health.
Muscle Makes Every Day Easier
The most basic benefit of having more strength, is that it just makes your life easier. Every movement you make relies completely on the muscles of the body. From getting out of bed in the morning, walking to work, carrying a bag of groceries, to even sitting up straight, muscles control everything. Improving your muscular fitness lets you do all of these things with less effort and for longer periods of time. You’ll be less likely to get tired walking up the stairs, strain your back when picking up your kids, and feel fatigued at the end of the day.
Lose Fat by Building Muscle
Having more muscle can help do a lot of good to help you lose fat. At its most basic, fat is stored extra energy, and weight loss happens when you burn more energy than you consume. The more muscle mass you have, the more energy and calories your body uses to sustain itself, increasing your BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate. In coordination with healthy eating and cardio workouts, strength training is a super effective way to burn more fat. Additionally, the bigger your muscles are and the more your body is made of lean muscle, the better your body composition is, which gives you a lower percentage of body fat. Just remember, don’t trust the scale, since muscle weighs more than fat!
More Muscle Prevents Injury
Increasing muscle mass can also help lower the risk of injury when you exercise and also in your day to day life. Working out safely, using proper form and technique, can improve and strengthen muscles throughout the body. This can work to decrease muscle imbalances which can help prevent pain and decrease the potential for injury. A balanced strength training program can also improve posture, increasing your resistance to injury and aches and pains.
As an added benefit, stronger muscles can help protect certain areas of the body against injury from impact or blunt force trauma. Your muscle and fascia acts as padding, and pads are always best when they’re strong and tight. Strength training also works to improve bone density, and the strength of tendons and ligaments, which become more resistant to damage.
Muscle Improves Mood & Mind
Added muscle can do wonders for mental health and self esteem. Improving body composition through added muscle and decreased excess fat, can help you feel stronger and better. This can work to improve body image, and help you see yourself in a better light. It also serves as a motivator to continue exercising, enacting a positive spiral of improvement.
The benefits of having muscle are nearly endless, and all it takes is a little bit of work. Set some realistic goals, and remember that you’re working to improve yourself and live a better life. So relax, have fun, and enjoy your fitness journey!