Whether you’re trying to lose weight, maintain your current weight, or just “tone-up,” muscle mass is more important than you think.
Muscle plays a major role in all three goals. And the key to building valuable muscle mass is resistance training, a.k.a. weight training.
From the added bonus of burning more calories to the many health benefits of muscle mass, incorporating resistance training into your routine is, beyond a doubt, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your fitness journey.
Muscle for Weight Loss
Dieting to lose weight can be hard. You’ve resolved to lose those 5-10-15 pounds. And you want that weight to come off now! Never mind the fact that it took years to inch your way up to your current weight, those L-B’s are coming off whether they like it or not.
You can thank our current climate of instant gratification for that one. Dieting too quickly, however, can cause you to go overboard and become skinny-fat. It can be very satisfying to see the numbers on the scale drop daily (hint: they shouldn’t drop daily).
Seeing the changes on the scale is motivating, so you eat less, and lose more. Well, you’re not just losing fat. When you diet without doing some form of resistance training, you’re also losing valuable muscle mass.
So, while the scale says you should look like –>insert your favorite celeb here<–, you still have that belly, or those saddlebags, that just won’t go away.
In essence, what has happened is you’ve dieted away muscle mass that would have otherwise filled out your frame. But instead, you’re left looking deflated in all the wrong places, with no progress to show for your dieting efforts.
Weight training can help fight off the dreaded skinny-fat by preserving important muscle mass as you lose fat. Focusing on lifting heavy while losing weight will help retain muscle in all the right places, so the result will be a well-proportioned physique. A physique you can be proud of! A physique that mirrors all the hard work you put in, and won’t leave you feeling like you wasted your time.
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Muscle for Maintenance
While maintaining your weight, it can feel like you’re bound to the cardio machines and food scale by heavy, immovable chains.
You make sure you hit the gym like a good little soldier and watch every calorie that crosses your lips.
The number on the scale rose 2 lbs in 2 days? WTF!? I bet it was that piece of bacon I let myself nibble on this weekend. (That’s most likely water weight, by the way.) Upon conclusion of your Monday morning freak-out you vow to dedicate an extra 30 minutes to the elliptical today.
Do you want to have those extra calories here and there without worrying? Squat a barbell, curl some dumbbells, do some kettlebell swings, and you might just be able to relax a bit.
The act of resistance training causes muscle growth. So, the majority of extra calories you allow yourself from time to time would go more toward muscle-building than fat gain.
Muscle mass is also more metabolically active than fat. More muscle means more fat burning. Though it may be marginal, who wouldn’t want an added bonus like that?
Building or maintaining muscle mass through weight training can free you from the cardio-and-calorie-counting prison you find yourself in.
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Muscle for Toning
Think those pink dumbbells will get you toned and taught? Perhaps. But are you prepared to spend more time than is necessary to achieve the look you want?
Maybe you’ve heard the adage: you should lift lighter weights with higher reps if you’re a woman. This is because many people think lifting heavy weights will build huge muscles and they’ll end up looking like The Incredible Hulk.
Wrong. Believe me, you will never end up looking anything like the muscle-bound bodybuilders in the pages of fitness mags just by lifting heavy weights. Not without a little chemical assistance, that is.
In order to get the toned look you’re after, you do need to put on a bit of muscle. But those small, pink dumbbells and thousands of reps aren’t going to get you the results you want any time soon, if ever.
Instead, you need to take the heavy lifting approach. Take some time, build some muscle, and gain some weight. After a good bit of time (at least 10-12 months), diet down to reduce your body fat while continuing to train with heavy weights. And viola! You’ll have that toned body you’ve been going for.
Putting on muscle and getting the toned look you want takes time. Lifting heavier can get you there sooner. Instant gratification, remember? No, you can’t build muscle overnight, and this can be a long journey, so why would you hold yourself back? Challenge yourself instead.
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Muscle for the Masses
It’s time to drop preconceived notions and stop fearing we will turn into muscle-bound meatheads just because we touch a heavy dumbbell.
It’s time to take our fitness into our own hands, absorb all the knowledge we can get our hands on, and successfully achieve our fitness goals!
Muscle mass isn’t just for bodybuilders and fitness models. Muscle mass is for those wanting to lose weight, become healthier, and look good for years to come. Muscle is for anyone who reaches out and takes it. Muscle is for the masses.