5 Reasons You Need to Build Muscle
By Erick Minor
“Behind every worthwhile curve, there is a muscle.” – Dr. Lynne Pirie “Getting Built”
Every day, countless people embark on exercise programs that promise to make them “long and lean”, “firm and strong,” or “ripped and functional,” all in record time.
Everyone from talk show hosts to hip-hop dance instructors are getting in the mix, pedaling programs that are “scientifically proven” to perfectly sculpt your body or reshape your glutes to perfection.
It is true that there are several ways to build a beautiful body; I am only concerned with utilizing the most effective, efficient and sustainable means by which to do this.
What do the effective programs have in common?
If the program that you are doing does not build muscle, then you will not achieve the full health rewards or maximize your physique potential.
Muscle tissue is the metabolic currency that allows us to run fast, jump high, burn fat, and look good.
Muscle loss is a direct indicator of aging; the typical 65 year old has lost 20 pounds of lean muscle since he or she was 25. Muscle loss results in a weaker and flabbier body and the only way to reverse these effects is to rebuild the lost muscle. Needless to say, time is constantly trying to rob you of muscle and vitality.
Even if you do not want to build big bulging muscles (which is only possible by a genetic few), the fastest way to achieve a lean sculpted physique is to train as if you did want big muscles. An increase in muscle tissue is the one common denominator associated with improvements in appearance, loss of body fat, and increased physical performance. A fit muscular body not only looks good, it functions well if the exercise regimen is based on proper joint mechanics and function.
Here are 5 reasons why you should focus on building muscle tissue.
1. Muscle mass is directly correlated to muscular strength. A bigger muscle is a stronger muscle
Muscular strength is the foundation for all bio-motor abilities; strength improves flexibility, balance, and power (1). Muscular tightness is a sign of weakness. A muscle will shorten if it cannot meet demands; this will create joint restriction.
2. Muscle mass is directly correlated to bone density and bone mass (2). Intense strength training is the most effective method for increasing muscle tissue and bone density which will optimize metabolism and prolong health.
3. Muscle mass is directly correlated to immune function and survival rates during trauma or disease. Muscle tissue supports immune function during times of stress and trauma. The more muscle tissue available the greater the buffer against wasting. As muscle mass decreases, functional capacity of the organs decreases as well. Muscle loss occurs with aging but can be prevented with proper strength exercise.
4. The more muscle tissue you possess, the more energy you burn. Build muscle to lose fat.
Skeletal muscle is the primary site of blood glucose disposal and fat burning. A well-designed strength program will burn large amounts of glucose and fatty acids (body fat) due to the high energy demands during training and recovery from training. Intense strength training will benefit the aerobic system as well because the aerobic system works at maximum capacity when recovering from intense exercise such as sprints and circuit strength training. Circuit strength training is the preferred method for building muscle tissue and burning fat.
5. You are only as healthy as your joints.
Optimal muscle balance is the key to a lifetime of health. A well designed resistance training program can address muscle balance issues and at the same time build muscle and burn fat.
Muscular balance is the key to maintaining a mobile and pain-free body.
1. Bompa, Tudor O. Periodization Training For Sports. Champaign : Human Kinetics, 2005. 0-7360-5559-2.
2. Relative influence of physical activity, muscle mass and strength on bone density. Proctor DN, Melton LJ, Khosla S, Crowson CS, O'Connor MK, Riggs BL. 2000, Osteroporos International, pp. 11(11):944-52.
3. Doug McGuff, M.D. Body by Science. New York : McGraw Hill, 2009.
4. Connelly, Dr. Scott. Body Rx. New York : The Berkley Publishing Group, 2001.