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Many people are looking for an athletic, muscular body ie: 6 packs, and ultra-toned arms especially around this time of year as summer is approaching. However, it’s important to keep in my that developing and strengthening muscles isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s about your health too. Being more muscular can delay aging, prevent chronic diseases, and boost self-esteem.
Purpose of muscles:
- Decreased joint pain: joints sit on muscles and when you lack proper muscle definition it can make joints and ligaments unstable, painful, and more easily injured.
- Improves bone density: increasing muscle strength has a direct impact on bone tissue. In this type of strength training, a kind of tension is generated that stimulates bone density.
- Body fat control: Did you know that muscle consumes three times more energy than fat? Muscle tissue speeds up the metabolism and helps keep body fat levels down. Which is why strengthening exercises are also useful for people who want to lose weight.
Fun Fact: Adipose tissues store energy and muscle tissues consume that energy.
- Increases metabolism, controls blood glucose, and prevents diabetes: muscles are an important reservoir of blood glucose, so a deficiency in muscle mass worsens your body’s ability to manage blood glucose and can eventually lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and metabolic diseases.
- Mood booster: working out the muscles improves posture, and this actually impacts the brain and our mood.
After 30 we begin to lose muscle mass(it’s estimated that between 3 and 5% every 10 years), this accelerates by the time we hit 40. But there are habits that we can incorporate into our lives to delay this.
Here are the 3 basic pillars to maintaining a good muscular frame:
– Protein-rich diet
– Strengthening exercises
– Restorative rest
Fuel for your muscles
– High biological value proteins are key to muscle development. Not only do they build a solid foundation they also repair muscle tissue and provide us with needed energy. Some of the best proteins are: chicken, beef, fish, yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, and of course, Peanut butter…
But undoubtedly, the best way to ensure you get a good intake of protein is to include a scoop of Whey protein to your diet. This incredible product is designed to stimulate protein synthesis and strengthen muscle tissue. I usually put mine in my morning smoothie after my workout session (the best time to consume protein), but protein powder is very versatile and can be used in desserts and can even be added to porridge. This Whey Protein is full of good things, but what I like to highlight is the taste. It’s not like other protein powders, I guarantee.
– Healthy fats: By this I mean, olive oil, avocado, nuts or fish such as salmon. Proper intake of fatty acids ensures that the rest of the macronutrients are absorbed into the body. Fats also help regulate the body and cause muscle-building hormones such as testosterone to be produced.
– Low glycemic index carbohydrates: this food group is not necessary. Proteins and fats are. Even so, we all love a good carb now and again, but it’s important that they don’t cause glucose spikes. My favorites are sweet potatoes, quinoa, and oats, which are both filling and packed with energy!
Going beyond weights and machines
Strengthening exercises are essential to gaining muscle, it’s not enough just to go for a run or a bike ride. If you are bored of the gym, weight lifting, and the endless repetitions on a machine… you can train and develop your muscles by following some of these trends:
Calisthenics: these are combinations of exercises that are done using only your own body weight: push-ups, pull-ups, jumping jacks, planks… it’s the perfect activity to work the whole body in addition to building muscle, it helps to tone and burn excess fat at the same time.
Boxing: has gone from being considered violent and dangerous to being one of the trendiest sports around these days. There are more and more boxing classes available, and besides being one of the best ways to build muscle, it’s highly recommended to lower stress levels.
Vinyasa Yoga: We tend to think of yoga as something relaxing and calm, however, yoga-like Vinyasa, has some really challenging poses. By doing the poses in rhythm with your breath, it creates complex training for your muscles on strength and endurance.
Build muscle while you sleep
Sometimes it is hard to believe when we find people who don’t take a day off from the gym, but this is a key step if looking to gain muscle mass. Reset Day- as it is known, shouldn’t be skipped because it’s precisely when our muscles have time to rest and recover that they increase their size.
Also, keep in mind that an exhausted and fatigued muscle is at greater risk of injury.
Prioritizing a good night’s rest is crucial. At night a lot of biological processes occur in the body, such as the release of the growth hormone- GH (essential to the production of body mass), tissue recovery, restoration of basic functions, a balancing of the nervous system, strengthening the immune system, brain oxygenation …. the list goes on. Try to sleep between 7 and 8 hours a day for optimal health.