The Importance of Muscle Mass While Aging

Muscle. Everything you do in life is directly related to muscle. Sitting, standing, walking and even breathing involves muscles. Without muscles you would not be able to pump blood through your veins and arteries. Without muscle we would cease to live.

From the time we are born until our mid- twenties, our bodies continue to grow and become stronger. But little do most people know, around age 25 we all start losing muscle through a process called sarcopenia. This loss of muscle mass can be attributed to many of the symptoms we relate to aging such as loss of balance and strength, loose skin, poor posture and inability to complete daily tasks.

While this is a natural process of aging, the good news is there are things we can do to allow this process to be dramatically slowed and possibly even reversed. Here are the ways to keep the muscle you have and maybe even add some:

1. Weight resistance training – training with weights could possibly be one of the most important factors in maintaining our muscle mass (and independence) as we age. Have you ever heard of the “use it or lose it” principle? Well your body uses that principle to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. Somewhere in life we are taught that as we age that physical activity is less important and we ease into old age and sedentary habits. This is the opposite of what we should do! By training your muscles with resistance, your body will see it as a necessity for life and will do whatever it takes to hold on to it. Physical activity isn’t just for the young! It keeps you young!

2. Adequate protein intake – when you are consuming enough protein, your body will choose not to go after your muscles as a snack. If you are physically active (which everyone should be as covered in the first point), you should be aiming to consume around 1 gram per pound of your body weight. This will help maintain the muscle you have and also help your body to rebuild the muscle you use during your resistance training. It is important to note that it is essential get your protein from good sources like Organic chicken, fish, grass fed beef, eggs and undenatured grass fed whey protein.

3. Keep on running – cardiovascular health is something to not discount ever, but especially as you age. Keeping your heart, lungs, venous and arterial systems healthy will mean your body will keep blood and nutrients circulating your body to keep your various muscles fully functioning. And you don’t just have to run. You can walk, row, use an elliptical, stair climber or anything that raises your heart rate. Just get moving!

While it is important to exercise, it is equally important to know the safest way to exercise at all age groups, so be sure to speak to a fitness professional and get set on a program that will keep you healthy for years to come. Fitness professionals such as the personal trainers at MaxFit Studio are skilled in making exercising safe, fun and effective at any age!

What Causes Muscle Growth?

In order for muscles to grow, three things are required:

1. Stimulus – exercise is needed to make the muscles work, use energy and cause microscopic damage to the fibers.

2. Nutrition – after intense exercise the muscles need to replenish their stores of fuel.

3. Rest – it is during the rest or recovery phase that the muscles repair the microscopic damage and grow.

Muscle size increases due to hypertrophic adaptation and an increase in the cross section area of individual muscle fibers. Intensive exercise impacts more on the strength influencing fast twitch type II fibers, therefore the increase in muscle size is accompanied by greater strength.

This will deplete the muscle’s energy stores and cause microscopic damage to the muscle tissue. During recovery, these stores of glycogen and phosphocreatine will replenish from carbohydrates and creatine ingested as food or supplements. Amino acids supplied in the diet will trigger the protein synthesis that repairs the damaged muscle and lead to the creation of bigger muscle fibers.

To achieve continuous improvement you will need to keep reaching for higher levels of training intensity otherwise the improvement process will grind to a halt. Fortunately, this is relatively easy to plan for provided certain basic principles and rules are clearly followed. Just be sure to build sufficient rest into your training program otherwise the hard work will go to waste. For many bodybuilders and athletes generally, it is the rest element that seems most difficult. Subsequent articles in this series will examine these principles in detail.

In the meantime you can find out more about building muscle by visiting the site listed below.

Muscle – The New Femininity

She stood before the squat-rack, a petite, Filipino beauty, focusing on a steel bar inches before her face. Then, oblivious to the rest of the crowded base gym at Hurlbert Field, Florida, she began squatting for dozens of rock-bottom repetitions…with 250 pounds.

I don’t remember her name -let’s call her Rachel. What I do recall is that this was ten years ago, before Fitness competitions, before women so exquisite consorted with barbells. This tiny E-4 was handling more weight than any fitness competitor today uses, in fact, more weight than used by most men. I asked her if she competed in bodybuilding. “No,” she replied, “powerlifting.”

Powerlifting? That’s about grunting up a single maximum lift…powerlifters don’t look like this! Enlightened as I thought I was about female muscle, my mental images of blocky, chalk-covered, “she-males” now had to yield to new possibilities.

With the bodybuilding magazines now filled with dumbbell-wielding Fitness beauties (athletic versions of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models), I think of Rachel, so far ahead of her time. Even now the question of muscle and femininity continues to arise with monotonous predictability: Will a woman “look like a man” if she lift weights?

I’d defy anyone looking at Rachel (or her tens of thousands of successors) to prove it. Muscle has no genderU.S. News & World Report was reporting that the number of women using free-weights had doubled between 1987 and 1996, from 7.4 million to 16.8 million. One can only guess what those numbers are now, but with the profusion of Fitness magazines and competitions, along with the emergence of female sports, it is a safe bet they’ve doubled again.

To a society obsessed with body image, and increasingly concerned with health, it couldn’t be a better time. As muscle is metabolically active, it burns calories 24 hours a day, even during sleep. Thus the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Unlike with running (which, in excess can break down muscle tissue), in weight training you can only hurt yourself by being careless.

Pumping iron strengthens bones, joints and ligaments as well as muscle, increases growth hormone production (the real fountain of youth) and can be done at any age, which means that senior citizens now have a route to renewed vigor which will allow many of them to discard the canes and walkers. Don’t laugh; it’s already happening!

But getting back to the femininity issue, if we can accept that the essence of female form is curves (rather than the straight lines of the stick-thin fashion models), we’re left with two choices for the substance of those curves: fat or muscle. For most of us the choice is a no-brainer. Consider this: why do women wear high-heels? To look taller? No, to make their calves look shapelier. And their calves look shapelier because they’re muscles being flexed.

But what is “enough?” Or “too much?” I must stifle a grimace or a laugh when someone expresses a fear of becoming “too muscular” to me. Right, and you’d better stop taking piano lessons because you can’t afford the dress you’ll need to perform at Carnegie Hall. Unless a woman has unusual genetics and is taking boatloads of illegal pharmaceuticals to boost her testosterone, she’s not going to add much size. In fact, since muscle is so much denser than fat, she’ll be smaller, even if she weighs more. Thus my clients can ignore the bathroom scale, relying instead on the mirror, skin-fold measurements and their improved performance in the gym.

Most women training with weights are still using only a fraction of their capability. Take calves: women will train them with fifty pounds on a machine, unmindful of the fact that in a two-mile run they’re subjecting them to thousands of repetitions at bodyweight multiplied by G-force. One of my clients, Leslie, an overweight mother of two, in her forties with no athletic background, had already been training at her YMCA when I began with her. But she’d been training like the rest of the women there: cardio, and light reps on the machines.

Initially she could barely squat with an unloaded Olympic bar (45 pounds) for ten repetitions. Less than a year later she was squatting with 185 pounds for 15 repetitions. Doing full sets of seated over-head presses with 40 pound dumbbells, triceps dips with 100 pounds strapped to her. Her face changed, the cheek-bones emerging, the age vanishing. Her outlook’s changed too, no doubt in part to the new-found male attention she’s getting. “Too much?” Her YMCA cohorts are still huffing on the Stairmasters and treadmills, looking the same as always and staring at Leslie when she’s not down in the weight-room out-lifting many of the men. And while she initially was looking to lose fat and get “toned” (I still don’t know what “toned” means), now she even looks at the Fitness stars with some disdain: “I want realmuscle! Like the bodybuilders.”

Just as dramatic is my friend Renita Harris, also a mother of two, formerly overweight. To escape an abusive(former) husband, Renita found solace in the rhythms and challenges of the weight-room. Years later she was competing in bodybuilding and Fitness championships on a national level and winning.

In addition to her regular personal training clients, she was training pro athletes like the NBA’s Kendall Gill. And appearing in numerous magazines. She’d transformed herself into what Art Carey, an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer described as “a head-turning goddess…a walking aphrodisiac…a caricature of female form like the femme fatale in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” Yet this tiny-waisted “walking aphrodisiac” has squatted with 405 for a dozen reps. She’s now a Chicago cop. And, like Rachel, our powerlifting E-4 at Hurlburt Field, as feminine as ever.

How many more potential Renitas, Leslies and Rachels are out there? Millions. They just don’t know it. Some of them are at your gym. Maybe you’re one of them. There’s one way to find out.

Glutamine – The Smart Choice For Skinny Guys Who Want to Gain Muscle Mass?

If you are one of those guys who religiously read the muscle magazines for the latest “edge” for bodybuilding… then I have some sad, sad news for you concerning Glutamine…

But before I rock your boat… you are definitely gonna see “Glutamine” on the top 5 list of supplements that are must haves for bodybuilders — in every issue of the bodybuilding and muscle magazines.

And why not? Glutamine is a money maker for them.

But does Glutamine actually deliver? I don’t think so…

And I think you are better served if you stick with the basic supplements of creatine, protein powder, multi-vitamins and fish oil capsules. And speaking as a skinny guy with a budget… I truly believe you are just wasting money on glutamine.

I don’t think Glutamine has any effect at all on your muscle building efforts. But that is just me…

Here is the down and dirty story of Glutamine…

You see, glutamine makes up about 66% of the amino acids in our bodies… and guess what? Your body makes it so it doesn’t need any external input… and yes… when you are working out… the amino acid reserve in our muscles get depleted…

And I guess this is where the theory that you must replenish your glutamine levels comes in…

But… there is NO research that can show evidence of the benefits of taking glutamines. Especially for skinny guys like you and me.

And users of Glutamine are probably spend over $1000 a year in the misguided belief that it is helping their muscle building workouts.

If taking Glutamine does have any positive effects… it would only be for certain conditions and situations… but otherwise a huge waste of money that you can redirect into buying better quality foods to help you gain weight.

Rest and Recuperation for Building Muscle

As you look over the difficulty of the heavy training required for putting on muscle mass you might have a tendency to become discouraged. But there is good news. All of the heavy-duty training that is necessary for more muscle mass also requires more rest and recuperation time. If you are training to get lean and mean, you rest less; if you are training for muscle mass, you rest more. The heavier weightlifting sessions require that the body be well rested. The body does not actually grow during heavy weightlifting; rather it is torn down.

If you continually lifted heavy with no rest you would wreck your body in a hurry. Rest and recuperation are very important – vital elements of the mix for massive gains. Your body’s basic time of growth occurs during sleep, so it makes sense to get a lot of sleep if you wish to maximize your growth potential. The more sleep the better, up to a point. Of course, not everyone’s work schedule permits the best in a full night’s sleep, but naps are also beneficial to keep the body fresh and growing.

In addition to allowing for abundant sleep time, some trainers point out the necessity of taking it easy when you are not lifting weights. This is particularly true if you have a difficult time gaining weight. Extra activities can drain your energy level and detract from the growth process. Taking it easy outside the gym is part of the program for gaining massive muscle size in a hurry. The more rest you have between training sessions the more rapidly you will make good progress.

One of the biggest threats to gaining muscle size is overtraining. Overtraining is just that -training over the limit of your body’s ability to recuperate. Overtraining reverses your muscle growth and can cause injuries. Boredom is also a problem with overtraining. It is important to balance your training to avoid overtraining and yet get sufficient training time in to push the muscles to a new level of growth. This balance is a delicate item – it takes some work to achieve. The programs in this guide will help you balance your training so that the muscles are getting a full blast of iron yet enough time off to grow.

Should you engage in aerobic training during a size-training program? Generally, the less the better; however, there are a couple of great aerobic exercises you can use to keep the fat trimmed off and the muscles evident.