Resistance Training – Muscle Strength Burns Fat!

If you’re like a lot of my patients over 40, you may have a few pounds to lose and would like to regain that youthful, toned, muscular look you used to have. It’s true, as we get older, if we don’t use it; we lose it, muscle strength, that is.

Did you know that people lose 5 lbs of muscle mass every 10 years after the age of 30? That’s right! With that muscle loss comes decreased metabolic rate, which means we burn fat slower and may gain weight faster. However, the good news is that there is a way to reverse this process. It’s called resistance training.

There are so many aspects of optimal health that good muscle strength influences. In fact, toned muscles not only make us look more streamlined but they can actually help us age slower, lose weight, build bone density, and stay agile and less prone to injuries.

Many people trying to lose weight tell me that they do aerobic exercise like walking, running, or cycling, several times a week along with watching what they eat, yet their weight loss is still very slow. When I ask them if they do any resistance, or muscle strength training along with those efforts, they’re surprised to hear that they’ll see results faster if they substitute some aerobic exercise for some resistance training. Let me explain why.

What Is Resistance Training?

Simply put, resistance training is any kind of movement of your muscles against an external resistance like free weights, weight machines, exercise bands, or even lifting rocks, that causes your muscles to contract. Doing these kind of muscle movements causes microscopic tears in the muscle in a process called catabolism, or break down, of the muscle fibers.

The healing and repair that our body does in response is known as anabolism. It causes the muscles to not only repair themselves but also grow stronger, denser, and more resilient. The result of that two-stage process creates a more toned you and increases your metabolic rate which helps you burn fat faster. If you burn fat faster, guess what? You lose those stubborn pounds of fat faster.

Here are some other side benefits of resistance training that I bet you’ll be surprised to know:

Can help lower blood pressure – current research shows that resistance training lowers both systolic (upper) and diastolic (lower) blood pressure by several points. It also decreases stress hormones in the blood which helps lower blood pressure.

Prevents osteoporosis by building bone – friction of the muscle against bone during resistance training stimulates the bone to grow and become thicker.

Reverse or slow down the aging process – along with a higher protein intake, resistance training helps release Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which slows aging.

Improve glucose metabolism – weight training improves insulin usage by utilizing glucose for muscle work. Helps prevent type 2 diabetes.

Aerobic and Resistance Training – Both Work Together

Don’t get me wrong, aerobic exercise is very beneficial to your overall health. It also improves your mood, decreases your blood pressure, increases your metabolic rate, increases lung and heart capacity, and helps you sleep!

However, I have some patients who exhaust and dehydrate themselves doing aerobic exercise every day for 1 hour, trying to lose fat and tone muscles. This is actually counterproductive. You can shorten your aerobic exercise time to 20 minutes, 3 times a week, doing interval aerobic exercise instead which not only energizes you but strengthens your heart and boosts your metabolic rate far better and faster.

Interval aerobic exercise, is doing a 10 minute slower warm up with your chosen exercise (walking, jogging, traditional bicycling or “spinning” on a bike in a club, elliptical machine, swimming, brisk dancing) and then alternating between short, 2 minute bursts of more intense, faster, higher resistance level exercise and slow, resting exercise for the remaining 10 minutes. As you get used to doing intervals like this, you can gradually increase your length of high intensity bursts to 5 minutes.

Resistance training, on the other hand, specifically targets the strength of each muscle group and should be done 3 times a week. Whether you use free weights or standing weight machines in your gym is your choice. However, you may want to start out on weight machines and incorporate some free weight exercises into your resistance training routine after you’ve become comfortable with it. Also, a good warm up session of stretching before resistance training is important to avoid injury. Be sure to also stay hydrated and drink a lot of water while exercising.

In general, a good guideline is 3 sets of 10-12 reps (repetitions), starting with 5-10 lb free weights, or 20 lbs machine weight. Each exercise should be done on an every other day pattern, giving your muscles a chance to rest and repair in between sessions. However, to start out with for the first week or so, you may want to decrease your number of sets and reps to half this amount and gradually build up to this level, increasing your weight slightly as you go. You don’t want to over work previously unused muscles and become sore.

Remember, this is resistance/strength training and not bodybuilding so keep your weights at just slightly tougher than comfortable level to avoid building a lot of muscle mass. Resistance training is very easy, and safe to do on your own, but, you may want to start off with a little personal instruction at a gym with a trainer who can give you a basic resistance training program and help you keep track of your goals.

I hope the basics of resistance training mentioned here will encourage you to add it to your fitness routine. The benefits of resistance training are usually noticeable within the first 3 weeks, and if you’re faithful to your dietary intake, you should see some tangible results in fat loss. Take your measurements before you start resistance training, and then again 3 weeks later. You may not see a big drop in numbers on the scale, as muscle, even though it is smaller and denser than fat, weighs more. However, your clothes will fit better and you’ll start seeing more and more muscle definition. You’ll have more stamina, you’ll look great and best of all you’ll feel awesome!

Hasten Muscle Repair With L-Glutamine

How You Could Hasten Muscle Repair

We all know that exercising causes the muscles to become torn. Well, not torn apart because that would be dangerous, but the stress of the exercises causes small tears to appear in the muscle tissue. These tears then encourage a repair process. The muscle repair process will attempt to regenerate and add more muscle tissue to prevent the same tears from happening again.

If you look at it, then the entire bodybuilding experience is merely a way to develop a resistance to very heavy weights. The body does this by giving more muscles to the affected muscle group, thus increasing one’s strength. However, all of this are dependent on the body’s muscle repair process. For most people, the entire process requires at least 48 hours to complete. The repair process must be completed before one can work out that muscle group again, so for some – especially beginners – the process becomes detrimental to the rate of growth they want to achieve.

The good news is, one can quicken the rate in which the muscles fully recover from the workout, so you can exercise them again. A quicker recovery rate also means you can grow more muscles in a shorter period of time. So, question is: how can you influence the rate of recovery that your body undertakes?

Meet the Glutamine Amino Acid

The glutamine amino plays a very big role in your body’s muscle recovery rate. Glutamine is almost single-handedly responsible for the repair process of the body, since it is one of the most abundant non-essential amino acid in the body. However, glutamine is also used during exercises including bodybuilding. When the body is too stressed, it tends to deplete the body’s glutamine stores for use as calories, leaving little or none at all for the muscle tissue repair that follows soon after.

If you want to hasten your body’s muscle repair process, you would have to take an L-glutamine supplement. Having ample stores of the amino acid in your body, you can make sure that the body has a lot of amino acids to use for calories and a lot left for it to build the damaged muscles with. This prevents the body from cannibalizing its own muscles to produce calories, a state which is called the catabolic state. The body will lose more muscles than you build up in this state, so you would want to avoid this.

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.