Don’t we all aspire to being bodybuilders? Well, not really, but building muscle has its place in weight loss for sure. Losing weight is a multi-faceted deal, but replacing fat with muscle is a key component for both men and women.
The Compelling Argument…..Muscle Versus Fat
There are a number of excellent reasons to add muscle and decrease fat in your body. Health reasons (i.e. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer) aside, here are several others:
- Muscle might feel heavier than fat, but a pound is a pound! In other words, a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same.
- Muscle is denser than fat (therefore takes up less volume). You will feel firmer and look more shapely with more muscle.
- Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. It costs your body more calories to maintain.
- Muscle is important for the health of your bones. The pull of muscles on the bones helps to increase bone density.
- Muscle is functionally important (i.e., the ability to lift objects, lift your body up stairs or out of a chair, etc.). Let’s face it, you need muscle to do the basics and beyond.
- Muscle is important for balance. Good balance requires muscles to hold you up and to react appropriately.
- Muscle is vital to athletic performance. This is a “no-brainer”, right?
Myths About Women, Muscle, and Bulk
Many women fear bulking up. That fear is often enough to keep them out of the weight room, but is it warranted? Absolutely not. I think that what a lot of women think “bulking up” is, is actually a fear of changing shape. Rearranging the distribution of fat vs. muscle can feel like bulking up, because, for one reason, muscle is much firmer than fat. Give me the choice of flabby arms or firm arms, guess which ones I choose?
Another reason most women will not bulk up is because they lack enough testosterone to do so. There is a huge difference between men and women when it comes to testosterone, and that is a good thing!
Down to The Nitty Gritty: How Heavy Do You Need to Lift?
If you watch a lot of exercise videos, or attend classes at your gym where weights and cardio are involved, you typically will be using light weights. That is, light enough weights to do tons of repetitions (like over 20). I don’t know how many exercise videos I have seen with those pink 3 pound dumbbells! I am not condoning 3 pound dumbbells, for a beginner, or anyone who needs to start light though.
Yes, you will tone your muscles, and burn calories, but will you actually be using heavy enough weights to build muscle? Not necessarily. You need to be in the repetition range of 8-12 repetitions (reps) per set of lifts. If you are new to weight lifting, check with a professional for guidance on proper techniques. Beginners often start with 1 or two sets and then move up to 3 sets within a couple of months.
If you lift too heavy of a weight, your form will likely suffer, and that can lead to injuries or discouragement. You want to feel like you have worked by the end of your set and that you could only do one or two more reps. That is when you stop. More advanced weight lifters can lift to muscle failure, where they cannot do any more after their last repetition.
Bottom line is in order to build muscle, which is metabolically more active than fat, thus helps burn more calories, you need to lift heavy enough weights!
Do You Need to be a Compulsive Calorie Counter and Carnivore?
Not necessarily. The internet is full of articles about how to eat to put on muscle, from everything to super strict diets to common sense. Be aware that weight training will make you hungry! The balance comes in where you need to eat enough calories of good protein, carbs, and healthy fats to actually build muscle and promote muscle recovery, but not overeat because you just worked out, and therefore, think that you deserve that milkshake!
Your metabolism will be revved up from your workout, so don’t be afraid to eat! You have to eat to add muscle, which in turn burns more calories than fat.
In her program, 21 Day Fat Loss Challenge, Shawna Kaminski has very thoughtfully created a comprehensive guide that combines high intensity interval training, strength training and a nutrition plan, that will get you on track and keep you on track for getting rid of body fat, building muscle, and looking and feeling great!
This program has a huge variety of exercises, tips on modifying difficult ones, and lots of videos. You really can’t go wrong downloading her program and giving it a try!
It’s Not All About the Scale.
The way that you look and feel is more important than what the scale says. Let’s face it, most of us really do care about how we look. Whether it is for increased self-confidence in the job market or dating world, or simply for our self-esteem, we care.
How we feel in our bodies is a different story. If we think we look good, we will feel good in our body, right? If we think that we don’t look good, or look too fat or unhealthy, we are not going to have positive feelings about our bodies.
So, no matter what the scale says, you can start making changes that will help you feel better in and about your body. One great way to do that is to lift weights, build some muscle, and give your metabolism a boost. Hopefully, you will also feel that endorphin rush just like you get from a good run or bike ride. The added benefit of fat loss is a huge motivator for many people as well. You will lose weight too, but beware that you will also gain a few pounds of muscle to replace lost fat.
Discover these “Afterburn” producing workoutsand nutrition plan here
By Sue Bream yoursimplehealthylife.com