Summer is on the horizon! As you swap out your winter wear for summer clothes, you might feel inclined to finally adhere to a fitness or workout routine. Summer tends to give way to shorter and more revealing clothes, leaving many of us desperate to shed our winter bodies and get back in the groove for sunny and hot days. Yet, becoming lean and toned requires muscle.
At the same time, there’s more to it than that. At the end of the day, muscle is necessary for your survival. It increases strength and helps you move. In fact, one of the strongest muscles in the body is your heart, which pumps blood, containing nutrients and oxygen, to all the areas of the body that need it.
However, muscle mass naturally declines as you age. When you’re young, muscle comes fairly easily. After the age of 30, due to hormonal variations and often more sedentary behaviors, the human body loses about 3-5% of its muscle mass each decade. So, let’s dive into this topic a little further. Why is it important to prevent muscle loss? And how can you build more muscle?
The Importance of Muscle Mass
With age, muscle fibers tend to shrink, as well as reduce in numbers. On top of this, the body replaces muscle tissue more slowly (as it does with other tissue as time goes on), and neuromuscular changes lead to reduced muscle tone and contraction.
In fact, the whole “if you don’t use it, you lose it” concept 100% applies here. If you don’t actively engage your muscles regularly, your body won’t put energy into maintaining them.
As a result, you might experience weight gain. Muscle is highly metabolic tissue, meaning it burns more calories at rest. If you have less muscle but are eating the same, you will likely store this excess energy as fat tissue.
In contrast, reduced muscle mass can also cause a thinner and weaker body. You may also experience body aches, stiffness, reduced mobility, joint pain, and even trouble sleeping. All of this can make you more susceptible to injury. In fact, research shows that increased age and injury are associated with higher mortality rates. Thus, if you want to live a long, healthy, and vibrant life, you want to work on maintaining your muscle mass.
5 Tips to Build Muscle
So, what can you do to maintain and build more muscle mass? We’ve got a few tips:1. Strength Train
Most experts recommend strength training at least three times a week for muscle gains. On top of this, you want to be incorporating progressive overload, which means adding weight, reps, or sets as certain exercises get easier.2. Consume Enough Protein
Most individuals require about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. However, if your goal is to gain muscle, you may need closer to one gram of protein per kilogram of body weight or more. Good sources of protein include eggs, lean meats, poultry, fish, and dairy products.3. Eat Enough Food
A common mistake many people make when they want to build muscle is cutting calories. While, in some cases, this might make sense, most often, if you want to gain muscle tissue, you need to ensure you’re eating enough food. In today’s restrictive diet culture, this can be really confusing but is really important!
Additionally, you’ll want to obtain most of your calories and nutrients from whole foods, since these tend to be more nutrient-dense and contain fewer chemicals used during processing.4. Get Adequate Rest
Research shows how sleep quality is positively associated with muscle strength. The average adult needs about 7-9 hours of sleep each night. And if your goal is to grow muscle, this is even more important since this is when the body secretes the growth hormone, contributing to increased muscle mass.5. Incorporate Supplements
Supplements, such as Life Nutrition’s Women’s Everday Complete, Men’s Everyday Complete, Algae Calcium, Joint Support, Sleep Tonight, and more, can help you make up for where your diet and health are lacking or where you need an extra boost.
The key piece in muscle growth and maintenance is consistency. The body responds to the signals you send it. If your goal is muscle growth or maintenance, you need to be sending it the right signals via your lifestyle choices. Begin making those choices today so you can lead a healthier tomorrow.