We all know building muscle and strength in the muscle is a good thing, but have we ever dived into the reason why? Like eating our veggies it’s pretty commonly known that it’s good for us, but we when we are more educated on why they are good for us, we are more likely to do it. We are going through some of the main benefits of building muscle, and why we should be focusing on this rather than simply losing weight.

1. “Toning Up”

Ask almost anyone about their goals upon initially starting up what their goals would be, and a lot of individuals will answer that they want to “tone up”. Well, when it comes down to it, toning up really comes down to a change in body fat percentage, but we don’t just want to lose body fat, we want to lose body fat AND build lean muscle tissue.

This is what gives people more definition and shape when they do lose body fat, and aesthetically what many people are trying to achieve. “Tone” itself is referring to muscle tone, so we need to be building muscle to be able to achieve this look.

There are many people who are nervous about becoming “too bulking” or building too much muscle, but that is not a fear the general population and the average gym goer needs to worry about. It takes years of dedicated, regimented and serious training to achieve the muscle size some consider as “too bulky”, it most certainly doesn’t just come from regular workouts multiple times a week, it is a lifestyle bodybuilders commit too. Hell, I’ve been training for almost 15 years now, and I wouldn’t consider myself as “big” in a fitness sense. We don’t need to worry about getting too big but building muscle will most certainly create a more sleek, slim look while adding some muscle definition to the body as we drop body fat.

2.    Anti-Aging

Time always wins. This may be slightly dark to say, but no matter what we do we will always die eventually. Our bodies are designed to slowly break themselves down, starting with a drop in hormone production as we hit our 30’s (in most cases) and continue to break down as we get older. You know the joint pain that wasn’t there before? Notice how we don’t recover as quickly as we do in our teenage years? It all comes down to how we are aging and recovering from what we do. With that said, building muscle can slow down this process, and help us enjoy a better quality of life. I’m not saying building muscle will make you immortal unfortunately but there are definitely benefits to adding in resistance training and focusing on muscle building as we age.

As we build lean muscle mass and focus on resistance training, we can keep our body stimulated to produce muscle building hormones which will work against the natural catabolism (breaking down tissue) that will occur if we are not performing these types of activity. These hormone releases are highly beneficial as it keeps our endocrine system active and working into our later years as well. Basically, if you’re not using it, you’re losing it.

Keeping that muscle stimulation can allow us to maintain and gain muscle mass as we get older, which in turn keeps us more active anyways as there will be less aches and pains throughout the body. The earlier in life we can start this process, the easier it is to sustain as we get older.

Resistance training doesn’t just strengthen the muscles, it helps increase bone density, hormonal production, joint stability/strength, and keeps our metabolism higher (more on this later). As a bonus these hormones also help with hair, skin, and nails to keep the entire body healthier.

Want to avoid being in a wheelchair later in life? Build some muscle and keep it active as we get older!

3. Basil Metabolic Rate

Really quickly, Basil Metabolic Rate or BMR is reference to how many calories our bodies burn at rest daily. There are several different factors that can play into this, but one of the more important ones we measure is with how much lean muscle mass an individual has. If a person has more lean muscle mass, it means they have more active tissue in their body, which means they need to consume more calories daily to sustain their body mass.

Now, this effect is often overstated, and over hyped when it comes to burning calories. While adding lean mass keeps our body more active, we need to add a significant amount to see real change. Adding about 1 pound of muscle, would equate to an extra 5 calories burnt a day. Not much, right? Well, lets go a step further. If we gained an extra 10 pounds of lean muscle mass, that would be 50 extra calories per day (approximately). Again, not a huge change, but when you look at it on a weekly basis that would be 350 calories, or 18,000 on a yearly rate.

While these aren’t astronomical numbers, they can certainly make a big difference when it comes to burning body fat. Keep in mind as well, this is while resting. If we could burn an extra 50 calories a day without doing ANYTHING, I’m sure many of us wouldn’t complain. Add that extra calorie burn in with physical activity and a well-balanced nutrition approach, and we’ll be seeing some big changes in no time, or be more capable to maintain the results we’ve seen much easier.  

4. Becoming More Athletic  

While putting on muscle mass doesn’t necessarily burn off a huge number of calories daily, it creates a higher potential to burn calories while being physically active. As we build muscle, we can perform physical activity at a higher level than previously capable, therefore we end up burning even more calories in the process.

This isn’t just noticed in the weight room either. Carrying groceries becomes easier, chasing after your kids is less exhausting, and we won’t feel as stiff or sore after playing rec sports on occasion.

As much as people think adding lean muscle helps burn calories, it is really the effect it has on our athletic ability and calorie burning potential. The heavier weights we lift, the more stimulus we put onto our body, the faster we can run, these are all ways we can utilize a stronger athletic base to burn calories. So, whether the goal is to burn body fat, be stronger, run faster/longer, maintain results, or simply live a healthier lifestyle, building lean muscle mass is the best way to go.

As a quick note to end this off (probably a future blog post in of itself), if the goal is to lose weight, building muscle will slow this down. As we build muscle our weight won’t drop as much on the scale, as we are building new tissue on the body. If we lose 5ilbs of body fat, and build 3ilbs of muscle, the scale will hypothetically only show a 1-2ilbs difference (with water included). We should always be looking to lose body fat, not weight as a goal.

So again, if we are looking to work on our health and fitness, building muscle should not be shied away from. With all the previous benefits listed, and very little (if any) negative effects, it should be something we all strive to do!

In summery:

– Building muscle will not make us bulky, building muscle gives our body shape and a “sleeker” look.

– We can reduce and prevent a lot of the natural effects of aging by simply building and maintaining a base of lean muscle mass.

– While we will raise our daily caloric burn, it won’t be as significant as we usually think, but it will lead to long term success.

– We will be able to perform daily tasks easier, be athletically able to perform at a higher level, and burn more calories while being active.

– Building muscle will not drop the number on the scale, but it will help change body composition.

See you on the floor!

Rich Hill

CSEP – Certified Personal Trainer

RK Athleticshttps://linktr.ee/RK_Athletics