The idea of increasing muscle mass in one’s body composition can often be looked upon as a ‘macho-man’ goal and something frowned upon by anyone who isn’t a body builder. However, muscle is actually very useful in making strong progress towards a large variety of fitness objectives.
With our clients, we speak a lot about metabolism with a faster metabolism being a better one. Muscle increases metabolic rate. The muscle in your body uses energy whereas fat cells store energy. By gaining muscle through strength training, you increase the body’s energy requirements (you need more calories per day to fuel your body). This increases your metabolic rate, furthermore causing your body to burn more fat. Having more muscle gives an easier sense of control as you are more easily able to lose unwanted and excess weight, alternatively you also have the option to put on more weight through increased training intensity and higher calorie input.
This is also where jumping on the scales can provide a misinterpretation of your progress. The scales are designed to show your overall mass, but do not break down the individual statistics that your body composition consists of; including water, bone density, blood volume, fat and muscle. These factors can fluctuate, without the scales being able to tell you what is changing within your body. It’s worth noting that because muscle is denser than fat, it weights more. If you’re tracking a weight loss goal only relying on scales for progress tracking, you’re likely to find yourself disappointed as positive changes take place.
The primary focus and motivation of training should be health related, as strength training begins to provide lots of health-related benefits after just a couple of weeks of regular training, before visual results start coming through. For example, strength training aids in the prevention of injury, fortifying bones, ligaments and tendons. Building a stronger core will improve balance and coordination, reinforcing a stronger, healthier lifestyle as well as ensuring a firm technique when exercising. The cycle continues.