As women, we are often bombarded with societal messages that emphasize the pursuit of a slim and toned physique. However, beyond trying to look our best is a hidden secret that holds immense significance for our overall health and well-being: the power of muscle.
While the benefits of building muscle are frequently associated with men, the truth is that muscle is equally vital for women. Whether you're in your prime or navigating the transformative journey of perimenopause, understanding why muscle matters can empower you to take control of your physical and mental strength. Prepare to uncover the transformative potential that lies within your muscles and embrace the incredible advantages they offer on your journey to optimal health and vitality.
Muscle is often referred to as the most metabolically active tissue in the body, meaning it requires a relatively high amount of energy (calories) to maintain and function so more muscle means:
Higher Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): Resting metabolic rate refers to the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain basic bodily functions such as breathing, circulating blood, and regulating body temperature. Building muscle increases your (RMR), which means you burn more calories even at rest. This means when you are sitting on the couch and watching a show, with more muscle, your body is doing more work.
BMR accounts for the majority of the calories burned by your body each day, typically constituting around 60-75% of your total energy expenditure
Muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain compared to fat tissue. This is because muscle is an active tissue that constantly requires energy for protein turnover, repair, and maintenance. As a result, individuals with a higher proportion of muscle mass tend to have a higher RMR, which means they burn more calories even when they are not physically active.
Thermogenic effect of exercise: When you engage in physical activity, including resistance training or strength training exercises, your body experiences a temporary increase in metabolic rate during and after the workout. This is known as the thermogenic effect of exercise or the "afterburn" effect. Since muscle tissue is directly involved in these exercises, individuals with more muscle mass generally experience a higher afterburn effect, leading to additional calorie burn even after the workout is finished.
Enhanced bone health: During perimenopause and menopause, estrogen levels decline, leading to a loss of bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting, can help stimulate bone growth and improve bone mineral density, reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
Increased strength and functional ability: Muscle strength plays a crucial role in maintaining functional independence and preventing age-related decline. By building muscle, you can improve your overall strength, making daily activities easier and reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
Hormonal balance: Regular resistance training can positively influence hormone levels. It can help increase the production of growth hormone and testosterone, which can support muscle growth and overall well-being. Additionally, exercise can boost endorphin levels, promoting a better mood and reducing symptoms of perimenopausal mood swings and depression.
NOW, onto the HOW!
To build muscle effectively, consider the following strategies:
Resistance training: Engage in regular strength training exercises at least two to three times per week. Focus on compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, and rows. You can use free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises.
Progressive overload: Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts over time to challenge your muscles. This can involve increasing the weight you lift, the number of repetitions, or the difficulty of the exercise. By continually challenging your muscles, you encourage growth and strength gains.
Balanced nutrition: Ensure you consume a balanced diet that provides adequate protein to support muscle repair and growth. Include lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, and dairy products. Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats to support overall health and recovery.
Sufficient rest and recovery: Allow your body time to recover between workouts. Muscles grow and repair during rest periods, so aim for at least 48 hours of recovery between training sessions for specific muscle groups. Get enough sleep to support recovery and muscle-building processes.
Consistency: Building muscle takes time and consistency. Aim to make strength training a regular part of your routine and be patient with the results. Over time, you will notice improvements in muscle tone, strength, and overall well-being.
As a certified Personal Trainer and a Personal Nutrition Coach, I can help you with your goals of building more muscle, looking better and more importantly, feeling your best!