Did you know that for every pound of muscle you add to your body you burn an extra 50 calories per day (on average)? It’s true! Let’s talk about weight control.
The really good news is that when you exercise, your body begins turning stored fat into glucose for fuel before it begins breaking down muscle for fuel. This is why high-level athletes can eat so much and still stay sleek. Take Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’s 12,000-calorie-a-day diet, for example. Because he has such a low percentage of body fat, he has to provide his body with enough fuel or his body will begin breaking down proteins in muscle, since it’s pretty much out of body fat to go to for fuel. Have you ever noticed an ammonia-like smell after working out? That smell is indicative of the protein breakdown that occurs when their new elite, low-fat bodies have begun tapping into muscle for fuel. It generally means that they need to start eating more to make it through the workouts—a problem most of us would love to have! Most of us aren’t dealing with the problems of elite athletes trying to get enough fuel; we’re just trying to get our bodies to approach that kind of shape.
One popular exercise myth is that if we’re trying to lose body fat, we should just do lots of cardio and sweat and burn fat, then build muscle later. That’s a sort of “lose weight now, get in shape later” approach. There’s some truth there. The more we exercise, the more calories we expend and the sooner our bodies tap into our fat stores for energy. But by building up muscle, in addition to doing cardio activity, we can burn a lot more calories, even while we’re at rest, and maximize the calorie burn during cardio. Plus, when the stored fat begins to melt off, there will be lean muscle in its place.
If you aren’t sure how to get started or don’t think you have the time or equipment to build muscle on your body we can help! We have great weight management programs available. Initially focus on the large muscle groups for muscle growth (legs/glutes, back and chest). Start with 2 exercises per muscle group for 3 sets of 10 repetitions. For example:
Legs/Glutes: 1) Body Weight Squats (sit back on those heels!) and 2) Split Lunge (stand with one leg forward and one leg back and bend the back knee. Be sure to stay upright in your upper body and keep the back heel down).
Back: 1) Standing Band Row (wrap a resistance band around anything that will hold your weight and while standing tall with good posture pull the band back, squeezing the shoulder blades together then slowly release). 2) Hyperextensions (Supermans). Lie on your stomach and with eyes facing the floor, raise your chest, arms, knees and feet off of the floor at the same time. Squeeze your glutes as you do this. Slowly lower and repeat. This will work your low back area into your glutes.
Chest: 1) Pushups – This old standby is still one of the best exercises you can do! If you cannot do them properly off of your knees start either with hands against a wall or with knees on the floor. Make sure your pull your belly button in towards the spine and tighten your glutes during the lowering and raising phases of this exercise. Bonus: You will also work your arms, shoulders and core while doing this exercise. 2) Incline Fly: Sit on an incline bench or a standard chair. Wrap a resistance band around something sturdy behind you, or use dumbbells in each hand. Keep a slight bend in your elbow and pull the weights (or band) towards each other just over your chest. Envision hugging a big circle with your arms.
Three sets of 10 of each of those exercises 2-3 times per week with about 2-3:00 rest between sets will be enough to spark initial muscle growth. After 3-4 weeks you will need to change up the routine and add weight, etc. in order to keep progressing. We have great fitness programs available. If you would like assistance with your strength training routine you can make an appointment for a consult or program design with one of our skilled fitness coaches here at Cool Springs MD. You are worth it!