Muscle Mass: What’s the Big Deal?
Gaining and maintaining lean muscle mass is the key to vitality and longevity. The benefits impact your shorterm and longterm health. Lean muscle is an active tissue that burns fats and increases metabolism. Opposed to fat cells that store energy from food, lean muscle tissue burns calories by helping the body convert food calories into energy. Thus, when you have developed lean muscle, your body is more likely to burn the calories from the food you intake rather than storing them in your body due to an increased metabolic rate.
Energy is stored in muscle tissue as glycogen; the more muscle we have, the more storage available. If our bodies have more storage available, that means when there is excess fuel, the muscle tissue can absorb more energy rather than storing the excess energy in fat cells. That said, not all muscle is created equal. Specifically, lean body mass, or LBM, has significant impact on more than just athletic performance and physique; it impacts your overall health and longevity through increasing metabolism and bone density, decreasing the risk of injury and joint pain, and improving energy levels- that’s a big deal!
LBM impacts your health. According to InBody, LBM combats obesity, battles diseases, and can protect against insulin resistance. One of the most interesting benefits to LBM is its relationship to your body’s metabolic rate. The primary reason for this is that LBM directly impacts your body’s Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR. BMR refers to the amount of calories your body burns while at rest. People who have high LBM also have high BMR which means that they’re burning more energy and keeping calorie imbalances in check. Higher BMR means you burn more calories 24/7 and maintain a steady flow of energy to the body which allows your body to run more efficiently and reduce stress on blood sugar levels. When your body has a higher metabolic flame, you are burning energy consistently throughout the day which promotes balanced metabolic functioning.
While cardiovascular activities like running and cycling burn calories while you have an elevated heart rate, increasing LBM ensures you burn more calories after your workout. You can increase LBM by finding the right combination of volume (sets, reps, and frequency) and intensity (load) which will trigger the greatest amount of hypertrophy in lean muscle.
Genesis’ Director of Fitness, Kyle Cook recommends the following exercises to most efficiently increase LBM:
- Goblet squat
- Dumbbell bent over row
- Dumbbell incline bench press
- Double kettlebell deadlift
- Dumbbell walking lunge
3-5 sets, 6-12 reps, 3x weekly
Building LBM doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. These exercises can be done with minimal equipment if done at home or at the gym. In order to maintain muscle mass, you must keep your muscles active through exercise, fuel your lean body mass by eating healthy as this is necessary to support muscle growth and maintenance, get sufficient rest because muscles repair and grow at this time, and keep an active mind. Developing and maintain muscle mass is the key to wellness, longevity, and vitality; plus, you will look and feel great!