Client Tip – Gaining Muscle and Changing Your Body
If you want to make a serious change to your body – like looking for that “wow factor” when someone sees you after a hiatus- then we need to talk about gaining muscle.
I know, I know – the whole let’s build muscle talk makes some people cringe. But you can build muscle without turning into the Incredible Hulk. If you could look like a bodybuilder by accident, then I would be delivering mail for a living. Or maybe writing my own line of comic books……anyway, looking like a superhero takes a lot of training, tons of food, and things like testosterone and insulin (to name a few). So you won’t look like a bodybuilder unless that’s your intention.
Anyway, there are a few objective things about muscle growth:
–Muscle improves function. The age related loss of muscle is called sarcopenia, and this plays a role in falls and injuries in the elderly.
–Metabolic rate. Simply put, more muscle = a higher metabolism. When your body burns more calories than the average person, it’s a lot easier to keep bodyfat low. I like to call this a win.
–Insulin control. Insulin is a storage hormone; think of muscle like a renting out a bunch of storage units. The more storage units you have, the less likely you are to place fat around your midsection. You’ll stock up that food as energy. A muscular, 170 pound person can probably store 1,200-1,500 calories (from carbs) in their muscles.
Of course, muscle also improves our appearance. Jacked, toned, athletic – whatever word you want to use to describe being fit entails developing a muscular physique.
Here’s the thing: building muscle is hard work. It takes around 2,800 calories to build a single pound of muscle. In order for someone to make substantial changes to their physique, you would need to build 10-20 pounds of muscle.
While that number makes some people start breathing in and out of a brown paper bag, that’s not really a lot. If I could magically throw 5 pounds of muscle on your body – dispersing it through your back, both legs, and all those other muscles- you probably wouldn’t even see a difference.
Again, don’t underestimate how hard it is to build just one pound of muscle. An infamous sports medicine study showed this: researchers divided subjects into three different groups and it took 16 weeks to see these results (1):
-A diet only group lost weight and lost muscle mass (ouch!)
-An exercise only group built two pounds of muscle and lost some fat
-A diet and exercise group gained a pound of muscle and lost body fat
That’s four months of supervised workouts. But, with that being said, it’s totally doable. It doesn’t require a miracle or a magic potion – just lots of hard work and consistency. Six to twelve months of dedicated training and eating will do the trick.
- Zuti, W.B. & Golding, L.A. “Effect of Diet and Exercise on Weight Loss and Body Composition of Adult Women.” The Physician and Sports Medicine (1976). 4 (1): 49-53