Build muscle mass for convenience


Have you ever visited a gym and seen the people benching pounds and pounds of weights, straining with each step until their muscles were so pumped up they looked like balloons? Have you ever seen someone finish a workout and gulp down ounces of a muscle-building supplement drink? Has it ever made you want to start putting on muscle?

It might not have, but despite the hyper-masculinity and Schwarzenegger-esque bodies found in the weight lifting world, working out to build muscle is one of the smartest things one can do to develop a healthy body and lifestyle.

But why build muscle if the goal isn’t to look big and bulky? Having more than just the base level of muscle mass helps the body perform tasks easier. And having more muscle will help make the body stronger and more practical.

The idea is to develop muscle strength, not muscle mass. Though it might be a goal for some, looking like the Incredible Hulk is too extreme and unnecessary for a healthy life. So how, then, does one develop strength if not trying to “get swole?”

Weight lifting is the answer, but not in the way most people might expect.

There is a common adage that “low reps, high weights” equals muscle gain, and “high reps, low weights” results in toning existing muscle. Both might be wrong.

If a few repetitions — around four to six of a heavy weight — are done so the body does not collapse on the last extension, muscle is pushed to new limits and strengthened as a result.

The idea of training to failure —  that is, pushing the body to the point of near injury — is not only foolish but it also defeats the purpose of muscle building. If the goal is to increase the resources the body has to move, how does injuring it help? Muscle hypertrophy works by stimulating the cells, not by physically damaging them.

Don’t think this will work?

From personal experience, starting as a 140-pound weakling, it can be done.

What exercises to do are up to the exerciser; everyone has different physical goals. One workout that worked for me was boxing with some dumbbells. It is a bit violent, yes, but effective.

One suggestion for the gym crowd, since the idea is again to get stronger and leaner, is to embrace circuit training — a workout strategy based on keeping the body constantly moving and active, burning fat as the exercises continue.

One circuit involves doing an upper body exercise, followed by a core-focused exercise like sit-ups or crunches and then a lower body one, all without stopping in between.

Compound exercises, such as squatting with a barbell and then lifting it up overhead, work multiple muscle groups at once, which is better for the overall body than isolated exercises.

But with circuit training, because of the continuous motion, a very similar effect is given with more overall muscle engagement.

What about nutrition? It might seem easy and smart to down a pre-made, chemical-laden drink designed to fuel muscle growth.

But these kinds of supplements are just that: chemical-laden. Stick to natural foods high in protein and nutrients to fuel the body. Lean poultry, legumes (lentils are particularly good) and lots of leafy greens (such as spinach, which is a nutrient-dense vegetable) are perfect.

The body needs higher protein levels to fuel muscle growth, so stick to ones low in fat.

Want a muscle-building snack?

Cottage cheese and peanut butter is a cheap, surprisingly tasty meal that is packed with protein and low in negative effects.

If you must use supplements, go for ones that focus on nutrition, not getting “pumped up” or anything of that nature. A good rule of thumb: The less ingredients in something, the better.

The right exercises, with the right diet, can result in a sturdier frame and a stronger body. Building muscle is not hard and it does not mean diving head first into nonstop iron pumping and supplement drinking. Muscle building is only intimidating if you let it be.

 

Nicholas Slayton is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism.  His column “Way of the Body” runs Tuesdays.


6 replies
  1. Guns MacTaggart
    Guns MacTaggart says:

    WHY YOU RUNNING FROM OUR FIGHT LITTLE MAN? I GOT MORE MUSCLE MASS IN ONE FINGER THAN YOU HAVE IN YOUR WHOLE STICK BODY. HOW’S THAT FOR CONVENIENCE? LET’S FIND OUT HOW FIT YOU REALLY ARE SLAYTON. ANY TIME, ANY PLACE, NO MERCY.

  2. Ryan Emery
    Ryan Emery says:

    This article while attempting to offer good advice is filled with inaccuracies and completely misguided “facts.” For example “Muscle hypertrophy works by stimulating the cells, not by physically damaging them” is completely false. The goal of weight lifting is to damage the muscle cells and it is through this that z-line streaming occurs which causes the body to rebuild the damaged sarcomere and muscle cell into a better, stronger, and more efficient structure.

    Next, while a minor point, I feel it is still important. The article defines compound exercises by providing the example of, “squatting with a barbell and then lifting it up overhead.” This makes it appear that the author’s definition is combining two exercises, while the actual term “compound exercise” is traditionally defined as “multi-joint movements that rely on the coordinated actions of several muscle groups to move two or more joints through a range of motion.” This would include basic exercises as a squat, a bench press, or a dead lift.

    The author is also using the idea of compound exercises as a way to build functional strength and to become more “lean” and burn fat. However, it has been repeatedly shown that compound exercises while providing a great way to build strength also tend to increase muscle mass much more than isolation exercises.

    The author suggests that for nutrition, “The body needs higher protein levels to fuel muscle growth, so stick to ones low in fat.” However, there has been a large variety of scientific articles that show the importance of essential fats within ones diet especially when becoming involved within weightlifting. Fat within diet has been shown to be very important and its effects include: enhancing stamina, increasing muscular development, increase recovery speed, and improve cardiovascular function. Especially in males while weightlifting having a prevalence of fats within the diet is extremely important as it is linked to testosterone production, which will greatly improve ones workout experience and results.

    Finally, right after the author says that one should stick to high protein/low fat foods he suggests cottage cheese and peanut butter. While both of these are healthy, they are also both in general high in fat content. While one can get a low fat cottage cheese, peanut butter generally has almost twice as much fat content as protein, and that is just from a mass standpoint. In general it has between 4 and 5 times more caloric content than protein.

    While this comment has been rather long winded I do believe that as a representation of our school the daily trojan should uphold a higher standard of research and writing and not simply print things without basic fact checking. The author also appears to not have a very good base in nutrition, kinesiology, or training and should do much more personal research before writing articles that the entire campus has access to.

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  1. […] Build muscle mass for convenience Daily Trojan Online It might seem easy and smart to down a pre-made, chemical-laden drink designed to fuel muscle growth . But these kinds of supplements are just that: chemical-laden. Stick to natural foods high in protein and nutrients to fuel the body. … and more » […]

  2. […] Build muscle mass for convenienceDaily Trojan OnlineThe right exercises, with the right diet, can result in a sturdier frame and a stronger body. Building muscle is not hard and it does not mean diving head first into nonstop iron pumping and supplement drinking. Muscle building is only intimidating if …and more » […]

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