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Muscle Mass: Don’t Wish for It, Work for It

Muscle mass means the number of soft tissues in the body that help in movement, maintaining posture, and supporting bodily functions. There are three main types of muscles: smooth muscles that constitute internal organs, cardiac muscles that comprise the thick middle layer of the heart, and skeletal muscles that exist throughout your body and include 30-40% of total body mass. 

The body’s collective tissue mass constitutes muscle mass. We are focusing mainly on skeletal muscles, which is connected to bones and depend on a person’s voluntary control. It is essential to keep the muscle mass healthy. Muscle mass is the percentage indicator of a person’s health. If they are suffering from diseases, especially sarcopenia, the muscle mass significantly decreases. It can cause a problem in daily activities, which include walking and climbing stairs. However, muscle mass depends upon people’s body shapes which are generally termed ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Therefore, it is vital to have the right muscle mass as per your body type.

Muscle mass is essential for several reasons. For example, it ensures a healthy weight, reduces the risk of injuries, and builds bone mass density. You can maintain muscle mass through proper exercise, including weightlifting and weight training. Good nutrition with high amounts of protein will help build your muscle mass. The right amount of rest and a proactive lifestyle is also necessary. Muscle mass also supports greater energy levels and faster metabolism which helps to perform daily tasks and helps maintain posture.

How Does Muscle Mass Help?

Muscles help keep the metabolic system intact by maintaining muscle mass and support in maintaining shape. Muscle mass helps in protecting an individual from obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease and thus helps in hormone level functioning efficiently. Having a greater muscle mass has positive health benefits because an individual starts to gradually lose muscle mass from the age of 30 and above as per natural phenomenon.

Having higher muscle mass at a younger age can support an individual and let him stabilise for longer. In addition, muscle mass boosts mood and energy levels, helps strengthen endurance, maintains healthy body weight, prevents chronic disease, improves self-confidence, and makes injuries more unlikely.

Ways to Prevent Muscle Mass Loss

Adequate Protein Consumption

Protein is essential in building muscle mass and is said to be the king of muscles. The amino acid breakdown is used to build muscle and helps in the function of repairing tissues. Protein is primarily known for its role in building muscles and bones. Protein is necessary because amino acids help repair and maintain muscle tissue, thus maintaining muscle mass.  Without a balanced diet containing adequate nutrition, you can’t get desired results from a workout. Thus, high-protein foods are vital for muscle building. 

Foods like eggs are high in quality protein and are known as complete proteins. It is because they contain all the 9 essential amino acids in them. In addition, salmon, chicken breast, tuna, and Greek yoghurt are some of the healthy options to include in the diet. 

Adequate Rest

Proper sleep and rest help muscles release protein, which lessens acid formation in the bloodstream. This, in turn, helps muscles grow bigger and stronger over time. Sleep also helps in releasing growth hormone, which helps in muscle repair. Sleeping for 7-9 hours a day is crucial as it changes body composition, increases muscle mass and helps in personal training in next day. During sleep, the muscle in the body is most relaxed. It gives the body chance to repair and build up muscle tissue. 

Not only does sleep help in muscle build-up, but inadequate sleep can also decrease muscle mass. This is because insufficient sleep causes catabolic stress and increases metabolic dysfunction leading to loss of muscle mass.

A study establishes a positive association between sleep and muscle strength. It suggests that men with short sleep who spend less than 6 hours sleep have poor muscle strain than the men who slept over 8 hours. Furthermore, it concluded that good sleep quality is associated with greater muscle strength. 

Another study found that chronic sleep disorder is a potent catabolic stressor that increases metabolic dysfunction. It experimented with a group of healthy young adults comprising six males and seven females. As per the results, one night of sleep deprivation showed that profiles of people who slept less observed reduced muscle protest synthesis by 18%, and sleep defecation increased plasma cortisol and decreased plasma testosterone.

Regular Exercise

After proper nutrition, exercise becomes the most crucial aspect that helps maintain muscle mass. Some diseases are the main reasons we suffer from weakness and lose muscle mass. However, exercising can help prevent obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Studies also show that the main reason for losing muscle mass is muscle atrophy, and exercising can help synthesise muscle protein in regulating the functions of muscle fibres. So, exercises can prevent the main reason for losing muscles, muscle atrophy.

Muscle hypertrophy means enlargement of total muscle mass and cross-sectional area, which means an increase in the size of cells, tissues or organs. Therefore, muscle hypertrophy increases the size and gives the person strength and ability. According to a study, resistance training increases strength in individuals with a session of thirteen minutes per day.

Muscle mass strength also depends on the growth and maintenance of bone density. Bone density gives the idea of the number of minerals like calcium and phosphorus in the bone. Regularly exercising can improve bone density by maintaining bone strength as we age. 

The most common cause of muscle loss in women is osteoporosis. It is a common problem seen in post-menopausal women. However, you can also treat it with proper exercise. As per a study, weight-bearing and aerobic exercises help increase bone mass density. Additionally, these exercises help improve balance and reduce disease risk.

Exercises to Prevent Muscle Mass Loss

Bodyweight Exercises

Body weight exercises are strength-based exercises that use an individual’s body weight to provide resistance against gravity. These exercises help build muscles. Some of these exercises are push-ups, planks, tricep dips etc. Many exercises easily engage a body part that one chooses to target. These easy-to-do exercises increase your mobility and stability. As muscle growth largely depends on external load, these exercises are beneficial.

Squats

Squats help strengthen the lower body muscles. They are dynamic strength training exercises that use the upper and lower body muscles, namely the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and abdominals. Not only this, but they also help burn calories and can aid in weight loss.

Lunges

It refer to a position where one leg is in front of the other, with the front knee bent and the foot flat on the ground, while the other leg is straight. Lunges can be a part of strength training exercises and improve overall fitness. Furthermore, they enhance athleticism by giving stability and tone to your body. This type of workout engages abdominal muscles and can help to tone your legs and abdomen. Additionally, lunges help increase flexibility, stability, and strength and reduce the chance of injuries.

Pushups

A push-up is when you are in a position with your hands and palms down under the shoulders. At the same time, your feet are on the ground with your back straight. You follow it by pushing the body up and down using the arms and thus engage the pectoral muscles and the triceps. Push-ups help burn calories, improve balance, increase flexibility and improve performance in athletic activities. 

Rowing

Rowing is a strength-based exercise with the primary purpose of strengthening the muscles in the arms of your body. This set can include dumbbells, incline benches, barbell rows, inverted rows and renegade rows. The dumbbell used in rowing can help strengthen muscles in the thoracic region, rhomboids, trapezius, and biceps. 

Tricep Dips

The tricep dip is an upper-body pressing exercise that helps build triceps and is excellent for developing overall body strength. In addition, it is a compound exercise that helps in increasing flexibility and reduces injuries.

Weight Lifting Exercises

Weightlifting is a common type of training developed for the strength and size of skeletal muscles. It uses the force of gravity as weight loss bars and jumpers. Weight training is a type of strength training that stresses the muscles, which causes them to adapt and get stronger and stretch the muscle. Additionally, weight lifting exercises burn calories very efficiently and decrease abdominal fat. Weight lifting exercises include squats with weights, leg presses, deadlifts, biceps arm curls, seated cable rows, etc.

Deadlifts

Deadlifts help increase stability and core strength. Furthermore, they help improve posture by stabilising the shoulder, spine, and hip muscles. Deadlifts include training muscles in the legs, lower back and core. This exercise can be easily performed at home with your virtual partner by using simple equipment such as a barbell and bumper plates. 

Chest Press

A chest press, also called a bench press, is an exercise for the upper body. It is a weight training exercise that helps put the weight upward while lying on a weight training bench. Chest press stabilises interior triceps, pectorals, and deltoids and provides strength to the upper body. Additionally, chest press is vital for the serratus anterior and biceps. It helps the body with flexibility and enhances lifting and pulling movements.

Curl Planks

An individual can perform a curl plank in a position where the body forms a straight line from head to ankles, and the individual holds a dumbbell in his right hand and curls it towards his right shoulder. Curl plank exercises help strengthen the abdominals, glutes, shoulders, and hamstrings. Additionally, it helps improve the body’s balance and posture by keeping the spine straight and putting less strain and compression on the spine.

Lifting Free Weights

Free weights include weights such as dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells. Lifting free weights helps in cardio. Lifting free weights engages the chest, shoulders, and triceps. It is a compound exercise that uses more than one muscle at a time. Benefits of lifting free weights include improved endurance, muscle build-up, improved metabolism, disease prevention, and mood stability. Free weights also help joints and bones by providing the body with agility and endurance. It is essential to start slow and then increase the weight to avoid injuries. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Various types of exercises can help prevent the loss of muscle mass. These usually fall under the general categories of strength training and weightlifting exercises. It is imperative to understand the exercise, its steps, and correct posture before beginning. Starting slow with bodyweight exercises and then gradually introducing weights into your routine is the ideal way to perform these exercises.

Muscle Mass, Genetics and Body Type

Sex, height, and weight majorly affect how much mass one can gain. Several genes impact muscle growth. It depends on individual genotypes, body needs, and how much effort one can put in. With the help of proper nutrition, exercise, and an active lifestyle, an individual can gain muscle, but genetic factors mostly set the limit for an individual. As per genetics, muscle mass can also depend on an individual’s body type –  

Mesomorphic

Mesomorphic individuals have a medium frame and naturally tend to develop muscle more easily than any other body type. In addition, they are typically strong and solid, neither underweight nor overweight, and have an upright posture. Additionally, they have medium joint sizes, broad shoulders, small waists, a fast metabolism, and a high energy level. Thus, the muscular build-up is naturally strong.

Ectomorphic

Ectomorphic people are long and lean with little body fat and body mass. They take time to gain weight and therefore also have problems gaining muscle mass. However, they are thin with a small bone structure, and they have very little fat on their bodies.

Endomorphic

Endomorphic individuals have a higher percentage of body fat and lower muscle mass. As a result, they are heavier and have a round body shape. One of the reasons for this is that their bodies are sensitive to calorie consumption. In addition, their bone structures are medium-large with small shoulders and short limbs. So, they usually carry weight in their lower abdomen, hips and thighs rather than evenly distributed around the body. It makes them appear even rounder and heavy.

An individual may exercise regularly, eat a balanced and nutritious diet and be active daily. But it is essential to understand that despite this, genetics tend to limit the amount of muscle mass one gains or loses. Epigenetics play a huge role here and usually form the foundation upon which an individual builds their muscles. 

Role of Hormones in Muscle Mass

Exercise, diet, active lifestyle, and genetics are the key factors that play a role in building and preserving muscle mass. Genes code for hormones and thus play an essential part in developing muscle mass. For example, testosterone (the primary sex hormone and steroid in males) is a growth hormone and has an insulin-like growth factor which helps stimulate muscle growth. Other hormones that help develop muscle mass are cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glucagon.

Hormones such as the growth hormone and thyroid hormone exert a merged effect on skeletal muscle growth and function. As per research, anabolic androgenic steroids, synthetic forms of hormones, and thyroid increase muscle mass in patients suffering from diseases related to muscle atrophy. However, taking such drugs is harmful in some cases as it can have detrimental long-term consequences.

Another study reveals that growth hormone drugs are widely used as performance-enhancing drugs as they increase insulin levels and help in body growth. However, a point worth noting here is that circulatory or systemic and local effects of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factors may have distinct effects on muscle mass regulation.

Hormones can play a significant role in muscle mass growth. However, taking hormone-balancing supplements or drugs to improve extra hormones in your body for muscle mass has side effects. There is no telling what a manufactured version of a biological component of your body can do to your body.

It becomes crucial to understand that while there are various ways to increase your muscle mass, there are better alternatives to doing so than with the help of drugs. Thus, it is essential to consider all your options before opting for any. For some, growth-stimulating hormones are necessary for their health. However, please make it a point to consult a medical professional before deciding on any growth supplements. 

Summary

After the age of thirty, an individual loses 5 to 10% of muscle mass naturally per decade. This phenomenon is called Sarcopenia. Therefore, it is essential at an early age to gain good muscle mass by doing exercises that include weight lifting and resistance training, having proper nutrition and a good lifestyle. Muscle mass contributes to improving balance and coordination as it prevents specific injuries. Preserving muscle mass counts equally as building muscle mass in an individual’s health. 

Preservation is only possible with nutrition, proper exercise and staying away from harmful substances that cause harm to human health, which include excessive alcohol, smoking, and stress. Genetics and hormones also play a crucial role in deciding muscle mass. In the case of exercise and diet, it is imperative to consult a professional before you choose what is best for yourself as not doing so will have detrimental effects on your health. 

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