Do my muscles look good in this?
Muscle is a very important topic within the fitness community. Admired by all as a valuable attribute, in the gym it can be considered the true cornerstone of fitness and health. Yet it remains a subject that instils nervousness and even fear, and not just when it comes to female clients. So, the question I pose all my clients is: why don’t you want to be strong?
Strength training: pivotal to health & wellbeing
Simply put, by maintaining proper technique and not compromising correct movement, the amount of weight you can lift is the main trigger for muscle adaptation and development. This can be measured by either the percentage of your 1 rep max (1RM) or the rate of perceived exertion (RPE scale), both a part of the intensity aspect of a training program. The magnitude of your muscle adaptation is then dependent on both the frequency and volume of the given workout, all pillars of a training program. However, if the intensity or weight is not significantly high enough then you will never truly create a muscular adaptation. Or in simple terms, if you don’t push up the weight, you won’t see any results.
I see far too many people using weights that are too light, with some clearly afraid of building strength, as they believe that they will bulk up with muscle. Simply put though, if you do not start to lift heavier weights in your programming, then you will not trigger long term muscular adaptation, no matter how many sets and reps you do on a frequent basis. This means less chance of increasing:
- lean muscle mass
- bone strength
- joint strength
as well as many other important health benefits of strength training.
And just to be clear, this is not a clarion call to the general gym population to become powerlifters or Olympic weightlifters! However, some progression in the amount of weight you can lift is extremely important to maximise almost all levels of fitness. Every athlete benefits from increased strength, and every individual can do with some extra muscle – especially after the age of 35, when the natural state-of-affairs is to lose muscle at accelerating rates as we age.
Don’t be held back by fear of lifting heavier weights; embrace it and welcome the challenge. Building muscle and strength will also have a positive impact on mental strength too, while recent research also suggests improved cognitive function.
Everyone loves lean muscle mass – it looks good, does us good and feels great. To help achieve it all you need do is start pushing yourself a little harder and start lifting heavier to truly maximise your fitness goals.
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