Be honest, did you ever stand in front of a mirror when you were younger and flex your muscles? Remember turning from side to side, leg poised, admiring your well-toned body for hours? Oops, perhaps you still do that today, and that’s ok. However, by now you probably know that muscles are for more than flexing.
The human body employs between 640 and 850 muscles. Some of these muscles are voluntary while others are operating without you even knowing. The heart is a cardiac muscle and an involuntary muscle. It just keeps beating without us having to initiate or oversee anything. Voluntary muscles are known as skeletal muscles because they attach to your bones and work in partnership with your bones to allow you to walk run, push things, pull things, bend over, etc.
All muscles, whether involuntary or voluntary are essential for human health. While being healthy will have an impact on your involuntary muscles, more effort is required to keep skeletal muscles at the top of their game.
Here is why you should work your skeletal muscles
If you think that just doing daily living things like brushing your hair or taking out the trash will keep your muscles in check, think again. It is necessary, especially if you are over 40 to focus some attention on your skeletal muscles. Here are just a few reasons why:
Stronger muscles help make daily activities easier: Muscles are important not just for athletics but for everyday living. Without muscles, simple tasks like pushing a lawnmower or vacuuming the floor would be tough.
Skeletal muscles help improve posture: If you can hold good posture, you will find that you have a reduction in back problems and things like chronic pain ease up. Now sit up straight!
Leaner muscles accelerate calorie burn: If you really want to burn calories and drop pounds, train your muscles more. A high energy twenty-minute workout with weights will burn more calories than an easy fifty-minute walk in the park. These calories are burned during the training session and also during the post-workout period. For every pound of muscle you put on your body burns 50 more calories each day.
The more muscles you develop, the stronger you will be: Who doesn’t want to be stronger? There is an obvious connection between well worked and toned muscles and strength. Contrary to what Popeye taught us, you need more than a can of spinach to be strong.
Skeletal muscles help keep you upright and balanced
When your muscles are healthy, you can move more freely. Strong muscles also keep your joints in good shape. Healthy muscles are what also keep you from falling each time you stumble.
Muscles help optimize insulin
Good news for anyone who is pre-diabetic ( metabolic syndrome) or diabetic, working your muscles can help you better use insulin and absorb glucose.(2) Resistance training combined with aerobic activity is the best combination for optimizing insulin.
How do muscles become strong?
In the case of muscle building and toning, an injury must occur before good things can happen. That injury involves muscle fibers that break down when we work them in resistance training exercises. Oh, so that you know, mowing the lawn or vacuuming don’t count as muscle building exercises unless your mower and vacuum are super hard to push. When muscle fibers become irritated, the body goes to work to patch up the problem that results in more muscle tissue. It is a pretty amazing process.
Don’t forget a healthy diet
In addition to physical exercise, you need a good wholesome diet to fuel your muscle building. Many people make the mistake of not eating enough or often enough, and they find they lack the energy necessary to be physical. Consuming a snack before you exercise and after will help fuel your workout and recover afterward. These Savory Breakfast Muffins make the perfect anytime pre-workout snack when paired with a serving of your favorite protein such as eggs or lean chicken. After your workout, refuel with plenty of water and a baked sweet potato with real butter or some guacamole spread on a whole wheat or gluten-free pita.
Won’t I get huge bully muscles if I work them?
Many people, perhaps even you, might shy away from muscle building exercises for fear of ending up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although some might be happy with the look, others are probably thinking, what does he need all that muscle for? The good news is that to fine tune your muscles to look like any bodybuilder takes more than just a few visits a week to your local gym. Chances are, you are not likely to waddle your way out of the gym after a few months of weight training with muscles on muscles. What will happen, however, is that your skeletal muscles will get a great workout and this, in turn, kickstarts your metabolism and impacts overall health and wellness in a large way.
How big do my skeletal muscles have to be?
If you have ever been to a gym, you have probably seen guys and gals that have really large, well-toned muscles. These are people that have trained for hours upon hours, months upon months and years upon years, to achieve the look of a very muscular body. Don’t fret, it is not necessary and sometimes not even healthy to push the body so far. In reality, the size of the muscle is not the all in all – what is important, however, is that you consistently you train your muscles to increase your muscle mass and reduce excess fat. The saying that we all know, “use it or lose it,” applies perfectly in the case of muscles. Atrophy sets in when we don’t give our muscles a job to do.
How to do just enough, but not too much
It doesn’t have to be a huge or complicated job either, just a consistent job. Over time, muscles respond and become toned and healthy. One of the best ways to achieve all of the benefits of well-toned muscles is not by going to the gym and using all the fancy equipment but rather using the best and most reliable piece of equipment you own, your body. That’s right, body weight exercises are highly effective at building a sleek and well-toned physique without the bulk. A simple workout such as this one, done only twice a week for 30 minutes each time is all it takes to keep your muscles alert and engaged.
Overkill not the answer
Now you know that being Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a must (unless. of course, you want to look like him) when it comes to benefiting your overall health and wellbeing. Just be consistent and dedicated to a body weight routine and you will see and feel a significant difference in no time at all.
– Be Well
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