Muscle and Exercise

If you’re considering starting an exercise routine but don’t know where to start, don’t despair. Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated or overly strenuous –  even if you want to build muscle. Building muscle is essential to burning fat and maintaining overall fitness. It also maintains bone density. If you’re worried you’ll need to look like the Hulk himself, don’t worry. You don’t have to become a body builder to see, or feel, results.

Muscle’s Effect on Your Body

The more muscle mass you have, the more fat you can burn. If you’re 30lbs overweight, you can bet that all thirty of those pounds are nothing other than fatty tissue weighing you down. Your muscles are under there somewhere, but they’re not effectively working for you in any way.

By starting a cardiovascular routine that includes strength training with weights, you will recruit those muscles to work with your body to burn those extra pounds. Sufficient muscle mass for your body type also strengthens your joints and bones. This is especially crucial for women as women tend to lose bone mass in their 30’s. If you’re a mother who’s nursed your children, you’re in a higher risk category for developing osteoporosis. By maintaining a calcium-rich diet and adding strength training exercise, you can replenish some of those calcium levels and stop further bone loss as you age.

Workouts That Build Muscle

Did you know you can burn fat faster if you incorporate weights into your cardio program? Activities such as running will build muscle on your lower body, but this type of exercise won’t do much for your upper half. Overweight people need to consider the extra skin that may remain on their body after they shed the pounds. The only way to tighten this up is through strength training (or surgery, in some cases).

By combining cardio and strength training you’ll help prevent sagging skin. Strength training workouts don’t require a gym full of equipment. A simple set of hand weights (3, 5 and 8lbs for women and 10, 12 and 15lbs for men) is enough to start you off. Hold the weights in your hands and try the following:

-Lunges (forward and reverse)
-Overhead Press
-Chest press
-Bicep & tricep curls

As you get stronger, add more weights or try some variety. There are plenty of DVDs on the market that incorporate strength and cardio. Of course, if you can afford it, a gym membership is a wonderful gift to yourself and your health. The trick is to find something you enjoy doing, and then do it at least 4 times per week.

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