There is a lot of terminology haphazardly thrown around when people talk about health and fitness today. The big question is, what does it all mean? I often ask myself this question when I hear words like firm, tone, definition, flatten, shape, lift and muscle confusion. Honestly, I can’t tell you exactly what any of those words mean in terms of health and the human body, especially muscle confusion. The last time I checked, our muscles didn’t have the ability to think. With all of these meaningless terms being thrown around like dimebags at a Tom Petty concert, it is no wonder people are confused about how to approach making their body look and feel better. I know of one term that is very hard to be confused about and can benefit your body in a vast amount of ways. Getting stronger. Its simple, we make our bodies stronger and they respond better to just about everything. For simplicity, I’ll give you a quick list of reasons why making your body stronger is better than trying to “tone” or “firm.”
1) A strong body is more efficient: Every move you make takes less energy when you are stronger. So, in effect if you are stronger walking the dog won’t seem quite as difficult because your body won’t need to use as much energy to do it. If walking the dog becomes easier, what about running or any other form of conditioning? The effect is felt in a more dramatic fashion.
2) Stronger people have better metabolisms: I’m sure a lot of you could think of a lot of arguments to pose against this right now, but hear me out, or read me out I guess I should say. Stronger people usually have more muscle mass than weaker people, this isn’t rocket science. However, muscle happens to be the most metabolic tissue in the human body. Ding ding ding! As we get stronger, our body feels the need to have more muscle tissue (muscular hypertrophy), so in effect we enhance our metabolisms by adding muscle to our frame.
3) Strength training helps to fight aging: Two of the biggest problems associated with aging are muscular atrophy (loss of muscle mass) and large drops in hormone levels. When we train for strength we combat both of these issues. Using resistance exercise causes our body to adapt in ways that helps to keep muscle on our frames and helps to limit the depletion of our hormone levels. So, if grandma gets in the gym she has a better chance of staying on her feet and not falling as well as having a better sense of well-being. But, there is no reason to wait until you are a grandma or grandpa to start. Get strong now and stay strong!
4) Being stronger can change the shape of your body (women): The common mantra we hear from women today is that they want to “firm”, “tone”, or change the shape of their bodies. To accomplish this end, we witness women spending hours upon hours spent on cardio equipment trying to drop fat in the hope that they might catch a glimpse of an elusive oblique. Well, that doesn’t work. Sure, if you would spend hours upon hours on the stairmaster you would lose weight and drop some fat, but you would do nothing about changing the shape or composition of your body. You would simply have a smaller version of yourself. External resistance is absolutely necessary to change body composition (more mucle less fat) and the shape of the body. I know women that are reading this are thinking, ‘but I don’t want do get big and bulky like a man!’ Well, unless you are on steroids ( I doubt it) or have freakish genetics (I doubt it even more) you are not going to get big and bulky like a man. Will you gain muscle mass? Absolutely, but it will not be in the size and shape that men can build muscle. You simply don’t have the hormones, especialy testosterone. However, you will have changed your body composition which will in effect change the shape of your body.
5) It is much easier to track progress: Whenever we exercise we need a feeling of accomplishment, some kind of reinforcement that lets us know we are doing a good job and should continue. This reinforcement can be found in the mirror, on the scale, or in the form of kind words given to us by people in our lives. The problem is all three of these things can lie to you, a barbell can’t. Whenever you see more weight going on to a bar, or feel a weight that used to feel heavy seem much lighter, you know that you have made progress. You have accomplished something and you have made yourself better.
I feel as though we made progress here. These are 5 very solid reasons to make yourself stronger. If you have questions or comments feel free to leave them on this post or contact Chris or myself (Todd) on the contact page.
Latest posts by Chris Merritt (see all)
- Painful Shoulders, the Kettlebell Arm Bar, and Neck Packing – January 31, 2014
- Applying The Basic Concept of Triphasic Training – January 13, 2014
- What’s my problem? – July 9, 2013
- Conditioning the MMA Athlete – June 19, 2013
- Fast Cars, Hot Chicks, Big Muscles And The Meaning Of Life – June 3, 2013