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 The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine  
    April 2006    Page 10       > About LCL Magazine     > Cover Page      > Inside Cover    Feature Pages:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10      


Feature Articles
 Great Easter Recipes
 Make Beautiful Easter Eggs
 Cooking With Wine
 What About Lunch?
 The Health Value of Eggs
 Low Carb Sloppy Joes!
 Caffeine: Yes or No?
 Spring Re-Decorating
 Beat the Monday Blues
 Muscles Matter Most



 Low Carb Tortillas

          Why Muscles Matter Most by Debbie Judd, RN

Are you one of the many who feel that your fate is just to be fat? Does it seem like you are doing everything right but success is never seen? Don't you wish you could have that 20 year old body back-no effort involved? The answer for most of us — absolutely! The truth — it isn't going to happen — at least not without some consistent commitment to routine and exertion and the longer we wait, the greater the stakes.

The Consequences of Decreased Muscle Mass

The average number one fitness problem for most women is loss of muscle mass. Muscle mass diminishes with age and if you don't use it, you loose it. It's that simple. Decreased muscle mass can rob you of your health, mobility, self esteem and independence. Decreased muscle mass leads to slower metabolism and consequently increased fat storage. It can lead to increase risk of osteoporosis and skeletal fragility.

Males and females increase their muscle size and strength through growth and development until around the age of 20. Unless strength building techniques are practiced beyond that age, on average, ? pound of muscle will be lost each year and after the age of fifty that amount increases. If you continue to eat the same approximate number of calories per day, this loss of muscle will be replaced by subcutaneous fat as well as fatty tissue infiltration of your organs and existing muscles.

Muscle tissue is active tissue and has high caloric demands-even at rest. Under resting conditions, one pound of muscle tissue, on average burns about fifty calories per hour. Without strength building, by the time you're forty, you've already lost approximately ten pounds of muscle and lowered your metabolic rate by about 10%. If you're like the majority of the population, you've also gained at least twenty pounds (this number on average is low). Where does that leave you? With an extra thirty pounds of fat and an out-of-shape body! You've heard the common aging compliant, "my metabolism is slowing down". Metabolically we don't slow down because of increasing age but rather because the amount of lean muscle mass decreases without proper stimulus to our muscles.

What is Strength Building?

Do not buy into the misconception that all we need to do is move our bodies to become stronger. Much of the movement that our bodies experience is against a random resistance such as the Earth's gravitational pull. Movement is good for many reasons but in order to improve our muscle mass and therefore strength, resistance is what counts.

Muscles will increase in size, strength and endurance only when that muscle is forced to work against a measured amount of resistance. If gains are to be continued, the resistance must be made harder and harder. When a muscle is overloaded, it adapts by becoming stronger. More specifically, muscles respond to stress (force) by increasing their protein content and thus developing larger fibers which then produce larger muscles that have greater strength capacity and have a higher energy (caloric) demand.

Where does the "resistance" come from? Resistance force can include Nautilus type machines, free weights, stretch bands, ankle and wrist weights and even your own body weight. Yes, even our own body weight-which makes starting a program at home easy. Training on average 2 to 3 times per week is ideal. This allows the muscle fibers time to heal and rebuild and be prepared for the greater demands of a higher force (resistance) next workout. Factors that influence our rate of muscular growth and strength are genetics, age, nutrition and the technique for resistance training applied.

The Slow Burn Technique

"Slow Burn" is a resistance training method that guarantees results — if done properly. Working specific muscle groups 'super slow'; minimizing momentum and gravity provides a safe, effective, and efficient way of achieving muscular growth and strength. Using the Slow Burn technique, the time "under load" with a given amount of resistance that a muscle works until complete failure or fatigue, is ideally 60-90 seconds. At this point the muscle fibers send out a cascade of chemical signals that stimulate growth, increase strength and activate metabolic processes.

Engaging five to seven different muscle groups per session completes your entire workout in about 30 minutes. The precision and speed at which the movement against a force is applied is crucial. Most conventional weight resistance techniques incorporate fast, jerky movements where momentum is utilized to complete each set. This sets you up for potential injury and can take its toll on your knees, ankles, hips, and shoulders. The Slow Burn technique requires that you take ten seconds to complete both the contraction and extension movement of each muscle, not allowing the skeletal system to relieve the muscles of the workload. Strength training techniques done properly will strengthen your muscles, joints, bones and connective tissue while also improving your overall health. Strength training should build you up, not tear you down.

Why should I start a Slow Burn Strength Building program?

It's no secret that most of us could benefit from shedding a few pounds, a spare tire, love handles, or heavy thighs. The development of muscular fitness is specific to the muscle trained although there are overall fitness improvements to a strength building program.

Strength training influences our resting metabolism as well as our exercising metabolism. Our muscles are responsible for over 25% of our total caloric utilization. The calorie burning effect of added muscle mass and the body's increased sensitivity to the hormone insulin can have a positive and long term effect on loosing fat and controlling your weight forever. Strength training will give you a leaner, firmer and stronger body.

Strength training can maintain and even increase bone mineral density, decreasing your risk of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures. When bone is stressed through proper muscle movement, it gets stronger. The stress applied to the muscles is transferred to tendons, ligaments and bones. This produces more collagen proteins and osteoproteins, increasing structural strength. The result is a balanced, strong, well-developed musculo-skeletal system that protects you from back pain, injury, and even overuse injury for you hard core athletes out there.

Strength training can also be good for your heart! Remember, our hearts work as our pump and our muscles our engine. The stronger our engine, the more effectively and efficiently they draw oxygen from the blood and therefore reduce the demand on our pump — or heart and lungs. The cardio-pulmonary benefits from an aerobic program come from the increased strength and endurance of the specific muscles used.

Muscle strength enhances flexibility. How? A well trained muscle is stronger moving the joints through a full range of motion; it is more supple, well hydrated and has improved circulation allowing for optimal and stable flexibility. Scientists have discovered that the increased strength of ligaments and tendons through strength training techniques allows for greater flexibility of the joints without the dangers of dislocations, sprains, or tendon ruptures.

A workout program — it's an attitude. An attitude that says, "I care about how I look and feel." You've got to work at it and you've got to believe in what you're doing. Consider the sobering alternative... health, mobility, independence, self esteem — dwindling away like an aging engine that has lost its power and strength.

Trust me — you're definitely worth it. Engage yourself in a strength building program. You'll never be sorry you committed.

                                                           Debbie Judd, RN

Copyright © April 2006  Debbie Judd, RN and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury


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