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