Question of the Week: What is the purpose of your journey?
Nugget of the Day: Increasing muscle mass through strength training is the best way to raise resting metabolic rate (RMR).
The major factors in increasing resting metabolic rate (RMR) are an increase in lean body tissue (muscle mass), being young, genetics, or some hormonal change such as hyperthyroidism or monthly cycle. Scroll through this list and tell me which ones you actually have some control over. “Being young”? It would sure be nice to have some control in this area, but unfortunately the clock keeps ticking. “Genetics”? Again, while some of us wish we could have chosen our pedigree, our chromosomes are what they are. And genetics can even account for a 10-20% difference in RMR. Some engines just run a little more “hot” than others. “Hormonal changes” are also largely out of our control, so the only remaining factor that we can influence is lean body tissue, or muscle mass.
A few post back I mentioned that excessive amounts of cardiovascular exercise can decrease muscle mass, thereby decreasing number of calories burned, both at rest and during exercise. Have any of you ever participated in a cardio-heavy exercise routine and wondered why you plateaued after a few months? One of the prevailing factors leading to this plateau is a decrease in metabolism associated with loss of muscle mass. Strength training stimulates the body to both retain present muscle and to add additional muscle mass to what you already have. The benefits gained pertaining to metabolism are in effect for the entire day. Not only does the body burn more calories during exercise when there is more muscle mass present, but the RMR also goes up and you burn more calories at rest as well. RMR is important, whether you are trying to shed body fat, or just seeking to maintain your current level of fitness. And a proper strength training program performed a couple times a week is just the thing your body needs. I have some workouts that you can use to get started, and keep checking back as I am adding more each week!
“I’m afraid of ‘bulking up’ by doing strength training” is a concern I often hear, and I will address this in the next “Nugget of the Day”, so check back soon!