You Asked: Muscles, Muscles, Muscles

You're asking and I'm answering.

Hey Fit!
I'd LOVE if you'd do a post about muscle. How long/how much work it takes to build, how long before it atrophies, how many calories it ACTUALLY burns?
I'm really curious and eager for some plain English answers!
Love ya Fit!

– Wanting More on Muscles


So many questions about muscle and all of them great. First off, there are many factors at play when building muscle like diet (what you eat), metabolism (how quickly your body turns what you eat into energy) and age (around age 35 both men and women start to lose muscle mass and have to work harder to keep it and build it). A study performed on overweight men who were new to weight lifting might help explain how long it takes to build muscle. The men performed strength training 3 days a week, along with endurance exercise (aka cardio). After 14 weeks, the men averaged a weight loss of 16.3 pounds of fat and gained 9.5 pounds of muscle.

To build muscle you need to challenge it. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends doing strength training at least twice a week, but not on back to back days. You should do 8-10 exercises working the major muscle groups: legs, arms, back, abs, and glutes. You should perform 8-12 repetitions of each exercise using a weight that exhausts the muscle. If you can try for two sets of each exercise.

Want to hear the good news about atrophy? Well then, you are just going to have to read more.

Muscle atrophy is usually associated with injury or disease. However, disuse atrophy happens when you don't work your muscle and is unfortunately, common in our sedentary lives. However, when you stop training it takes longer to lose muscular strength than to lose cardiovascular fitness. In a study involving athletes, after taking 14 days off from training, none of the athletes lost any muscular strength.

Lastly, a pound of muscle burns about 35 to 50 calories a day where a pound of fat only burns about two calories per day. Talk about a reason to start adding strength training to your exercise routine!

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