Gone are the days when it was not recommended for women to gain lean muscle mass and the weights section of the gym being the sole domain of men. Nowadays, you’ll see a mix of men and women in the weights section of the gym. Why? Because they realise that they need to develop lean muscle. But why?
What is lean muscle mass and why do you want it?
Lean muscle mass is the muscle in your body minus the fat. Joseph Nicholson gives the following definition:
“Lean muscle is a concept related to lean body mass, which is the content of the body minus fat. Lean body mass is used to calculate basal metabolic rate. Lean muscle is less of a scientific term and more a term of art that refers to muscle that is independent of, and not obscured by, fat.”
Besides the fact that having a good percentage of lean muscle mass in your body looks very good, there are a number of other benefits that a lean muscle has in your body.
Helps to prevent injury
We use muscles in everything that we do in our daily lives. From lifting groceries into the car to performing the perfect bicep curl, muscles allow us to make this happen. The stronger your muscles are, and the more lean muscle mass you have, the easier these movements will be. In addition, the less likely it is that you will strain your muscles by performing a movement that you are not strong enough to do.
Burns calories at rest
Unless you are a professional athlete, it is very difficult to maintain a constant activity level which will play a big role in helping you lose weight. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn even when you’re sitting behind your desk. This is because muscle needs more energy to maintain itself than fat does.
What helps to develop lean muscle mass?
Diet and exercise play a big role in the development of lean muscle mass.
There are a number of foods that can help you in your quest to develop lean muscle mass. Here are a couple:
The main component of muscle is protein . Beef, from grain-fed cattle, is an excellent source of protein for the body. When choosing what cuts of beef to buy, remember to choose the leaner cuts – such as sirloin – to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol you take in.
Rich in casein protein, cottage cheese is a great food for increasing your protein levels. As it’s slow to digest, cottage cheese is good to eat as part of the last meal that you eat before you go to bed.
Although possibly thought of as a new diet fad that will be here today and gone tomorrow, quinoa has very helpful properties when it comes to gaining lean muscle mass. This foodstuff has been linked with an increase in insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels. It’s been proven that this is instrumental in developing lean muscle mass.
Personal trainers have singled out a number of exercises – that they would have learned in their personal training course – that will help in your quest to develop lean muscle mass like weight training, for example. Here are a couple that they recommend:
Legs: Stiff Leg Dead Lifts
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Ensure that your hands are in an overhand grip placed shoulder width or slightly wider on an Olympic bar or barbell. The bar will be in front of your legs.
Bend over at the waist and keep your lower back strong by contracting your abdominals. Lower the bar down towards the floor and keep your back in a full extension. Pause briefly before returning to your starting position. Perform how many reps necessary for the results that you want.
Back: Lat Pull Down
Sit at a lat pull down machine with your knees placed firmly under the knee pads. Take an overhand grip that is wider than shoulder width on a ;at bar attached to the pulley on the machine. Extend your arms overhead with your chest out and a slight arch in your lower back.
Pull the bar down towards your chest by flexing your elbows and depressing your scapulae. Use your latissimus dorsi to initiate the movement. Hold the contraction for a moment and then slowly lift the bar up to your starting position. Perform as many reps as necessary for the results that you want.
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