Whether you’re working hard to build muscle or you’re simply trying to sustain your ideal weight, it’s essential to strengthen and maintain your muscles. Discover the benefits of muscle building and learn where to focus your muscle building energy.

What Do Muscles Do, Anyway?

When you think of muscles, the most visible ones, such as biceps and abs, might come to mind first. But your muscles are much more than body parts you can flex on demand. Your muscular system is one of the most important components of your body because it essentially keeps all of your parts going. You couldn’t move without your muscles, and you couldn’t speak or express your thoughts either. Your muscles convert your energy into movements, handling simple things like talking and blinking to complex movements like running and lifting weights.

Although the muscular system might sound like a comprehensive bodily system, naturally, not all of your muscles are responsible for the same types of actions. Your muscles are actually divided into three different types:

  • Skeletal Muscle: This type includes abs, biceps, and other muscles you can flex and move voluntarily. If you’re building muscle, these are the types of muscles you’re working on.
  • Smooth Muscle: This type includes internal muscles, mainly those inside your organs and blood vessels. These primarily work involuntarily, as you don’t have to give them a second thought to ensure they work properly.
  • Cardiac Muscle: This type of muscle appears in your heart and keeps things ticking around the clock.

How Building Muscle Benefits Your Health

Your skeletal muscles are able to repair themselves and grow larger, so there’s nothing stopping you from strengthening them. In fact, you can experience some substantial health benefits from focusing on muscle building.

Your muscles power your every movement, even your balance and posture. Maintaining strong core muscles can help you sit and stand straighter, which can both improve your appearance and keep your spine and the rest of your body aligned properly. Building lean muscle can also improve your balance, which can boost your overall fitness level and prevent serious injuries and falls. Keeping your muscles strong also ensures that you can easily do everyday activities, like climbing stairs, lifting heavy groceries, and even picking up your pets.

If burning fat and using extra energy are your main goals, building your muscles is one of the most effective ways to accomplish them. Strengthening and maintaining your muscles can boost metabolism, which means you’ll use more energy for every action you perform. Whether you’re engaging in a strenuous workout or you’re just walking to your desk, you’ll burn more energy moving your muscles. You might even be able to consume more calories to make up for the extra energy usage, which is great if you want to add an extra snack or two to your meal plan.

When you’re in your 20s and 30s, you might not be worried about your health as a senior citizen. After you hit 30, though, maintaining your muscles can help you preserve your health for decades to come. If you let your muscles slide and you slip into a sedentary lifestyle, you could lose up to 5 percent of your muscle mass every subsequent decade. With such a reduced level of muscle mass to work with, you could struggle to enjoy your golden years.

For women, maintaining muscles is even more important. Studies have shown that building muscle is substantially easier when you’re younger, and replacing muscle that you’ve lost or neglected is tougher for women than for men.

No matter your gender or your age, building and maintaining muscle can help you prevent diseases and chronic conditions. For instance, you can reduce arthritis pain with a regular strength training routine, and you may also be able to boost bone density, which can prevent osteoporosis and broken bones.

You can also look forward to feeling better and being happier when you maintain your muscles. After all, strength training gives your endorphin levels a boost, which can lower your stress levels and improve your quality of life.

Where to Focus Your Muscle Building Energy

With so many muscles in your body, knowing where to focus your strength training efforts can be tough. Try focusing on key muscle groups and developing workout routines that address more than one muscle group at a time, such as your core and back or your chest and shoulders.

  • Core: A strong core, which includes your abdominals, is essential for sitting, standing, and avoiding back pain. Crunches and leg raises are great for strengthening your core.
  • Arms: Your arms include both your biceps and your forearms, and you’ll want to train your whole arm for maximum effect. Do some bicep and tricep curls as well as some pushdowns. Pushups are also great for strengthening your arms and your entire upper body.
  • Shoulders: To work your shoulders, or deltoids, try overhead presses or barbell rows. These exercises typically work some of your chest muscles, too, so try training both in the same session.
  • Legs: Your legs include your quadriceps, your hamstrings, and your glutes. To train them all effectively, you’ll need to do both squats and leg extensions.
  • Chest: Try a bench press and either dumbbells or free weights to strengthen your chest muscles, or pectorals. You can also use incline weight machines for a complete chest workout.
  • Back: Beginning strength trainers can do lateral pulldowns using weight machines, while advanced muscle builders can do sets of deadlifts.

To attain the best possible results from your strength training program, be sure to commit to an effective meal plan, too. The best muscle building diets are high in protein without skimping on the carbs or the fats. The most effective meal plans also ensure that you get the right number of calories and nutrients each day so that you’re never overdoing it and putting on fat instead of muscle.

Building and maintaining muscle is essential for feeling and looking great. No matter how straightforward or far-reaching your muscle building goals might be, monitoring your progress and ensuring you’re on track for optimal health is key.

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