Without muscles your body would fail to function; they are involved in everything from vision to digestion. It’s easy to take the complex system of muscular contractions for granted. On a day-to-day basis, we use our muscles to carry groceries, climb stairs, and stand up. And one of the body’s most important functions, pumping blood, is conducted by a muscle: the heart.
Your lifestyle can drastically influence the way your muscles behave and function throughout your lifespan. So, we’ve listed three benefits on how a well-developed muscular system can help you perform at your maximum physical potential.
We’ve covered the process of increasing muscular size in our previous muscle building basics article, but you can also train your muscle to increase their overall strength.
However, muscular strength and muscular size do not go hand in hand. Training for muscular strength varies slightly from training for muscular growth. Researchers have found that individuals who use heavy loads when training yield significantly more gains in muscular strength than lifters who use light loads. If you’re starting a general strength training strategy, shoot for weights you can safely lift between 3-8 repetitions for 3-5 sets. Those who have developed their overall strength can expect increases in their sprinting, jumping, and agility. Individuals who have maintained physical strength has also been shown to reduce their risk for injury.
Increased Speed and Endurance
Muscle tissue can be composed of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. How you train your muscles will determine which muscle fibers your body develops. And the more you develop one type of muscle fiber the better you will be able to perform activities that require each fiber type.
Activities that are longer in duration require slow twitch muscle fibers, and activities that require large and fast amounts of energy need the support of fast twitch muscle fibers. There is a genetic factor when it comes to your muscle fiber makeup, but that doesn’t mean you can't improve fast or slow twitch muscle response for increase performance.
If you want to increase your body’s ability to perform longer, less intense activities, then train your slow twitch muscle fibers. This requires exercises that are higher in repetition and lighter in resistance. To train your fast twitch muscle fibers, you need to increase the intensity and speed of your training by lifting heavier weights or performing faster more explosive movements.
Building muscle isn’t just for achieving a max deadlift of five hundred pounds. As we age, we can expect a gradual decline in strength and lean body mass over our lifespan, especially if we don’t work on maintaining or building our strength and muscle mass. A lack of muscle can reduce your body’s metabolism, leave you more susceptible to fat accumulation, and increase your risk for injury during daily activities. However, adding one to two resistance training sessions per week can counteract the deterioration of muscle tissue.
If you want to learn how you can add strength training, check out our podcast episode on why you should take up resistance training.