From the age of 30, both men and women start to lose their muscle mass. This age-related muscle loss is called Sarcopenia. In men, it happens due to low testosterone levels, while in women, it occurs because of a low level of estrogen hormone.
When we reach the age of 30, we tend to lose 3% to 8% of muscle per decade. Many people can also lose up to 30% of muscle mass in their lifetime.
Muscle strength and endurance are things that help in body mobility. Hence, muscle training is essential. Strength training of the muscles allows you to keep your body weight in check and decreases the risk of age-related muscle loss, leading to healthier and strong muscles, bones, etc.
This article gives you a brief about the benefits of strength training, how you can build your muscle strength and some exercises for it.
How To Increase Your Muscle Strength?
The first thing to keep in your mind is, strength is not just the property of muscles; instead, it is a property of the neuromuscular system. Going for complete muscle exhaustion is not the way to increase its strength. Doing mindful exercises that suit your body type and capacity and meet your body requirements long-term is necessary.
Your muscle strength increases by increasing muscle fibre in a particular group of muscles and by increasing the firing frequency of the motor neurons in your muscle.
1. Have An Excellent Warm Up Session
A good warming up session before an extensive workout is essential. It is like prepping up the body before a workout. An improper warm-up session can often lead to muscle injuries, reduced strength during the training, etc.
Some warm-up exercises include some stretching of the arms and the legs, a few jumping jacks, side leg raises, a few squats, and you can also add some pullups/pushups. 10 to 15 mins of warm-up session is sufficient for prepping up the body for the workout.
2. Do The Heavy Lifting
Lifting heavy weights engages high threshold motor units. Training these motor units helps in increasing the overall strength of your body. We suggest you go for multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses, pulls, etc.
These exercises go for restricted movement and high repetition. Such limited movement will ensure that they engage the fast-twitch fibres as much as possible.
3. Prefer Speed Lifting
Speed lift includes box squats, speed bench, speed lifts, etc. These exercises are excellent for acceleration and power development. Including additional equipment such as resistance bands, chains, etc, would help in it even more.
Equipment like kettlebells, medicine balls are also helpful in increasing your workout challenges.
4. Consider Doing Plyometrics
Plyometrics is a type of training, which uses the speed and force of different movements to build muscle strength. It includes pushing, throwing, jumping, and kicking.
Often, a person uses their body weight to perform these high functioning exercises. These exercises help in increasing muscle strength and endurance.
These exercises can be tiring and can result in extreme muscle fatigue. Therefore, it is advisable to take proper breaks and recovery time in between your sessions.
5. Perform Sprints
Sprints come under high resistant workouts. Sprints are either performed on a standard field or a hilly region of mountains. It can be done in two ways, either linearly or agility drills.
6. Focus On Your Core
Strengthening your core helps you stabilize your body. It also helps in giving you a better posture and support during other exercises. It also improves body posture overall and helps in maintaining balance.
Core strengthening exercises usually focus on the pelvic muscles, lower back, hips and abdomen. Exercises that might help you strengthen your core are Russian twists, bicycle crunches, hollow man, high plank, bridge, leg raises,v-sits, etc.
7. Try Counter Training
You can mix and match resistant training with sprints or with plyometrics. What counter training does is it helps you two build your muscle strength along with enhancing your body’s mobility.
The primary physiological mechanism behind counter training is post-activation potentiation pr PAP. Here, you first have to start with heavy training/lifting and some cardio exercises or plyometrics.
Counter training exercises can get to extreme muscle fatigue if proper rest is absent between the sets.
8. Give Your Body A Proper Recovery Time
Strength training exercises can be over-exhausting sometimes. Hence, you need to take proper rest days in between. This will help the muscles to build up and also prevent them from injuries in the future.
You can do light stretching exercises on rest days to relax those muscles on a rest day. Some stretching exercises include cat and dog, wide lunges, ribbit, etc.
9. Follow A Nutritious Diet
Now, it can’t be stressed enough how important a nutritious diet is. It doesn’t matter how much strength training you do, but it will downgrade your muscle quality if you don’t have a good diet.
Protein is known as muscle food. People who do extensive workouts should consume high amounts of protein. It is said that you should consume 1 gram of protein for every kilo in your body. For example, if you are a person who weighs 55kgs, then you should consume 55 grams of protein every day.
Some sources of protein are whey, salmon, eggs, spinach, lentils, greek yogurt, beans, skim milk, etc.
Along with protein, fiber-rich and some fat-containing foods should also be included in your diet. Food items carbohydrates, antioxidants should also be incorporated into the diet. A healthy, balanced diet helps in building muscle mass, enhances the recovery process and reduces inflammation, in any.
10. A Cooling Down Session
A cooling down session is important as it helps the heart rate and body’s temperature to come back to its normal course. It can include walking slowly at the place or a few stretches.
11. Get Massages
Schedule a massage every two weeks or once a month. Getting regular massages relaxes the muscles, helps with the soreness, improves blood circulation to the muscles etc.
The muscles get very tense by regular high intensity, strengthening exercises. Hence a massage helps to release the lactic acid accumulation in them and relaxes them. It also helps in prepping up the body for better performance during future workout sessions.
12. Stay Hydrated
Mating adequate water levels in your body is very necessary. During your workout sessions, you tend to lose a lot of body water in the form of sweat. Hence, it is necessary to keep yourself well hydrated as lower body water levels can lead to muscle cramps.
Benefits Of Increased Muscle Strength
Strength training has many benefits and is not only related to increased muscle strength.
- It helps in building lean muscle mass
- It helps in burning stored fats/calories
- Reduces total body fat percentage
- Boosts metabolism
- Increases Bone density
- Helps in improving flexibility and body mobility
- Helps in improving body posture and stability
- Improves the sense of well being and elevates mood due to the release of serotonin (happy hormone)
- Improves brain’s function
- Increased energy levels
- It helps in reducing the symptoms of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.
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Muscle loss can be seen in people above the age of 30. But that can be avoided by doing strength training. Strength training has many benefits. It helps to boost your metabolism, help in reducing body fat percentage, increase muscle strength and endurance, correct your body posture, etc.
We have also enlisted what all you can do to increase your muscle strength. What exercises to prefer, importance of rest and a balanced diet, warm up and cooling down sessions, etc.
Always remember, increasing your strength is not a one day job. It is not a sprint, but a marathon. Take one step at a time. Be consistent and determined towards your goal. Take necessary precautions during your workout sessions.