Men's Health Week: Maintaining/Building Muscle Mass
Men's bodies are at their physical prime in their early 20's through late 30's.
As we age, appropriately, we start loosing muscle mass as muscles begin to
atrophy. Even if we maintain a certain weight, as we age, the muscle mass can be
off set by fat cells. It is widely believed that between the ages of 40 and 60
an average man loses 35% of muscle mass due to the drop in hormone levels
namely, testosterone. Compounding this situation is the fact that each year
after a man turns 40 his metabolism slows by 2%. This coupled with less exercise
and overeating all add up to more fat cells and less muscle.
Building and maintaining muscle mass works best when you put into practice a
combination of tips.
1. Resistance Training: weight resistance is very important, include regular
weight training. Building muscle mass requires the process of breaking down,
building and recovery of the muscles in order for them to grow. Resistance is
essential for making a muscle stronger. When a muscle has to work against a load
placed on it, it adapts to the stress by creating new muscle fibers and making
neurological changes that ultimately make it stronger. Muscles respond to
virtually anything that offers resistance. No matter what your age!
A regime of 8 - 12 reps for 3 sets of one exercise is recommended. The amount of
weight you lift will vary per workout... and that's ok. What is more important
is that you should lift enough weight to challenge your muscles. To do this,
lift enough weight to only squeeze out 8 - 12 reps. If you can do more, your
weight is too light. If you can not even do 8 reps, your weight is too heavy.
Your reps should decrease with each of your 3 sets for that exercise. Another
words, your first set, you will probably be able to do 12 reps. With the next
two sets, your reps should decrease back to the 8 to 10 reps, due to muscle
failure. You may need to add more weight for your second or third set.
The muscles now need to repair and recover.
2. Stretching: is a great tension reducer. Just as there are different types of
flexibility, there are also different types of stretching. Stretches are either
dynamic (meaning they involve motion) or static (meaning they involve no
motion). Dynamic stretches affect dynamic flexibility and static stretches
affect static flexibility (and dynamic flexibility to some degree).
When done properly, stretching can do more than just increase flexibility.
Benefits of stretching include:
*enhanced physical fitness
*enhanced ability to learn and perform skilled movements
*increased mental and physical relaxation
*enhanced development of body awareness
*reduced risk of injury to joints, muscles, and tendons
*reduced muscular soreness
*reduced muscular tension
*increased suppleness due to stimulation of the production of chemicals which,
lubricate connective tissues
*reduced severity of painful blood stagnation or injury in males
3. Cardio and Muscle Mass: Cardio work is great for the heart and burns
calories. So it is important to look at your goals. Since we are talking about
maintaining muscle mass, (not getting lean or building mass and staying lean) I
will focus on maintaining mass.
For maintaining/building mass, you must do weight lifting and cardio on
different days. When you want to maintain and/or maximize muscle growth, divide
your weight workouts into 2 to 3 body parts per workout session. Lift three days
a week. Cardio should be done only 2-3 times per week, as excess cardio works
against your goal. Recovery days from the weights are important to take. Do your
cardio on your days off from weight lifting. It is believed that by doing
excessive cardiovascular exercises, like the treadmill or exercise bike, will
decrease muscle mass. For maintaining muscle mass, maintain a slower speed and a
higher incline on your cardio equipment.
4. Nutrition: maintaining and/or increasing muscle mass through resistance
training requires adequate calorie intake. Protein is key. Protein is found in
large amounts in the body. Proteins are the main building blocks in our system
and the primary make-up of most of our cells. Proteins are a much slower and
longer-lasting source of energy than carbohydrates. Proteins help maintain
proper acid-alkali balance in our bodies and are needed for the maintenance of
our muscle, connective tissue, and skin.
When you are exercising eating protein becomes even more important. As the
muscles need protein to grow, therefore, it is important to eat at least 1g of
protein per pound of body weight. Additionally, it is a good idea to have a
protein-rich snack after your weight training workout.
Eating at least 5 times a day is not only important for maintaining muscle mass
but for keeping your metabolism at an optimum level. Small, frequent meals helps
maintain, strengthen and tonify muscle.
Eat a portion of carbohydrates and a portion of protein every meal. Exercise
expert, Bob Cooper, through his research has found that what people need is
"carbohydrate management, not carbohydrate elimination". He suggests that by
reducing carbohydrates by 20% of daily needs and within 48 hours replenishing
the glycogen in the muscle by eating 100% of daily carbohydrate requirements,
this will allow for fat loss, without muscle loss.
Eat fish 3-4 times a week for the essential oils. Omega 3s from fish oil can
enhance the conversion of food protein to muscle protein. 1,000 mg of high
quality fish oil (high amounts of DHA and EPA) twice a day (total of 2,000 mg)
is necessary for regulating hormone levels.
Consider making healthy choices such as organic vegetables and fruits, as well
as, dairy and meats from livestock raised without hormones. It is important to
avoid hormone-altering toxic chemicals that disrupt testosterone levels and make
your body work even harder to maintain balance. Wash vegetables and fruits well.
Drink 6-8 glasses of water everyday.
Most people do not get their required daily allowance of vitamins and minerals
from food. I highly recommend taking a good quality (preferably organic)
As far as additional supplements go, there are two I would recommend you try. I
have based this information on my past experiences with these supplements, as
well as what I see in my male patients who work with these supplements.
Creatine is produced naturally in the human body from amino acids such as
L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine. It is primarily producred in the kidneys
and liver. It is transported in the blood for use by the muscles. Approximately
95% of the human body's total creatine is found in skeletal muscle. Since
creatine is manufactured in the human body it is not an essential nutrient.
approximately half of stored creatine originates from food (mainly from meat). A
study, involving 18 vegetarians and 24 non-vegetarians, on the effect of
creatine in vegetarians showed that total creatine was significantly lower than
in non-vegetarians. Since vegetables do not represent the primary source of
creatine, vegetarians can be expected to show lower levels of directly derived
In my 20's and 30's, when I first did creatine, you had to do a week of
"loading" creatine into the muscles 3 times a day for a week, then pull back to
1-2 servings a day. Now, because of the breakthroughs in chemistry, the
discovery of many types of creatine make it possible to simply skip the loading
process for a week and start at a dose of 1-2 servings per day. Extensive
research over the last decade has shown that oral creatine supplementation at a
rate of 5 to 20 grams per day appears to be very safe and largely devoid of
adverse side-effects, while at the same time effectively improving the
physiological response to resistance exercise, increasing the maximal force
production of muscles in both men and women.
My other suggestion, which I have personally found amazing results with, is HMB.
â-Hydroxy â-methylbutyric acid (HMB) is a metabolite of the essential amino acid
leucine. It plays a role in protein synthesis and has been shown to increase
muscle mass and decrease muscle breakdown. HMB is used for increasing the
benefits from weight training and exercise. It was discovered in pigs, and small
quantities can also be found in grapefruit, alfalfa, and catfish.
Well-controlled scientific studies have found increases in muscle mass and
decreases in body fat in 70 year old men. It has helped patients with chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease and for treating diseases of the heart and blood
vessels (cardiovascular disease), high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
In combination with the amino acids l-arginine and glutamine, HMB is also used
for treating weight loss, weakness, muscle wasting and diarrhea in people with
HIV or AIDS (AIDS-related wasting) and with cancer and trauma victims with
Doses in research studies have been 1.5 to 3.0 grams per day, usually divided
into 2-3 doses. Three grams of HMB per day helps muscles combat protein
breakdown, assist in muscle repair and support increased endurance.
3. Sleep: is absolutely an essential component keeping that muscle mass. It is
also the secret for staying young, energetic and healthy. Good quality sleep is
imperative for the the body to repair itself. The body slows down considerably
as we sleep in order to rejuvenate and regulate hormone levels. The release of
natural HGH (human growth hormone), assists the body in the development of
muscle mass. Studies have shown that natural growth hormone is produced during
the late REM cycles of sleep. Therefore, a good nights rest will keep HGH
production at optimum levels.
Exercise is also a good remedy for sleep. Exercise exhausts the muscles and the
mind and can help us have a greater night's sleep. Be sure to exercise in the
morning or afternoon. Exercise stimulates the body and exercise or strenuous
activity before bed may make falling asleep more difficult.
4. Acceptance: is the last part of the puzzle that is important to grasp. The
ego body is telling us we want to be young and beautiful forever and always look
and feel like we did in our 20's and 30's. The truth may be hard to accept
sometimes, but changing the way we look at ourselves is the key to feeling good
about who we are as we age. This is the part of the journey we call "our life".
Accepting who we are as we gracefully age is accepting ourselves with "great
Maintaining and/or building muscle mass as we age is not an impossible task. It
is a matter of taking control of our situation and achieving our goal through
diligents and basic discipline.
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
5. The Fat Loss Coach by Charles Remington
7. "Are you doing too much cardio? How to balance aerobic exercise and weight
training to meet your fitness goals" by Bob Cooper.
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