Natural Fitness Studio

Strength: Got Muscles?

If you think building muscle tone is only for body builders and football players, it’s time to think again
by Joseph A. de Silva

Many people associate lifting weights with bulging muscles and body builders. But muscle conditioning, either with weights or other forms of exercise, has broad health benefits. Did you know that an increase in muscle tone will actually increase your metabolism? While body fat metabolizes a mere 4-5 calories per pound, one single pound of muscle can metabolize 45-75 calories. That’s a hard working pound of muscle! Also, muscle conditioning has been shown to increase bone density, which can decrease your risk for osteoporosis. The best part is that you’ll feel the benefits in your daily life: You will find with increased strength you are more efficient at your daily activities, and you may be more willing to try new things (rock climbing anyone?).

If you are looking to start a muscle-conditioning regimen, be sure to start slow. Taking on too much weight too soon will make your muscles sore, and make you less likely to stay with your program. Once you’ve found a weight you feel comfortable with, begin with one set of about 12-15 repetitions. As your body adjusts, work up to two to three sets per exercise. Begin with exercises that use multiple muscle groups, such as a chest press or body weight squat, rather than isolated muscle exercises

The tempo of your workout should be about 2-1-2: two seconds for the concentric phase (in which weight is lifted), one for a pause and two for the eccentric phase (in which weight is released). Intensity should be strenuous, but not painful. When you get strong enough to do 15 repetitions without strain, it’s time to add more weight. If you lift it, muscle tone will come...

Now that you’re pumped up, time to move!

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