Friday, October 7, 2011
ASK THE EXPERTS: WHAT HAPPENS TO UNUSED MUSCLE?
If you abandon your strength-training program, will your muscles turn to fat? The answer is no: muscle doesn't turn to fat, but we do tend to lose muscle tissue and add fat as we age.
The use it or lose it concept remains an important mantra when weight-training. If you're not actively replacing muscle after the age of 35, approximately 1/2 pound of unused muscle is lost per year.
As your activity levels decrease, fat cells gradually begin to replace the lean muscle tissue - the key word here is replace. The body contains more than 600 muscles that maneuver each and every move. When these muscles are neglected, your muscle definition deteriorates and your fat content increases. What does this mean?
Strength training should be part of your regular workout in order to maintain or gain muscle. It stimulates muscle cell growth and the production of enzymes that help use and store energy.
Your body is composed of lean mass and fat mass. While the goal is to achieve a higher level of lean mass than fat mass, both types do serve a purpose.
Lean mass includes muscles, bones, organs and blood. Fat mass protects organs like the heart, liver and kidneys. It acts as insulation to keep us warm and helps regulate hormones. Men's lean mass should be at least 80 percent of total body composition, while women should shoot for 75 percent lean mass.
This Fit Tip was provided by Life Fitness, the leader in designing and manufacturing high-quality exercise equipment for fitness facilities and homes worldwide.