When it comes to building lean muscle, there are multiple components that come into play. Some of the factors involved in building muscle include nutrition, recovery, sleep, a good program, and of course what exercises you’re choosing to do in the first place. No matter what kind of lifestyle you may lead, adding resistance training and other types of physical activity are sure to add some health benefits to the overall quality of your life.
So what are some of the benefits of adding weight training to your weekly or even daily routine?
Weight Training Benefits
Some of the health benefits of strength training include increased lean muscle mass, improved blood pressure, decreased stress, improved quality of sleep ,increased energy levels, decreased joint pain, improved insulin sensitivity, increased resting metabolic rate and decreased risk of cardiovascular mortality.
Lean muscle mass plays a key role in basic metabolic functions and improving your basic metabolic rate. Increasing your lean muscle mass can help improve insulin sensitivity, thyroid function and maintaining healthy hormone levels.
Weight training leads to increased muscle mass which also leads to improved health and protection of your joints.
Exercise has proven its benefits over and over again in terms of improving the quality of your life, with the health of your heart and brain being no exception. When you’re exercising, your heart naturally has to pump stronger, getting more blood out and flowing to different parts of your body.
Along with stimulating blood flow, exercise helps stimulate the hormone BDNF as well. BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) is a protein produced inside nerve cells. This protein is actually responsible for building and maintaining the brain circuits that give signals the ability to travel in the first place. Running parallel to stimulating BDNF, exercise can lower inflammation and oxidative stress. This benefits the brain in multiple ways. Cognitively this can help prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and mood disorders such as depression.
So now that we know the benefits of having lean muscle mass, the real question is — how do you build it?
Picking the correct exercises is one of the first components to take into account when deciding how to build lean muscle effectively. So what are some of the top exercises to build lean muscle mass?
Exercises that encourage lean muscle training include a large variety of different movements. However, to get the most “bang for your buck:, the biggest exercises to build both strength and lean muscle mass include different variations of the squat, deadlift, bench, press, lunges, hip thrust and a variety of different body weight movements such as pull ups and push-ups (to name a few).
The Benefits of Weight Training & Choosing The Right Exercises
Squats have the ability to not only build muscle in your legs, but throughout your whole body as well due to their ability to stimulate both testosterone and human growth hormone.
This exercise also helps in everyday activities as well as contributing to improved mobility and balance as you age. These qualities are what make squats one of the most functional movements to include in your routine as you age.
Another reason to continue doing squats as you age is their ability to strengthen your joints and connective tissue, helping to prevent injuries.
Another key movement to guarantee the building of lean muscle mass is the deadlift. Arguably more functional than the squat, the deadlift offers multiple variations all while working multiple muscles at once. Working so many muscles causes a similar effect as discussed with the squat — a rush of hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone.
While the bench press has gotten a reputation for being a “bro” lift, its functionality and effectiveness prove it to be for more than just your average meathead. Benefits of the bench press include building upper body push strength, increased bone health and increased production of testosterone and growth hormone.
Another key compound movement that seems to be making a name for itself in a big way is the hip thrust. Strengthening your glute muscles is key in developing lean muscle mass — but this isn’t the only benefit the hip thrust provides. The hip thrust improves glute strength, shape and size as well as increasing all around muscle power and improving your squat and deadlift.
These are a few of the bigger, basic compound movements you can perform that will stimulate the most muscles at once, creating the greatest anabolic effect. However, adding “accessory” lifts after your larger, more taxing lifts is recommended as well. Accessory lifts refer to exercises that are focused on smaller muscle groups to target greater stimulation. However, it’s also important to take into account the rep range of all of these movements to determine overall volume.
Volume = sets x reps x weight
While most weightlifting movements will stimulate the growth of lean muscle mass to a certain extent, it’s important to choose the right amount of sets and repetitions to determine how much you’re taxing your body. This is where having a program or coach comes into play. Making sure you’re getting the correct balance of stimulation and recovery is a key component some individuals overlook when starting their journey in the gym.
What are some of your favorite exercises to perform in the gym?
See Stephanie’s article, What is Lean Muscle and Why is it Important, for more background.
About The Author:
Steph is a writer, competitive weightlifter and nutritional consultant with a passion for health and wellness. She is the founder of The Athlete’s Kitchen, a website dedicated to providing its audience with articles, recipes and the latest nutritional information on their favorite foods. Find her on instagram @steph.lodge or at https://www.TheAthletesKitchen.com