Why are we so afraid of muscle?
Do we not like to lift heavy stuff? Are women so bothered by the hackneyed "looking like a man" idiom that they'd rather have a fragile frame for their adult lives?
Unless bodybuilding or fitness modeling or competing in a world's strongest behemoth contest is a means for putting clothes on our backs, food on the table and a roof over our heads, we all could use more muscle.
Here are a few things helped by having more muscle:
- Aesthetics: I'm not naive. I know women want to be beautiful and sexy. And men, as much as my brethren don't want to admit it, want to be able to do the pec dance like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Muscle takes up less space than fat. That means we can gain weight and lose size! Imagine that: gaining weight and making our clothes look good instead of trying to find clothes that make us look good.
- Metabolism: Our body requires more energy to sustain and use muscle. Fat hangs around, not useful for anything until we're starving. More muscle on our bodies, relative to fat, means that at rest we're burning more calories than our counterparts who weigh the same but hold more fat.
- Attitude: According to the American College of Sports Medicine, we lose about 10 percent of our muscle mass by age 50. The losses only increase after that.
Seems like a downer to me, but that's where gaining muscle comes into play. There have been numerous studies that show an increase in physical activity of seniors who were put through a resistance-training program. Lift more, and put more living in our lives!
- Independence: Indulge me this one because there is no science to back it up, only anecdotal evidence. We shouldn't have to rely on somebody else's body to store the carry-on in the overhead bin. We should be able to open our own jar of pickles. If our vehicle breaks down, we should be able to push it to the side of the road. We should be able to climb a flight of stairs without feeling as if we hiked the Manitou Incline.
- Health: If we want to prevent issues such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis, we should become old dogs who learn new "heavy lifting" tricks. Same goes for managing things such as rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, fatigue and depression.
To the non-lifters, to those who think cardiovascular exercise is the only way to go, to those afraid of getting "bigger," to those who might have the tiniest inkling of the lifting bug, let's satisfy our contrarian side and pump some iron.
Bryant is an author and lecturer who holds several national training certifications. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.