Many people, especially women, have misconceptions about building muscle. They think that weight training will lead to bulking up or looking like a bodybuilder. I’ve previously shared that many years ago, I was very thin with no shape. People who saw me probably thought I was healthy because I was thin. But I knew better and wanted to do something to give my body more shape.
I had my body composition checked using the hydrostatic body fat test. I weighed in at 103 lbs. with 85.7 lean lbs. and 17.3, fat lbs., which means I was 16.8% body fat. You might say I was the typical “skinny fat.”
Then I started weight training. A year later I had the test done again, and my weight was at 122 lbs. with 109.6 lean lbs. and 12.4 fat lbs., which came to 10.1% body fat. I looked so much better and, more importantly, felt so much better.
There are so many benefits to adding muscle weight to your body, but one favorite reason is that more muscle means your body will burn more calories throughout the day. Every pound of muscle burns approximately 50 calories a day, while each pound of fat burns only about 2 calories a day. Building a layer of muscle tissue is a great way to increase your metabolic rate, which will in turn burn calories all day long. Our muscles are the only place where the body burns fuel, specifically fat and carbohydrates.
The best way to gain muscle is with resistance weight training. Weight training will stimulate muscle growth and replace muscle fiber in place of fat. Fat in our bodies takes up at least three times the volume of muscle. This is why a person with little muscle at 120 pounds may not look as good as a more muscular person who weighs130 pounds.
So don’t be afraid to pick up those weights. Make sure you’re eating enough clean protein (about 1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight)— I like NRG-X Sublime Whey Chocolate Chip Milkshake and Vitacost BCAAs with Glutamine and Vitamin C for a boost—and drink plenty of water throughout the day. It’s also important to get enough sleep each night to help your muscles grow.
Challenge yourself to get stronger, build some muscle, lose body fat and reap all the benefits muscles have to offer.
Southern States Championships top contender Melissa Transou, a figure competitor, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports nutrition needs of female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com.