15 Facts About Muscle and Strength You May Not Know

As individuals begin to head back to the gym, the focus turns to building muscle and strength. Obtaining additional knowledge regarding both topics will only help your fitness cause.

Fifteen Facts Regarding Muscle and Strength

Muscle: Build and Preserve it as You Age

  • How fast can you build muscle? One study reported, that “high responders” were able to build an average of 4.5 kg of muscle mass (about 10 lbs.) after 12-weeks of a push-pull-legs strength training program (5x/week). The “low-responders” put on an average of 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs.) in that same time span. 
  • Do you know the three types of muscle tissue found in the body? Cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle, and smooth muscle are their names, and they come in all shapes and sizes. There are approximately 650 muscles in the human body. Some reports cite more because they count “all” muscle. For example, the biceps brachii muscle has two heads, does this count as one or two muscles?
  • The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, the calf muscle can generate most force when used, and the jaw muscle exerts the most pressure.
  • Your muscles create at least 85 percent of your total body heat.
  • A meta-analysis published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reviewed 49 studies of men ages 50 to 83 who did regular strength training and found that subjects averaged a 2.5-pound increase in muscle mass.
  • Research has shown three decades of age-related strength loss and two decades of age-related muscle loss, can be recovered or reversed within the first couple of months of starting a strength training program.

Additional Fun Facts About Muscle

  • Starting around age 30, we begin to lose as much as 3 to 5 percent of your muscle mass per decade.
  • The average women’s maximal strength is about 60 percent compared to the average man. When looking at the upper body, women average 25-55 percent of men’s average strength. The gap closes in the lower body, where women are 70-75 percent as strong as men.
  • Muscle is more dense that adipose tissue (fat) and takes up less space on the body. In terms of weight, muscle = 1.06 kg/liter and fat = 0.9196 kg/liter. This makes muscle tissue approximately 15 percent denser than fat tissue.
  • Skeletal muscle makes up approximately 40 percent of total bodyweight. Some researchers suggest that number could be even higher. According to Shephard, in Biochemistry of Physical Activity, the skeletal muscles – when considered collectively – form the largest of the body organs. About 28 kg (62 lbs.) in a 70-kg sedentary man. In terms of a low/high number, men are comprised of about 40-50 percent muscle mass while women are in the range of 30-40 percent. The single number most often sited in scientific research is 42 and 36 percent respectively for men and women.

Lastly…

  • According to biochemist and former CrossFit owner, Robb Wolf, PhD., building and maintaining lean muscle is the best thing you can do to optimize longevity. “There’s this guarantee of losing muscle mass, losing the ability for maximum power production, as we age that begins in our 30’s,” he explains. Research shows, you lose 3 to 8 percent of muscle mass per decade after you turn 30, and even higher rate after age 60. The process called sarcopenia, or age-related muscle mass loss, that happens as you age; between the ages of 20 and 80, research has found you can actually lose 40 percent of your muscle mass

Strength: Use it or Lose it

  • Strength appears to peak between the ages of 25 and 35 and is maintained between ages 40-50. It then declines by 12-14 percent per decade after 50 years of age, according to research published by Doherty and colleagues.
  • According to research, individuals who do not strength train lose 5 to 7 pounds of muscle every 10 years. A by-product is a reduction in metabolism by about 50 calories a day. The loss of muscle becomes more pronounced as we continue to age. By the time we reach age 70, the muscular system has experienced a 40 percent loss of muscle tissue and a 30 percent decrease in strength.
  • An average women’s maximal strength is about 60 percent compared to the average man. When looking at the upper body, women average 25-55 percent of men’s average strength. The gap closes in the lower body, where women are 70-75 percent as strong as men.

In the End

Therefore, staying active and strength training regularly, early in life, builds a strong foundation, especially when trying to maintain muscle and strength later in life. The great thing is you can prevent the loss of muscle tissue and strength as you grow old. So it’s never too late to hit the gym and get involved in strength training.

Let Jefit Help Build Muscle and Strength

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. In addition, the app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and has a feature to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your fitness lifestyle.

References

Davidsen, PK., et al. (2011). Responders to resistance exercise training demonstrate differential regulation of skeletal muscle microRNA expression.
Journal of Applied Physiology.

Shephard, RJ, (1984). Biochemistry in Physical Activity. Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas Publisher.

Doherty TJ, (2001). The influence of aging and sex on skeletal muscle mass and strength. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 4:503-508.

Poon, L.W., Clayton, G., & Martin, P., et al. (1989). Individual similarities and differences of the oldest-old in the Georgia Centenarian Study. The Gerontologist, 29, 43.

Ivey, FM et al., (2000). The Effects of Age, Gender and Myostatin Genotype on the Hypertrophic Response to Heavy Resistance Strength Training. J. Gerontol: Med Sci 55A: M641-M848.

Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, and Hu FB, (2011). Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men. New England J Med; 364:2392-2404.

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Exercise Guidelines to Keep You Strong as You Age

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We all have different needs when it comes to exercise and those needs continue to change as we age. When was the last time you really thought seriously about your exercise routine? More importantly, are you experiencing gains with the current program you’re on? Maybe gains came easy when you were younger. What worked once, however, for whatever reasons does not seem to work as good now.

First, celebrate your success. You have continued to exercise all these years and that’s a good thing even if – at times – it may not be as evident when you step onto your bathroom scale. Keep in mind, more than 30 percent of Americans do not exercise at all and only about 5 percent of the population exercise at what is considered a vigorous level. Approximately 69 percent of Americans are currently overweight or obese.

All the work you’ve put in has done wonders for your body, mind, and spirit. More specifically, it has helped maintain your strength and lean muscle levels. A loss of muscle tissue occurs, for those who do not exercise, at a rate of about half a pound a year or roughly 5 pounds per decade. As this happens, a few of the many by-products are loss of strength, power and balance.

Use It Or Lose It

The average person who does not exercise regularly, experiences an 8 percent drop in their strength level per decade. By the time someone reaches age 65 they have about 25 percent less strength compared to when they were 30 years old. On the aerobic side of things you lose about 10 percent of your aerobic capacity each decade after age 40. There is potential to lose as much as 25 percent of bone in both sexes, as a result of inactivity, sitting too much and menopausal changes in women. With all this decline comes balance issues and additional problems with functionality, that could ultimately lead to a loss of independence.

Write down what you and your body really need as you get ready to enter 2021. What are you truly looking to accomplish with all the time you invest in yourself doing exercise and trying to eat healthier? You don’t own it until you write it down.

Needs Assessment

Prior to beginning any type of exercise program, it is essential that you undergo a needs assessment. The goal of this analysis is to create clearly defined goals that will help you make the most progress from your training. Ask yourself, what does your body really need at this point in time? Maybe you need more mobility work and less pounding (running) or loading (lifting weights). You may have been doing a lot of strength or cardio work but how is your balance? When was the last time you treated yourself to a good massage or took a yoga class? Find out what you need (by testing yourself) and set a few short and long-term goals.

Test Yourself Periodically

Work with a coach and complete an assessment to determine where you currently stand in the following areas below. Ask yourself: How do you judge improvement if you don’t measure it? Visit our Jefit Coach to help.

  • Body Composition
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Aerobic/Anaerobic ability
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
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Exercise Program

This is where most of us get lost and end up wasting a lot of time. The first goal is to find out what’s tight and lengthen it and then what’s weak and strengthen it. This will ultimately help you move and lift better in the gym. The second goal is to move better, also known as movement competency. Once an individual can execute a movement efficiently with a full range of motion (that is unrestricted), like a Squat or Deadlift, then and only then should the volume (sets x reps x load) be increased. When someone cannot execute a particular movement pattern correctly, do not increase repetitions, the number of sets or especially the load. Anyone who is loading tight, stiff muscles is basically an accident waiting to happen, it’s only a matter of time until you’ll need to take time off!

Focus on the primary movement patterns below using the “Big 6” as part of your primary strength routine and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Carry
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull

A well-designed exercise program should improve mobility, increase strength, power, improve cardiovascular fitness and more. A strength and conditioning program should change body composition by way of adding lean muscle tissue and decreasing body fat. Balance should also improve in addition to flexibility and mobility. You must add time to your workout though to address it. But you won’t know if you’re improving if you don’t periodically measure it. Has this been an issue for you?

Focus on adding in a bout of sprint work to your weekly cardio routine. This should come in the form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A few examples would be sprinting, cycling or rowing. Place more emphasis on quality rather than quantity when doing HIIT and remember, the key is manipulating the intensity as you get better at it.

Finally, focus on doing more mobility work each time you exercise and make it part of your recovery process on off days. These guidelines will help keep you strong and functional through the aging process.

Potential Prescription Ideas

  • Strength training (Big 6) 2-3x/week.
  • Fitness: Elevate your heart rate 2-3x/week for 15-30:00 (wear a heart rate monitor). Add HIIT at least once a week.
  • Power: work on vertical or horizontal jumping 1x/week (jump rope, box jumps, DOT drills, etc.)
  • Add more mobility work (via movements and foam roller etc.).
  • Baseline/Follow-up Assessment
  • Try Yoga

Use Jefit to Help Track Progress and More

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

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