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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Protein at Each Meal is Required for Muscle Growth

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Research has shown that it’s important to eat protein at each meal. Many Americans eat a diet that consists of little to no protein for breakfast. This is followed up with a small portion of protein at lunch and an overabundance of protein at dinner. In fact, as long as they get their recommended dietary allowance of about 60 grams, it’s all good, right? Not according to research from a team of scientists led by muscle metabolism expert Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB). This research shows that the typical cereal or carbohydrate-dominated breakfast, a sandwich or salad at lunch and overly large serving of meat/protein for dinner may not provide the best metabolic environment to promote healthy aging and maintenance of muscle size and strength.

“The study, in the Journal of Nutrition, shows that the potential for muscle growth is less than optimal when protein consumption is skewed toward the evening meal instead of being evenly distributed throughout the day.”

Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD

Age-related conditions such as osteoporosis (bone weakening) and sarcopenia (muscle loss) do not develop all of a sudden. The researchers believe rather, that they are gradual processes triggered by poor lifestyle habits starting in early middle age.

Review of Research

The UTMB researchers provided volunteers with a generous daily dose of 90 grams of protein a day; consistent with the average amount currently consumed by healthy adults in the U.S. Very active individuals may benefit from a slightly higher protein intake. For the majority of adults, additional protein will likely have a diminishing positive effect on muscle metabolism says the researchers. Just as important, any less may fail to provide support for optimal muscle metabolism.

When study volunteers consumed the evenly distributed protein meals, their 24-hour muscle protein synthesis was 25 percent greater than subjects who ate according to the skewed protein distribution pattern.

An Eating Strategy for Protein

“Usually, we eat very little protein at breakfast, a bit more at lunch and then consume a large amount at night. “So we’re not taking enough protein on board for efficient muscle building and repair during the day, and at night we’re often taking in more than we can use, says Paddon-Jones.”

A more efficient eating strategy for building muscle and controlling total caloric intake would be to shift some of the extra protein consumed at dinner to lunch and breakfast.

“You don’t have to eat massive amounts of protein to maximize muscle synthesis. You just have to be a little more thoughtful with how you apportion it,” Paddon-Jones said. “For breakfast consider replacing some carbohydrate, particularly the simple sugars, with high-quality protein. Throw in an egg, a glass of milk, yogurt or add a handful of nuts to get closer to 30 grams of protein. Try doing something similar to get to 30 grams for lunch, and then moderate the amount of protein for dinner. Do this, and over the course of the day you will likely spend much more time synthesizing muscle protein.” Eat healthy and stay strong with Jefit.

Reference

Madonna M. Mamerow, Joni A. Mettler, Kirk L. English, Shanon L. Casperson, Emily Arentson-Lantz, Melinda Sheffield-Moore, Donald K. Layman, and Douglas Paddon-Jones, Dietary Protein Distribution Positively Influences 24-h Muscle Protein Synthesis in Healthy Adults, J Nutr. 2014 Jun; 144(6): 876–880. Published online 2014 Jan 29. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.185280

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Facts About Lean Muscle and Body Fat

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The body is an amazing organism made up of many different elements, including various types of tissue, bone, organ and fluid. Two of which, lean muscle and body fat, are discussed most often when it comes to exercise and a sustainable lifestyle. We exercise and monitor our nutritional intake to order to build one, lean muscle, while trying to lose the other, body fat (also known as adipose tissue).

How Much Lean Muscle Does the Average Adult Carry?

Skeletal muscle is the most abundant tissue in our body, accounting for approximately 42 percent and 35 percent of body weight in men and women respectively. In other words, an average male weighing 185 pounds has about 78 pounds of lean muscle tissue while a female weighing 140 pounds has approximately 49 pounds of lean muscle tissue. Take muscle and fat out of the equation, and bodyweight still has other constituents like, water, mineral, bone, connective tissue, and organ weight. Speaking of organ weight, did you know the average human heart weighs about 10 oz. while the brain weighs about 3 pounds? That same average male may have, on average, about 25 percent body fat (or 46 pounds of fat) while that average female may have 30 percent body fat (or 42 pounds of fat).

Did You Know this About Lean Muscle…

One of the amazing things about muscle tissue is that it has the ability through regular, progressive, resistance exercise, to increase in size (known as muscle hypertrophy). Donnelly and colleagues have reported that strength training studies (lasting from 8 to 52 weeks) have shown increases of 2.2 to 4.5 pounds of muscle mass. In addition to increasing in size, muscle tissue also gets stronger with prolonged training. A periodized strength training program can elicit changes in endurance capacity, power output and force production while keeping sarcopenia at bay.

Protein stores found in muscle can account for about 30,000 calories of energy. Muscle tissue can contribute approximately 20 percent of the body’s total daily energy expenditure compared to 5 percent for fat tissue (it would be great if we could tap into those fat stores more often).

Lean muscle tissue requires 3-4 times more calories to maintain compared to fat and is important in the process of energy metabolism. A pound of metabolically active muscle tissue requires 5-7 calories per pound to maintain while less active fat tissue, requires only 2 calories per pound.

Finally, muscle plays an important role in the aging process. With advancing age we experience a loss of exercise capacity. This is due to first, to a decline in skeletal muscle mass and strength during aging and then a decrease in maximal oxygen uptake mainly due to a drop in maximal heart rate, according to Henning Wackerhage, PhD, a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Exercise Physiology at the University of Aberdeen.

Did you Know this About Fat…

Fat is found in the body in the form of triglycerides and stored in fat cells which are called adipocytes. According to Coyle, about 50,000 to 60,000 calories of energy are stored in fat cells throughout the body. Fat can also be stored within skeletal muscle cells.

Fat accumulated in the lower body is subcutaneous. While fat in the abdominal area is largely visceral. Where fat ends up on your body is influenced by several factors, including hormones and heredity.

The photo below shows equivalent amounts of fat and muscle. Lean muscle, however, is more dense and takes up one-third less space compared to fat. Five pounds of muscle and fat may in fact weigh the same but that is where the similarities end.

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Source: Reddit

One thing is for certain, we typically want more lean muscle and less body fat. Regular strength training is a much needed critical component for everything from health to activities of daily living. Check out some of the many great strength training routines found on Jefit, like the FitBody Plan. Stay strong with Jefit.

References

Marieb, EN and Hoehn, K. (2010). Human Anatomy and Physiology (8th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.

Elia, M. (1999). Organ and Tissue Contribution to Metabolic Weight. Energy Metabolism: Tissue Determinants and Cellular Corollaries. Kinney, J.M., Tucker, H.N., eds. Raven Press. New York.

Donnelly, J.E., Jakicic, J.M., et. al. (2003). Is Resistance Training Effective for Weight Management Evidence-Based Preventive Medicine. 1(1): 21-29.

Wackerhage, H. (2014). Molecules, Aging and Exercise in Molecular Exercise Physiology. Routledge.

Wood, M. (2018). TBC30: 6 Steps to a Stronger and Healthier You. Wicked Whale Publishing.

Coyle, EF. (1995). Fat metabolism during exercise. Sports Science Exchange, 8(6):59.

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The Health Benefits of Strength Training

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Many younger people engage in strength training for reasons of vanity rather than possible health benefits. Some people probably also believe that aerobic exercise trumps strength training when it comes to those health benefits. Well, both are important, and need to be performed regularly to receive any of the benefit we’re about to discuss. The best exercise though is the one that you end up doing most often.

How Many Days a Week Should I Be Strength Training?

The sweet spot is 2-3 sessions a week to obtain all the health benefits of strength training. One strength session a week is enough to maintain the strength that you have. An individual can experience gains in about 4 to 6 weeks if new to strength training.

What are the Health Benefits of Strength Training?

Helps Preserve Muscle Tissue. As you reach your fourth decade you experience hormonal changes that result in loss of lean muscle tissue. The loss of muscle tissue is even more pronounced after age 75. Other factors like stress and lack of sleep can disrupt the body even more. When this occurs, your body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone. The best way to offset this loss is to engage in a regular strength training program, 2-3 times a week. Strength training, if used properly, is like a magic pill. Researchers at Wake Forest University studied overweight adults who were in their 60’s. The study showed participants who lost weight and engaged in strength training lost less lean muscle mass than those who shed pounds through aerobic training.

Increases Strength. As you age, you lose strength, its that simple like taxes and death! Your strength levels peaks between 25-30 years old. Following that, it’s a downhill battle for most to hang on to that strength. Research studies have shown that strength can be reduced up to 40% by the time a person reaches age 70. By the time you hit age 75, you have about half of the muscle mass you had in your twenties.

In physically inactive people, there is a loss of about 3-5% of muscle mass per decade and a parallel decline in muscle strength, after age 30. As a result, the average person will lose 1/2 pound of muscle per year between age 30-60. This equates to about a loss of 15 pounds of muscle!

Builds Strong Bones. Strength training has been shown to increase bone mineral density. As weights are lifted, the tendons that are connected to bone, get “pulled-on” in the process. This constant pulling, over time, is what builds strong bones. This is a good thing because after age 40, you start to lose 1% of your bone density per year.

Helps Control Body Fat. A study in the journal Obesity reported that strength training helped adults become slimmer. Losing muscle reduces your metabolic rate. You feel like you’re not eating at times but still have difficulty losing weight. In turn, you see an increase in body fat. Regular bouts of strength training will preserve muscle mass and and to some extent, metabolic rate, and this with proper intake, will prevent body fat levels from rising out of control.

Hopefully, some of these statistics opened up your eyes a bit more regarding the benefits of strength training. Strength training a few times a week, is something you can do for yourself that always pays back strong dividends. Try the Functional Strength program featured on the Jefit app to help you build muscle mass. Stay Strong!

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