Learn these 7 facts from the experts

Use this essential information about muscle mass as encouragement to stick to your programme and achieve success.

Maintaining motivation is crucial to the success of any nutrition or fitness programme. One of the most helpful ways is to ensure that you understand the benefits of increasing muscle mass through exercise.

What you need to know

The human body has three types of muscle: skeletal muscle, smooth muscle in the walls of the organs and cardiac (heart) muscle.

The majority of the body’s muscle is skeletal: there are over 600 skeletal muscles in the body making up about 40% of total body mass. So when it comes to building muscle mass, you need to focus hard on building, or at least maintaining, your existing level of skeletal muscle.

And here's why...

  1. Skeletal muscle is metabolically active. Build it up, and the body will burn more calories, even when at rest. Tracking your whole body or segmental muscle mass composition can help boost your motivation as you see it increase.
  2. Strengthening skeletal muscle fortifies ligaments and tendons, ensures bones are held in the correct position and prevents joints from dislocating. This minimises the risk of injury when you’re exercising or training for an event.
  3. A good level of skeletal muscle mass will result in a toned physique which in itself provides strong incentive for you to stick to your fitness or training regime.
  4. Having strong skeletal muscles makes everyday activities like carrying shopping bags or playing with the children easier. It also reduces the risk of injury when lifting, bending or stretching. When everyday activities are easier, the goal of leading a more active life becomes even more achievable.
  5. Fatigue can occur as muscles adapt to increased, high-intensity exercise. If this happens, it may put a dampener on your motivation, so it's important to know that as your muscles build up over time you will not only experience less muscle fatigue, but also the benefits of the increase in their overall metabolic rate.
  6. A good or high level of muscle mass is fast becoming recognised as a key indicator for longevity. Muscle tissue naturally declines with age and a person can lose up to 50% of their muscle mass between the ages of 20 and 90 – another reason why it's important to keep muscle mass levels in the healthy ranges.
  7. More skeletal muscle means more insulin receptor sites, which help with the uptake and regulation of glucose (sugar) deposited in the bloodstream after eating. Eighty per cent of glucose uptake occurs in skeletal muscle so the more there is, the easier it is for the body to regulate insulin levels and minimise excess fat.