You are losing muscle mass: you must fail to get it back

Are you over the age of 30?  Then you’re already on the sarcopenia road – age related muscle loss.  If you’re inactive you naturally lose as much as 5% of your muscle mass every decade starting in your 30s.  Even if you do workout, there will be some muscle decline. You can however, minimize how much.

I’m not going to lie to you.  It will take work. HARD work.  If you want to feel good in your body, you’re going to have to work for it.

Recently I made a cross country move.  Talk about stressful!  While I finally found  home, I now have to remake my life, find new friends, new jobs … I’m near menopause. Yawzah! I packed on some pounds especially round the middle (thanks some to middle age hormones but thanks also to personal choices) despite the fact that I DO workout regularly.

But you know what?  I wasn’t working out hard enough.  I wasn’t building muscle mass and it was slipping away fast.  For the first time in my life I have this weird fat around my middle – ick.  I love Pilates, yoga, swimming and biking – – and was doing them.  But here’s the reality: I wasn’t building muscle mass. So I decided to take action and integrate the principles of building muscle.

To efficiently build muscle, you must work against resistance to FAILURE.

So what does that mean?  It means if you are lifting weights, say bicep curls, you have to lift and squeeze your muscle each time you lift and keeping lifting until you really can not lift it any more.  That is muscle failure. That is what will efficiently BUILD your muscle.

Note that I said efficiently.  Are there other ways?  Yeah but they’ll take longer and resistance is still required.

This past week I have integrated the “at failure” principle into my workouts.  I’ve been lifting good old fashioned weights the tried and true way with dumbbells.  I’ve done my upper body twice and lower body twice – each time pushing my last set to failure.

I feel great.  I feel my muscle tone returning.  Yes – in one week. Of course, I’m not eating ice cream and potato chips and drinking every night.  I am keeping my choices on the lean side though truth be told I’ve had a few drinks this week (hey it’s a work in progress)

Morale of the story: determine what your fitness goals are and know that in all likelihood you can reach them.  Prepare your self MENTALLY.  Because in the end this will be what’s needed more than anything. You will need self-control and you may do well to get yourself a trainer because studies show that you will get fitter faster with a coach at your side. 

Know also that you CAN succeed.

My continual challenge is one of endurance.  I can be a real zealot at the start but then the enthusiasm drops off.  Knowing that’s my nature (in more than one area of my life) is really valuable because now I know it WILL happen and I CAN just say, hey that’s just a novelty wearing off and now I’ve got to work with my mind to really dig in.

One way is to acknowledge the success I’ve already had and know that if I stay the course there’s more success to come.

Need more inspiration?  Listen to this song by Pink

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