This article is authored by Doug Scott. Opinions expressed may not be that of SMARTER Team Training, STT sponsors or constituents. Coach Scott has been a member of the Pingry faculty since 1999 and has served as a Physical Education teacher and Strength and Conditioning coach since that time. Doug designs workouts for both male and female student athletes competing on a variety of Varsity and Junior Varsity athletic teams, including many county, state, and conference championship teams. Listen to Doug’s podcast on iTunes by clicking here.
Why is muscle important?
Skeletal muscle, through its force producing capabilities, allows for locomotion and the successful performance of activities. In addition, muscle tissue also provides “stiffness” to joints providing structural integrity and aiding in the prevention of injury. Since muscle is metabolically active it’s a significant contributor to one basal metabolic rate (metabolism). This means the more lean muscle mass you have, the more energy (calories) you will be burning throughout the day. So, if your fitness or athletic goal is to improve performance, reduce your chances of sustaining an injury or to reducing body fat, increasing your lean muscle mass is vital for success.
A pound is not a pound.
The old adage of “a pound of muscle weights more than a pound of fat” is not exactly true. 16 ounces make up a pound regardless of the substance. However, since muscle is comprised of mostly water and protein it has less volume than fatty tissue. While increasing your muscle mass is very important, there is an unfortunate gradual decline in muscle tissue as you age, termed sarcopenia. On average, a person will start to lose .5-1.0 pounds of skeletal muscle each year after age 25. Which means that about 3 years after you graduate from college you will start losing muscle tissue and strength. To put it another way, if your weight is 130 lbs at age 25 and at age 35 you still weight 130 lbs, you have actually lost 10 pounds of muscle and gained 10 pounds of body fat.
What can you do?
Strength train! It’s well established that progressive resistance exercises (weight training) increases muscle strength and stimulates the growth of lean body tissue. It also delays the muscle tissue loss associated with aging. Resistance exercises are so important because they enhance or stimulate muscle protein synthesis. It is this stimulation that leads to skeletal muscle growth. However, simply visiting the weight room three days a week won’t cut it. The resistance exercises must be challenging and progressive.
1. Perform exercises that directly work the entire body (neck, chest, back, shoulders, arm, legs, hips, midsection)
2. Perform each exercise to the point of demonstrated fatigue. High level of effort!
3. Each week increase the resistance by 5 pounds.
4. Keep accurate records of your performance.
The habits you form while you’re young will shape your adult life. Learn how to get strong now and you will stay strong later!
Doug Scott believes that strength training is a “means to and end” and should be a part of every athlete’s lifestyle; and it’s the coaches job to facilitate learning and put the athlete in the best position to get the most out of themselves and ultimately succeed. Mr. Scott has also worked as a personal trainer and has written a number of fitness-related articles and chapters. Coach Scott is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and hold the title of Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.