Before digging in about the essential exercises for muscle building and strengthening, one should know why having strong muscles are important, not just for aesthetics, but also for our body’s function.
Functions of Muscles
Muscles are what drives us to do things. For example, our skeletal muscle is connected to our bones, which enables it to move. Without it, we won’t be able to move and our body would be just a stiff but living corpse. It would be funny to imagine that, but let’s not dwell on that.
As such, our muscles should also be in a healthy condition to function. What good would it do if it’s just a weak lump of organ system? Just like the way we provide for our ourselves to stay well-fed and hydrated, our muscles also need to be strengthened in order to maintain their integrity and function for a long time. They don’t just function solely for the purpose of movements.
On top of that, our muscles are also the chief source of body heat! Fun fact: why do you think we shiver every time it’s cold? It’s because our body compensates to the coldness we receive by urging us to shiver. Shivering is the way our muscles produce heat since it pushes our limbs to move in order to create heat. Heat is the main indicator that we are alive. Thus, it is needed for us to maintain the internal balance of our body or homeostasis.
If our muscles don’t function, the skeletal system can also be affected, since it is the anchor that props up this system to also function. The heavy demands of our lives also push us to not pursue things that are not worthy of our time. Unfortunately, one of these is exercising, which proves its worth to our body as a necessity. Sadly, we often overlook its importance, thus, we don’t exhaust ourselves in finding the time to do it.
However, it should not be the case. Just as we polish and practice our skills every day in the workplace, our muscles also need their daily dose of polishing. For sure, our muscles are not healthy all the time. At some point in our lives, they decline in terms of mass, strength, and mobility. The infuriating thing about this is that it comes naturally as we age. It is a condition known as sarcopenia.
The symptoms can include weakness and loss of stamina, which can interfere with physical activity. This point of decline starts at the age of 30, so if you still want to be kicking at the age of 60, then you should consider turning over a new leaf and start flexing. The main culprit of this mess is largely due to biological factors like our age, but it can be worsened by reduced activities, in other words, a lack of exercise.
Ultimately, it can also affect our bones since we have a musculoskeletal system that works together in order to provide the basic human body functions: body movements, maintain posture, protection and support. Although sarcopenia is seen mostly in people who are inactive, it must be clear that it is not exclusive to these people.
Unfortunately, it also happens to people who are physically active. The fact that it does suggests that there are other factors in the development of this condition.
There are drug therapies for this condition but it seems scary to try, that’s why our friend, muscle strengthening, is here to help. Muscle strengthening provides a comprehensive workout that can improve the condition of our muscles, enabling it to resist bearable traumas, bone loss and maintain its integrity. It even slows down bone aging and helps fractures to heal a lot faster! Doing exercises like this affect you and your body positively. Not to mention that you’ll look very buff.
Of course, strength training would not be complete without the aid of some apparatuses, namely free weights, such as barbells and dumbbells, ankle cuffs and vests containing different amounts of weight, and resistance (elastic) bands of varying length and tension that you flex using your arms and legs. There are also exercises that only use your body weight to create resistance against gravity. If you don’t have the resources to grab the mentioned apparatuses, you can also be creative and improvise! Muscle strengthening does not depend on the things that can help you achieve the peak of your muscle strength, it always lies on the willpower of an individual to improve it.
Five Essential Strength Training Exercises
With everything that you have, the question is: how do you start? First and foremost, you must bear in mind the ultimate objective of any strength-training program: effectiveness. To begin strength training or musculoskeletal conditioning, you must address all of the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons of the body. Just like what I have mentioned before, the body is a system. If one system is weak, then it would also affect the other one. Strength training encompasses five essential exercises which address each of the body’s movements. These are the following:
It is the most important among all the strengthening exercises. The reason is simple. We do it all the time! Even in little ways, we do it like carrying our bags or picking up packages from our mailboxes. Its primary benefits include hip, leg, and lower-back strength, as well as improved spinal position (posture) and range of motion (flexibility).
It addresses the body’s strength, stability, and flexibility. The general motion of this exercise is forward and descending. A series of lunges will drastically improve strength, stability, and flexibility and lower the possibility of related injuries. Its primary benefits include leg and hip strength, flexibility, and balance.
It is a classic that has been around as an exercise for thousands of years. Surely, it has a reason that it maintained its reputation since it’s a very simple exercise, and if done correctly, it can affect almost every part of the body in meaningful and beneficial ways. Its primary benefits include shoulder, back, and hip stability; upper-body strength and endurance; and abdominal endurance.
Like its other half (the push-up), the chin-up has also been around as an exercise for thousands of years, just like its other half, which is the push-up. The chin-up is considered the most intimidating of all exercises because it encompasses pulling. Gravity plays a big part in this exercise. Its primary benefits are derived from chin-ups are upper-body pulling strength and endurance, shoulder stability, grip strength, and posture.
- Ab Wheel
The abdominals are the muscles that most people put a lot of effort into, but produce weak results. It generally involves a lot of muscles. Though it is lacking in results, it is deemed the most effective since you see the fruit of your labor. Its primary benefits include stomach and hip strength and flexibility, lower-back flexibility, and spinal and shoulder stability.
Always remember that you should always align and immerse yourself in doing something that you want. You don’t do muscle-strengthening just because you want to impress someone, but you should also put it into account that you are also doing this for the good of yourself. Doing this for others won’t be helpful since it’s just an external force pushing you. It should always start with you. Just like Ghandi said, “Strength does not come from the physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
Sarcopenia With Aging (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/guide/sarcopenia-with-aging#1
VanPutte, C. L., & Seeley, R. R. (2014). Seeley’s anatomy & physiology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.