While so many of us are in a seemingly never ending battle to fit into our jeans, it is easy to forget that some folks are actually thinner than they’d prefer.
Now this issue isn’t just about how we look or what dress or pant size we’d like to be, it can actually be a legitimate health issue. We need to remember that our lean muscle mass is very important to our overall physiological wellbeing.
Once we hit 40 we start to lose muscle at the rate of around 0.5 to 2 per cent each year, so protecting our lean muscle by exercising regularly becomes more important as we age.
Gerontologists (i.e., people who study the effects of ageing – I didn’t know either until I looked it up!) often accept our lean muscle mass as a key biological indicator of our potential to live a long and healthy life.
Our muscles are organs, and their functionality includes a lot more than simply moving our skeletons around. They are involved in insulin and disease resistance, obesity prevention, and other critical metabolic functions.
So it makes sense that we should actively seek to stimulate our muscles through exercise. Which is why my little ears prick up whenever someone asks me how to pack on an extra kilo or two of quality lean muscle mass.
Often, it’s an ectomorph facing the dilemma of ‘why can I eat like a horse, but not put on weight?’ The answer? Resistance training and conscious eating.
The resistance training however, needs to follow a formula of heavy weights, low repetitions and basic, compound movements. Let me explain this further.
The routine should be based on traditional body building movements such as squats, rows, bench presses and shoulder presses. These movements are all ‘compound’, meaning they don’t isolate a particular muscle when you perform them, but instead they recruit several muscle groups simultaneously during the movement.
These exercises should be done in a ’pyramid’ sequence, using heavy weights that really tax you. Do ten repetitions for the first set, then increase the weight so that you can only do eight, then up it again to max out at six, then four, then reduce the weight a little and finish with another set of eight.
This sequence should form the basis of all your exercises.
In terms of eating, you need to ensure that low GI carbs and lean protein are the basis of every meal. Eat well, and regularly, every two to three hours.