Why Building Muscle is Essential

April 24, 2024 12:28 am Published by

The term muscle mass is seen everywhere, in Instagram posts, TikTok videos, and even on the side of protein bars picked up from your local shop. But what is muscle mass and why is it essential for a long, high-quality life? Muscle mass refers to the amount of muscle within the body, including skeletal muscles, smooth muscles, and cardiac muscles. Muscle is vital for human health as it plays a central role in whole-body protein metabolism and serves as the primary reservoir of amino acids for protein synthesis in vital tissues and organs (Wolfe, 2006).

Importance of Protein Consumption

Adequate consumption of high-quality proteins, such as lean meat or dairy products, is vital to achieving optimal growth, development, and health (Wu, 2016). Protein is one of the building blocks of life and is used in the body for protein synthesis and the maintenance of muscle, bone, and other lean tissues and functions (Tomé et al., 2021). An inadequate amount of protein in the diet, on the other hand, challenges muscle and whole-body protein balance, having a negative impact on muscle mass, function, adaptations to exercise, bone and calcium homeostasis, immune system response, fluid and electrolyte balance, enzyme production and activity, and hormone synthesis. When insufficient dietary protein is consumed, the body catabolizes muscle to provide amino acids for protein synthesis, depleting muscle mass (Carbone & Pasiakos, 2019).

Muscle Mass and the Metabolism

Metabolism encompasses many chemical processes that occur in each cell of the body. These chemical processes turn the calories you consume into useable resources for the body. Your basal metabolic rate refers to the number of calories you burn while you at rest. Although metabolic rate varies greatly between people, muscle mass has been shown to improve metabolism as the amount of lean muscle you have can increase your resting metabolic rate (McPherron et al., 2013).

Increasing and Maintaining Muscle Mass

The current literature highlights that inactive adults experience between a 3% and 8% loss of muscle mass per decade, accompanied by a reduction in resting metabolic rate and an increase in fat accumulation (Westcott, 2012). Resistance training, including weight training, is a well-established approach to increase and maintain muscle mass. One study found that, after ten weeks of resistance training, lean muscle mass weight increased by 1.4kg, metabolic rate increased by 7%, and fat weight reduced by 1.8kg (Westcott, 2012).

Maintaining muscle mass as you age is critical as sarcopenia, a term that describes age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function, is associated with increased frailty and an increased risk of chronic diseases (Wilkinson et al., 2018). In the absence strength training, it’s reported that people may lose up to 30% of their muscle mass between the ages of 50 and 70, with the loss accelerating even more after the age of 70. As this happens, the risk of sarcopenia, osteoporosis, falls and injuries become increasingly higher (Wilkinson et al., 2018).

Benefits of weightlifting

-Increased strength, allowing you to perform daily tasks with less effort.

-Increased resting metabolic rate.

-Decreased risk of falls, which is particularly important as you age (Sherrington et al., 2019).

-Reduced risk of injury. Weight training improves strength, range of motion, and mobility of your muscles, ligaments, and tendons (Suchomel et al., 2018).

-Prevention and management of type 2 diabetes by decreasing visceral fat, reducing HbA1c, and improving insulin sensitivity (Westcott, 2012).

-Enhanced cardiovascular health, by reducing resting blood pressure, decreasing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (Westcott, 2012).

-Promotion of bone development, with studies highlighting a 1% to 3% increase in bone mineral density (Westcott, 2012).

-Reduced pain associated with arthritis, as weightlifting has been evidenced to reverse specific aging factors in skeletal muscle (Westcott, 2012).


The benefits of resistance training are extensive and can improve an individual’s health beyond weight loss and aesthetics. The current literature highlights the importance of adequate protein intake and carrying out regular strength exercises to build and maintain muscle mass in the body. In turn, you can reap the benefits that come with increased muscle mass and an increased resting metabolic rate.

Dan Tatro-M.S.-CSCS



Carbone, J. W., & Pasiakos, S. M. (2019). Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients, 11(5). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11051136

McPherron, A. C., Guo, T., Bond, N. D., & Gavrilova, O. (2013). Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism. Adipocyte, 2(2), 92-98. https://doi.org/10.4161/adip.22500

Sherrington, C., Fairhall, N. J., Wallbank, G. K., Tiedemann, A., Michaleff, Z. A., Howard, K., Clemson, L., Hopewell, S., & Lamb, S. E. (2019). Exercise for preventing falls in older people living in the community. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 1(1), Cd012424. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD012424.pub2

Suchomel, T. J., Nimphius, S., Bellon, C. R., & Stone, M. H. (2018). The Importance of Muscular Strength: Training Considerations. Sports Med, 48(4), 765-785. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-018-0862-z

Tomé, D., Benoit, S., & Azzout-Marniche, D. (2021). Protein metabolism and related body function: mechanistic approaches and health consequences. Proc Nutr Soc, 80(2), 243-251. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0029665120007880

Westcott, W. L. (2012). Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Curr Sports Med Rep, 11(4), 209-216. https://doi.org/10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8

Wilkinson, D. J., Piasecki, M., & Atherton, P. J. (2018). The age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function: Measurement and physiology of muscle fibre atrophy and muscle fibre loss in humans. Ageing Res Rev, 47, 123-132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2018.07.005

Wolfe, R. R. (2006). The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease. Am J Clin Nutr, 84(3), 475-482. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/84.3.475

Wu, G. (2016). Dietary protein intake and human health. Food Funct, 7(3), 1251-1265. https://doi.org/10.1039/c5fo01530h


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