Muscle Fitness for Dummies

Airman works out at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington.
Staff Sgt. Jamie Skrainka, 92nd Maintenance Squadron Human Performance Cell patient, performs a weighted step-up at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, Feb. 21, 2018. (Airman 1st Class Jesenia Landaverde/U.S. Air Force photo)

Muscle fitness and development are important to a healthy and physically fit body, and though the road to such a body is demanding, the outcomes are largely beneficial. Some simple guidelines can make the process easier.

First of all, anyone trying to build muscle must take in a great amount of protein.

"Protein intake is essential to muscle development, and your body will require more protein to build new muscle," said Chief Warrant Officer Zyon Gooden, information systems analyst, Task Force 44th Medical Command, and an avid weightlifter. "You should consume at least two protein shakes a day; one immediately upon waking up in the morning, as your body goes through a catabolic state as you sleep, and one pre-workout and post-workout."

More Weight Training Tips

Most important to building lean muscle and increasing muscle strength is a person's training regimen and the way in which he conducts his lifts. Form is vital to success in the gym.

"Most novice lifters believe they must stack the bar to look big or gain size," Gooden said. "You do not have to lift ungodly weight to gain muscle. The most important thing during your sets is form. Lift a weight in which your form is almost perfect and your muscle fibers will definitely react to it."

"Do not jerk the weights when lifting," said Lt. Col. Joanna Reagan, senior dietician, TF 44th MEDCOM. "If you have to jerk the weight to lift it, strains and sprains can result."

Gooden said muscles should never be worked two days simultaneously, and anyone building muscle should conduct a split, working a different muscle group each day for three days.

"Maintain a 30- [to] 60-second rest period between sets with a two- [to] three-minute rest period between exercises. Split your workouts to maximize your body's potential," Gooden said.

Gooden said cardiovascular training three times a week for 45-60 minutes will help burn body fat between lifting workouts.

As with any workout or training schedule, a person's diet directly affects his success. Anyone working to burn fat should eat more meals of smaller portions throughout the day, as opposed to three solid meals.

"Eat about five small meals a day," Gooden said. "This will put your metabolism into full overdrive, which will help to burn fat faster."

Overall, lean muscle is important for troops to maintain, allowing them maximum effectiveness as military members.

"The benefits of having more lean muscle benefits the service member with performing his daily missions, passing physical fitness tests and maintaining desired body weight," Reagan said.

Before starting any training program, it is best to consult a medical expert or licensed personal trainer.

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