Activity & Exercise Articles

Safely Putting on Muscle Mass

Resistance training is one of the best tools to improve overall health. It enhances joint function, metabolic health, and increases bone density. And though resistance training doesn’t necessarily always add lean muscle mass to your body, when done strategically, it can be used for safely putting on muscle mass.

The video’s cover image might not be pleasant to look at, but trust me, Dr. Mike’s content is quite good and relevant. In our practice, we focus on preventing chronic disease, and muscle function and muscle size are important metrics.

Digital Nomad Health’s mission is to keep you healthy by preventing chronic diseases and helping you maximize your wellness metrics. We’ll help you think through your tough medical decisions!

Safely Putting on Muscle Mass

Weightlifting is quite safe. In fact, it is often safer than aerobic exercise, such as running or swimming, since it’s less repetitive. But to put on mass and get bigger, choosing the right exercises that fit your body is important.

The best exercise for an isolated muscle or muscle group should:

  • Avoid injury
  • Improve muscle strength
  • Increase muscle size

For each person, it’s likely going to be different; and different, still, as we age, which changes our anatomy and biomechanics.

Getting the Right Stimulus

As Dr. Mike Israetel explains in the video above, the goal is to get the following muscle stimulus factors:

  • Tension
  • Burn
  • Pump
  • Perturbation
  • Disruption

So, when choosing between 2 different exercises for a certain muscle group, you would pick the one that satisfies more of these factors – which he refers to as stimulus factors.

But, you also need to consider the fatigue factor because the fatigue is what injures your joints or leads to burnout.

  • Joint discomfort
  • Perceived psychological exertion
  • Unrelated exercise fatigue

So, more stimulus factors, less fatigue factors. As in, focusing on the type of exercises which satisfy the above stimuli without fatiguing the joints or muscles. Let’s dive into it in a little more detail.

Maximizing Stimulus Dosage to Get Bigger

Anyone who does resistance training of any sort, whether with weights, resistance bands, or calisthenics, can intuit what muscle burn and a muscle pump feels like.

These 2 are a good sign that a particular muscle is likely getting a good workout. So what about tension? This is the pressure or resistance you feel in a particular muscle group. Also a good thing.

Dr. Mike describes perturbation as the muscle feeling exhausted enough that immediately after a workout, it’s pretty much jello. And disruption is the delayed cousin of perturbation where you are left weak and sore in the muscles for hours and days after a workout.

The goal is to hit as many of these as possible. Naturally, with some exercises, you can’t get all of them. And at the same time, we don’t want to overdo this because that can backfire in the form of injury or poor recovery.

Minimizing Fatigue Dosage to Prevent Injuries

The goal is to avoid excess pressure on the joints and prevent psychological burnout from exercise. Meaning, if you dread a particular workout, don’t do it. And if one movement causes a lot of pain, avoid it as well.

Finally, any exercise that also burns out your other muscles, preventing you from properly working them out the same day or later in the week, will backfire; this is the unrelated muscle fatigue Dr. Mike refers to in his video.

The Value of Putting on Muscle

Michael is 47 years old with a waist circumference (measured at the belly button) of 36″ and an arm circumference size of 13″. Because his recent DEXA scan showed an undesirable ALMI we started him on a resistance training routine to safely put on muscle mass.

In fact, after about 2 years, his waist circumference dropped and his arm circumference went up by 1″. Yes, only 1″, hardly noticable. But he put on quite a bit of muscle mass according to the DEXA.

So, even though his measuring tape dimensions weren’t that impressive the goal of muscle mass was achieved. To now look like Dr. Mike he’d have to keep this up for another 5 years with a proper diet and recovery routine.

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