When I went back to my parent’s house on Easter Weekend, I was thrilled to see my Mom had added dumbbells to her little workout area along with her treadmill, mat, and ball. It helps her to be strong for all her yard work and to improve her health.
(And it’s cute to catch her working out in the morning, with Bally the Dog sitting right beside her, waiting for a treat.)
Plus, when my old man was still around, he had a fair amount of muscle from all the farm work. That was until he got sick… and then it was just painful to see his hard-earned strength and mass disappear.
You know, one of the saddest moments of my life was when he asked me to carry one of his 20 pound tractor batteries out of the garage… simply because he just couldn’t lift them anymore. That’s when I knew it was bad.
But if he didn’t have that base of strength and muscle that he built up over the years, he would have been worse off a lot sooner, so thank goodness for that, right?
Now why do I keep harping about the need for muscle?
Because it’s the most important fitness attribute you can build. Your life literally depends on it.
That’s right, it’s MORE IMPORTANT than “cardio.” And here are the top 10 reasons why:
1. Muscle = Metabolism
There is nothing else you can do — and certainly nothing you can eat — that will actually boost your metabolism, except for adding lean mass and moving your lean mass.
Forget about the supplement ads that claim Green Tea, protein, or some berry from the Amazonian jungle can boost your metabolism.
They are LYING.
2. Muscle = Curves in all the right spots
Here’s the equation to putting curves in all the right spots, no matter if you are a man or a woman:
Build muscle + boost metabolism + burn fat from bad curves + add muscle to right curves = Totally sexy body
Let’s see cardio do that. Won’t happen.
3. Muscle = Strength in old age
Having strength in your 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond is far more important than cardio fitness in old age. People don’t fall because they lack cardio fitness. They don’t get put in wheelchairs because they can’t jog 10k. They become disabled because they have no muscle or strength.
I know. I’ve volunteered in geriatric hospital wards. These people can still move — IF they can get up. But they aren’t strong, so they remain confined to beds. It’s really, really sad.
The majority of obstacles to living a full life as you grow older come from not having strength or muscle. That’s a fact.
4. Muscle = Keeping up with your kids
And it means keeping teenage boys intimidated and out of the house if you have a teenage girl.
Muscle also equals less embarrassment if you have teenage boys. No one wants a fat, weak, wimpy old man.
I mean my old man was a wiry guy — and trust me, he found plenty of novel ways to embarrass me — but it wasn’t because he was weak or out of shape.
He was still stirring things up and picking fights with my friends all through high school — even when we went from boys to men.
And I’m proud of him for that.
5. Muscle = A good reason to eat more food… and the ability to burn more calories
Listen, most of the guys I know who have lots of lean mass need 3,000 calories per day just to MAINTAIN their size. And Holly Rigsby needs over 2,000 calories — and she’s a hot momma with muscle.
It’s a win-win. You get to eat more to build muscle, and you get to eat more to keep it. Not so with lame ol’ cardio.
6. Muscle = Functional Strength
Whether it is carrying groceries, controlling your crazy dog on a leash, or cleaning out the garage, the more muscle you have, the easier everything will be. Muscle = POWER.
7. Muscle = Confidence
Every where I go the folks with lean mass are the ones with a crowd around them, attracting high-energy, positive people. And it seems like the skinny ones…they all seem to walk around with their head down… a little shy and ashamed… hey, that’s just the way it is. Don’t get mad… get muscle instead.
8. Muscle = Looking awesome in a t-shirt, no matter what gender, no matter where you go.
Again, just another example of how lean mass gives you power, confidence, and a reason to buy really nice-fitting shirts.
9. Muscle = The Beach.
When you have muscle, the beach becomes the place to be. When you don’t have it, the beach becomes a dirty word… a place to avoid — and who wants to avoid the beach, baby? Not me or Bally the Dog, that’s for sure. Heck, he wants to show his six-pack doggy abs off at the beach more than I want to show off mine. That’s the power of muscle.
(Someone get this dog to the beach!)
10. Muscle = No regrets
Listen, here’s an embarrassing story… after my second year of University I made a mistake with my training and focused too much on cardio while preparing for soccer.
I got way too skinny. I lost muscle. And I regret it.
But more importantly, like 75% of people in life, I regret something that I didn’t do…I regretted that I didn’t try to build lean mass.
I regretted it because I was missing out on many of the 10 reasons I just listed above. What a mistake.
I felt like such a fool for sacrificing muscle …and it’s been my mission since then to show people that when you have the choice between muscle and cardio you should ALWAYS choose muscle — no matter what the politically correct magazines say.
Fortunately, before the end of that summer back in 1996, I changed gears and got back on track with my training, eating, and lean mass building program. And I’ve looked better, had more confidence, and simply kicked-butt since the day I decided to get serious about building lean mass.
Listen, I don’t want you having the same regrets because as my friend Vince Del Monte says, “living a life of regret SUCKS”.
So here’s what you need to do to avoid a life of regret. You need to avoid missing out on those amazing lean mass benefits I just listed. You need to focus on building muscle.
I’ve built my life around this message and I know you’ll believe it when you experience these 10 benefits.
Check out this interview I did with Vince Del Monte on building muscle and lean mass.
Your friend and coach,
Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, TT Bodybuilding