In our third installment of how to burn fat, we are going to talk about building muscle.
Quick recap. We are talking in this series about the three ways to melt fat off of your body. In our first article, we talked about using diet and controlling your caloric intake. In the second, we talked about using cardio to raise your respirations. The third factor in burning fat is adding muscle. Essentially, the more muscle you have on your body, the more energy you use to move. Similar to the reason high intensity cardio burns fat, the more energy we burn through our muscles, the more energy our body needs, the more fat and carbs our body consumes.
In our article on using cardio to burn fat, we dove into science a little with the production of ATP. ATP is the source of energy for our muscles. We need to burn fat and carbs to make ATP.
Put the science together: The more muscle we have, the more ATP we need to power that muscle. The more ATP we need to power the muscle, the more fat and carbs our body needs to process to make ATP.
How to Add Muscle
To add lean muscle mass, we have to do exercises that stress our muscles. There are two ways to add lean muscle: increase time under tension and increase micro tearing through max power output. Both of these systems stress the muscles enough to force change. To adapt, the body will increase the number of muscle fibers. Once again, more muscle fibers means more energy needs.
Time Under Tension
To increase your time under tension, you can do more reps or do slower reps. For example, if you are doing a bench press, you would do 20 reps instead of 10, or 10 reps instead of 5 reps. Alternatively, you could move slower. This is called a tempo. You would deliberately slow down your reps to take 3 seconds down, hover over your chest for 1 second, a slow press up, and pause 1 second at the top.
Breaking Down the Muscle Through Power
A second way to increase our lean muscle is to break down the muscle through power. This is micro tearing in the muscle. Don’t let the name scare you. You are damaging the muscle in a natural way and forcing the body to repair it. When you repair the muscle, the body will add muscle fibers.
To break down the muscle through power, you have to push the muscle to close to failure. We aren’t suggesting you lose your good form and range of motion, but the last couple of reps should be hard. For example, you are going to bench press enough weight that reps 7 and 8 of your set of 8 are going to be a struggle.
There is not one size fits all approach to building muscle. You may find that your body responds better to sets of high reps. You may find that you enjoy lifting heavier weight with maximum output. Regardless, we recommend that you employ both to maximize your muscle building potential.