Muscle. It’s so much more than the “man trait,” so much more than the bodybuilder trademark, so much more than the power to open a jar when the rest of the family fails. It is all of things I mentioned, but . . . as you now understand . . . so much more.

Muscle is movement. If you recognize that your skeleton is simply bony structures joined by connective tissue, you’ll understand that every movement results from the stimulation of muscle fibers. In that, muscle burns calories, and since a calorie is a unit of heat, it’s fair to say muscle produces heat.

In some of my programs I delve into the spectrum of muscle fibers, their oxidative potentialities, and the ideal training regimen for optimizing what I call “balanced muscle.” Balanced muscle leads to optimal function, optimal performance, and unless you train for a specialized endeavor such as powerlifting or marathon running, enhancement of life for anyone seeking betterment.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. Those who maintain healthy body composition, an appreciable ratio between lean body mass and fat, appear to have a more precision-oriented immune system, a greater flexibility of thought, a heightened sex drive, and an enhanced ability to resist negative impulses. I know you never thought a few more biceps curls might help you resist the appeal of cheesecake, but research indicates the energy investment will pay off in more ways than one.

Men have always embraced the pursuit of muscle, and I think it’s fair to say many women embraced the pursuit of muscle among men, but the old, “weight training will make me big” myth was once pervasive. I recently watched “Flashdance,” a movie from the 1980’s, and laughed at a scene where the “Flashdancers” were working out. They were lifting weights and it seemed so awkward yet so radical. Back then women did aerobics following the lead of Jane Fonda, the workout video pioneer, or Olivia Newton John in “Let’s Get Physical” or Jamie Lee Curtis in “Perfect.”

When “Terminator” came out, Linda Hamilton became an icon representing “sexy women with muscle” and the impact upon public perception seemed to change. While there are certainly extremes that might lead the less-informed to believe “weights make women big,” today we see fitness models and figure competitors demonstrating the feminine beauty of muscle everywhere we look. That’s why it surprises me when a new client resists weights. She doesn’t want to “bulk up.” As hard as this may be to fathom, I hear it all the time. Still.

Ladies . . . if you want to be toned, if you want to be lean, you want muscle, the feminine muscle your body is genetically programmed to develop when you stimulate change with resistance exercise.

Dr. Comella and I shared some of these insights in a recent podcast and if you’ve ever questioned whether your exercise routine should include a distinctive focus on muscle, you want to hang out with us for 15 minutes or so and gain some clear perspective.

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About the M3 podcast

M3 – Mind, Muscle & Medicine, is an informative and entertaining podcast aimed at helping people from all walks of life find betterment. Subscribe to our channel and view all past episodes here.