The number one reason that womens’ metabolisms slow down is loss of muscle mass. It is definitely true that age, genetics, diet, etc. also play roles in the speed of a woman’s metabolism. But, the top way to keep your metabolism humming is to build and maintain muscle mass throughout your life.
Muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in your body. Your body has to work harder to maintain muscle mass. So, muscle mass is your top fat-burning tool. Work hard and build your body.
“As women age, their metabolisms slow down, mainly because they are losing five or six pounds of muscle each decade starting in the mid-20s,” explains fitness expert Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director of the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts.
“There’s no reason you can’t have the same metabolism in your 30s and 40s that you had in your 20s,” stresses Pamela Peeke, M.D., author of Fight Fat After Forty.
So, here are my tips to build more muscle and keep your metabolism active at any age:
1. First, do three weight training workouts a week. On your Monday and Friday workouts, you should do full body circuit training with light (but challenging) dumbbells or bodyweight exercises. Your repetition range for each exercise should be 8-15. This type of weight training increases growth hormone in your body.
Growth hormone elevations during this type of exercise have been shown to decrease body fat and increase protein synthesis after exercise. Growth hormone helps promote tissue repair and muscle mass growth from lifting weights.
Intense exercises such as sprints and squat jumps also increase growth hormone release. These types of exercises would be perfect for your interval cardio workouts on Tuesday and Thursday.
2. A less common way that women build muscle mass is through heavy weight lifting. “Heavy” is relative to your body weight and strength. According to the research, doing this type of weight lifting will give you exercise-induced testosterone increases. Of course, this will help you build muscle mass.
So, how much weight is heavy enough? Your repetition range for exercises should be between 3-5 (you would have a difficult time lifting these repetitions). You would typically do 4-5 sets of each exercise.
Concentrate on compound (multi-joint) exercises like squats, deadlift, bench press, rows and pull-ups because they build major muscle groups.
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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