BONE UP on Muscle Mass

Muscular Development|June 2020

BONE UP on Muscle Mass
An abundance of research illustrates that increased bone density encourages greater muscle size and strength.
Michael J. Rudolph, Ph.D.

Most people who train with weights are looking for a competitive edge that will enhance their performance, whether it is greater muscle mass and strength or a leaner, more ripped physique. A more complete understanding of the many different types of training adaptations associated with lifting weights can be exploited to positively influence training results. Regrettably, most training variations directly focus on more apparent aspects of the body including muscle tissue or body fat, with very little concern for other regions of the body. While focusing your training directly on muscle and fat is very important, they are not the only body parts that benefit from hardcore training. A lesser-known, but very significant benefit of weight training is the effect it has on bone density.

Bones are in a constant stage of breaking down and building up, referred to as bone remodeling. Chemical signals direct specific bone cells, known as osteoblasts or osteoclasts, to build up or break down bone tissue, respectively. The process of remodeling is regulated by a variety of factors – including the physical stress associated with weight training, which stimulates the bone to increase its density, making resistance training a bone-stimulating activity.

While most dismiss the positive influence of weight-bearing exercise on bone density as a benefit for people as they age because that is when bone density typically begins to decrease, it is also extremely useful for younger individuals – especially considering the abundance of research illustrating that increased bone density encourages greater muscle size and strength. This research shows that the view of bone as an inactive object characterized only by its supportive and protective functions within the body has proven to be inaccurate. In fact, the skeleton has emerged as an endocrine organ with the ability to secrete a hormone that boosts the production of testosterone and insulin.1 In addition, other studies have shown secretion of this hormone is enhanced in response to weight training and by the consumption of a few well-known nutraceutical compounds – suggesting that weight training while taking these compounds should uniquely increase skeletal density that not only provides greater support for more muscle but stimulates it as well.

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June 2020