Fitness Training: a lifelong commitment
Can Muscles Turn to Fat ?
We often observe that former professional athletes and sports idols put on
quite some bodyfat after concluding their sports careers. This may have contributed
to the myth that muscles will turn to fat once regular training is stopped
which may discourage some people from taking up a physical fitness program.
However, there is nothing to worry about: Muscle and fat are entirely different
tissues and it is therefore physiologically impossible that one can become
the other, same as steel can not become paper, or wood can not become metal.
Fat is the way our body stores excess calories, while muscle is metabolically
active tissue with a high importance for our general health and well being.
One thing is certain: fitness training is definitely not an activity which
is intended to be performed just temporarily. It is based on the human body's
capability to continuously adapt to any stress imposed on it. As long as training
stress is applied sensibly, regularly and progressively, allowing for adequate
recuperation time between exercise sessions, your body will gradually get stronger
and look better. Fitness training is in fact one of the most fair and rewarding
activities that exist: the more determination and honest effort you put into
it the greater are the benefits you gather.
It is, however, important to realize that your body can not store strength
and fitness gains; once you have achieved your physical fitness goals, you
may be able to somewhat reduce your previous training efforts, but you still
need to maintain a certain level of regular physical exercise in order to maintain
what you have achieved. If you stop exercising completely, your body soon forfeits
all the gains you have previously made: your once shapely, well conditioned
muscles become deconditioned and shrink again, the efficiency of your cardiovascular
system decreases again, you lose all the acquired health benefits of your exercise
program and your appearance soon suffers as well.
Yet, as long as you take into account that your lifestyle has become less
active and reduce your daily calorie intake accordingly, you will not get fat
once you stop working out. With the gradual degeneration of muscle tissue,
accompanying your backslide into inactivity, your caloric requirements become
even lower; after all, your basal metabolic rate is directly proportional to
the amount of muscle you possess. This calls for further adjustments of your
diet and further gradual reduction of your caloric intake.
There is however no point to work hard in order to improve your fitness and
health for just a certain period of time just to let all your gains slip away
once again upon giving up your fitness lifestyle. This means that all the time,
effort and hard work you have put into improving your physical fitness and
health would go to waste.
Most certainly, this can not be the purpose of engaging in a fitness program.
Therefore it is important to first carefully consider all aspects before making
the decision to take up a fitness program as fitness training is by its nature
not a temporary activity but actually requires a lifelong commitment of time
and effort. Exercise must become as much part of your life as bathing and brushing
your teeth. Unless you are convinced of the advantages of being fit and the
risks of being unfit, you will not succeed to make regular fitness training
part of your lifestyle and enjoy its long term benefits.
Master of Fitness Sciences
Specialist in Performance Nutrition