BY Frank Spinelli, M D
April 15 2010 1:30 PM ET
Gaining muscle mass in a specific area requires training with weights to apply tension to that muscle. The muscle fibers will respond by growing, or going into “hypertrophy.” Over the course of time, increasing weights will increase muscle size. Once you have achieved the desired effects, maintaining muscle size requires regular weight training in that muscle group. Most trainers recommend exercising one or two muscle groups in a workout session, for example biceps and triceps on the first day, followed by back, chest, shoulders, and legs. It may be advisable, for instance, to alternate workouts with abdominal crunches and aerobic exercise three times a week.Most body- builders do very little, if any, aerobic exercise because this has a tendency to diminish muscle size.
Aerobic exercise is very important, especially as you age, because it improves your overall cardio pulmonary performance. Once you have established your goal weight and you are content with the amount of lean body mass you have achieved, it is appropriate to add aerobic exercise to your program. It is recommended that you introduce about twenty to thirty minutes of aerobic exercise a week using a treadmill, the elliptical machine, or the stationary bicycle, preferably on an empty stomach to increase fat loss. You can alternate machines with aerobics classes, jogging, or riding a bicycle when the weather permits. Ultimately, the most efficient way to improve muscle tone, increase cardiopulmonary performance, and increase metabolism is through physical activity like sports, such as volleyball, tennis, and swimming.