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Muscles & 5 Essential Exercises for Muscle Building & Strength

Exercises for Strength Training

Before digging in about the essential exercises for muscle building and strengthening, one should know why having strong muscles are important, not just for aesthetics, but also for our body’s function.

Functions of Muscles

Muscles serve various vital roles beyond mere movement. Here’s a breakdown of their functions:


  • Mobility: Muscles collaborate with the skeletal system, enabling actions like walking, running, and jumping.
  • Precision Movements: Smaller muscle groups facilitate intricate tasks such as writing and typing.

Posture and Stability

  • Upright Posture: Muscles continuously engage to uphold body posture, supported by the back, abdomen, and legs.
  • Joint Support: Muscles surrounding joints stabilize them, averting dislocations and injuries.

Heat Generation

  • Thermogenesis: Muscle contractions produce heat, aiding in maintaining body temperature, crucial in cold environments.


  • Organ Shielding: Abdominal and thoracic muscles safeguard internal organs against impacts and injuries.
  • Spinal Support: Muscles along the spine bolster and stabilize it, safeguarding the spinal cord.


  • Blood Circulation: Skeletal muscles assist in pumping blood back to the heart, particularly from lower extremities.
  • Cardiac Function: The heart, a muscle, pumps blood throughout the body, delivering vital nutrients and oxygen.


  • Breathing: Diaphragm and intercostal muscles facilitate inhalation and exhalation by altering thoracic cavity volume.

Digestion and Waste Elimination

  • Peristalsis: Gastrointestinal smooth muscles propel food through peristaltic contractions.
  • Sphincter Regulation: Muscles control the opening and closing of sphincters, regulating food and waste passage.


  • Energy Regulation: Muscles store and utilize glycogen for energy, maintaining blood glucose levels.
  • Protein Reservoir: Muscles store amino acids, vital during fasting or illness to sustain bodily functions.


  • Facial Expressions: Facial muscles allow diverse expressions, aiding non-verbal communication.
  • Vocalization: Laryngeal and respiratory muscles enable speech and vocalization.

Reproductive Functions

  • Childbirth Support: Uterine contractions assist in labor during childbirth.
  • Sexual Function: Pelvic floor muscles support reproductive organs and enhance sexual function.

Reflex Actions

  • Protective Responses: Muscles swiftly react to stimuli, like withdrawing from a hot surface to prevent injury.

Adaptability and Conditioning

  • Muscle Adaptation: Increased workload prompts muscle hypertrophy, enhancing strength and endurance.
  • Muscle Memory: Repetitive actions improve muscle efficiency and coordination over time.

If muscles don’t work, the skeletal system also suffers, as it relies on muscles for support. Busy lives often make us neglect exercise, which is vital for our bodies. We overlook its importance and don’t find time for it.

However, it should not be the case. Just as we polish and practice our skills every day in the workplace, our muscles also need their daily dose of polishing. For sure, our muscles are not healthy all the time. At some point in our lives, they decline in terms of mass, strength, and mobility. The infuriating thing about this is that it comes naturally as we age. It is a condition known as sarcopenia.

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The symptoms can include weakness and loss of stamina, which can interfere with physical activity. This point of decline starts at the age of 30, so if you still want to be kicking at the age of 60, then you should consider turning over a new leaf and start flexing. The main culprit of this mess is largely due to biological factors like our age, but it can be worsened by reduced activities, in other words, a lack of exercise.

Other causes can be due to:

  • Muscle Mass Decline: Sarcopenia entails gradual muscle mass reduction due to imbalanced protein synthesis and breakdown. Factors like reduced activity, hormonal shifts, and poor diet worsen this imbalance.
  • Fiber Changes: Aging causes shrinkage and fewer muscle fibers, especially fast-twitch ones crucial for explosive movements. This fiber loss is a major contributor to sarcopenia-related muscle decline.
  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction: Aging disrupts muscle cell mitochondria, reducing energy production and muscle function, leading to fatigue and weakness.
  • Anabolic Resistance: Older adults’ muscles become less responsive to stimuli like exercise and protein, hindering muscle building and maintenance.
  • Inflammatory Changes: Chronic inflammation, marked by increased cytokines, promotes muscle wasting and inhibits regeneration in sarcopenia.
  • Neuromuscular Alterations: Age-related nerve and muscle changes weaken coordination and contraction efficiency, increasing fall risk.
  • Hormonal Shifts: Declining testosterone and growth hormone levels contribute to muscle loss and metabolic issues in sarcopenia.

Ultimately, it affects our bones which leads to consequences like:

  • Strength Loss: Sarcopenia markedly reduces muscle strength, impairing daily activities and independence.
  • Physical Performance Decline: Muscle weakness and loss hinder mobility and balance, raising the risk of falls and fractures.
  • Metabolic Dysfunction: Sarcopenia links to metabolic issues like insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, raising diabetes and heart disease risks.
  • Functional Decline: Muscle wasting limits daily tasks, impacting quality of life and autonomy.
  • Fall and Fracture Risk: Weak muscles and poor balance increase fall and fracture vulnerability in older adults.

Although sarcopenia is seen mostly in people who are inactive, it must be clear that it is not exclusive to these people. Unfortunately, it also happens to people who are physically active.

There are drug therapies for this condition but it seems scary to try, that’s why our friend, muscle strengthening, is here to help. Muscle strengthening provides a comprehensive workout that can improve the condition of our muscles, enabling it to resist bearable traumas, bone loss and maintain its integrity. It even slows down bone aging and helps fractures to heal a lot faster! Doing exercises like this affect you and your body positively. Not to mention that you’ll look very buff.

Strength Training

Of course, strength training would not be complete without the aid of some apparatuses, namely free weights, such as barbells and dumbbells, ankle cuffs and vests containing different amounts of weight, and resistance (elastic) bands of varying length and tension that you flex using your arms and legs. There are also exercises that only use your body weight to create resistance against gravity. If you don’t have the resources to grab the mentioned apparatuses, you can also be creative and improvise! Muscle strengthening does not depend on the things that can help you achieve the peak of your muscle strength, it always lies on the willpower of an individual to improve it.

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Five Essential Strength Training Exercises

With everything that you have, the question is: how do you start? First and foremost, you must bear in mind the ultimate objective of any strength-training program: effectiveness. To begin strength training or musculoskeletal conditioning, you must address all of the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons of the body. Just like what I have mentioned before, the body is a system. If one system is weak, then it would also affect the other one. Strength training encompasses five essential exercises which address each of the body’s movements. These are the following:

  • Deadlift

It is the most important among all the strengthening exercises. The reason is simple. We do it all the time! Even in little ways, we do it like carrying our bags or picking up packages from our mailboxes. Its primary benefits include hip, leg, and lower-back strength, as well as improved spinal position (posture) and range of motion (flexibility).

Screenshot from: Buff Dudes
  • Lunge

It addresses the body’s strength, stability, and flexibility. The general motion of this exercise is forward and descending. A series of lunges will drastically improve strength, stability, and flexibility and lower the possibility of related injuries. Its primary benefits include leg and hip strength, flexibility, and balance.

Screenshot from: Colossus Fitness
  • Push-up

It is a classic that has been around as an exercise for thousands of years. Surely, it has a reason that it maintained its reputation since it’s a very simple exercise, and if done correctly, it can affect almost every part of the body in meaningful and beneficial ways. Its primary benefits include shoulder, back, and hip stability; upper-body strength and endurance; and abdominal endurance.

Screenshot from: Mind Pump TV
  • Chin-up

Like its other half (the push-up), the chin-up has also been around as an exercise for thousands of years, just like its other half, which is the push-up. The chin-up is considered the most intimidating of all exercises because it encompasses pulling. Gravity plays a big part in this exercise. Its primary benefits are derived from chin-ups are upper-body pulling strength and endurance, shoulder stability, grip strength, and posture.

Screenshot from: Buff Dudes Workouts
  • Ab Wheel

The abdominals are the muscles that most people put a lot of effort into, but produce weak results. It generally involves a lot of muscles. Though it is lacking in results, it is deemed the most effective since you see the fruit of your labor. Its primary benefits include stomach and hip strength and flexibility, lower-back flexibility, and spinal and shoulder stability.

Screenshot from: Cory Gregory

Always remember that you should always align and immerse yourself in doing something that you want. You don’t do muscle-strengthening just because you want to impress someone, but you should also put it into account that you are also doing this for the good of yourself. Doing this for others won’t be helpful since it’s just an external force pushing you. It should always start with you. Just like Ghandi said, “Strength does not come from the physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.


Sarcopenia With Aging (n.d.). Retrieved from

VanPutte, C. L., & Seeley, R. R. (2014). Seeley’s anatomy & physiology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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