Older man deadlifting 95 pounds.

Rethinking Fitness Goals: Why Gaining Muscle Should Be Your Priority


The conversation around health and fitness often revolves around weight loss. From trending diet plans to fitness routines, weight loss seems to be the overarching goal. However, this perspective might be fundamentally flawed. The term itself starts us off with the notion of “losing,” and mentally, this puts us in a space of defeat. Research increasingly indicates that we must focus on gaining muscle to fight lifestyle diseases rather than losing weight. Let’s dive into why muscle gain should be your priority rather than weight loss. Let’s rethink our fitness goals!

The Problem with a Weight Loss Mindset

“Losing weight” often implies a deficit, a taking away. This perspective can be demotivating and puts you in a ‘losing’ mentality. When the focus is solely on what you need to give up or lose, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay committed and positive.

The Power of Gaining Muscle

Shifting the focus to muscle gain changes the narrative. You’re not going to the gym to lose; you’re going to improve, to set personal records in lifting, body-weight exercises, speed, skills, and other areas. In contrast to the weight loss mindset, gaining muscle is all about addition and growth.

More than Aesthetics

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, muscle mass is inversely related to the risk of death. Another study in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging found that muscle mass has a direct impact on longevity. Muscular strength isn’t just useful for lifting weights; it’s critical for lifting yourself into a longer, healthier life.

Utility in Everyday Life

Strong people are inherently more useful in practical, everyday situations. Whether you’re helping a friend move or playing with your kids at the playground, strength makes you more efficient and effective in daily life.

The Lifelong Pursuit of Strength

While body fat ebbs and flows, muscle is a lifelong pursuit. Most of us hit peak muscle mass in our late 20s or early 30s. Beyond that age, maintaining muscle mass becomes increasingly challenging, making it all the more important to focus on muscle gain when you can. Contrary to popular belief, lifting weights won’t make us “too bulky.”

The Winning Mindset

When your focus shifts to gaining muscle, you enter a mindset of winning and progressing. And let’s not forget, added muscle mass does help in burning more calories, indirectly aiding weight loss. But more importantly, this ‘winning’ mindset leads to a cycle of continuous improvement, making your fitness journey more sustainable and rewarding.

Start with Bodyweight Exercise

If you’re new to muscle building, bodyweight exercises can be an excellent starting point. You don’t need fancy gym equipment to begin; you only need your own body. For more details, check out our blog post about the 6 benefits of bodyweight exercise, a great introduction to your fitness journey.

Programming at Urban Athletic Club

Located in the Shaw neighborhood near downtown DC, Urban Athletic Club offers a systematic approach to getting stronger. Each month, we focus on one main lift to improve strength. The programming also centers around skill-building and smart conditioning. We adhere to a progressive approach, meaning we properly increase weight, and only to the participant’s level.

Get Started with Us

Ready to embark on your fitness journey? It’s as simple as booking a discovery phone call with us.


It’s time to change the conversation around fitness from losing weight to gaining muscle. Strength is a lifetime achievement award, a daily and lifelong pursuit that offers benefits beyond the cosmetic. As you continue to build muscle, you’re not just improving your appearance; you’re investing in your longevity, daily utility, and, most importantly, your mindset.

So the next time you think about hitting the gym, don’t go to lose. Go to win, go to improve, go to gain. That’s a goal worth lifting for.


  1. Srikanthan, P., & Karlamangla, A. S. (2014). Muscle mass index as a predictor of longevity in older adults. The American journal of medicine, 127(6), 547-553.
  2. Ruiz, J. R., Sui, X., Lobelo, F., Morrow, J. R., Jackson, A. W., Sjöström, M., & Blair, S. N. (2008). Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study. Bmj, 337, a439.