HAVE WE FOUND THE SECRET OF YOUTH?
IN A SENSE…YES. And it’s not some magic pill or potion, it’s not an easy path. But yes, weight training can indeed offer the key to a more youthful you and prevent the onset of ageing.
While many adverts for gyms, supplements and fitness products show buff guys and skantily clad girls, training is not all about appearance and this often seems to be forgotten in the “fitness” industry.
Sure you want to look good, but this is not always a priority as we age, but living active healthy lives to the best of our ability should be. I mean do you want to be limited by your physical condition and reliant on others for simple tasks as you age?
How does lifting weights help with this? Well it’s more about what happens without this addition to your liestyle.
“SARCOPENIA – the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength as a result of ageing”
From the day you were born until your late 20’s early 30’s, your muscles grow larger and stronger. Unfortunately the downward spiral of age related muscle loss begins after this point and those who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3%-5% of muscle mass per decade, typically accelerating around the age of 75.
Even if you are active, you will still experience some muscle loss.
However fear not!
I have the cure and it is in the form of IRON!
Or more specifically, weight/resistance training.
People over 50, especially women although men can be just as guilty, tend to write weight lifting off as a thing for “young guys” and stick to “cardio” and “body weight” exercises.
While both of these options can be great for fitness and health (and bloody gruelling if you do them right) people who prefer these options tend to use them as an easy way out and never push themselves to reap the benefits. You really need to ask your body to do a little more than it’s capable of to achieve change.
SO NO EXCUSES – Resistance training can be made suitable for most or adapted to suit your body and needs. Resistance can be provided by free weights, machines, bands but you can also get stronger by exercising in water.
It has often been advised that once you hit 50 you can’t lift anything heavy and must focus on high repetitions, which often do little to challenge you in any way.
If you can do endless repetitions with a weight then it’s too light. The general repetition range for building some muscle and strength is 8-12. There is no designated weight to use, it will depend on how you feel that day and if 8 – 12 is challenging. Only manage 6 reps? Too heavy. Pumping out 20 reps? Too light.
Many women and men (such as the folk below) keep themselves in top condition and look far younger than their D.O.B. While you may not want or be able to achieve this condition, it creates a clear picture as to how weight training can make you look much younger. (both featured are 74 years of age)
Resistance training can reverse the affects fo ageing such as muscle loss, decreases in strength, balance, and coordination. So you can become a fitter, stronger you and enjoy moving about more freely. So feel free to push yourself but be sensible in your approach.
Training 2 -3 times per week for 30 – 60 minutes will probably be enough to help you achieve the results you are looking for combined with a sensible plan suitable for your goals.
This does not mean you have to set your goals on an gaining an Olympic lift or achieving a rippling beach body, but it can mean every day tasks like carrying shopping, going up and down stairs, lifting your child/grandchild or getting out of a chair will become easier.
A basic programme built around the following movements, loaded carries, squat, hinge, push, pull should get great results for you regardless of age or ability. (tailored to you of course).
I am always amazed at how many people (many aged 40-50) audibly object when asked to do exercises from the floor as they find it a struggle to get up and down. Strength training through use of resistance can help to create stronger muscles, this can stimulate the bones to strengthen and grow to bear the heavier load on the muscles.
While you may feel the effects of muscle soreness from training (known as D.O.M.S delayed onset of muscle soreness) you will feel more youthful and sprightly as a result! Not only that it can help with ARTHRITIS and while not reversing can alleviate symptoms and create healthier joints.
Of course the key to all this is performing exercises correctly and to your own ability. Simply throwing yourself in is no good and a recipe for disaster no matter what your age, so make sure you consult a trainer and learn the techniques to set you on the right path.
But please take away one thing from this information, DO NOT FEAR WEIGHTS!
They can be your friend, a very good friend who will help you lead a fitter, healthier and hopefully longer life.
Safe training folks, keep Lifting, Learning and Living!