More Strong Reasons for Weight Training Regardless of Your age


There is no doubt and science, with countless studies, corroborates that strength training is the most effective method for increasing muscle mass, strength and cardiovascular endurance.

The goal with strength training is to build muscle by gradually increasing the weight of the loads you lift.  This means that, to gain muscle, exercises that encourage you to use your strength must reach a point where they challenge your muscles, without losing proper technique. 

It may seem counterintuitive that you purposely "injure" yourself during training to gain muscle mass, but that is exactly what happens, and it is precisely so that hormones and neurotransmitters are stimulated that will "heal those micro-tears" and cause your body to build mass and become stronger.

Once your muscles adapt, variations in training can be made and this is done through changes in the weight you handle, number of sets, number of repetitions in the set, as well as rest periods or even emphasis on the negative movement or eccentric phase of the exercise, for example.

To achieve these goals, some form of resistance (or weight) is typically used, such as body weight, dumbbells, resistance bands or other tools.


The Most Compelling Benefits of Strength Training

The takeaway when you make the decision to incorporate strength training into your lifestyle is that you are making a long-term investment: you are laying the foundation for healthy ageing, postural, muscular, hormonal, as well as brain health.

I recently learned that skeletal muscle is an endocrine organ.  When muscle contracts, the duration and intensity of the contraction releases myosins (which are hormonal peptides) or proteins that are released from skeletal muscle cells.

Among the leucines released are the well-known Il-6 or IL-15 which affect lipolysis in the body (fat movement) and glucose utilisation.  Remember that excessive levels of glucose in the body are toxic and must therefore be removed from the body.

Exercising (fasting is a +) improves sugar utilisation, but other molecules released by skeletal muscle such as Irisin and Cathepsin B stimulate the production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor or BDNF, which is a component of neurogenesis (birth of new neurons), as well as strengthening synaptic connections in the brain.

It should be noted that the human body is made up of approximately 40% skeletal muscle and 10% visceral smooth muscle and cardiac muscle and constitutes what is colloquially referred to as the "flesh of the body".

Muscles have a great capacity for adaptation, modifying more than any other organ, both their content and their shape.  From severe atrophy, they can be strengthened again in a short time thanks to training, especially strength training.

I think I have just given you a taste of the benefits and importance of strength training for your body, but there is more.  Let's get down to the specifics.


Functional Strength

Functional strength refers to the strength you need on a day-to-day basis to perform your daily activities such as standing, bending, maintaining good posture, carrying (children, grocery bags, medium-heavy objects), for example. This is because strength training as you will see protects bones, joints and helps you maintain good posture due to the muscle strengthening obtained through such training.


Muscle Mass and Tone

By nature, using your muscles to counteract a weight or resistance improves your muscle tone and can increase your muscle mass, not necessarily hypertrophy (muscle size), depending on your regimen.  As soon as you start with even light weights, you can begin to see results. 

Studies corroborate that by increasing weight and performing between 8-12 repetitions per set, you can begin to see muscle hypertrophy.


Reduction of Body fat, Especially in the Midsection

According to a Harvard study, published in the journal Obesity, "When people incorporate strength training into their exercise routine, they not only burn calories, but they also increase lean muscle mass, which boosts metabolism.  Muscle mass is an important factor in determining basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories the body burns per day to maintain physiological functions.


Helps Preserve Muscle During Weight Loss

The potential health benefits of diet-induced weight loss may be compromised by the loss of lean body mass associated with weight loss. 

A review published in the US National Library of Medicine provides an overview of what is known about weight loss-induced muscle loss and its implications for overall physical function (e.g. the ability to lift, walk and climb stairs). And it indicates that both cardiovascular and strength training help preserve muscle mass during weight loss, and resistance-type exercise also improves muscle strength. It is therefore concluded that weight loss treatment, including a low-calorie diet with adequate (but not excessive) protein intake and increased physical activity (particularly weight-bearing exercise), should be promoted to maintain muscle mass and improve muscle strength and physical function in people with obesity.


Prevents Sarcopenia

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, a healthy body fat composition for a 60–69-year-old male is 21-23% body fat and for women it is 23.2-27.5%. Building and maintaining lean muscle prevents the body from storing too much extra fat.

Sarcopenia - age-related loss of muscle mass, strength and function - can be due to poor diet, lack of exercise and hormonal changes. 

As the body loses muscle, it must replace it with something, which is almost always fat, and while it is normal with age to lose some muscle mass, losing too much can be detrimental. Increased body fat stores increase the risk of metabolic diseases, obesity and cancer.  Sarcopenia can start as early as age 40, so the time to act is now.

Strength training is the only activity that has been shown to slow the progression of sarcopenia and reduce its effects. Resistance exercises and light weightlifting can help you increase strength and retain more muscle as you age, leaving less room for fat to accumulate and improving your overall health.


Improves Bone Mass

An article from the Royal Osteoporosis Society states that progressive muscle strength training is the best type of muscle-strengthening exercise for bones. It involves using weights or resistance bands to increase the work of the muscles over time. This is done by gradually increasing the weight you lift, in a slow and controlled manner. As the training progresses, you will find that the movements become easier as your muscles get stronger.

Weights are probably best for bone strength, but bands are a great way to start. And it's important to gradually increase the load in training based on fitness and muscle strength gains.


Prevents Injury and can Speed up Recovery When Used in Rehabilitation

We normally think of collagen as something that must be consumed in order to have reserves in the body and enjoy its benefits, but one of the things that most captivates me about strength training is that it also increases the number and diameter of collagen fibrils in tendons to increase their strength and help prevent injury, as corroborated by a 2015 review published in the International Journal of Sports& Physical Therapy, a publication of the International Federation of Sports Physiotherapy. This means that you can maintain high collagen levels in your body through strength training, and robustly supported by the collagen you consume through your diet and/or supplementation.

In terms of how strength training contributes to the rehabilitation process, this is done through:

Muscle strengthening: Orthopaedic injuries often result in muscle weakness or atrophy due to disuse or trauma. Strength training helps to counteract this by targeting weakened muscles, gradually increasing their strength and endurance over time. By incorporating resistance exercises, such as weightlifting, resistance bands or body weight exercises, people can regain muscle mass and improve their functional capacity.

Joint stability and support: Strong muscles play a crucial role in joint stability, especially after injury or surgery. Through specific exercises focusing on joint stability and proprioception, people can improve balance, coordination and overall joint function. This not only improves mobility, but also reduces the risk of future injury by providing better support to vulnerable areas.


Supports and Enhances Cardiovascular Health

Visceral or abdominal fat is in and around vital organs and is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).  This fat is linked to CVD because it is associated with the release of certain proteins and hormones that cause inflammation. This inflammation has been shown to damage blood vessels, increase blood pressure and cause other heart problems. Therefore, preventing or reducing any excess abdominal fat through strength training can certainly improve heart health. mentions 2013 research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showing that young men who strength train regularly have better HDL, or good cholesterol, function compared to those who never train. Strength training improves blood pressure and triglyceride levels in a similar way to cardiovascular exercise but has even greater benefits on HDL.


Supports Mental Health

According to an article from Pennsylvania State University, USA, scientific studies are linking strength training not only to physical health but also to mental health. 

There is strong evidence that exercise can prevent and treat depression. This includes weight training. A 2018 study published in JAMA Psychiatry validates the connection.

The study was a meta-analysis, meaning the researchers looked at 33 studies on depression in the context of weight training.

In all studies, weight training benefited mood. People who were depressed before the study showed improvement. Those who were not depressed were less likely to become depressed than people who did not exercise with weights. The number of exercises or repetitions, or whether people gained muscle strength, made no difference. The simple act of exercising helped fight depression.


It's Never too Late to Start

When muscles pull on bones, they give them work. Bones respond by renewing themselves. This maintains or improves their strength. As muscles get stronger, they pull harder. This means your bones are more likely to get stronger.

To strengthen your muscles, you will need to move them against a certain load. To do this, add a weight that your muscles work against. This can be your own body weight, a resistance band or a barbell.

How to get started?

One of the ways in which age-related deterioration in the body is detected is that, although the person is active, the intensity of exercise decreases.

Perhaps the most practical way is to start progressive muscular resistance training with a qualified instructor in a gym. There, better than anywhere else, they will advise you on techniques and the weights and machines you can use.

Some instructors may also be able to advise you on weights or bands that you can use at home.  When making progressions it is important to consider your fitness level and muscle strength.

Four groups of muscle-strengthening exercises can help strengthen bones. These are hinge type exercises such as deadlifts, push-ups (pull-ups, such as rowing; and squats which involve all the muscles in the legs. It is recommended that you do one exercise from each group.

As you progress through the stages, the exercises will work the muscles harder and these harder exercises are known as "progressions".   However, the next article will focus in depth on how to get started with weight training.

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