Get Back your Strength and Muscle Mass Once and For All
Facing the confinements of 2020 and 2021 we were able to realize how sedentary lifestyle during the quarantines could have the ability to deteriorate articulations, increase body fat storage, and reduce muscle mass in our bodies.
In fact, from the age of 30-35 we begin to lose up to 8% of our muscle mass per decade! That is, near 1% per year. With a 30% decrease in strength and physical performance, we will be frailer and more vulnerable, especially once we get past the age of 50.
If a moderately good physical condition is not maintained, the loss of muscle mass will eventually degenerate into a condition called sarcopenia, which is the progressive and generalized loss of musculoskeletal mass and strength, specifically related to physical disability, poor quality of life and death.
This does not need to be so. Both men and women can recover a good percentage of muscle mass and what is more important, stay strong and active until very old ages. The key is called strength training.
Building and maintaining strength is one of the most important things you can do at any point in your life, but it becomes even more important when you do it after age 50.
Why do we Want to Develop Strength for?
If your muscles are trained, they will achieve what is called "motion economy", that is, the force you need to complete a task is distributed in a balanced way not only in the muscles but also in the bones and joints involved in the movement. This allows your body optimal use of the muscles involved with less pain and of course much less risk of injury.
Benefits of Strength Training
- Reduces symptoms of osteoarthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, back pain and depression.
- Body weight control
- Improves balance
- Improves sleep quality
- Helps the body control glucose and prevent diabetes (study)
- Cortisol released by intense exercise has been shown to suppress the subsequent cortisol response to a psychosocial stressor. (study) That is to say, the cortisol that is released when doing a strong exercise or when fasting counteracts the cortisol that is produced by work reasons, socio-emotional problems, and others of that type.
- Increases strength and muscle mass while stimulating metabolism and making the body more efficient when it comes to burning fat. (article)
- Promotes and enables you to be self-sufficient as you age. I believe that no one wants to reach an old age depending on medication, a wheelchair, or a nurse.
How to Get Started
If Superman is weakened by kryptonite, it is undoubtedly a sedentary lifestyle what is like kryptonite for us.
Because humans spend too much time sitting, the hip and chest flexor muscles shorten and stiffen. Among the consequences is that the antagonistic muscles to these and that correspond to the gluteus and lower back, atrophy by not having the opportunity to activate and use.
For this reason, it is important to train the major muscles of the body such as the buttocks, lower back, and legs. In fact, all the major muscles should be trained, both, chest, back (upper and lower), legs and glutes because it is crucial that these muscles are strengthened since they are essential for posture, balance, running, jumping, and lifting heavy objects.
The strength training that I propose to you is useful for both beginners and trained people. The only thing that makes the difference is the handling of the weights.
Almost every exercise you can do at the gym can be done at home, with a few modifications. However, going to the gym and your time there have their advantages: first, because there are the machines and weights you need; and second, because you meet other people who are training and that can be motivating.
One Month Training Program
Keep in mind that if you are untrained, the exercises that are practiced during the next 4-8 weeks will serve as muscle regeneration and adaptation. In other words, the real results of strength and muscle mass development will begin to be seen and consolidated, after about two months of constant and conscious training.
For starters, you can do two sets of 20 reps per exercise in the first week. Once they are done easily, you can add weight. The idea is that the last 3 repetitions of each series are done with great difficulty.
In the second week, you can do two sets of each exercise, the first of 20 repetitions and the second of 15.
In the third week two or three series of each exercise, the first of 15 repetitions, the second of 12 and the third of 10.
For the fourth week two or three series of each exercise, the first of 12 repetitions, the second of 10 and the third of 8.
There are many exercises that can be included in a training program, but since we want to emphasize the larger muscles, the following exercises can be part of a workout that you do 3 times a week.
- Start by warming up, either on a stationary bike, walking or jogging for at least 15-30 minutes.
- Stretch, especially the muscles that are going to be used (check my video on “running for pleasure” in Youtube where I share important stretches before and after training to avoid injuries.
- Specific Training Protocol:
Squats (with or without weights)
Chin-ups or pull ups Plank
Back extensions (hyperextension)
Pulse Leg lunges
- ABS. Although the exercises described above involve the abdominal area, it is good to do 1-3 sets of an exercise isolated from this area. There are several abdominal exercises, as well as different levels and intensities.
- In my video on how to run without getting injured I show you some of the key stretches, so don't hesitate to watch it to avoid post-workout soreness and prevent injuries.
According to a meta-analysis of 21 studies, published in the journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2017, people who strength trained for at least six weeks, exercising to exhaustion, showed similar muscle cell growth without matter if it was high reps with light weights or fewer reps with heavier weights.
By using more weight and performing fewer repetitions (of course, until the exhaustion of 12, 10 or 8 repetitions) the muscle fibres suffer small tears that the body rushes to heal and rebuild, this is thanks to the stimulation of growth hormone, and it is by this mechanism that muscle is developed and muscle mass increases. An increased muscle mass in turn stimulates the metabolism so that the body continues to burn calories for up to 17 hours after finishing the training.
Weight-bearing strength training strengthens bone density, which allows you to reduce the risk of fractures in later life. Heavy weight training increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a neurotransmitter involved in the production of new neurons and in optimizing cognitive function.
The ideal is to practice strength exercises with both light weights and high repetitions, as I indicate during the first two weeks of this training protocol.
Likewise, train with heavier weights and lower reps as I show you during the second two weeks of this workout as well. In this way, the body is given space to adapt, avoid risk of injury and take advantage of both alternatives.
The way your body will look, and feel will corroborate this to you.