Want to know how to reverse nearly forty years of aging? It's simple: lift heavy stuff.
A recent study showed that older adults who practiced strength training at a minimum of twice per week had a lower chance of dying. We all know that people who are active have better odds against early death, heart disease and certain cancers. However, more studies have shown that weight training in particular, as it relates to aging is far more impactful. The study found that older adults who engaged in strength training at least twice a week had a 46 percent lower odds of dying for any reason than those who did not. They also had a 41 percent lower odds of dying from cardiac problems and 19 percent lower odds of dying from cancer.
In his book "Boundless" Ben Greenfield writes "Muscles become smaller and weaker with age via process called sarcopenia. Research suggests that a key part of this decline occurs in your muscle cells' mitochondria, the primary engines of energy production. A 2007 study demonstrated that six months of progressive resistance training otherwise known as "lifting heavy stuff" made the gene expression of aging mitochondria appear to be significantly younger. During this study researchers discovered that men at an average of seventy were able to improve strength by approximately 50 percent. The strength-training seniors closed the strength gap between themselves and men who were nearly forty years younger, taking it from 59 percent to 38 percent. This is an improvement of almost 36 percent in a mere six months. Muscle biopsies from the study showed a remarkable reversal of the expression profile of 170 genes associated with age and exercise. Genes that are down-regulated with age were up-regulated with exercise, while genes that are up-regulated with age were down-regulated with exercise." The researchers reported "Healthy older adults show a gene expression profile in skeletal muscle consistent with mitochondria dysfunction and associated processes such as cell death, as compared with young individuals. Moreover, following a period of resistance exercise training in older adults we found that age-associated transcriptome expression, changes were reversed showing a restoration of a youthful expression profile." When it comes to mitochondria, strength training reversed nearly forty years of aging. But exercise doesn't only affect mitochondria. It also promotes the growth of fat-burning fast-twitch muscle fibers and even protects DNA from the wear and tear of aging by acting on telomeres, the end caps of DNA molecules.
What we know for sure is that strength training allows you to reverse the aging process and burn fat faster. We also know there are benefits of strength training as it relates to diabetes, osteoporosis, lower back pain and obesity.
Weight training does not mean you need to spend hours or days in the gym. The healthiest muscles are found on a small physique capable of exerting a lot of force over a short period of time. Weight training is best done over time, allowing you to get stronger and stronger. It is also important to start with low weight and perform exercises correctly. You want to try to prevent any injuries. This can be done with traditional weights or with a suspension system such as TRX or resistance bands.
A variety of body push and pull exercises will give you a great overall workout. Exercises such as overhead press, pushups, upright rows, squats, dead lifts, and reverse hyperextensions.
The conventional way, which is lifting heavy weights is not the only way. Research has shown that twenty-five to thirty-five reps with lighter weights leads to the same gains in muscle size as eight to twelve reps with heavier weight. You can gain muscle by performing more reps with light weights or even your own bodyweight. Studies have shown that the weight of the load is not important. Instead, what matters is if a muscle is worked to fatigue. This can be done with low weights and high reps, as long as the muscle is worked to failure. This is beneficial if you do not have access to bars and plates.
Strength training and muscle building are great tools for looking good, giving you great proportions, muscle development and slowing the aging process. Muscle building also has the ability of the muscle to support daily functional activities such as walking, sprinting, and lifting heavy stuff, all of which positively impact fat-burning, strength and mobility.
And we can't forget the fact that muscle burns fat, even at rest. Personally, I have found that weight training has allowed me the freedom to stay lean and manage my weight better than any other exercise. And I hardly ever do cardio. My main focus is strength and have become stronger and stronger with each passing year. How is it possible to be more fit at 50 than at 30? The answer is weight training.
Now go lift some heavy stuff!