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The Fountain of Youth is Heavy

fitness Mar 02, 2023

Pick up something heavy and put it down. Do it again. Do it often. Doing this keeps you strong, healthy, and active. It is the Fountain of Youth. 

Why should you care more about muscle now

"Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60. This involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function is a fundamental cause of and contributor to disability in older people." Published in a study in 2010 by the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Department of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

This isn't urban legend. Muscle loss in aging has been studied and documented

If you're reading this, you're over 30.

You're probably over 50, which means you may have already lost 6-16% of the muscle mass you had before you were 30.

Do the math, and it's a slippery slope to 0 muscle mass (you can't actually get to 0, but you see where I'm going with this).

Here's how this affects you today.

Not only can't you lift heavy things, you're probably not moving as well (little aches and pains in your joints, stiffness from sitting too long). 

Is it too late for you?

No is the short answer. You can build muscle at any age. Yes, at any age. Even if you've never done any athletic training at any other time in your life, you can (and should) start now.

This study shows no difference in the ability to add muscle between trained athletes at 70+ and people who never exercised before.  

Why is heavy important?

  • Our body only responds to stimuli. It's the whole "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" concept.
  • You have to challenge your muscles enough that your brain takes notice and tells your muscles to get stronger. If there's not enough challenge, your muscles won't change. This is also why you can be working out for a long time (years) and not getting stronger. You get to a certain point and don't continue to increase the challenge.
  • We, women, tend to think, "I can't lift that." Or "I shouldn't use the big weights." Nothing could be further from the truth. We can and should lift heavy.
  • You will very likely outlive your partner, so staying as strong as we can for as long as we can is critical to our well-being and longevity. 
  • Stronger bodies fall less. Falling is the #1 cause of death in adults over 65, according to the CDC. The more muscle you have, the less likely you are to fall.

Heavy is a relevant term.

Here's the important piece...heavy is a relevant term. What is heavy for you may not be heavy for me. What you're lifting must challenge your muscles and cause your brain to sit up and take notice. Is that 5 pounds? 10 pounds? 100 pounds? More? It will likely depend on what you're lifting and how you're lifting it. 

Here are some guidelines

If you're at the gym: 

  • Choose weights you can lift for a maximum of 8 repetitions (reps). 
  • If you can lift a weight for 12+ reps, choose a heavier weight. 
  • Complete 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps. 
  • Your last rep in your set should be tough to complete but not impossible. 
  • Always leave one rep in your tank. This means that while your last rep will be tough, you should also feel like if you really had to, you could lift it one more time.
  • You should have to rest for a minute (or more) in between your sets. If you can zip through 5 sets of 8 reps without taking a break, you're not lifting heavy enough. 

How to increase your weights.

  • Start with 3 sets of 5 reps.
  • Rest between sets until you feel ready to go again (generally at least one minute).
  • The next time you go to the gym, add one rep to your set (3 sets of 6 reps).
  • Build to you can comfortably complete 5 sets of 8 reps.
  • Increase the weight to the next increment and drop the reps and sets back down to 3 sets of 5 reps and build again. 

If you're at home:

  • Start with bodyweight exercises like squats and progress to lunges. 
  • Push-ups can start on the wall or countertop and progress to the floor on your knees and then to the floor on your toes.
  • Use a water bottle as a weight. The more you fill it, the heavier it gets. Move onto bags of flour, grains, dirt for the garden or dog food. What's around that you can use as additional resistance?

Start today

You will never again be as young as you are right now. The sooner you start, the stronger you will be. 

Benefits of being Strong:

  • Weight loss/weight control
  • Independence
  • Increased personal confidence
  • Stronger mind (there's a mountain of evidence linking exercise to better brain health).
  • Keep up with the kids and grandkids.
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Longer, happier, healthier life.

You can do this! 

If you need help getting started, check out the 7-Day WINNERS Transformation. 


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