Strength training to stay young?

Our ability to fight off disease resides in our muscles. Some believe that the greatest thing you can do for your body is to build muscle. This does not mean like the ultra body builders with muscles on top of their muscles :)

This theory is based on a long-term study of nearly 9,000 men ages 20 to 80. After nearly 19 years, the men still living were those with the most muscular strength. 

Muscle is all protein – nothing but good for you. I will not argue with that, simply because I love protein and hearing any study confirming that it is good for me, just makes me love protein even more!

Fat, however, is an endocrine organ, meaning it releases hormones and other chemicals. When a person has excess fat, he or she also a disrupted flow of excess biochemicals, which can increase insulin resistance and boost risk factors for stroke and high blood pressure, among other problems.

Increased cytokines, an immune system chemical, for example, are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, You’re only as old as your arteries, you got to keep those tubes clean and clear!

Strength-training has health benefits for everyone, no matter their size.

Some fat is visceral fat – it’s stored around the organs and it’s even more dangerous than the fat you can see. People who look thin may actually be carrying around a lot of visceral fat. So just because someone wears a small size dress, that does not go hand in hand with being healthy. 

How about we get back to basics! These five exercises are the pillars of a solid training regime.

air_squat

•  The squat is a full-body exercise; it’s the basic movement around which all training should be centered. Heavy squats generate a robust hormonal response as numerous muscular structures are traumatized during the movement (even your biceps). Standing erect with a heavy load on your back and then repeatedly squatting down will stress your body inordinately – in a good way — forcing it to grow more muscle.

•  The overhead press primarily activates the shoulders, arm extenders and chest. Lower body musculature is also activated as it counters the downward force of the dumbbell supported by the trainee. From the planted feet into the hands, force is transmitted through the skeletal system, stabilized by numerous muscular structures, most importantly the lower back.

•  The deadlift centers on the hamstrings, buttocks, lumbar extensors and quadriceps, essentially the large muscles of your backside and the front of your thighs. As power is transferred from the lower body into the bar through the upper body conduit, upper back muscles are also stressed, contrasting with the squat, which is supported by the hands. Deadlifts are considered by some to be the most complete training exercise.

•  The bench press mostly targets the chest, shoulders and triceps; it’s the most popular among weightlifters, and it’s very simple – trainees push the barbell off the lower chest until the arms are straight. This motion stresses not only the entire upper body, but also the lower body, which serves a stabilizing function. This provides a big hormonal response and plenty of bang for your buck.

•  The pull-up / chin-up stress upper body musculature into the body. A pull-up is done when hands gripping over the bar; a chin-up is where hands are gripping under the bar. Nine out of 10 people cannot do this exercise because most simply haven’t put in the effort. It’s also been called a “man’s exercise, which is nonsense,” he says. There are no gender-specific exercises. Women, too, should aspire to enjoy the health benefits entailed with this pillar.

There are no secrets to a strong and healthier body; hard work is required for the body that will remain vital and strong at any age. Always practice proper form and safety. Otherwise, the result will be the opposite of your goal, an injury.

Do you currently follow a work out regime? If so, does it include strength training? 

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Comments

  1. I love strength training and I think it’s one of the best ways to stay fit. I haven’t done it in a while though and have been focusing more on yoga lately than anything else. This is a good post though. Thanks dear :)

  2. This is great! its always so eye opening to read the logic behind a healthy body

  3. I’ve been strength training for about two years now, thanks to my husband, and while we’re pretty young we love it and we feel great! I want to note that the picture shows a bodyweight squat, which will not help build muscle (long term). It might be helpful for those just starting out who need to get an idea of the form, but my advice is first to grab a broomstick and put it across your shoulders when practicing, then move up to a barbell as soon as you’re able.

    Mark Rippetoe’s book Starting Strength has lots of fantastic advice for beginning lifters.

  4. I think the squat you mentioned is one of the greatest exercises ever created (along with the burpee, too lol)!
    What’s great about the 5 exercises you mentioned, is that they activate enough large muscle groups so that they can give a good cardio workout as well if done with enough speed.
    Thanks for the great article :)

  5. Paula G. says:

    Trying to drive home the importance of strength training as we get older, this is a good easy way for someone to begin. I love the definition of my muscles as they change as I change and become stronger. I’m not out to beat anyone at anything, I’m out to save my life! Dr. Mike, love your comment about the Burpee…killer move!

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