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Manic Monday ~ Boost your Aging Muscles!

I came across this fantastic publication just this past weekend. It came a great time. Just recently I have been having many friend clients ask me why it's so hard to keep the muscle tone and strength compared to several years ago. And that is such a true feeling. I, myself, am able to resonate with my clients regarding this question. And as I age, I am having to readjust my workouts to best benefit my body through this nagging aging factors of lower metabolism, muscle loss, and fatigue. This article is a good reminder of the basics and from the basics we can build up a program that benefits us individually!

Lift weights to boost muscle

Muscle loss is inevitable as you age, but adopting a regular weight training program can help slow the process.

(Published: October, 2017- Harvard Health)

You naturally lose muscle as you age, a condition called sarcopenia. After age 30, men begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade, and most will lose about 30% over their lifetimes. But you have the power to change this — with weight training.

Weight training is the best way to increase muscle mass lost due to aging and keep the muscle you have, and it's never too late to begin.

Benefits of more muscle

You need added muscle now more than ever. Weaker muscle means less stamina, balance, and mobility, all of which can increase your risk of falls and fractures.

In fact, a 2015 report from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research found that people with sarcopenia had 2.3 times the risk of having a low-trauma fracture from a fall, such as a broken hip, collarbone, leg, arm, or wrist.

Added muscle from weight training also helps with everyday movements you take for granted, like reaching a high shelf or rising from a chair.

Weight training offers other health benefits, too. For example:

Lower diabetes risk. A 2012 Harvard study of 32,000 men found that doing just 60 minutes of weight training per week could lower a man's risk for type 2 diabetes by 12% compared with doing none. Increase your weekly time to between 60 and 150 minutes, and you could lower your risk by 25%. The connection? Researchers found that weight training helps control weight and reduce blood sugar (glucose) levels. During a workout, your muscles rapidly use glucose, and this energy consumption continues even after you've finished.

Protection against osteoporosis. A study in the March 2017 issue of Bone found long-term weight training can increase bone density in men. In the study, men with low bone mass were split into two groups. One group performed regular weight training, such as lunges and squats using free weights. The other group performed various types of jumps. After a year, the researchers found that the men doing weight training had higher levels of IGF-1, a hormone associated with bone growth, compared with the men doing jumps.

Improved cognitive function. A study in the July 2017 issue of European Geriatric Medicineshowed an association between increased upper-body and lower-body muscle strength and a greater ability to receive, store, and process information among older adults with an average age of 66.

Power up with protein

Most people probably get enough protein through their regular diet, but be mindful of protein intake when you're doing weight training, as your body uses the components of dietary protein to build muscle. A 2015 study in the journal Nutrientssuggests a daily intake of 1 to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for older adults who do weight training.

For example, a 175-pound man would need about 79 to 103 grams a day. If possible, divide your protein intake equally among your daily meals to maximize the body's ability to create muscle. Also, consume about 20 to 40 of those daily grams after a workout to help with muscle repair. Here are some top protein sources to help you meet your daily quota:

  • 1 scoop of protein powder (typically 30 grams, but check the label); added to oatmeal, a shake, or yogurt, or stirred into a glass of water.

  • 3 ounces lean chicken (24 grams)

  • 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt (23 grams)

  • 1 cup cooked lentils (18 grams)

  • 3 ounces salmon (17 grams)

  • 2 eggs (13 grams)

  • 1 cup nonfat milk (9 grams)

  • 1 cup peas (8 grams)

  • 1 ounce or about 28 peanuts (7 grams).

Tips for weight training

Weight training commonly uses free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells, and weight machines to work specific muscle groups. There is no advantage to using one type of equipment over another.

Free weights require more control during an exercise's range of motion and make muscles work longer, but machines have a more controlled range of motion and offer greater safety.

Use the ones you feel most comfortable with and keep in mind that you can switch between free weights and weight machines, depending on the type of exercise and which muscles you are working.

Always check with your doctor before you begin any type of exercise program. After that, follow these tips to begin your weight training program:

Invest in a trainer. A credentialed trainer can design a personalized strategy to ensure you do the exercises you need for an all-around workout. A trainer also can teach you proper form and technique, like how to maintain good posture and alignment and how to lift in a smooth, controlled manner. This ensures you work muscles without wasted effort and helps reduce risk of injury. After you learn from your trainer and gain confidence, you can then work out on your own.

Find the right balance. You want to strike a balance between adequate weight and number of repetitions (reps) during your workout. Try to complete 10 to 12 reps of an exercise with enough weight so the last few are a challenge, but you are still able to keep proper form and technique. Increase the weight as needed to ensure you keep that fine balance between reps and point of fatigue. You should begin with two sets of each exercise and add a third as you improve.

Don't overdo it. A basic beginning full body weight training program consists of three workouts a week with a rest day between workouts. Each session should last 30 to 60 minutes. Also, breaking up the total body program into 4-5 smaller weight train sessions also works well and can allow for a shorter session each day (ex. Chest and biceps one day, back and triceps, legs and shoulders, etc.).

Have a GREAT "stronger" week!

~Rachel Zimmerman

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