Protect muscle mass: As we age loss of body mass is a natural phenomenon but it can be reversed or contained with good strength training and light weight lifts.
Besides enhancing muscle mass weight lifting has many other benefits like boosting your mood, reducing back pain and general strength in the body.
Light weight training must for aging muscles
As we age preserving muscle mass is more important than losing fat therefore strength training is equally important to cardio.
“Every decade starting mid 30s human body loses a percentage of muscle, which affects your metabolism, balance, and ability to brace yourself in the event of an injury,” explains Larysa DiDio, a certified personal trainer and contributing fitness editor. He insist, “by weight training, you build more muscle to protect your body against injury.”
So, how often should you lift weights?
Ideally, twice a week—whether you lift free weights, use machines, or do bodyweight exercises, says
Rachelle Reed, PhD, CPT, Pure Barre’s manager of training development and barre kinesiologist.
That said, as you get stronger and fitter, both Reed and DiDio agree that you should bump up your
sessions to more than two times a week. “You should ideally lift every day—just make sure to work on
different body parts or train your body differently each day,” DiDio says.
Wondering which muscle groups to focus on?
Reed says that depends on your goals. For a full body workout, “many trainers will tell clients to focus on the upper body one day and the lower body a couple days later,” she says. To help you get the most bang for your buck, consider folding in compound exercises and supersets into your routine, a form of strength training in which you move from one exercise to the next with no rest in between.
In addition to building strength, lifting weights has a host of benefits.
Benefits of Strength training
You’ll lose weight and burn more calories. While cardio can help you get rid of belly fat, lifting weights helps you build more muscle, which can
Also help you burn more calories. That’s because muscles are metabolically active, meaning they burn
calories even when you are not exercising. “In fact, muscle tissue burns seven to 10 calories per pound
daily, while fat burns only two to three calories per pound daily,” DiDio explains.
What’s more, a 2017 study in Obesity suggests that weight training combined with a healthy, low-calorie
diet, can help preserve lean muscle mass that is lost through aerobic workouts. “When weight loss occurs
In the absence of strength training, all faces of body composition are lost,” Reed says.
Muscle mass protects your bone
As you age, your bones become more brittle and weaker, especially if you post-menopausal, which is due to lower oestrogen levels—the hormone responsible for maintaining bone mass. But lifting weights can help you build bone mineral density through Wolff’s Law, which states that bones can grow in response to forces that are placed upon it. In other words, creating pressure on your joints through weight-bearing exercises can actually help you build stronger, healthier bones.
“Strength training involves muscles contracting against the bones they’re surrounding,” Reed explains.
“This force applied to the bones helps improve bone density overtime.”
In fact, an October 2017 study from the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research shows that high-intensity resistance training exercises, like deadlifts, overhead presses, and back squats, can help improve bone mineral density in women with osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Strength training help manage stress and boost your mood
Had a hard day at work and need to release some tension? Time to pick up those weights. Just like any form of exercise, strength training can enhance your mood by releasing feel-good hormones called
Recent research also suggests that exercise, including weight training, may help protect against
Alzheimer’s and dementia. Researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center discovered that the hormone irisin, which is released during exercise, may help promote neuronal growth in the hippocampus—the area of the brain dedicated to learning and memory.
“Any type of exercise is a mood booster, but weight training makes you feel stronger and it builds the
back and neck muscles that are most directly associated with stress,” DiDio says.
Strength Training improves your posture
If you have a desk job, chances are you’re dealing with a case of rounded shoulders and a hunched back, which place additional pressure on your low back. This can lead to bad posture and limited range of motion in the shoulders, which are the most flexible joint in the body.
But lifting weights can help reverse this by opening up the chest, strengthening the back muscles, and
improving freedom of movement. “It also strengthens your core, which keeps the back in alignment and
upright,” DiDio says.
You’ll reduce back pain
There’s no one reason for back pain, but muscular imbalances, like weak knees and an unstable core, can contribute, among other things. Most people think aches and pain are due to strains, but sometimes, it’s a result of bad biomechanics. Your muscles work in a kinetic chain, so if there’s a weak link, it can often
manifest into a bigger problem in different areas of the body. But by building total-body strength, you can
You’ll improve memory and brain health
A 2016 review from the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that physical activity can help prevent or delay cognitive decline in people over 50, regardless of their current neurological state.
When you’re moving, your body pumps oxygen-rich blood to your brain, boosting neuroplasticity—your
brain’s ability to create new neural connections and adjust to changes in environment. By increasing
neuroplasticity, you can better handle stressful situations that come with life and stay sharp.
“Indeed, the American College of Sports Medicine has published several studies investigating the positive
effects of different types of exercise on cognitive performance in older adults, and they agree that this is
an area of research worthy of further pursuit,” Reed notes.