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The Secret to Aging Better…

Today we are talking something that I am deeply passionate about because it is the key we can use to unlock better health and better aging:


HEAVY LIFTING.

mic drop


Don’t hang up! 

(or whatever the blog equivalent is!)

If you’re rolling your eyes or thinking this isn’t for me, I’ll convince you shortly how this can (and should) be practiced with any body!


BUT FIRST!

Starting at the age of 30 we start to lose bone density and lean muscle mass.

Every. Year.



For my once or past ovulators out there, once we hit peri/post menopause and our estrogen disappears we start losing these necessary physiological health drivers EVEN faster.



In our culture we, for some reason, have become all too comfortable equating aging to frailty.


In truth, Strength Training TWICE per week has been shown to significantly minimize bone and muscle loss and even help to sustain and rebuild in people over the age of 50.


This is actually true for all ages, but I find it’s harder for folks to wrap their head around the fact that it isn’t crazy to work weight lifting into retirement.


That being said, in our menstruating years, we can start to invest in bone density and lean muscle mass the same way we invest money into our retirement fund.

Slowly and consistently!



The great news?

It is NEVER too late to get started!!!



Regardless of the year we were brought into this world, the science remains the same:

In order to cause adaptation to our bones and muscles (change/stimulate growth) we need to challenge them.


That means lifting heavy.


If you’re new to exercise (or newly back) this will look different than once you’ve been doing it for a while, but the result should be the same:

At the end of your reps (number of times you do a certain exercise) you should only be able to do 1 or 2 more reps.



At first, bodyweight can be a great way to both:

Cause adaptation

And

Focus on nailing proper form, so that as we add weights in the future, we move safely and effectively.



It’s literally got the word “weight” in it! When we lift our body in squats, glute bridges, pushups on the counter top, we are moving “weight.”



I am a HUGE proponent of bodyweight training for folks new/newly back to the wonderful world of fitness.


Moving without weights allows us to focus on our foundations. It allows us to think of movements as “skills” and not workouts.”

Better moving means more efficient workouts and less injuries.

Which means better adherence to exercise.

Which means moving consistently FOREVER.




To get the benefit for our bones and muscles, the goal for bodyweight exercises is the same as if we are using weights:


To perform a set number of reps (times we do an exercise) that brings us to fatigue.

For example, if I do 10 bodyweight squats and feel like I could go for another 3+, I need to add more reps. Versus, if at the end of 10 bodyweight squats my gams are shaky and I feel like maybe I could do 1 or 2 more, but if I pushed further I’d lose form. I hit my target rep range.



As we progress through our training over the years, gaining stronger foundations and adding heavier equipment, our rep count should drop (which would mean we lift HEAVIER for less times through the exercise.)


For example, you’ve been strength training for the last 4 years. You have a solid foundation. You have built from bodyweight to dumbbells and kettlebells and now you are adding barbell back squats. Instead of doing 10 barbell back squats, you are going to perform 5 HEAVY squats, rest :90–2:00 and perform 5 squats — 4 more times.



If you’re unsure of where to get started with exercises, a good jumping off point is to think in terms of including foundational movements:


Squats

Lunges (single leg squat)

Hinge (picking something up off the floor)

Press (pushup or chest press)

Pull (row of some kind)

Overhead Press 

Planks

Rotations


And again, even just two days a week with 30 minutes of exercises is hugely beneficial.



This next PSA is for all my folks out there who were told Cardio is the way to lose weight, or have been told to go light and fast with dumbbells…


Stop Relying on High Rep Low Weight 

If I got a dollar for every time I saw this advice given to a woman, I would be rich.

Like stupid, join in the billionaire space race, rich.

Heck, it was (and is) so prevalent, early on in my coaching career — I even believed it!


But the unfortunate truth?It will not build lean muscle and it will not increase bone density. Or at the very least, it would take a LONG time to get there…Remember at the end of our lift we should feel like we could barely do 1 or 2 more reps. If you feel like you could bang out another 3–300, IT IS NOT HEAVY ENOUGH!


It’s fine to add into a full exercise program (ie doing barre classes ALONG with your heavy lifting days), but it cannot be our primary exercise as we age.


As one exercise scientist put it, that is essentially aerobics with weight … aka cardio … aka no muscle/bone.



Which brings me to: 

Don’t Just Do Cardio.

Yes. There are plenty of benefits that come with cardio, but building muscle is NOT one of them.


Most people, myself included for A LONG TIME, relied on cardio as their main (or only) form of exercise because it “burns a lot of calories.”


I have so many feelings on this, so let’s just stick to science:

  1. When you do cardio you burn calories during the exercise, but as soon as you stop exercising, so to does your calorie burn. 

  2. Our bodies are brilliantly adaptable. 



That being said.


If you love running, cycling, whatever…I am 100% not telling you to knock it off! 


I do too! (sort of)


I am just sharing that, especially as we age, it becomes more important than ever to add cross training.



Your take away for today?

In the words of Dr Stacy Sims, “LIFT HEAVY SHIT”

Aka Strength Train!



If you don’t know how or where to start, gosh oh golly, do I have your back!

We all start somewhere and, remember, EXERCISE IS A SKILL that needs to be learned.



You can check out my Youtube Channel for full Strength Training Workouts, hop on the waitlist for the upcoming 10 Week Online Small Group Fitness Program Get Into Fitness: Strength Foundations, or fill out a quick questionnaire to see if we are a good fit for 1 on 1 Online Coaching.