Muscle-Up: Aging and Weight Training
I’m not that old, but the older I get and the longer I train clients, the more I realize how important weight training truly is. And I’m not talking about those dinky one-pound weights; I’m talking about real weights — something that gets your heart pumping and your muscles shaking, something that weighs more than my purse. Weight training dominates my own personal workouts, and if you’re over 30 years old, I highly recommend you make this a regular part of your fitness routine.
We don’t quit playing because we age, we age because we quit playing. - George Bernard Shaw
The fact is, even though you might not care as much about how your muscles look as you did in your 20s (but then again, you might, it is swimsuit season year-round here!), you certainly care about how your muscles function.
Without weight training, your muscles will lose mass and if you don’t do anything to stop it, you can expect to lose about 15 percent of your muscle mass between your 30s and your 80s — just by existing. That’s right, the old saying “use it or lose it” actually means something.
Muscle loss occurs gradually, so you might not even realize it’s happening until you notice the major side effects:
- Increased risk of falls and fractures
- Muscle and skeletal weakness
- Impaired ability to regulate body temperature
- Slower metabolism
- Loss in the ability to perform everyday tasks
- Lower energy
- Diminished brain function
So by helping you maintain your muscle mass and strength, strength training can, quite literally, give you the ability to keep on living. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that strength training is only for body builders. Strength training is good for everyone, and the sooner you get started, the greater the benefit. The fountain of youth truly does exist—in the weight room! Even if you’re in your 90s, it’s not too late!
Before you start any strength-training program, please consult a medical professional and find an educator or well-qualified trainer. If you are at all concerned with how much weight to lift or proper technique, don’t be afraid to ask an instructor. I hope that you, too, will begin to enjoy the positive effects of strength training.