Resistance Training as I get Older

Including strength training into your exercise routine as your aging will not only improve your daily life but extend your independence long after retirement.

Treat strength training like your retirement plan

If planning your finances to have a good retirement in the future, you should also consider what your health and well being will also look like at that stage.

Once over the age of 30 we start to see muscle loss of 3-8% every decade. From 50+ this percentage escalates.Muscle loss as we age

How does Muscle loss effect my future?

Previously I wrote a blog on redefining “your normal”. It’s a continuously changing shape, molded by your own abilities and limited by fears, lifestyle and lack of challenging the boundaries.

Loosing muscle with age has shown that balance and walking pattern deteriorates, which increases the risk of falling. This reinforces fear and the walls of normal slowly close in.

The other factor with a decline in muscle mass is that bone density follows the same path. This is not a great combination; high falls risk and low bone density.  Leaving that next fall to be potentially the next fracture.

That’s got the doom and gloom out the way!

How does resistance training fit in?

Resistance training comes in all shapes and forms. Using the right type of training should reflect on the individuals health, abilities, mobility and understanding of movement to ensure safety.

It’s well known that resistance training helps to increase muscle mass and strength. To achieve these changes there needs to be a physical and metabolic stress to exceed the demand of the muscle. This increased demand helps to stimulate muscle growth.

By applying this type of training 2-3 times per week we can slow the effects of aging and maintain the levels of independence well into our retirement age.

Resistance training can be as simple as body weight movements, gym machines, free weights, all the way to TRX suspension or High intensity training such as CrossFit.

Be careful what you read about strength training

The distorted truth through the media, of weightlifting is that it’s not safe and will cause you to suddenly have super inflated muscles. While this might be true for professional lifters that have dedicated their lives to their sport, for the average person it will provide strength and improve body composition.

The deadlift and squat are compound movements and we use them in everyday tasks. These are essential movements, when we lift things of the ground or pick the kids up we use these types of movements. Getting stronger at them will protect us from injury.

Recently there’s been some outcries from highly regarded health professionals in the States after Readers Digest published a bold article listing exercises that are “dangerous” for individuals over 50 year old. Without evidence to support these statements.

Here’s to name a few:-

  1. Push-ups
  2. Squats with weights
  3. Bench press
  4. Burpees
  5. Pull-ups
  6. Deadlift

The above list of movements all have a level of function to play in your day to day life and completely avoiding them would only lead to further weakness. The video below by the institute of Clinical excellence shows the varying resistance exercises elderly people are able to achieve.

It’s never too late

As we age there’s still potential not just to maintain but also build muscle even going into your 60’s. It is important though to find the right level of training that matches your current level of fitness and not your expectations from years gone by.

If your at a gym, a trainer might be able to guide you with the correct exercises. You may want to get professional medical advice with a specific exercise programme to match your level of conditioning and prevent injury.

What’s important is that you put some resistance training back into your life and see the improvements in your general well being.

 

References

Volpi et al (2004) Muscle tissue changes with aging

Ambrose et al (2013) Risk factors for falls among older adults: a review of the literature

Edwards M, et al. (2013) Muscle size, strength and physical performance and their association to bone structure.

Seguin, et al (2003) The benefits of strength training for older adults

The Holiday Workout

Most of us when on Holiday completely switch off from exercise. If you don’t want to miss out on training try some of these workouts.

This blog follows on from The Office Workout I published a few months ago. There are times we neglect exercise, most commonly in the Office and when taking time off, going on holiday.

The usual story is you’ve been training hard all year and then go on vacation. At home you’re a finely tuned machine with a strict routine. In holiday mode, that routine usually goes out the window. Now try not to fear, a week away from the gym will not cause significant losses in muscle mass or fitness.

But if you’re feeling fidgety and can’t just lie in the sun, I’ve put together some options. Also try making some up yourself, get creative with the movements you use in the gym.

Take a rope…

One of the easiest pieces of equipment you can take away. It’s small and light to carry. Work on singles or doubles. Develop your technique and surprise your training buddies when you get back.

75DU’s – 50 air squats – 25 burpees – 20 push ups – 25 burpees – 50 air squats – 75DU’s

Other DU options….

30 HSPU/Push ups – 40 Mountain limbers – 50 Sit ups – 60 Squats – 70DU’s

3 rounds: 20 DU’s – 30 Walking Lunges – 40 Push ups – 30 Squats – 20 V-sit ups – 10 Burpees

Use the ocean…

Unless you’re a CrossFit Games athlete, how often are you doing interval training with swimming?  Find a quite section of beach and jump in the water.

8 Rounds: 100m swim – 10 Push ups – 15 Sit ups

Other swimming options…

30 mins AMRAP 50m Swim – 10 Push ups – 15 Air squats

15 mins AMRAP 50m Swim – 30 seconds treading – 50m Swim 

Use the Beach…

The sand creates another challenge of instability that you don’t have in the gym. Train in the sand to make the workout harder.

5 Rounds: 10 Push ups – 15 Air squats – 50 Walking lunges – 10 Burpees

21 – 15 – 9 Push ups and Air squats – 400m run each round

15m Bear Crawl – 20 Push ups – 15m Crab Walk – 20 Squats – 15m Burpees broad jumps – 20 Mountain Climbers

Get Creative

Think of other possible ways of training on holiday. They might not always work but it’s worth trying.

What’s in a warm up?

There’s a misconception with the warm up, that it’s mainly used to raise the heart rate and body temperature. But there’s much more to this part of your workout. If applied appropriately it can enhance your overall performance.

Warming up before sport or any strenuous activity it’s important to reduce the risk of injury (1-3). For the typical adult most of the day is sedentary (sitting or standing). Would you expect to jump straight into your fastest 100m sprint or complete a heavy dead lift? No is hopefully your answer.

What structures am I warming up?

Vascular System

When you move, changes happen to your circulatory system. There is increased blood flow to muscles, resulting in increased oxygen supply, along with delayed lactate buildup. 

Myofascial System

During the warm up the muscle and fascia (the connective tissue between muscles) begin to increase in temperature. Muscle fibers are prepped for a smoother contraction. A warm up allows fascia to slide easier.

Nervous System

This is the most important part of a warm up. Your nervous system is connected to every other system in your body. A warm up causes increased neural activity, increased sensitivity of nerve receptors and increased speed of nerve impulses. This provides improved balance, faster reaction times, increased speed, strength and flexibility. 


Warming Up Excites Neural Pathways

The nervous system is constantly responding to a multitude of sensory information to adjust muscle tension, movement patterns and balance. If a light jog was your standard “warm up”, but you’re training for heavy dead lifts. Will you have channeled the right neural pathways for this activity?

There’s a study showing improvements in vertical jump performance following sets of squat repetitions (4). It also demonstrated increased EMG neural activity following the squats.

A baseball study showed improvements in batting speed following warm ups with a weighted bat (5). This enhanced the neural motor pattern of this movement providing more speed and strength.


What’s in a warm up?

Really a lot depends on what you’re preparing for. Consider what muscle groups and movement patterns need to be primed. You need to be firing up your neuromuscular system and increasing your heart rate to enhance the vascular system.

Mobility – If you’re not doing this in your spare time, then check-in 10 minutes earlier to do foam rolling or some static stretches for those notorious tight areas.

Cardio – The best way of increasing your heart rate is a light jog or cycle, jump on the rower or practice some skipping.

Dynamic movements – This is where our nervous system gets kick started. Working on these movements will fire up movement patterns used when performing. These movements should engage our core stabilisors of the spine.

Plyometrics – Implementing this into your warm up will help fine tune your motor skills and ensure precision when training.

Explosive strength – Once going through the above warm ups. It helps to use extra resistance to improve those neural connections. Back squats before box jumps. Chest passing medicine ball for passing speed. Weighted overhead throw for spiking or serving.

Take the warm up seriously. By incorporating these actions to your warm up you will see great results and minimise injury.

  1. Emery et al, (2010) The effectiveness of a neuromuscular prevention strategy to reduce injuries in youth soccer: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. 
  2. McCrary et al, (2015) A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. 
  3. Al Attar et al, (2016) How Effective are F-MARC Injury Prevention Programs for Soccer Players? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med
  4. Sotiropoulos et al, (2010) Effects of Warm-Up on Vertical Jump Performance and Muscle Electrical Activity Using Half-Squats at Low and Moderate Intensity. J Sports Sci and Med
  5. McCrary et al, (2015) A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. Br J Sports Med

Best Drinks for Hydration

Keeping hydrated is important to maintain a healthy functioning body. This study examines different fluids to find the most effective hydrator.

Maughan 2016

Staying hydrated is important to us all. Following an intense workout or long run a high volume of water will have been lost through sweat. Keeping well hydrated has been shown in studies to help with brain function, recovering from injury, muscle growth, improving sleep and mental health.

What’s your go to drink to keep hydrated?

There was a study published in 2016 by Ron Maughan, investigated the beverage hydration index. Fluids that are consumed need to be retained. If you’re drinking a big glass of water but the peeing the same volume out, this is not effective hydration.

Maughan was looking at several different fluids, using water as the base to compare the other drinks from. Following the consumption of fluid, urine was measured over 2 hours and then compared with the volume consumed. There were some obvious results like coffee having a poor hydration index. Some surprising results with milk being one of the better fluids retained, results close to expensive electrolyte drinks. It is thought that the milk content slows down the absorption of water, which results in less fluid extracted by the kidneys.

Important to consider when trying to rehydrate. Other than just drinking water consider putting in some lemon or a small amount of sea salt (the potassium and sodium help slow down the water absorption). This was the first study of its kind. Hopefully there’ll be future studies about post exercise related hydration drinks.

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Original Abstract

BACKGROUND: The identification of beverages that promote longer-term fluid retention and maintenance of fluid balance is of real clinical and practical benefit in situations in which free access to fluids is limited or when frequent breaks for urination are not desirable. The postingestion diuretic response is likely to be influenced by several beverage characteristics, including the volume ingested, energy density, electrolyte content, and the presence of diuretic agents.

OBJECTIVE:This study investigated the effects of 13 different commonly consumed drinks on urine output and fluid balance when ingested in a euhydrated state, with a view to establishing a beverage hydration index (BHI), i.e., the volume of urine produced after drinking expressed relative to a standard treatment (still water) for each beverage.

DESIGN: Each subject (n = 72, euhydrated and fasted male subjects) ingested 1 L still water or 1 of 3 other commercially available beverages over a period of 30 min. Urine output was then collected for the subsequent 4 h. The BHI was corrected for the water content of drinks and was calculated as the amount of water retained at 2 h after ingestion relative to that observed after the ingestion of still water.

RESULTS: Total urine masses (mean ± SD) over 4 h were smaller than the still-water control (1337 ± 330 g) after an oral rehydration solution (ORS) (1038 ± 333 g, P < 0.001), full-fat milk (1052 ± 267 g, P < 0.001), and skimmed milk (1049 ± 334 g, P < 0.001). Cumulative urine output at 4 h after ingestion of cola, diet cola, hot tea, iced tea, coffee, lager, orange juice, sparkling water, and a sports drink were not different from the response to water ingestion. The mean BHI at 2 h was 1.54 ± 0.74 for the ORS, 1.50 ± 0.58 for full-fat milk, and 1.58 ± 0.60 for skimmed milk.

CONCLUSIONS: BHI may be a useful measure to identify the short-term hydration potential of different beverages when ingested in a euhydrated state.

Maughan et al, (2016) A randomized trial to assess the potential of different beverages to
affect hydration status: development of a beverage hydration index. Am J Clin Nutr