Sunday, November 29, 2015

Want to Increase Your Strength WIth Age?

Although there is no fountain of youth, strength training, also called weight lifting is clearly the best means for reversing many of the degenerative processes associated with aging.  It is also the best avenue for reducing the risk of many health problems common among older adults. (Fitness Professional's Guide to Strength Training Older Adults, Second Edition)

Muscle weakness is a major problem as people get older and it typically leads to physical frailty among adults as they enter their 70s and beyond.  However, regular strength training can reverse this scenario and it's never too late to reap the benefits of this form of exercise.  In one study with wheelchair users in a nursing home remarkable results in increased strength, and improved functional abilities were observed by patients who participated in a weight lifting program twice a week for 14 weeks.  On average these participates added 4 pounds of muscle, lost 3 pounds of fat, increased their upper-body strength by 40 percent, increased their leg strength by 80 percent, and reported significantly less discomfort in their neck, upper-back, and lower-back area.  More amazingly, most of these participates reduced or discontinued use of their wheelchairs.

Good news is the earlier you start a regular strength training routine, the greater the long-term benefits.  If you are approaching your 50s I highly recommend that you incorporate strength training into your fitness routine.  Checkout my Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced strength training routines at Forever Fit and Firm.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

You Were Made To Move

Many of the degenerative things that are associated with aging are caused more by a lack of exercise.  According to a 2007 report on Physical Activity and Public Health, co-published by the American College of Sports Medicine, and the American Heart Association, adults need regular aerobic and strength training exercises to promote and maintain health.  It's unfortunate most adults do not perform the minimum amount of physical activity required for health and fitness and this situation is even more magnified with age.

Lack of physical activity is obviously associated with obesity, but it's also linked to a variety of degenerative conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, breast cancer, anxiety, and depression.  These things are all the leading causes of death, and suffering today and they have more to do with lifestyle choice than with aging.

Your body was made to be active and reaping the benefits of exercise is not a difficult task. The minimum activity recommendation for adults are not hard to achieve.  For cardiovascular fitness, the guidelines call for moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days a week for a total of 150 minutes, (that's a brisk 30 minute walk 5 times a week).  For muscular fitness, the recommendation is 8 to 10 resistance exercises performed for one set of 10 to 15 repetitions, 2 or 3 days per week, ( this can be accomplished in 15 to 20 minutes).  So, all together that's only 3.5 hours of exercise per week.

It's really amazing when you think that it only takes a little over 3 hours out of your whole week to reap the benefits of physical activity in your life.  If you don't do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones, you owe it to them to stay healthy and fit.

Please checkout my complete strength training exercise routines at Forever Fit and Firm.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I'm Getting Older and I'm Gaining Weight

I'm a personal trainer and in my 20 plus years in the business I cannot tell you how many times I've heard stories like this, "As I get older, I'm gaining weight that I can't seem to lose.  I'm not eating anymore than normal, in fact I'm eating less.  I'm frustrated because I can't lose this weight and I don't know why."  Then, I ask them about their exercise habits and their reply is always similar to this, "Oh I walk or I jog several times a week and that's always helped me to lose weight."  If this scenario sounds familiar to you, I want to explain what is happening in your body and why it's harder to lose weight as you age.

When you were in your twenties you could walk or run an extra few miles each week and the unwanted weight just seemed to fall off.  That's because your muscle mass was at it's peak and consequently your metabolism was at it's highest level also.  Muscle tissue is active, so it uses large amounts of energy during exercise and requires a significant energy supply even when you are resting.  Even during sleep your muscles account for as much as 25 percent of the calories your body burns.

When you enter your thirties, your body starts to naturally lose muscle mass and if you don't do anything to combat it, this process accelerates with time.  You can lose as much as a half pound of muscle each year in your thirties and forties, and this rate of muscle loss doubles as you enter your fifties.  So, you can lose as much as 20 pounds of muscle by the time you reach your sixties which means a huge decrease in your metabolism, and thus your body is not able to burn as many calories when you exercise and when you are resting.  This is the reason you're gaining weight you can't seem to lose as you age.

The good news is that you can combat this process of losing muscle as you age through strength training on a regular basis.  More good news, it's never too late to reap the benefits of strength training.  People in their nineties can gain muscle through a proper strength training program.

In my next post I will show you how to incorporate a strength training program in your fitness routine.  In the meantime, you can find my favorite strength training programs at Forever Fit and Firm.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Weight Lifting and Protein, The Foundation for Strong and Healthy Muscles

Research is now revealing that maintaining your muscle mass is key to staying healthy and strong as you age.  The importance of muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function in the performance of exercise, as well as the activities of daily living has never been questioned. However, the role your muscles play in whole-body protein metabolism is less recognized.

Your muscle plays a central role in your whole-body protein metabolism by serving as the principle reservoir for amino acids to maintain protein synthesis (growth and regeneration) in vital tissues and organs in the absence of consuming enough protein in your diet.  In other words, if you don't get enough protein in your diet, your body breaks down your muscle mass in order to make the necessary amino acids you need to survive.

Additionally, new research points to a key role that muscle metabolism plays in the prevention of many pathologic conditions and chronic diseases.  Loss of muscle has been associated with weakness, fatigue, insulin resistance, fractures, and frailty. Thus, many of the degenerative conditions that are associated with aging are caused by poor muscle health.

The natural loss of muscle mass as a result of age is called Sacopenia, and it can begin in your 30s.  Left unabated this condition accelerates with time as your body starts tearing down old muscle faster than it can build new muscle tissue.  The good news is you can slow and in some cases reverse muscle loss as you age through regular weight lifting exercise, and getting the right amount of protein in your diet.

Scientific research is showing that weight lifting is one of the most effective ways of building and maintaining muscle mass as you age and here's why.  Lifting weights is a method of overloading your body through  exercise with a resistance that you are not accustomed to handling   In response your body adapts to this overloading process by building stronger muscles to accommodate the new demands.  Research says that by the time you reach middle age you should start lifting weights at least 2 times per week to retain your muscle.

Getting the proper amount of protein in your diet to maximize the effects of weight lifting is the most effective way to build and maintain your muscle mass especially as you age.  Protein is a necessary part of every living cell in your body.  Next to water, protein comprises the greatest portion of your body weight. Protein substances make up your muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, and many vital body fluids.  Your body uses the protein you eat for the vital functions of survival first before it devotes any for muscle building and repair.  Thus if you are not consuming enough protein in your diet optimal muscle building and repair doesn't happen.

While 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight has been the old the normal recommendation for daily protein intake, new studies show that 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight may be more beneficial in building, maintaining, and reducing muscle loss.  The goal of protein consumption should be to optimize muscle growth and repair and studies now reveal that consuming 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal is necessary for this to take place.

The combination of weight lifting and proper protein intake is crucial to maintaining strong and healthy muscles. Please visit Forever Fit and Firm for my complete weight lifting routines and Protein My Whey for the best quality and tasting protein supplement on the market.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Strong Legs Are the Foundation of a Strong Body

I often hear something like this on an initial consultation with a new client when I ask them about their exercise habits, "I do upper body exercise 2 to 3 times per week." Then I ask what about your legs? And their reply is always the same, "I run or walk several times per week and that keeps my legs pretty strong."

The common belief is that running or walking keeps your legs strong.  While running and walking are great activities for your cardiovascular health, they are not the best form of exercise to build strength in your legs; strength training is.  Building strong legs is the foundation to building a strong body just as building a solid foundation on a building is key having a strong structure.

Strength training develops your legs by forcing them to adapt to a resistance greater than your body weight.  Consequently, your body responds by recruiting more muscle fibers to move the additional load resulting in an increase is muscle strength not only in your legs but all over your body.  In addition strength training your legs causes your body to produce more testosterone and growth hormone.

Now that you see how important that having strong legs is, below is one of my favorite exercises for developing your legs.

The Leg Press

The leg press is one of the best exercises for overall strength and development of your legs.  First, sit in the seat, positioning your feet about shoulder width apart and chest high on the platform.   Adjust the seat height by pulling the handle and sliding forward until your thighs are parallel to the platform.  This is your start position (make sure that your lower back is pressed firmly against the back of the seat).  With your feet flat, slowly press upward until your legs are fully extended but short of locking.  Slowly return to the position where the weight almost touch the weight stack.  The breathing pattern for this exercise is to exhale as you press up and inhale as you return to the start.  Again, you will have to experiment to find a weight with which the last three repetitions are difficult to perform.

You can find my complete strength training routines at Forever Fit and Firm

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Build a Strong Upper Back With Dumbbell Rows

The dumbbell row is one of my favorite exercises for developing and strengthening the muscles of my upper back.

Hold a dumbbell in one hand, and place the opposite knee on a bench.  Lean forward, and place your other hand on the bench.  Step to your side with the other leg bending your knee slightly.  Proper form is very important on this exercise, so be careful that your lower back is not rounded.  Hold the dumbbell fully extended beneath your shoulder.  This is your starting position.  Now, slowly pull the dumbbell to underarm height, squeeze your shoulder blade toward your spine and return slowly to the start position.  The breathing pattern is to exhale as you pull the dumbbell toward you and inhale as you return to start.



You can find my complete workout routines at Forever Fit and Firm.