My Weakest Link - Weight Training

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MY WEIGHT TRAINING ROUTINE

When I was in my 20's I was really into lifting weights for fitness. My two sons still tell stories of them riding on my back while I did lunges and push ups, etc. Involving them while getting exercise was my mode of operation. During my 30's and 40's I got into other types of exercises so didn't consistently lift. I now know that was a mistake. I find lifting the most difficult part of my fitness routine. My muscles don't respond the way they did and my interest is not as high, so my motivation is lacking. However, I believe lifting is one of the most important things I can do for my overall health. 

Due to injuries I am not able to lift heavy weights in ways that use my biceps and I have let that hold me back. This summer my weight lifting routine has been improving a lot and I have customized it to address my specific needs and limitations. As in all my posts, this is what I do and I am not recommending it for anyone else. My recommendation is to seek the advice of an experienced and well-educated specialist. Work with experts if you have any doubt and are new to any type of exercise or sport. 

I try to lift weights three times a week. I trail run every other day and then hike and lift weights on the alternating days. My hike warms my muscles up so I can lift without injury. I find it annoying that when I was young I could grab up my weights without warming up and work out. I now will seriously lock up if I try to do that. Ha! Ha! Right now I work my full body in one day, I use enough weight that I can do two sets of 10 to 12 reps of the arms, shoulders, chest, back, and legs. I also do core strengthening exercises. I started out doing one set of 8 to 10 reps and slowly worked my way up. I will continue to increase my reps and sets as well as change out the types of exercises I do. This is key to continually keep your muscles surprised. I am very cautious because of my experience. Nothing can make me sorer than over lifting. A little soreness is good because it means I am breaking down the muscles requiring my body to rebuild and come back stronger. Too much soreness is debilitating.

THE TRUTH

If you are over 40, 50 or 60 (the age varies with the individual), your musculature and the nerves that maintain and grow it are declining at an accelerated rate. The good news is that you can slow these changes and perhaps even reverse them slightly with exercise. If you are already exercising, keep at it. Don't count at being able to "get back in shape." Muscle development, especially the nerves that control muscle development, is one area in which it is easier to retain than to try to regain lost capabilities. 

I will talk about two recent findings that those of us over 50 should know about.

As we age, our diminished capacity to build muscle comes primarily from the loss of innervation. More neural tissue and connections means more efficient muscle development and maintenance. Recent research suggests that older people benefit more from heavy resistance training (e.g., weight lifting at 80% of capacity or greater) than from an equivalent amount of light resistance training that would build the same amount of muscle. Why? In the case of heavy resistance training, the growth of nerve connections and the efficiency of those connections is greater than when developing the same amount of muscle with light resistance training.

Similar benefits in innervation and “muscle age” accrue to what is called HIIT (high intensity interval training). In brief, HIIT consists of a series of short and very intense bursts of exercise, often 90 seconds, followed by a 90 second period of rest and repeating the cycle. Definitions of HIIT vary and you will get the impression on some websites that HIIT is limited to weightlifting. It is not. You can get the benefits of HIIT by running, weightlifting, rowing, wind sprints, or even doing jumping jacks.

Much is yet to be learned (and some of what we think we know will change) but enough is known to believe that HIIT may deserve a place in your overall exercise routine. In general, those of us in our 50's on up to 90’s or more, might benefit by adding some heavy resistance training to our weekly routine. Doing so will benefit muscle neurology, muscle mass, balance, bone density, and overall sense of wellness. We might also benefit from adding HIIT to our weekly routine for the same reasons. I have decided to balance my aerobic favorites (running and hiking) with a limited amount of HIIT and heavy resistance training. 

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That's it for this week! Thanks for stopping by!

Peace!

TIP
I talked about how I eat in an earlier post here and if your read it you know I am an intermittent faster. So I don't eat until around 11 AM each day. On my hike/weight lifting days after my hike between 10:30 and 11 AM, I make a protein drink and drink it before I lift weights. I take a jar and fill it with ice, add about 6 oz of black coffee and a scoop of a quality protein powder and shake it up. This is a serious treat because it tastes as good as a drink from Starbucks in my opinion. And it is very good for my body! 

If you have any topics you would like me to cover be sure to let me know! I have a million ideas, they come to me when I am out hiking or running!