MUSCLE AS MEDICINE
No matter your goal and/or motivation, I’m going to make the case that resistance training should be moved up a few notches on your priority list. What I’m here to tell you may actually just save your life. I’m here to take a stand for you, your health and your longevity. No matter what your current activity level is, there is no judgment, just an observation and an opportunity to better your own life and those around you.
What are your motivations or lack thereof when it comes to resistance training (ie. using weights to increase strength and muscle mass)? You may just want to look good, you may have specific fitness goals in mind, or you may train once in a while because you feel like you should.
Maybe you’re reading this and know exactly what category you fit into, but do you know why? The one thing that all the above people share is that they are all operating based on their level of knowledge. Knowing HOW to achieve what you want is the first step to achieving it.
My name is David Downey and I’m the owner and head coach of OPEX Santa Barbara, a company that is dedicated to honoring individuals and their goals by creating a fitness program that is tailored to meet their unique needs. At OPEX Santa Barbara, education is as important to us as fitness itself and the importance of resistance training cannot be emphasized enough, especially in the context of health.
One of the biggest concerns for me as a strength coach is that as people age, loss of skeletal muscle mass is inevitable. If this is not addressed earlier in life the results can be shockingly detrimental.
First, let’s talk about what happens without resistance training and the potential side effects that come down the line. For most people, muscle loss begins in their 30’s and 40’s and this continues on a gradual decline of up to 8% per decade until the age of 70. Thereafter, if no resistance training continues, muscle loss can be as much as 15%! More recent studies show these numbers to be even higher!
So what, right? That’s a long way away, why would you worry about muscle loss now?
Think about it this way, suppose you decided, at the age of 30, that resistance training just isn’t worth the effort, and not a priority. Then, when you’re 40 you start to notice an increase in aches and pains in your joints and/or gut, then a decrease in sex drive (hormonal decline) and mood swings. Then in your 50’s you start to show signs of cognitive decline, memory loss, weight gain (blood sugar problems), your immune system can’t fight off infection (lack of protein), so you may be getting sick on a regular basis. By your mid 60’s you have osteoporosis and you’ve had a fall and don’t have the ability to recover.
Whoa, that doesn’t sound like a path anyone would want to end up on, given the choice, right?
This is where resistance training comes in. When we look at body composition, skeletal muscle represents up to 40% of total body mass and contains 50-75% of all your body’s proteins.
Why is this important? Because adding muscle adds more mitochondria (the energy source for your body), which helps muscles receive oxygen and breakdown proteins! Proteins are then broken down into amino acids, which help to repair, recover and grow the muscle for the next time you workout. Resistance training and building muscle are also known to help improve health biomarkers such as cholesterol, testosterone and even oxygen levels. Combine that with the ability to improve insulin sensitivity, and you have discovered the fountain of youth – muscle!
Fueling your body with the proper nutrition and creating a balanced lifestyle (ample water, great sleep, healthy emotions) are also crucial to fight aging. By educating yourself about the importance of strength training, the likelihood that you’ll start to incorporate the proper fuel and improve lifestyle choices goes up exponentially.
So let’s do a quick recap:
What are the major benefits of resistance training?
- Increase in beneficial hormones
- Increase in energy, mood, and body composition
- Improved key health markers
- Works towards reversing chronic disease
- Empowers you to reach the health you’ve always wanted
What are the major downsides to avoiding resistance training?
- Loss of tissue & bone mass
- Increase in inflammation and obesity
- Blood sugar problems
- Hormonal declines and decreased libido
- Immune system problems
- Cognitive and emotional challenges
Key Takeaways for Women:
- Strong is the new skinny
- Don’t be afraid of getting “Bulky”, in general, women don’t have enough testosterone.
- Women are WAY STRONGER than they give themselves credit for
- If the gym intimidates you, face it head-on. Throw out your preconceived notions about the gym, men don’t rule it. You deserve to be there, taking a stand for your health!
- Eat MORE quality food!
- Most women undereat during the day, leaving them in a calorie deficit which favors the breakdown of tissues where muscle growth can’t happen.
Key Takeaways for Men:
- You think you’re busy? Prioritize.
- Resistance training doesn’t have to be complicated, nor take 3 hours to accomplish each session. Find the right balance that enhances your daily life, not detracts from it.
- You don’t have to lift the biggest weight in the gym to get stronger.
- Many times, with proper motor control work, strength is built through lighter weights, lot of reps and adequate amounts of time under tension. Strength takes time and commitment.
- More volume & intensity is usually not the answer
- The truth is that it always depends, but if your goal is to live long and prosper, 3-4 days of carefully designed strength work can lead to a lifetime of strength and health improvement.
Lastly, muscle loss doesn’t discriminate, it happens for both men and women. The good news is that now you know exactly what you need to do to start fighting it off! It doesn’t matter where you are in life, there is never a bad time to start resistance training.
So what now? Well, resistance training works best if you have a plan, set measurable/attainable goals and work to achieve them diligently. At OPEX Santa Barbara, our goal is to help you achieve the health and fitness you never thought was possible. Working with a coach that understands YOU and what YOU want to accomplish, is the best step you can take to help fight off muscle loss and the inevitable downward spiral we often call aging!
Want to know more? Schedule your FREE Discovery Call by clicking HERE!