Lift heavy as you get older

More and more studies and personal experiences show that amassing muscle mass is crucial as we age. It is never too late to start training with weights.

When we are young, we want to appear cool and maybe even as the alpha male. At that age, going to gym seems more important than our career as our hormones have us chasing the opposite gender. Youngsters join aerobic or martial arts activities with the aim of staying slim & desirable forever.

When we cross into our thirties, suddenly the priorities and responsibilities shift and our exercise routine becomes erratic if not completely discontinued. 

While it is important that we remain flexible and limber through martial arts or yoga exercises, it is equally important to not lose muscle mass. As we get older, men and women lose muscle faster even if you are one of those people who continue visiting the gym beyond age 30 and 40 and 50. Why? Well, the body biology processes change. Reduction in endocrine function, physical activity and inadequate nutrition is the most usual, natural combination that causes loss of muscle.

However, the good news is that its never too late to grow muscle !

Not only will strength training, i.e. lifting and using weights in your exercise routine add muscle mass, it will also make you stronger than you were just a few years ago. 

Weight training also boosts mental health by giving you better self-image, release of hormones and the simple joy of knowing you are stronger than before.

Muscle will help with insulin sensitivity, improve cognitive power, develop cardiovascular health and increase bone density. You won't be one of those imbalanced frail old persons who falls and gets multiple injuries.

The key to strength training is what legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger has said a million times -- shock those muscles, surprise them. You have to not only change your sequence, but you also have to lift heavier than what you did a (few) months earlier. It is the only way to force the muscles to grow beyond the size they are at presently.

This means that you will do far less repetitions with the new heavy lifting -- maybe only 3 reps of one set will max out your day at the gym. Yet, this will make the muscle break down and grow again, and it will grow bigger and stronger.

Note that Bodybuilding and Strongman competitors are very different in their look and training. Competing strength athletes also differ from track and field specialists, and this reflects an entirely separate objective and approach. 

Apart from these obvious benefits, one can even look at the effort, concentration and co-ordination of doing heavy deadlifts or benchpress as a form of meditation. You have no other thought than the weight in your hands and its effect on your body. Proper form and absolute focus relieves you from worries about job, debts, rent, relationships, etc. All you know is in the moment. 

Its a very Zen moment; a pursuit of mindfulness !

Have you ever been surprised that you didn't even notice the music in the gym because you had been immersed in your strict 30 minute workout deadline? Isn't that feeling of freedom from the sensory organs one of the purposes of all meditation?

If you are new to lifting weights, always get a good coach. Yes, some gyms charge more for assigning a trainer to you, but at the beginning, that's important to avoid serious injuries. Think of it as an insurance if not an investment. Your posture, breath, even attire influences your exercise.

Free-weight exercises will give you a more complete workout than the various machines you see in modern gyms. The free-weight movements will be more effective in real life situations as well.

Also, when you have bigger muscles, they will burn more fuel (calories) even if you are just sitting on a couch doing absolutely nothing.

So eat right and pump that iron.

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Are you a senior citizen with experience in weight training? Write to us to share your fitness journey by email