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Staying Strong!


When we are born, we start moving, crawling then walking because we build strength and skills like muscle control, balance, and coordination…. From the age of 30 onwards we experience a decline in these skills of around 3-8% per decade and this rate of decline is higher beyond 60 years of age… The loss of muscle mass, strength & function is termed Sarcopenia and the only way to slow the process down is through strength training… It seems then the way we enter this world is the way we will exit it, that is trying to build strength to function…


Unfortunately, sarcopenia alone will unlikely convince the majority to start using weights or perform any other training that will help but considering the undeniable benefits in body shape and image that strength training brings with plenty of research backing it up may help you pursue a more strength-based approach to your health…


It’s common knowledge that strength training increases muscle mass which leads to increased metabolism and as a result improves fat loss… a distinct advantage over cardio is that building muscle has a prolonged effect that will require extra calories for hours after the session so this will help reduce body fat.. research has also shown strength training to improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels, therefore diabetics or those struggling with glucose levels or insulin resistance will benefit…


In general terms strength training will improve bone mineral density, lipoprotein profiles, glycaemic control, body composition, symptoms of frailty, metabolic syndrome risk factors, cardiovascular disease markers and increase testosterone & growth hormone production… Additionally strength training has been reported to improve the various dimensions of body image, including the subjective, affective, perceptual, behavioural, and cognitive dimensions.


Ok so we’ve touched on some key benefits to strength training that are clear but the problem for most is finding the best way to do so especially if your background has been either no exercise, cardio based or very random inconsistent periods of resistance type training etc… There is no easy answer to this despite plenty of research backed guidelines suggesting type, frequency, volume, and recovery protocols etc that work but even these can be vague and not suitable largely due to individual lifestyle reasons, personal preference, or lack of understanding… In fact I know many people who are just afraid to do weights for various reasons… All this being said I have a simple evidence-based solution that will suit all levels of experience…


There are many different ways to build strength and muscle that without professional guidance can quite frankly be confusing and done incorrectly… However, if we consider Herman’s size principle which states that as more force is needed, motor units within muscles are recruited in a precise order according to the magnitude of their force output, with small units being recruited first, thus exhibiting task-appropriate recruitment. This basically means the heavier you lift the larger muscle fibres will be recruited and this makes you stronger… However, I’m guessing most people reading this will lack the training experience of lifting heavy therefore cannot express maximum muscle contractions very well…. In this case I suggest lifting a weight until near muscular failure each set as researchers believe lifting sub-maximal loads for higher reps will stimulate the higher threshold muscle fibres because they will be recruited once the lower threshold ones are fatigued….


This may still sound confusing but here is a simple way to train for strength with this in mind using 4 moves done twice per week 3-4 days apart with each set done to near muscular failure… I would use your form failing on the last 2 reps as a judge of near muscular failure and try to increase the weight each week if possible… If you manage program A successfully for 4 weeks hitting most sessions, then progress onto program B for another 4 weeks using the same sets and rest…


4-5 Sets of each with 75 secs rest between… Focus on completion of all sets on one exercise before moving onto the next…


PROGRAM A


Goblet Squat x 12

Incline Dumbbell Shoulder Press x 12

Alternating Dumbbell Reverse Lunge x 10 (5 per side)

Incline Bench Rows x 12


PROGRAM B


Barbell Back Squat x 10

Low Incline Barbell Bench x 10 (set bench 1 notch lower than Program A height)

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift x 10

Single arm supported Dumbbell Rows x 10 per side


Hope this helps and you will find plenty of video demos of these exercises online, but I can answer any questions you have by dropping me an email including any coaching enquiries to help you build strength and improve shape


Stay Strong!


Andy

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