“We’ve seen research on every age group, from children to men and women in their 90s, and it’s clear that you can get stronger at any age,” says Lou Schuler, co-author of the new book The New Rules of Lifting for Life.
This intriguing new book draws out long known truths about muscle strength and longevity. Simply put, the book explains how the strongest people live longer. Additionally the book explains smart and healthy ways for anyone to get in the weight room and get an effective workout.
The authors call-out some common problems seen by many who frequent the gym. For instance, they dispel the myth that women don’t need to lift heavy weights.
“Middle-aged and older women think their bones will shatter if they pick up a weight that’s heavier than their purse. There’s nothing stranger than seeing a woman do a bench press or bent-over row with a dumbbell that’s smaller than her forearm,” Schuler says.
Schuler explains how another common error to be found in the weight room is that of overweight individuals.
“Then you have the guy with a 40-inch waist who comes into the gym and spends the first half-hour working on his arms. Those are the only exercises he can do with weights that seem manly enough for him. First of all, what a total freaking waste of time. Here’s a guy with a body that, more than anything, needs exercise. It needs to move. And what’s he doing? He’s sitting on a bench, trying to move nothing but his elbow joints.”
“Sitting for hours at a time is probably the most dangerous thing we do on a daily basis,” Schuler says. “But when people go to the gym, young or old, what do they do? They sit. They sit on recumbent bikes, they sit down to do cable rows and lat pulldowns, they sit on benches to do shoulder presses. In between sets, they sit some more.”
These inhibitors are keeping many from reaping the benefits of strength training and taking advantage of the longevity opportunities.
“The great thing about strength training is that it addresses most of the major problems that sneak up on us as we get older. The average man or woman will lose about 1 percent of their muscle mass per year, starting in middle age. With muscle goes a lot of stuff we rarely think about — the thickness and strength of our tendons and ligaments, the size of our bones, the number of muscle fibers and nerves we can call on when we need them.”
These facts are hard to swallow, however, they also make the counter action of strength training seem less like a hobby and more like a necessity. We can’t stop from getting older, but clearly we don’t have to be weak as we age.