Why weight train?
From The E-Fitness Times, October 2018
Why weight training?
It is recommended that for optimum health the body should engage in cardiovascular activity five times a week (60 minutes moderate activity each time), flexibility training five times as well (30 minutes at a time) and resistance training three times a week (45 minutes each). The caveat within all this, which we have to figure out for ourselves, is that most of us still have to work, cook, clean, take care of others, study, create, take care of ourselves, read, socialize, relax and somewhere in there still find eight hours to sleep! Needless to say, this physical endeavour is often difficult to achieve, let alone to cultivate into some type of routine. This is where I'm a believer of pick-and-choose. You only have one life, fitness and health should be a part of it so you can enjoy that life, but try to make sure you enjoy the element of fitness that you choose to do. That being said, if brisk walks are your thing, and you're over the age of 40, it's very important to carve out some time for weights and here's why:
The body is a very smart creation and learns how to adapt very well. If there's a simple way of doing it, the body will cheat and figure out how. The older we are, the more ways our body has figured out how to cheat the system. To invoke change in our bodies we need to test it with heavier weights and/or different exercises. When the body is challenged by a slightly greater than normal stress or stimulus we can expect physiological change. This progress happens when you go from lifting arms without weights to lifting arms with a 3lbs weight, going from 3lbs to 5lbs and similarly going from a body weight squat to a squat with 8lbs weights on your shoulders. Stimulating the body, even just a little, will spark a physiological change and in weight training this results in an improvement in physical fitness.
Reduce the risk of injury
When done properly, weight training not only strengthens the muscle you're exercising but all the tendons, bones and connective tissue between the muscles. For this reason, slow, controlled, and precise lifting is most beneficial. Anytime a limb is lifted, or the torso is moved off center, small stabilizing muscles should be used. You'll notice I said "should", not "will" be used. Often the big guns like the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, biceps, triceps, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius happily get involved and take over the show. I've only mentioned nine muscles. The body can have as many as 850 muscles (varies between 640-850)! The stronger the smaller muscles around our joints are, the less likely we are to injure ourselves.
Regardless of what the scale says, a body with a high percentage of body fat poses many threats to good health. Strength gains in the muscle improve the body's composition, increasing the amount of lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is. As we age there is a natural loss of lean body mass but, challenging the body with proper weight lifting - working with weights on the heavier side of your comfort level - thereby stimulating lean muscle mass growth, we can slow this process down.
How can I do this safely?
Fatigue and form are you best and safest tools to use to figure out if you've gone too far. Listen to your body and pay attention to what you're doing. Weight training should be done with perfect form. Fatigue and form go hand in hand. Once you feel tired your form will go and that's when you stop. This either means that you're finished doing that exercise, or you drop down to a lower weight or no weights to finish the set. It is also particularly important, when you are increasing your weights to stretch these newly challenged muscles. Strong muscles still need to be supple and agile to prevent tears and pulls.