There’s a common misconception surrounding strength training and the effects it has on the male physique. People seem to think that the minute they start lifting heavy weights regularly that they are going to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Gaining large amounts of muscle mass is actually quite difficult and doesn’t just occur as a result of lifting weights exclusively.
The type of strength training you perform, the amount of sets and reps you complete, the exercises you choose to do, your sleeping pattern, your dietary habits and your consistency all play a role in the development of muscle mass.
The use of anabolic steroids as contributed heavily to the amount of muscle mass that professional body builders and strongman have been able to develop and can be somewhat misleading if they are not forthcoming about their drug use.
It’s far more complex than simply: Lift heavy -> Turn into Arnold = WRONG!
For the average Joe who wants to get in decent shape, following a professionally designed program, lifting weights 3 - 5 times per week and following a fairly strick diet regime focusing on gaining muscle mass, can expect to gain anywhere from 5 to 10 kilo's of muscle mass in a 12 month period and for most people, that's being generous.
There’s a lot of guys that will openly admit that they’d like to have more definition in the arms, chest and shoulders and would like to lose their gut but at the same time are not interested in looking like a body-builder and so they avoid following a regular strength training routine and opt for more cardiovascular based exercise like running, classes, bootcamps and circuit training.
The problem with that is, without having an adequate amount of muscle mass and losing the appropriate amount of body fat, you’ll never have the defined, athletic looking physique you’re after.
Strength training is the missing link for a lot of people when it comes to attaining their health and fitness goals and this is even greater for men over 30, here’s why.
#1 - The older you get, the more muscle mass you lose!
Have you heard of the term Sarcopenia? - The loss of skeletal muscle mass as a result of ageing.
The older you get the more muscle mass you lose and this becomes more significant during your 30’s. Physically inactive people can lose between 3% - 5% of their muscle mass per decade after 30.
Even seemingly healthy, active individuals lose muscle mass as a result of Sarcopenia. Any loss of muscle mass is a bad thing because it lessens mobility and causes weakness which can affect your daily life at work and when participating in regular exercise.
Sarcopenia mostly affects people who are inactive, but the fact that it also affects people who are physically active suggests there are other underlying factors that contribute to its development. Researchers believe these include:
A reduction in nerve cells that are responsible for sending signals from the brain to the muscles to start movement.
Lower concentrations of some hormones, including growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor.
A decrease in the ability to turn protein into energy.
Not getting enough calories or protein each day to sustain muscle mass.
The best defense against Sarcopenia? You guessed it, Strength Training!
But first, let me be clear about what I mean when I say Strength Training. I’m not talking about lifting light weights for hundreds of reps like people would in a pump class or circuit class.
By definition Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.
To build more muscle you must lift weights that are challenging enough to stimulate your body to grow and become stronger. Lifting light weights for high amounts of repetitions is not an ideal method of doing so.
Most guys see the best results by following an upper and lower body split training program 3 - 4 days per week using 6 - 12 reps per set and 3 - 5 sets per exercise with 3 - 5 exercises per muscle group per week.
#2 - Lifting weights helps you burn fat and build muscle at the same time.
The main benefit of Strength Training when following a weight loss diet is that it helps you retain the muscle mass you have and has the potential to build new muscle tissue whilst losing body fat.
This is called body recomposition, losing fat and gaining muscle mass. It’s a slow and steady process but when performed correctly over a consistent time frame it often yields far greater results compared to cardiovascular exercise and circuit training.
In comparison to just performing circuit training or cardiovascular exercise combined with a weight loss diet, you will also lose weight from lost body fat as well as from lost muscle mass which is not a good thing.
#3 - The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism.
Muscle mass is a lot more metabolically active, meaning your body burns more calories at rest just by having more muscle mass. This is because your muscles burn energy with every contraction, they also require more nutrients and blood flow which also requires more energy.
Whereas fat tissue on the other and is not very advantages at all and does not require much energy to keep in storage if any at all. For example, your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the total amount of calories your body needs per day to maintain your current weight and healthy bodily functions and is represented as a caloric value.
Jim, 35 years old, 183cms tall, 105kgs and 35% body fat. RMR = 1,844.2 Calories
John, 35 years old, 183cms tall, 105kgs and 30% body fat. RMR = 1,957.6 Calories
Now RMR does not include the additional energy (calories) you burn through exercise. So let’s say that both Jim and John work physically active jobs and workout 3 - 4 times per week. Their Total Daily Energy Expenditure would be:
Jim’s TDEE = 2,766.3 Calories
John’s TDEE = 2,936.4 Calories
Simply put the more muscle mass you have, the higher your RMR and the more calories you can consume from food and drink each day and remain in great shape.
#4 - Reduced risk of exercise induced and sports related injuries.
There’s nothing worse than getting out on the field with your mates or kicking a ball around with the kids and flaring up an old injury or incurring a new one due to weak muscles and tendons.
Strength training helps to build strength in your muscles and tendons which provide strength and stability to your joints and reduce the risk of injuries.
A lot of men suffer from knee, lower back and shoulder injuries which can be rehabilitated and strengthened by following a well structured Strength Training Program. Unfortunately, too many men avoid strength training for the fear of re-injuring themselves is too great. This is also another misconception that needs to disappear.
No exercise or movement is designed to inflict pain or injury, however, the way you perform an exercise or movement may. This is why having a highly experienced coach to guide you through each movement is essential for learning correct technique and for avoiding injury.
A poorly performed movement or exercise will always be a risk factor, no differently to safe work practices when it comes to lifting heavy objects or boxes. If you follow the correct lifting instructions, you’re perfectly safe. If you perform the movement incorrectly, it may lead to injury.
So there you have it.
My top 4 reasons why all men over 30 should be following a well structured Strength Training program, much like the Strength Training programs we run at Holeshot Fitness.not just for the changes it brings to their physique but for the long term health benefits and for a greater quality of life.
Speaking of which, here’s what one of our members had to say about our program recently:
(You know what they say, "Happy wife, happy life!")
If you’re a man over 30 and want to get in great shape, stay injury free and lead a healthier lifestyle click here to book in for a FREE no-obligation fitness consultation where we’ll discuss your current fitness levels, goals and aspirations along with how our programs work and what we can do to help you reach your goals.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Holeshot Fitness and Personal Training