Chapter 6 - Strength Training



 

STRENGTH TRAINING - INTRODUCTION

There is no doubt among anti-aging experts that strength training should be an integral part of any anti-aging exercise program. The reason is simple: our body mass decreases by 6-10% with each decade after age 30. By age 70, we only have approximately 50% of our body strength left. Have you ever noticed how an elderly gentleman shakes hands with you? The fact the handshake is very weak is sometimes not because he does not want to shake hard, but rather because the body's ability to effect a strong handshake is no longer there. Decrease in body strength leads to decrease in function, less energy, less balance, and increase accident rate (the 7th leading cause of death among the elderly). Increased strength, therefore, decrease chances of accident and increases longevity.

 

STRENGTH TRAINING STRENGTHENS THE OLDEST

In 1994, Dr Maria Fiatarone, M.D. of the Human Nutrition Research Center of Aging of Tufts University in Boston, gave multi-nutrient supplement and exercise training to a group of men and women, between ages of 63 and 98, in a nursing home. 83% required a cane, walker or wheelchair and 66% had fallen before. Despite all this, they went through a high intensity, progressive weight training for 45 minutes, 3 times a week for 10 weeks. These patients did 3 sets of exercise on traditional weight machines. In only 10 weeks the results were remarkable. The muscles of these elderly grew in size and their strength increased with the greatest benefit seen in those who were weakest to begin with but who did not have severe muscle atrophy. Also noted was a significant increase in mobility after the study as compared to before. Patients were able to walk faster and climb steps more easily. Three exercisers graduated from a walker to a cane, compared to one person from a group of non-exercising control, who went from a cane to a walker during that same period of time. Muscle strength increase by 174% on the average and the walking speed increase by 50%. Yes, it's amazing but real!

 

EXERCISE AND GROWTH HORMONE

Exercise, especially strength training exercise send a wake-up call to your pituitary gland to release growth hormone (growth hormone is a key anti-aging hormone). While the exact mechanism is not completely understood, there is no doubt that exercise stimulates growth hormone release, which has major significant benefits in increasing longevity. Aerobic exercise also results in persistent, long-term release of growth hormone in spurts in the blood for 2 hours or even longer after you stop exercise. Strength training like weight training causes spurts of growth hormone to stimulate in the release in the body as well. It is particularly interesting to note that while moderate intensity of aerobic type exercise is sufficient to cause maximum stimulation of growth hormone release (moderate intensity exercise is defined as 40-50% of maximum oxygen obtained, high intensity is 70%). It has been found that weight training at 70% of maximum lift causes free flow increase in growth hormone release. At 85% of maximum lift capacity there is a four-fold increase in growth hormone release into our body.

 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANTI-AGING STRENGTH TRAINING AND BODY BUILDING

From an anti-aging perspective, the primary goal is to maintain muscle tone and maintain muscle strength. You have the option of building muscle size for the purposes of entering a body building competition if you so wish. Since the goals are different, the techniques and methodology are also different. From an anti-aging perspective, we want to achieve the following major benefits:

  1. Increase in strength, to decrease accident and increase longevity.
  2. Burn calories and lose weight, replacing body fat with lean muscle mass.
  3. Reduce depression and relief stress.

 

BENEFITS OF STRENGTH TRAINING

One important result of strength training is the increase in physical performance as measured by your strength. Stronger muscles enable you to lift and move things that are heavy. A stronger muscle also provides endurance regardless of what hobby, sports or day-to-day activities that you do. From an anti-aging perspective, the primary goal is not really to increase the size of the muscle but rather, to tone the muscle in such a way that the fat is replaced by the lean muscle mass. It is not unusual for those who are in strength training program to gain a few pounds of muscle as well as 30-40% more in strength and in endurance after 10-12 weeks of consistent weight strength-training. This is achievable. The result of such strength-training program is that the body composition changes. Take an average 170-pound man with 20% body fat, there is 34 pounds of fat and 136 pounds of lean body mass. After strength training, provided everything remains unchanged, he has now 17% fat with 29 pounds of fat weight and 141 pounds of lean body weight. This change in body composition will have a direct effect on the appearance that results in firmer look.

 

STRENGTH TRAINING AND METABOLIC IMPROVEMENT

As we grow older, we generally lose about half a pound of muscle every year as well as half a percent reduction in the basal of metabolic rate. A reduction in the basal of metabolic rate means your body is less able to use the food to convert into energy. As a result, more of the calories that you consume are turned into fats. This is the reason that as you grow older, your body composition changes automatically without you doing anything. You notice that you are getting more fat with less muscle. This is natural and will happen if you don't do anything. Therefore, if you are interested in maintaining your body composition as when you are young, you have to be on a strength-training program. One of the biggest mistakes that people make when starting a weight management program is that they fail to incorporate exercise or a strength-training program.

 

STRENGTH TRAINING VERSUS MUSCLE SIZE

There is a common misconception especially among women that strength training will inevitably lead to muscle sizes. While increase in muscle size is a component of resistance training, the degree of size of muscle increase is subject upon the techniques and the program of strength training exercises. You can actually increase fitness, increase muscle tone and firmness of the muscle without increase in muscle size if you know how to do it.

Doing a few reps of (4-6) and increasing the weight will lead to increase in muscle size. If you want to be like Mr. Universe, you really have to do strength training. You must lift 2 ton a day and consume 4,000-5,000 kilocalories per day.

Doing more reps (15-20) with lower weights will lead to increase in muscle tone and endurance. In anti-aging, you want both, though you should do about 10-12 reps of each strength training exercise.

 

DECREASE THE RISK OF INJURY, REDUCE RATE OF ACCIDENT

Accident is a major leading cause of death in the elderly. This is especially so in women who already have a disadvantage of having onset of osteoporosis after menopause. Our muscles serve as supporting structure for our skeletal framework. They are the shock absorbers that allow us to balance ourselves so that we do not fall and to act as cushions when we do fall. Strong muscles translate into fewer accidents as we are better balanced.

 

STRENGTH TRAINING TERMINOLOGY

Exercise - the actual strength training complete movement of the muscle group being performed. For example the biceps curl is an exercise.

Repetitions or reps - one full movement of the exercise from start to the prescribed end-point and back to the original starting position is called a rep. Often you perform each exercise every repetitions, usually between 10-15, depends on your experience level and interest.

Sets - This refers to a complete number of reps. For example, doing a bench press 12 consecutive times will complete 1 set. Usually, 1-3 sets make up one exercise routine. The pause between sets is usually 1-1.5 minutes and this allows muscles to retain enough strength to complete the next set effectively.

Positive phase - This is the phase of the exercise that requires your muscles to contract. When you are doing a bench press for example, the positive phase is when you press the weight upwards, away from your body.

Negative phase - This is the phase whereby you slowly allow the weight to return to home position. When this happens, your muscle strengthens. For example, for the biceps curl, the negative phase is when you slowly lower the weight back down until your arms extend straight.

 

HOW MUCH TIME REQUIRED FOR STRENGTH TRAINING

Most anti-aging experts agree that devoting 20-30 minutes to strength training 2-3 times a week is sufficient for strength and muscle development. Strength training need not be complicated. Imagine 20-30 years ago, when weight machines were not prevalent, you could still have a strong body. While machines help us to focus on certain muscles and make our job easier, it is by no means the only way to attain strength training. Strength training can be accomplished through a variety of modulates depending on the type of equipment you have.

 

STRENGTH TRAINING WITH NO EQUIPMENT

Contrary to popular belief, effective strength building exercise does not require fancy machinery. For example, a simple push-up is sufficient to strengthen the chest, upper back and shoulder muscles. Similarly, you can do a back extension for lower back muscles and a pelvic tilt for the buttock muscles. For the lower extremities, the lunge is an excellent exercise. For the calf muscles, a simple but effective heel raise is all you need. For the biceps, you can do pull-ups and for the triceps, you can do a triceps bench dip. All these exercises do not require any machinery and can be done on the go anywhere or virtually any place. Most of them can be done either in a sitting or standing position, whether you are on a plane or standing on a subway. The question is whether you have the know-how and the knowledge of how to perform these exercises and most importantly, take the time and energy to do it. A complete set of such exercise does not take more than 5-10 minutes.

 

STRENGTH TRAINING WITH DUMB BELLS

Dumb bells are cheap and effective ways to increase resistance and provide good and lasting strength training. Again, do not be intimidated by a full set of dumb bells, which you think you may need to build your body. Simple dumb bells with weight from 15-30 pounds for men and 10-20 pounds for women is often all that you need to get started for anti-aging purposes. Dumb bells are convenient in the sense that they don't take up much space at all. You can use them at home and you don't have to go to the gym. You only need 1 set of dumb bells to work all 11 major muscle groups. However, you do need to know how to use them properly. For example, you can do squats with dumb bells, which will increase the tone of your lower extremity as well as your hamstrings. The calf raise increases the strength of calf muscles; dumb bell biceps curl for the biceps and kick-backs for the triceps, flies for the chest and the seated press for upper back are just some of exercises that may be done with dumb bells.

 

STRENGTH TRAINING WITH BAR BELL

If you are fortunate enough to have the space, and to accommodate a barbell and a bench, you are able to do more exercises than you are otherwise would just with dumb bells or if you have no equipment at all. While all the major muscle groups of your body can be trained without the barbell, the barbell allows us to develop maximum strength through resistance. Exercises such as the bench press for the chest, or the overhead press for the back, the back-lift for the lower back, the squads for the quads and hamstrings, and the standing curls for the biceps are standard resistance exercises used world-wide for strength training. The barbell is also good in that it offers our muscles a three-dimensional training environment as compared to machines, which have preset tracks of muscle movement, and thus a two-dimensional environment.

 

STRENGTH TRAINING IN A GYM

If you have access to a gym, this is the best of all worlds. Gyms usually have a multitude of machines, each focused on a specific muscle group as well. In a gym setting, you are able to isolate specific muscles and perform specific functions for those specific muscles accordingly. Every imaginable exercise has its own machine in the gym. Once you have a gym membership, do take advantage of it and incorporate machines, strength training as well as dumb bell and barbell exercises to achieve the same goal. It should be remembered that a machine is not a replacement for the other strength training exercises. This is because machine training is mostly two dimensional in nature. While you may achieve muscle toning, the muscle balance as well as the three-dimensional aspects of the muscle strength training is not achieved simply by machine training alone. Free weights are still the gold standard and achieve the best results.

 

PAIN AND MUSCLE SORENESS

When your work your muscles that have not been worked for a while, it is normal to feel a dull ache or soreness in the muscles that were trained. This pain is caused by the micro-trauma of muscle fibers from the connective tissues in the body. This is normal and it is healthy. You have probably heard the phrase "no pain, no gain". More appropriately, it should be coined as "no strain, no gain". It is important to recognize that pain is a signal that your body tells you that rest is needed. As such, give yourself 1 or 2 days' rest and the pain generally goes away. If the pain does not go away and is persistent, consult your physician for further evaluation. Unrelenting pain is something you should not experience. Any sudden onset of pain, any popping sound or severe relentless pain are all signs that something abnormal is going on in your body. Pain is a signal that your body sends you to warn you of impending danger. In such situations, stop exercise and consult your physician immediately.

Cramps - Muscles cramp when they are in tense contraction without a relaxation phase. This is often caused by over-exertion as well as the lack of warm up. In addition, other factors such as the lack of electrolytes can contribute to this problem. To avoid cramps, it is important to have a proper warm up as well as keep hydrated before and during the course of the exercise.

Injury - The purpose of strength training is to stress the muscle to a point where the muscle fibers experience micro trauma. With this, the muscle fibers can go on to a repair and strengthening phase. Over-stretching or over-exertion of any muscle group will cause injury, including tendonidis fascia injuries, ligament, and muscle tears. When this happens, prolonged rest as well as medical attention is needed. It is of utmost importance that in the anti-aging perspective, we want to train but we do not want injury. Injury is counter-productive to any exercise program.

 

TREATMENT OF INJURY

If you are injured, you may stop the exercise immediately. Common muscular and skeletal injuries are accompanied by inflammation. In this case, an ice pack is a first course of treatment. Keep your injured area elevated to reduce swelling due to gravitational pulling of body fluids. Keep the injured area in a snug but not tight elastic bandage in order to decrease the swelling, which can press on the nerves and cause pain.

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISES

  1. Isometric exercises are generally used to test muscle strength and are not used to build muscle strength. An example of an isometric exercise is holding a handgrip for a prolonged period of time to measure the grip strength.
     
  2. Isokinetic exercise combines speed, movement and resistance. This form of exercise usually requires a significant amount of expensive equipment as commonly seen in physical therapy or rehabilitation. This type of exercise is extremely useful for those who have severe functions.
     
  3. Dynamic constant resistance (dumbbell or free weights). Free weight is inexpensive and readily available. However, they are not as efficient as weight machines. On a practical basis, for those of you who are not intending to be muscular, free weights are practical and provide easily obtainable results.
     
  4. Dynamic variable. Nautilus® equipment used in this type of exercise allows the amount of resistance to change during the exercise, which is something that free weights cannot do. The advantage of Nautilus® equipment allows for a full range of motion. On the other hand, the equipment is expensive and often hard to come by. In any event, the exercise program is more important than the type of equipment in the anti-aging program.

 

PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES OF STRENGTH TRAINING WORKOUT

To promote safety, prevent injury and increase performance, warm up prior to any exercise program. Flexibility training and stretching exercises is good and easy way to warm up your muscles and increase blood flow. Start stretching the muscle groups with progressively resistant exercises. Start with weights that you can handle. For example, you should be able to do 20 reps with ease. If your plan is to do 10 reps of the chest press at 100 pounds, start a warm up set at 40 pounds and do 20 reps. Follow this with 2-3 minutes rest before you start the main set. Of course, stretching is an integral part of any exercise. It is important also to cool down after a strength training session. With reduced blood flow, cardio output is decreased and for those who are not used to it, some light-headedness and dizziness may occur. Because of this, a gradual cool down period is beneficial in those not inured to this type of exercise.

 

TECHNIQUES OF STRENGTH TRAINING

Just as cooking a dish requires an organized system of first heating up the pan and then adding oil and then finally adding the ingredients, proper strength training programs involve straining the muscles in a systematic and organized fashion. For this reason, it is important to have a strength training that is easy to understand and more importantly, easy to remember. Very few of us are going to be muscle builders, Our main purpose of strength training is to maintain muscle tone. Therefore, a simple, comprehensive and organized strength training program is required. Here are some of the key points to remember:

  1. Start with the big muscle groups first and end with the small muscle groups. Big muscle groups such as the chest and the upper back should be started first to increase blood flow to these areas. Part of the blood flow to these areas will then overflow into the small muscle groups and keep the small muscle groups warmed up during the process.
     
  2. Always work muscles in opposing sets. After you have done biceps, work on the opposing triceps.
     
  3. Do every set and every exercise for a specific muscle group together before moving on. For example, if your routine consists of 3 sets of biceps curl, then do all 3 sets, separated by rest period before going on to another set of exercise. Part of the strength training is to stress the muscle to cause micro-trauma. Without the sets to push the muscles to the limit, you are actually teasing the muscles and allowing it to rest while moving on to other muscle groups. When you return to the original primary muscle group, you have to start from scratch.
     
  4. Do not over-eat before the strength training program or too soon after the training program. During the weight-training program, the blood supply goes towards the muscles to carry oxygen and nutrients. After the exercise program, cardiovascular output is decreased and the by-products of the workout such as lactic acid need to be carried out of the muscular system. Eating too much before the strength training program causes a decrease in cardiac output to the muscle as the blood is being funneled to gastric and intestinal tract for digestion of the food. Similarly, eating too soon after the exercise program also has a similar effect.
     
  5. Be energized before you start a strength training session. While you should not have a full stomach going into a strength training session, you should not go on an empty stomach either. Strength training does require nutrients and energy. A 30-minute session of leg press and squats consumes approximately 190 calories of which 56 calories are from fat.

 

LIFTING SPEED

Speed plays a major and important role in the incidence of injury as well as in strength and muscle development. Fast lifting creates the momentum and often does not allow significant blood flow to the muscle. Slow movement creates less momentum and less internal friction. A good strength-training program requires an even powering of muscles throughout the range of motion that promotes blood flow to the specific muscle targets, with a bias towards slow rather than fast. A common mistake for beginning strength training is the tendency to lift weights too fast and in a jerky motion. Each muscle has a positive phase where the muscle is contracted and a negative phase where the muscle is returning to its original state. It is very important to make sure that the negative phase is 2-3 times longer than the positive phase. Generally it is recommended that you spend 1-2 seconds for each positive lifting phase and 3-4 seconds for each negative lifting phase. For example, if you are doing the biceps curl, the reflection up to your shoulders would last 1 second while going to original home position of the extended arm would take 2 seconds. If you are not strong enough to complete the exercise, then you should reduce the weight so that you are more comfortable. 80% of strength training comes from the mind. This entails visualize that you are lifting the weights slowly and progressively through the entire contract and relaxation phase of each muscle group. Through this mental drill, your body will send the necessary blood flow into those muscles for maximum performance and strength training. If your motion is jerky, or too fast, then you are not getting the maximum benefit from strength training.

 

EXERCISE THROUGH A FULL RANGE OF MOTION

It is important to exercise through a full range of motion for each exercise group with emphasis on the end of each of the positive phase. Often times the beginner trainer will simply go through the motion and stop with about 10-15% of the full range of the motion remaining. This last part is the most critical part of any strength-training program and should not be ignored. Not only does it give the targeted muscle full strength training, it also allows the opposite muscle groups full stretching and relaxation.

 

MAXIMUM REPETITIONS (1 RM)

The maximum repetitions is called (1RM), and is the most weight you can lift at one time, correctly. Before you commence any exercise program, you should have an idea what your 1 RM is for each exercise. Most people can complete 8 repetitions with 80% of maximum resistance, 10 repetitions with 75% of maximum repetitions and 12 repetitions with 70% of maximum repetitions.

For anti-aging purposes, 8-12 reps at 70-80% of maximum resistance is a sound training recommendation. Without knowing your own maximum repetitions, it is very difficult to embark on an effective training program.

 

PROGRESSIVE RESISTANCE

It takes a certain period of time for a muscle to get used to a certain resistance level. This period, of course, varies from individual to individual. The key to anti-aging strength resistance training is to monitor your own maximum resistance level on an on-going basis, perhaps once every 4-8 weeks. Adjust the amount of weight, the number of sets and the number of repetitions per set according to your maximum resistance level. For example, you may be able to start off your bench press from week 1 through 4 based on a maximum resistance of 150 pounds. As you approach this number, try increasing to about 180 pounds.

 

AVOID OVER-TRAINING

While part of the goal of strength training is to stress and strengthen your muscle, you should not over-train. Signs of over-training include weaknesses, soreness as well as severe pain. Because of the intentional micro-trauma desired during strength training, it is also equally important to provide your body with adequate rest usually between 24-48 hours between weight lifting sessions. Other than the abdominal muscle, it is very important for the other muscle groups to have the adequate rest before you stress them again. For the advanced strength trainer, a push-pull technique is alternating days for pushing exercises and days for pulling exercises (eg. chest, bench). In this way, even though you are training up to 4-5 days a week, you are ensured of a good 48 hours rest between training sessions. Many people also make the mistake of doing too many sets per exercise and concentrating on too little exercise groups. Anti-aging exercises dictate that we have a balanced approach, addressing all your 11 major muscle groups of the body. While certain muscles are more aesthetically appealing. It is important to recognize that all major muscle groups are important to support our skeletal functions. For each of the large muscle groups in the body such as the back, chest and shoulders and hamstrings, 2-4 exercises per each muscle is enough. For the smaller muscle groups such as the biceps and triceps 1-3 exercises are enough. If you have a history of injury to a certain muscle group, you may want to increase the number of exercises to this area to strengthen it during the training program.

 

PLATEAU

Sooner or later, if you are consistent in your training program, you will reach a plateau and feel you are no longer improving. It is absolutely important at this time that you change what you are doing and start to incorporate creative ideas into your program to improve in your session. These techniques include different exercises, as well as changing the order of your training. You may also add other advance exercise routine into your workout. For anti-aging purposes, hitting the plateau is not too much of a concern. If you can stay at the plateau at an on-going basis, it really means that your muscles are in fine shape and tone. If you want to progressively improve beyond the plateau level, it will be a goal that is more for your ego than for anti-aging purposes.

 

WAYS TO OVERCOME PLATEAU

The key to overcoming plateau is to introduce variety into your exercise program such as the following:

  1. Trying new exercises. For example, if you are used to doing a bench press on the flat bench, you may want to add the inclined bench press to your regiment.
     
  2. Vary exercise orders. Your strength training program may involve exercises in a certain, particular order. This order can be changed to create variety and alleviate boredom. Varying exercise sequences allows your muscles to warm up in a different way and shock your muscles enough to force new results. For example, if your regular routine is to do your shoulders first, then your upper back and the lower back, you may want to do it in the order where you do the lower back first followed by the shoulders then the upper back.
     
  3. Vary the number of sets performed. If you have been training with multiple sets of each exercise, you may consider switching to the 1 or 2 set program for each exercise. This is simply to add variety and to decrease the boredom to your strength-training program.
     
  4. Train with music. If you are the type that trains better when you are more relaxed and music relaxes you, train with your favorite music. It is a simple but effective tool.

 

BEGINNING TRAINING TECHNIQUES

Most beginners would start training 2 or 3 days a week completing 1 exercise for each muscle group of the body and training every muscle group in each training session. This is a safe, effective and good way to get started. For the majority, such anti-aging muscle-toning program is all that is needed on an on-going basis.

 

SPLIT TRAINING

If you want to increase the intensity and start training with more exercise for each muscle group, then you would be well to start a split-training program. There are different ways to split the training. Generally it involves splitting the training days into 2 or 3 different workouts, training different muscle groups on different days. For example, Monday and Thursday you may want to train your upper body muscles and on Wednesdays and Sundays you may want to train your lower muscles. A split-training program allows you to increase the intensity by adding 2-3 exercises per muscle group so you may work all 5-muscle groups per session. One of the most effective split training program is called the push/pull routine. On one day you train all the muscle groups involved in the pushing motion such as your chest and your shoulders. On alternate day you train the muscle that require pulling motion such as the back and the triceps. This push/pull method is very popular because it is very easy to remember and it allows your problem muscles plenty of time to rest between sessions.

 

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO STRENGTH TRAINING?

2-3 workouts per week, approximately 30-45 minutes per session with a rest day following each workout are a good general rule of thumb. The rest day is important and should not be skipped. It is during the rest day that muscular changes occur and muscles recover from the stress and rebuilding begins.

 

THE OPTIMUM NUMBER OF SETS

Set - An exercise set is the number of successive repetitions performed on a continuous basis without resting. The number of exercise sets varies and depends on your goals and personal preference. Generally speaking, most muscle groups require 3 sets, with the first set as warm up. A good program would be to start off with first set at 40-50% of your maximum and followed by the second set at 60% and the third set at 80-90%. The number of repetitions within each set also varies depending on the program. Generally speaking, you should complete 15-20 reps on the first set, 10-12 reps in the second set and 6-8 reps in the third set. In another words, as your muscles warmed up to do higher weights, you scale down the number of repetitions.

A set is a fixed number of repetitions or repeated exercise movements. Most of the gains come with 1, 2 ,and 3 sets. After that, you still get gains but the degree of gain levels off. This means you have to work harder for fewer results. Don't forget to rest for 1 minute between sets to prevent injury.

 

HOW MUCH WEIGHT SHOULD I LIFT?

There are 2 principles to help you determine this. Maximum Repetitions (IRM) is the amount of weight you can lift using your maximum strength for 1 time. After you have determined the maximum rep for each particular exercise, then you should start your routine at approximately 50-60% IRM level. This is somewhat cumbersome for most people and most people therefore prefer the second way, which is to use as much weight as tolerable 12 reps at moderate but not maximum exertion. The last rep should be fairly hard to perform. Use the first few of the weight lifting sessions as testing sessions so you can see how much you can handle. Once you are able to do more than 12 reps comfortably, then you can increase the weight 5-10% at a time so that you can do the 2nd set at 10 reps and the 3rd set at 8 reps.

 

TYPES OF LIFTING

There are 2 basic types of lifting people use to bring results. If you do low reps combined with high weight, you will get increase in strength. On the other hand, if you do high reps using low weights, you will achieve endurance. This principle becomes more important when you are training for specific sports for anti-aging purposes, because our primary goal is to increase strength as well as stimulate growth hormone secretion. Therefore, you train with relatively high weights and few repetitions.

 

11 MAJOR MUSCLE GROUPS

There are 11 most important muscle groups. As a beginner in each session, you work with 11 most important muscle groups starting with the larger groups before the smaller ones. Why? If you fatigue the smaller muscle groups first, you cannot work the larger ones adequately. A typical order of exercise is:

  1. abdominal - start here for a partial warm up.
  2. quads and hamstrings - since the legs automatically bring the muscles of the lower back into play, be sure you are thoroughly warmed up before working the thighs.
  3. chest - you will be working your shoulder as well as chest muscles.
  4. back - By now the back muscle would have warmed up from the thigh exercises and would be ready to go.
  5. shoulders - medium size muscles.
  6. triceps - small muscles.
  7. biceps - small muscles.
  8. calves - a small muscle.

 

WHY STRETCH BEFORE STRENGTH TRAINING

Stretching before lifting is critical in preparing the joints for motion. It also extends the range of motion of the muscles and helps to avoid injuries. Stretching after lifting is important to reduce stress on the muscles and to "wind down". It also helps relax the muscles just worked and reduces soreness.

 

HOW TO STRETCH BEFORE STRENGTH TRAINING

Stretch until you feel a slight tension. Hold a position for 20-30 seconds. Relax a moment then extend the stretch slightly further for another 10-20 seconds. Relax. Do not bounce or jerk your muscles during the stretching routine. Stretching should not cause pain. If you are having pain, then you have to back off as it is a dangerous sign.

 

PROPER LIFTING POSITION

When you are lifting in a standing position such as close and overhead press, your feet should be a little wider than shoulder-width apart and well-balanced. Many lifters wear shoes or boots with heels to help offset the shifting of the center of gravity when lifting heavy weights. Sometimes a board is placed under the heels when doing squats to help maintain balance. It is important to keep your head and neck straight during your lift. Many injuries are caused by twisting the head, neck or trunk.

 

BREATHING

Do not hold your breath throughout the entire exercise. It can stop the flow of oxygen to your brain and causes you to have dizziness and even pass out. Breathe both in and out through your nose and mouth. By breathing through only your nose, you may not be getting enough oxygen.

HOW TO BREATHE

Inhale during the beginning of the lift, momentarily holding your breath during the most difficult part, and then exhale as you finish the lift. When doing a bench press, for example, inhale as you lower the weight to your chest. At this time, hold your breath momentarily as you begin to press the weight up. Finish exercise by inhaling during the later part of the movement. The same goes for other exercises generally speaking.

 

SPECIAL STRENGTH TRAINING CONSIDERATIONS FOR WOMEN

Women are physiologically different from men. The bone structure of female pelvic girdle is proportionately wider than male to facilitate childbirth. Women's knees, however, are the same distance apart as the men's. Thus there is a greater conversion convergence angle and greater stress on the knees. Women are more likely to have knee problem during exercise such as full squats and should, therefore, these exercises with special care.

A) Menstruation

Over-training can lead to conditions known as amenorrhea in which menstruation can temporarily stop. This is a condition that generally cures itself once the training is cut back.

B) Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the woman should continue to keep fit. This will lead to a more comfortable pregnancy and a shorter labor. However, strenuous activity during pregnancy is not recommended. The level of training should decrease as the pregnancy advances and should increase again gradually after birth.

 

BODY TYPES AND PERFORMANCE

All of us are born with different body types. Some are blessed with a body shape that is particularly fitted for moderately intense, long hauling exercise such as cross-country skiing and cycling. Others are blessed with a muscular build that favors a strength-training program. Still others are light framed and are low in both fat and muscle. These people are good at endurance activities such as long distance running. The important thing to remember is not what body type you have but to have realistic goals and not to compare with others. Anti-aging is a life-style that requires focus on your own body, listening to what your body is telling you and to do the best you can, given your body type, regardless of what other people say.

 

USE YOUR BRAIN TO TRAIN

Most serious strength training instructors will tell you that strength training is 80% brainwork and 20% physical work. This is exactly true. Proper concentration on the form and the muscle that you are working, the result that you will achieve will be sub-optimal. Always pay attention to your technique and make sure you are lifting slowly and without momentum. You must direct your thoughts and focus to the center of the muscle being worked. Try to complete the exercise without focusing on the nature of the motion being completed. This results in poor workouts with little muscle stimulation. Before you start off with any exercise program, understand the importance of concentration and understand the importance of the targeted muscle group. Muscle building is an individual exercise and it is an exercise that requires concentration. It may help to have a buddy system in which a friend gives help and encourages you from time to time.

 

MEASURING PROGRESS

Once you have embarked on a resistance strength training program, you will soon notice increased muscle firmness if you are following the program properly. From an anti-aging perspective, size really does not matter. Your progress is best measured by how you feel. Your body will tell you how you feel if you are honest with l yourself. Anti-aging exercises do not mean that you are in a highly competitive muscle building exercise program. What it means is that you tone your muscles to achieve several end points; reduced loss of muscle mass, conversion of body fat to lean muscle mass and increased strength and firmness of the muscle. If you can achieve the above, regardless of what your scale reads and what muscle size measurement is, you have accomplished your goal.

For those who wish to have a track record of their performance, its good to measure the circumference of each of the major muscle groups such as chest, biceps etc as a gauge of your progress once every three months.

 

IMPORTANCE OF COMBINING CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE, FLEXIBILITY TRAINING, GOOD NUTRITION WITH YOUR STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM

You should now have a clear understanding at this time that the strength-training program is an integral part of anti-aging exercise regiment. Strength training not only increases your lean body mass, but it combats aging and increases your chance of living a longer life. Strength training also provides some important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercises. Strength training alone is insufficient however. You must not forget to continue your aerobic exercises as well as the flexibility training before and after each exercise session. On top of this, nutritional supplementation is a key foundation to any anti-aging program.

 

HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED

Staying motivated for a few days or a few weeks is easy. The consistency of staying motivated for a long period of time is a challenge. Regardless of how motivated at the beginning, you will need tools to maintain your motivation. If you are serious about your health and want to increase your longevity, here are some tips:

Set goals - Goal setting is an important part in any part of our daily lives. Strength training is no exception. The importance is to set goals that are measurable and realistic. As in any other things in life, set goals that are achievable, one at a time. Anti-aging is a life-long process. It is not a sprint and there is no hurry. It is no use to train for a few months and slack off. It is better to have a program that you can consistently achieve minor goals. Allow 1-2 years for the overall goal, and with smaller goals achieved every 6 months or so.

 

MAKE IT FUN

Having fun will reduce the stress of strength training. Having fun also makes the time go faster. This is the key component in any anti-aging plan. The key to having fun is to get your friends involved as well as add variety to your training regiment. The programs outlined here are basic programs to get you started. Once you have mastered the basics and variations of the basics, you will find it fun to alter it yourself. It is also important to expect that some days you will feel discouraged.

Finally, workouts that are scheduled are usually more successful. Most of us are busy and have many things on our agenda. Making strength training a top priority in our lives may required a certain adjustment period. This is understandable. Scheduling a workout time, therefore, is just as important as scheduling your shower time.

 

YOUR VERY FIRST STRENGTH TRAINING WORKOUT

The first rule of any workout is foremost to prevent injury. If you are a newcomer to the gym you will need to familiarize yourself with the actual exercise movements before lifting any heavy weights. Carefully study the exercise description and photos. Ask someone for help as needed. Don't feel embarrassed. Use lighter weights so that you get the hang of each motion.

Here are some tips:

  1. The name of the game in strength training for anti-aging purpose is not building the largest muscle size. The goal should be toned; strong and well defined muscles that are strong. This is not a competition to see who can lift the heaviest weight. Lifting weights with bad form is a sure recipe for injury.
     
  2. Take your time to practice how to do the exercise correctly. There is no rush. You have plenty timed ahead of you. Use bars without any added weights and very light dumbbells. That is the smart way to force yourself to concentrate on the form.
     
  3. Concentrate on the targeted muscle during each exercise so that you can find the right groove of movement. Feel the targeted muscle working.
     
  4. Keep you head up and eyes straight forward, maintaining a slight arch in your back and keep your feet planted firmly to give you the support. As we get older, our back bears a heavy burden of supporting the entire skeletal system. Injury of the back will set you back in your exercise program. Back exercises are critical for anti-aging purposes. The easiest way to guarantee a back injury is improper posture.
     
  5. Don't train to failure in your first workout. Just do 1-2 sets of 12 reps of each movement so that the exercise action is firmly fixed in your mind.
     
  6. That's it for your first session. Congratulate yourself for a job well done and look forward to your second workout.

 

YOUR SECOND STRENGTH TRAINING WORKOUT

Now that you have a feel of how each exercise should be done and you are more familiar with the machines and weights, you want to get close to determining your working weight.

Start each exercise with a fairly light weight and see how many repetitions you can do using proper form, slowly and with precision. If you find that you can easily perform more than the number of reps indicated (12), add 5-10 pounds for your next set. Likewise, if you cannot do the full number of reps in any exercise, or if you feel that you are really pushing yourself to the limit in order to fulfill the set, then the weight is too heavy. Lighten up next time.

Once you find a weight that allows you to perform with good form and in the suggested number of reps, make a note in your training log or diary.

Continue to use that weight until you become stronger and the weight begins to feel light.

 

WORKOUT GUIDELINES FOR FIRST MONTH OF STRENGTH TRAINING

The key to your entire first month of training is to continue to learn good exercise form while visualizing on how each movement should feel. Train with your brain!

It's easy to get easily excited as improvements are often significant and readily visible in short period of time. Don't overdo it and don't overtrain. Follow these guidelines:

  1. Train 2-3 times a week, with a day of rest between each session.
     
  2. Work only the muscles in your plan. Don't get over zealous and get sidetracked into other muscles. Let's leave that for later.
     
  3. If you are able to progress quickly, or if you have worked out in the past to any significant degree, follow the first month's plan for 2 weeks and move onto second month program.
     
  4. Follow the plan and do the exact number of reps listed. You can, however, continue to add more weights to those exercises that feel easy.
     
  5. Listen to your body. Certain days are better than others for your body. Reduce the amount of weights if you feel that your body is sluggish.
     
  6. Eat well. Make sure you are taking your supplements, and get a good night's sleep.

 

WORKOUT GUIDELINE FOR SECOND MONTH OF STRENGTH TRAINING

By now, you should feel very comfortable with the exercise routine. You should have experienced significant improvements in your strength. The focus for this month is to help you transition into slightly more complicated exercises that involve several muscle groups (especially for those who have gym and barbell access):

  1. Continue to train 2-3 times a week, with a rest day between each.
     
  2. Follow the exact number of repetitions indicated for each exercise.
     
  3. Begin to challenge yourself to use slightly more weight with each movement. Using progressively heavy weights progressively will cause your muscle size to increase. You may do so if you wish, knowing that this is now more for muscle and bodybuilding than for anti-aging purposes.
     
  4. Start moving from 2 sets to 3 sets for each muscle group towards the end of second month.

 

WORKOUT GUIDELINE FOR THIRD MONTH OF STRENGTH TRAINING

Not only should your strength be increased from your effort of the past 2 months, your body should show significant change in contour and physique, whether you are working on gaining or losing weight. Congratulate yourself and keep it up!

  1. Continue to work out 2-3 times a week, doing three sets of each exercise, with 1-minute rest between each set.
     
  2. You can change the routine by varying the number of reps you do. For example, use a lightweight to warm up for the first set and do 12 reps. Take a 1-minute rest. For your second set, use as heavy a weight as you can reasonably handle for 6-8 reps. Rest 1 minute. Reduce the weight sufficiently to permit you to perform a third set of 10 reps.
     
  3. The amount of weight adjustment varies from person to person and the range can vary anywhere from 5-25%. Trial and error is the best way. There is no penalty.
     
  4. If you feel good on certain days, do a 4th set that's heavy.
     
  5. Ask yourself what is more important - toning or size. The anti-aging program emphasizes toning and endurance, so use lighter weights but higher number of reps (10-12) to build the components of the muscle fibers that builds shape and muscle endurance. For body building purposes, low reps (4-6) with heavier weights will work muscle fibers for explosive contraction, resulting in increasing power and size.

 

AFTER THREE MONTHS OF STRENGTH TRAINING

By the end of your third month of training, you'll have laid the foundation of a strong, shapely physic. If you had been doing your cardiovascular training, eating a proper diet and taking supplements, chances are you will feel younger and much better about yourself. How much change will depend on each individual? It is not unusual to see those who are committed to the anti-aging program lose fat and gain muscle from five to twenty pounds.

For anti-aging purpose, simply continue the same basic workout, which is all you need. Don't be afraid to adjust the weight and reps as you go. Have fun and enjoy yourself. If you have a good day, train more. If you have a bad day, lighten up. There is nothing wrong. There is nothing to prove to anyone.

If you are serious about bodybuilding, you may wish to make some large-scale changes in your workout. One of the easiest things to do is to change your routine. Experiment with other exercises. You could also change the sequence of exercises, set and rep combinations and rest intervals. The process of continual change keeps your muscle guessing what is going to happen next and keeps your muscles continually stimulated.

Everyone will have a different routine that fits them well over a period of time. This is perfectly normal. Remember that there is no perfect routine. Don't try to look for it. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and not get injured.

 

JUST DO IT

Now that you have all the information you need to start and complete a strength-training program; you should have all the tools that you need to do it safely and consistently. All that is left is simply go and start doing it. If you do not have any access to gym, free weight or bar bells, simply start the strength training program by doing simple push-ups, pull-ups and back extension exercises.

 

Foreword | Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6
Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Bibliography



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