We’ve all heard this one before: “Wait until you’re my age. You’ll pay for all that heavy lifting later.”
To make it worse, the remark usually comes from an “old guy” in the gym after one of your big lifts, leaving you fuming when you should be exuberant.
You feel like telling the “old guy” to stick his attitude where the sun don’t shine, but your Mom taught you to respect your elders. So you seethe with anger and fantasize about how a dumbbell might “accidentally” fall off the rack and onto the old guy’s toes.
Kidding. Sort of. But here’s the deal: he’s not entirely wrong.
Almost everyone gets weaker as we age. As my colleague, Lee Boyce says: “The big lifts are for guys in their 20’s.”
Not to say you can’t lift heavy well past your 20’s. You can. Those days are just fewer and farther between.
Work, family, and other obligations take precedence over living in the gym, especially as father time does his best to beat you down despite magical elixirs and the (cough, cough), miracle diets popping up everywhere.
Muscle weakness can lead to decreased quality of life and even life expectancy. Many studies have looked at the link between mortality and strength. This study concluded muscular strength is inversely and independently associated with death from all causes and cancer in men, even after adjusting for cardiorespiratory fitness and other potential confounders.
In other words, not training increases your chance of death and cancer. Yikes.
So, what’s the deal?
Strength Training Improves Your Health Span And Your Lifespan
My grandmother lived to her mid-80’s, despite being sick for nearly 40 years. She had a long lifespan, but a short healthspan (years of healthy and disease-free life.) Heck, my dad said he could hardly remember his mother being healthy his entire life.
Now, sometimes you get a bad draw in life. There’s no other way to put it. And sometimes there’s not much to be done.
But more often, you can fight back. The evidence is clear. Strength training improves work capacity, improves longevity, and helps you maintain muscle and bone health and mobility.
Lifting weights isn’t about being jacked, ‘bro. It’s about living longer and healthier, ‘bro.
Heck, you might even improve your sex span! Let’s not act like that wouldn’t make the aging process more bearable. Jokes aside, strength training helps you keep lean muscle, preserving your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and helping you burn more calories at rest. All this improves long-term health.
“But My Hormones Changed!”
Yes, indeed they do, or will. The truth is most people who say “my hormones have changed” have another problem. Their lean muscle mass is withering away. As a result, they don’t burn as many calories while resting. Hormone levels will fluctuate to an extent with aging, but much of this can be prevented and reversed with a balanced attack in the gym.
Take my client Tim, who’s lifted weights consistently for the better part of three decades. In his late 50’s, Tim is stronger than he was when we started training seven years ago. He’s in better shape than most guys in their 20’s and 30’s.
Tim says: “Strength training has allowed me to keep nearly all my strength and muscle. Honestly, I feel better now than I did a decade ago.”
Heavy strength training is the most important type of exercise to improve your quality of life as you get older.
As pointed out in this study, extreme declines in strength lead to declines in most other physical qualities. Frailty results in lower levels of physical activity, decreased muscle strength, increased fatigue, slower walking speed, and unwanted weight loss.
It’s also associated with adverse health outcomes, an increased dependency on others, decreased mobility, disability, institutionalization — and even mortality.
Weaker older adults also tend to fall more frequently and have greater difficulty standing from sitting or lying positions. Intelligently planned strength training can attack these issues head-on.
Training for strength:
- Helps you retain lean muscle mass
- Keeps your metabolism running at max speed
- Helps you look more youthful and vibrant
The stronger you are, the easier everything becomes. That goes for everything from moving a couch, walking up the stairs, or playing a sport.
Building strength under the bar can improve your relative strength, or how strong you are for your size. When your relative strength improves, it’s easier to move your body, whether you’re walking up the stairs, doing chin-ups, or running around a baseball diamond.
If you want to live well, live long, and prosper, then heavy strength training is essential.
A Huge Principle of Bach Performance: Intelligent Strength Training
Strength is the emphasis with all my clients, whether they’re an athlete or just trying to look good on the beach with their shirt off, like Dave.
Improved strength improves more than your confidence; it improves all other training qualities.
With heavy strength training, you’ll lose fat faster with heavy strength work than blitzing your body with an endless assault of intervals and circuits. Heavy strength work is superior in helping you retain lean muscle in a caloric deficit, which in turn, keeps your metabolism going full throttle.
When it comes to building muscle, heavy strength work improves muscle fiber recruitment and helps you lift more weight over time. It’s easy to get bogged down with the endless assault of sexy bodybuilding methods, but let’s cut to the truth: building lean muscle first requires a base of strength. With a base of strength, you’ll recruit more muscle fibers and be able to lift more weight for more reps.
Strength is the force multiplier for every other trainable quality in the gym.
Strength train to build “more from less” with bodybuilding training methods like drop sets and high-rep pump work thanks to the added tension you’ll create in your muscles. As an example, here’s a look at my good friend and client Bob Thompson.
Bob trains like a bodybuilder. But years ago? He competed as an athlete and in power-lifting. Building a foundation of strength improves your ability to build muscle.
Intelligent strength training improves sports performance and reduces your risk of injury.
Strength building is a tool to achieve a goal. Everyone is different. Exercises and load must be carefully selected. And building strength isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires hard work, careful planning, and sound execution.
The Bottom Line?
If you’re not lifting weights, start now.
Getting stronger is the gym is the compound interest of training. The more you put in earlier, the more wealth you’ll accumulate over time.
When you put a premium on strength, everything else becomes easier.
As science and experience have shown us, heavy resistance training can add inches to your arms, inches off your belly, and quality years to your life…
…if you step up to the plate and get started.
Still, I know reading an article and putting a plan to action are two different animals. Well, allow me to simplify the process for you.
At Bach Performance, we specialize in helping busy people like you look great naked without living in the gym. We’ll customize every aspect of your workouts and nutrition to help you look your best without obsessing over fitness.
All you’ll need to do? Follow the trusted expert guidance of your coach and be amazed at the results.
To lead a life that’s improved, not consumed by fitness, apply here.