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How to Fight Muscle Loss

train May 02, 2024
How to Fight Muscle Loss | Arangio

Jim, a busy attorney and weekend golfer, had always been active and fit; however, in his 40s he began to notice a gradual loss of muscle mass.

By the time he was 65, his body felt frail and weak. Simple tasks, like opening a jar of pickles, felt like an Olympic sport. One day, after a short drive to the office, the struggle to exit his low sports car turned him into a circus contortionist – bending, twisting, and grunting in ways he never thought possible. 

Determined to reverse this trend, he reached out to me. After a short call to discuss his goal, Jim joined our age-management program and began progressive resistance training four times per week.

At first, he found it challenging and intimidating, but he persisted. As he continued to lift weights under the watchful eye of his coach, he began to feel stronger and more confident. After several months of training, he leapt out of his automobile like a gazelle versus a magician escaping from a straitjacket.

Despite challenges along the way, Jim refused to give up. He pushed himself to new heights, lifting heavier weights, and setting personal records. Slowly but surely, Jim's hard work paid off. He lost 30 pounds and added muscle. He improved his balance and mobility, and regained his health independence. Jim was once again able to enjoy his favorite activities, like pickleball and golfing, without fear of falling or getting hurt. Nowadays Jim is living his best life, free from the limitations of muscle loss.

How to Fight Muscle Loss

When you imagine a 65-year-old person, what comes to mind? Hopefully you envision a strong and energetic person; however, in reality many 60-year-olds are losing strength with each passing month. Even if there is no apparent illness, many older individuals seem to convey a sense of fragility. They walk slowly, move cautiously, and sometimes rely on others to assist them with stubborn pickle-jar lids and other day-to-day activities.

Truth is, the culprit is often sarcopenia aka muscle loss. Women, for example, can lose almost half a pound of muscle each year after age 40, replacing it with fat. The gradual loss of muscle mass leads to a decline in overall body strength, balance, and confidence when walking. Recovering from near-falls becomes more difficult, leading to decreased mobility and, often, a sedentary lifestyle. This sedentary lifestyle can then pave the way for chronic illness. The good news? You can manage sarcopenia with resistance training.

According to a 2021 meta-study in European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, resistance training is an effective treatment to improve body fat mass, muscle strength, and muscle performance in healthy older people with sarcopenia. A 2022 publication in International Journal of Women’s Health reported that postmenopausal women can reduce their chances of getting sarcopenia by making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating right (getting enough protein, vitamin D, and omega-3s) and staying active with resistance training.

5 Ways to Age-Proof Your Body

Nowadays, it's increasingly common to encounter workouts that have been generated by artificial intelligence. In the realm of fitness, training programs are tailored according to your available equipment, injury history, and many other variables. Devices that utilize sensors and computer vision technology provide guidance on form, intensity, and load.

But do you know what the latest smartphone app, or even the fastest supercomputer, can't ever do for you? They can't lift the weights for you. In fact, the smartest neural network can't do your hill sprints, sled pushes, or post-workout stretches either.

You must always prioritize exercise and do the work; however, the particular type of exercise you choose to do will make or break your results.

Whether you're looking to improve your energy levels, reduce your risk of chronic diseases, or simply feel more confident and happy, lifting weights can help. Here are five ways progressive resistance training (PRT) can help manage age-related muscle loss.

1. Build Muscle Mass

Although the symptoms of sarcopenia typically don't manifest until around age 40, the process is already underway as early as age 25. After age 65, it accelerates rapidly. PRT can help combat sarcopenia by building and maintaining muscle mass, which is essential for maintaining mobility, balance, and overall strength. By building muscle mass, PRT can also help increase your metabolism, which helps burn calories more efficiently.

Do This: Barbell Box Squat

Set up a box or bench behind you at knee height. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, barbell on your upper back. Push hips back and bend knees to lower onto the box. Drive through heels to stand back up. Do 10 reps. 

2. Increase Bone Density

PRT has been shown to increase bone density, which is essential for maintaining bone strength and preventing fractures. As you age, your bones tend to become weaker and more brittle, making you more susceptible to falls and fractures. PRT can help reduce this risk by strengthening your bones.

Do This: Hex-Bar Deadlift

Stand in the center of the hex bar with feet hip-width apart. Bend at the knees and hips to grip the handles. Keep the back flat and chest up. Push through the heels, extending the hips and knees to stand up straight. Lower the bar back down with control. Perform 5 reps with a challenging weight.

3. Boost Cardiovascular Health

PRT can help improve cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure, increasing blood flow, and improving cholesterol levels. This can help reduce the risk of heart disease, which is a leading cause of death among older adults.

Do This: Dumbbell Squat-to-Shoulder-Press

Hold dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing forward. Perform a squat by bending knees and lowering hips. As you stand up, press the dumbbells overhead until arms are straight. Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height and repeat the movement for a full-body workout. To challenge your heart and lungs, pick a weight that allows you to complete 20 perfect reps.

4. Improve Balance and Coordination

PRT can help improve balance and coordination, which is essential for preventing falls and maintaining mobility. By improving your balance and coordination, PRT can also help reduce the risk of injury and improve your overall quality of life.

Do This: Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat

Stand facing away from a bench, holding dumbbells at your sides. Place one foot on the bench behind you. Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground. Push through the front heel to return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on each leg.

5. Reduce Inflammation

PRT has been shown to reduce inflammation, which is a major contributor to the aging process. Chronic inflammation can contribute to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's.

Do This: Barbell Standing Lat Row

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Hinge at the hips, keeping a slight bend in the knees. Pull the barbell towards your hips, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Lower and repeat 10 times.

While you can't grow new muscle cells, you can develop the ones you have left, even if you are already experiencing muscle loss. By beginning a strength training program, you can become stronger than ever before, at any age. It's never too late to start resistance training, even if you are 40, 50, 60 or beyond.

Studies show that older patients who participated in strength training programs were able to increase their mobility and move from using a wheelchair to walking with a walker or cane. Even if you are young, starting early can significantly delay the effects of sarcopenia.

As you lift weights, you will notice significant improvements in your energy levels, balance, and overall ease of performing daily tasks. Additionally, you will begin to build muscle and burn fat, causing your clothes to fit differently. In fact, there are at least 50 reasons to do resistance training. By investing in resistance training, you are investing in your future health, independence, and overall quality of life.

Summary:

Muscle loss, or sarcopenia, begins as early as age 25 and accelerates after age 65. It can cause frailty and a sedentary lifestyle, leading to chronic illness; however, resistance training through progressive resistance training (PRT) can help combat sarcopenia and delay or reverse its effects. PRT can improve muscle mass, bone density, cardiovascular health, balance and coordination, and reduce inflammation, leading to a better quality of life. Starting resistance training early can delay sarcopenia, while it's never too late to start, as studies show significant improvements even in older patients.

If you are ready to fight muscle loss, share your goals with me. I'll share a paint-by-numbers system to help you lose unwanted pounds, boost strength, and slow aging so you feel better than ever before.

To your success,

Coach Joe

 


 

Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online age-management personal trainer, or you want to visit the best longevity personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.

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