Thursday, September 29, 2011

Age-Defying Muscles

"It's bad business getting older, and I would advise you not to do it!" Those words from Woody Allen on his experience with aging.  If only it was a matter of choice, and too many of us avoid the proven alternative.  Because the truth is that there is an established method and strategy that will let you grow old with some grit and grace, and its name is strength training through muscle confusion.

At around the age of 40, our bodies slowly and progressively begin to lose strength.  We lose about a quarter of a pound of muscle every year, or roughly 1 to 2 percent loss in strength!  What's happening is the aging process breaks down muscle, known as sarcopenia.   Your muscles up until the age of 40 are naturally able to synthesize enough proteins to grow and maintain muscle.  However, the bodies ability to keep up with the demands of life begins to wane.

Thankfully, the remedy to slow down this phenomenon is readily available.  Weights are the fountain of youth and the age-defying muscle builders!  Combined with a nutritional diet of lean proteins, we can put a halt to the decline and actually reverse the trend.  More muscle means you'll be more mobile, lower your risks and incidence of heart disease, obesity, certain cancers, and diabetes as well as increased quality of living.  Just ask someone who hasn't kept up with exercise and good eating about the quality of their life and you will usually find that they will encourage you to start doing those things as early as possible in life so that you can truly have some golden years. 

Fitness experts recommend that all healthy adults do strength training exercises at least two to three days a week.  It is also recommended to concentrate your muscle exercises on all six of the major muscle groups:  chest, shoulders, arms, abdomen, legs, and back.  The easiest and least expensive way to get into a weight training program is to use hand weights and or exercise bands combined with body resistance training, and that simply means using your own body weight.  If you want the most bang for your buck, you don't need to invest in expensive machines and pulley systems.  Your body is the fitness machine.  I strongly recommend the at home fitness program created by Tony Horton for Beach Body called P90X.

What I like about P90X is it gives me a structured, easy to follow, total body workout and nutritional guidance that is bringing me what I view as amazing results!  It's for all levels of fitness, so whether you're just a beginner or need to take your workouts to the next level, you're going to get exactly what you need!  Don't just take my word for it, there are thousands of success stories on Youtube and a few that I've shared here on my Rx For Fitness and Health blog.

To wrap it up, let me suggest some training tips for guaranteed success: 

1.  Always warm up prior to your workout!  Do some light jogging on the spot, some squats, arm circles and or push ups, jumping jacks and light stretching that will raise your heart rate slowly and get the muscles warm and ready for the workout.

2.  When performing any strength training exercise, watch your form in the moves by lifting with precision and controlled.

3.  Do NOT hold your breath.  Just breathe.  Focus on exhaling during the hard part of the lift.

4.  Start with a lighter weight and more repetitions for toning and to get the form first, then heavy up for fewer reps and for building more muscle.

5.  Do not over exert yourself or over extend your joints beyond comfort. Push yourself a little out of your comfort zone, but If it HURTS, STOP.

6.  Train the larger muscles first, such as your pecs, lats, glutes, quads and hamstrings, and then work your way to the smaller muscles of your hips, arms and shoulders.

7.  Leave your abdominal and core muscles training for the end.  You need these muscles fresh to help stabilize your body during weight lifting.

8.  Proper Rest and recovery is critical, so wait 48 hours between training the same set of muscles again.

9.  Lift with purpose, don't just lift, but focus on it and squeeze!.  Set goals and write them down and work hard to attain them!

The different workouts of P90X are based on a training concept called periodization, or "muscle confusion." This method of cross-training is achieved through switching the order of exercises and incorporating new moves and varied movements. From my own experience now using the method for the past 8 months has prevented my body from adapting to exercises over time and resulting in continual improvement without plateaus.  It has provided the perfect balance for strength training and my muscles have developed and continue to build in mass.  I feel stronger, have more energy, sleep fantastic and enjoy a quality of life at the age of 48 that I now feel like I had in my twenties!  If Tony Horton can do it at the age of 52, you too can have age-defying muscles if you decide, commit and succeed!  It's never too late to get started, so what are you waiting for?  "Why not you?  Why not you to do something for work that you love?  Why not you to have a healthy body?  Why not you to have a healthy love?  Why not you to be, have or do anything you have ever dreamed of?  We are so quick to think others are deserving over ourselves.  The truth is that we are ALL deserving, SO WHY NOT YOU?!!"  - Jillian Michaels

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