Approximately 90 percent of the adult population does not participate in a strength program. Adults who do not perform regular strength exercise lose about one-half pound of muscle each year during their 30s and 40s. They then believe that their metabolism is “slowing down.”
And the rate of muscle loss doubles in people over 50 years of age. (Evans and Rosenberg 1992). This means that there is a net loss in strength of about one to two percent of strength each year. As the muscles weaken, movement becomes more difficult and people gradually become sedentary and dependent. The gradual decrease in muscle and basal metabolism rate is related to the increase in body fat that most people gain as they get older if they do not strength train.
With a decrease in muscle, less energy is used for daily metabolic function, so calories previously necessary to perform the activities of daily living now end up stored as fat.
Many women have lost half the muscle they had at 30 by the time they are 70. No wonder they can’t get up from a chair unassisted. It also leads to reduced calorie utilization meaning that your body requires fewer calories in order to maintain your weight. The average person over 30 also adds about 10 pounds of weight in fat each decade. If you add the 5 pounds of muscle that have been replaced by fat, the body has added 15 pounds of fat during every decade. You thereby enter your senior years with too little muscle and too much fat. It should be obvious that these changes in body composition are not desirable, but most adults are more aware of the fat gain rather than the muscle loss. They then diet to “lose weight”—which further reduces their muscle mass because 30 percent of the weight lost through dieting is muscle tissue. Losing muscle leads to a lower metabolic rate because fat needs a much lower caloric intake to sustain itself. Then even more calories are stored as fat which makes it more difficult to perform physical activities. Let’s say you lose 20 pounds by dieting without strength training.
Thirty percent of those 20 pounds you’ve lost were muscle—that’s six pounds of muscle that is gone. If you estimate that each pound of muscle uses 50 calories each day to sustain itself, 50 calories times five pounds equals 300 calories each day that your body does not need to sustain itself. If you were eating 1,500 calories a day to lose weight, you now have to lower that to 1,200 calories. Get the picture?
Diet to lose weight—lose muscle—slower metabolism—more fat stored in body—diet to lose weight, etc. It’s a vicious cycle that repeats itself over and over in hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.
And most diet programs stress “exercise” — not Strength Training. It doesn’t matter how many miles you jog on the treadmill — you will lose muscle when you lose weight unless you strength train.
However, you are not doomed to repeat this scenario. Weight training increases the amount of lean mass a person has. This means you have more muscle tissue. Often a strength training program will replace several pounds of fat with muscle. And muscles use more calories each day than does fat. Strength training increases metabolic rate by up to seven percent and daily energy requirements by up to 15 percent over a 12-week training period. It increases muscle mass by about three pounds over an eight-week training period.
Strength training –lifting weights –prevents reduction In metabolic rate. Improves body composition
That one-half pound of muscle loss every year after age 25 produces a one-half percent reduction in basal metabolic rate (BMR) every year. “Basal metabolic rate” refers to the energy used by our body at rest to maintain normal body functions. A reduction in BMR means that our bodies are less able to use the food we consume as energy—thus more gets stored as body fat. Everyone has an individual basal metabolic rate. The gradual decrease in muscle and BMR is related to the increase in body fat that most people gain as they get older if they do not strength train. With this decrease in muscle, less energy is used for daily metabolic function/ thus calories previously necessary to perform the activities of daily living now end up stored
Our muscles have high energy requirements. Even when we are sleeping, our muscles use more than 25 percent of our energy (calories). When you implement the principles of effective strength-training, and if you are consistent in your program, you will achieve an increase in lean muscle mass throughout your body and increase your BMR. In other words, you can actually condition your metabolism to work better and more efficiently even when you are at rest. An increase in muscle tissue causes an increase in metabolic rate, and a decrease in muscle tissue causes a decrease in metabolic rate.
According to a study by Paffenbarger and Olsen (1996), adding 10 pounds of muscle through strength training increases the daily resting energy requirements by about 500 calories, Resting metabolism increases 30 to 50 calories for every one pound increase in lean muscle mass. This means that gaining ten pounds of lean tissue can increase metabolism up to 500 calories per day. You will be able to eat 500 calories per day more—without gaining weight!
I hope you’re beginning to understand why dieting does not work without strength training to maintain muscle mass. You frequently hear that as you get older, your metabolism slows. Now you understand that the slowing is due mostly to the fact that you have less muscle mass than when you were younger.
In addition to this, weight lifting trims and tightens the body I frequently have women come to me after only a few weeks to report that “My body feels tighter.”
Older adults gain muscle as quickly as younger adults
Studies have shown that older adults gain just as much muscle as middle-aged and younger adults. Several have demonstrated that in just 12 weeks participants have added more than three pounds of lean weight and lost over four pounds of fat weight. A large-scale study by Westcott and Guy in 1996 on 1132 men and women divided the participants into three age groups: 21-40 years, 41-60 years and 61-80 years. All three age categories added over two pounds of lean weight and lost over five pounds of fat weight in eight weeks. And the 60- to 80-year old exercisers gained just as much muscle as did the middle-aged and younger adults.
Another metabolic effect of strength training is an increase in metabolism after exercise. One study found that metabolism was increased by 12 percent two hours after a strength training workout.
Include a strength training program in your weight management plan.
If you are new to strength training, please go to the page that describes my new book and video workouts.
“Over 40 & Gettin’ Stronger” is a book that contains information about the benefits of strength training for adults of any age, suggestions for keeping yourself motivated, strength training fundamentals–and a complete easy-to-learn workout with photos to illustrate each exercise.
Although the title says “Over 40”– the tapes will help all neophyte strength trainers. Tape 1001 contains a workout that is done entirely standing and seated in a chair. (for older exercisers). Tape 2001 has most of the same exercises–except it has two chest exercises done on the floor and the stretches are also done on the floor.
The book is $19.95. Each tape is only $25 and includes a FREE booklet of strength training basics to help you make your strength training workout be more effective. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.