I have been listening to the Iron Culture podcast since I was an embryo and keto extremists were still normal human beings. The latest episode I listened to had Chad Landers, 2018 NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year, as a guest speaker. The episode achieved peak levels of awesomeness when he said:
“I had a client who started training with me when she was 87. I trained her daughters and her son-in-law and they came to me when she turned 87 and they said, ‘Mom started to slow down a little bit, we think she would benefit from training.’ And I trained her all the way until she was 95 until she passed away. And I saw her continue to get stronger even into her 90s and one of the things that always I talked about was:
“I want you to be able to go to any public restroom and not get stuck on the toilet. Because some public restrooms out there in the middle of nowhere, you might be traveling, that are really really low. And I don’t want you to have that…”
You know, I wouldn’t say all these words to her. I wouldn’t talk about being embarrassed but my feeling for her is as if she is like my grandma. I wouldn’t want my grandma to be stuck on the toilet in the middle of somewhere and have to call for help. I don’t want her to have to do that.”
A 2007 survey of older US adults found that more older adults feared losing independence (26%) than feared dying (3%). This brings me to one strength training benefit people aren’t aware of — strength training is the closest thing we have to the Fountain of Youth. Whether you’re 20 or 70 years old, you should be lifting weights otherwise you will quietly hate your life to the grave.
Muscle mass and strength preservation have been shown to be inversely correlated with multiple age-associated disabilities, diseases, and even all-cause mortality (source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). And, here’s the “well, duh” moment — the most efficient way to preserve/build muscle and strength is through progressive strength training.
A recent narrative review…
…looked at age-related muscle anabolic resistance. I understand that you might want to work me over with a baseball bat because you probably don’t know what “muscle anabolic resistance” is (neither did I 10 minutes ago) so let’s just say that it’s not a good thing.
And if your inner nerd really needs to know what it is, it’s the condition where the muscle protein synthesis (process of building muscle mass) response to protein becomes blunted over time. This can cause age-related loss of muscle and strength.
But you can prevent it from escalating via the implementation of strength training and nutritional strategies:
You see? Strength training is part of the solution. Too bad only 1–16% of older people in the United States and Australia strength train… Worse, people, especially older, know fuck-all about strength training. In fact, most don’t even know what strength training is!
In the recent study…
…researchers interviewed older people. One of the questions researchers asked the subjects was if they believed they were meeting the recommended guidelines of “build strength on at least 2 days/week.” Some of them believed they were meeting the strength guidelines because — brace yourself here — they did walking, yoga, and Pilates.
I might be a man with the intelligence of a child but I’m pretty sure none of these qualify as strength training.
Age-related muscle and strength loss is largely under your control. But you have to start lifting weights. As James Fell, a sweary historian, once said, “Strength training can make the difference in your golden years between climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and puttering around a retirement home on a motorized scooter.”
And so yeah, if you’re still not convinced of the importance of strength training for the quality of life, I don’t know what to tell you. Now go to the fucking gym.
Originally published by me on Medium on September 2, 2022