From the age of 30, you naturally start losing muscle mass – the part of your body composition responsible for a lean, toned look. If you don’t fight back, this muscle shrinkage (or sarcopenia) will continue until a quarter of your lean mass has wasted away by age 70. A decent percentage of lean tissue does create a sculpted shape, but staying strong is beyond vanity. Decreased muscle mass can make you frail and spoil your general quaky of life. Don’t think a flabby body is inescapable from your third decade onwards, however – studies Say regular strength training sessions (also known as resistance training and weight training) will help preserve your precious muscle mass.
Train your muscles
Any exercise that forces your muscles to work against resistance (making them strain under a higher workload than they’re used to) will build and strengthen them. Pumping free weights (like dumbbells) or using the machinery in your gym’s circuit section aren’t the only ways to challenge your muscles; you can also tighten up by working against your own body weight (squats, sit-ups, push-ups, planks and lunges, for example) or by using resistance bands. Some of the health benefits that women and men of all ages can expect after sticking to a strength-training programme include weight control, a more restful night’s sleep, fewer arthritis symptoms, improved balance and flexibility, boosted bone density, better glucose control, a healthier heart and a perked-up mood.
Start getting strong
To experience results (and avoid injury), you need to follow a carefully thought-out strength training programme – if you’re doing it properly, you’ll notice increased muscle definition within the first 4-8 weeks. Keep these factors in mind:
Aim to do 2-3 sessions (20-30 minutes each) of full body strength training a week. During your sessions you can either train your whole body in one go, or work your upper body during one session and your lower body during the next. Factor in at least 48 hours of rest between sessions that work the same muscle groups so your muscles have time to recover. If you opt for the upper-body/lower-body split this means you’ll need to do 2-3 upper-body workouts and 2-3 lower-body workouts a week. Start with a 510-minute warm-up session (walk briskly, for example) and end with 5-10 minutes of slow walking then stretching
Whichever type of strength training you choose, it’s important that you learn how to perform the exercises properly. A personal trainer can show you how to align your body correctly throughout the sequence of movements so you avoid injury and stunted results.
While strength training is great for stalling dwindling muscle mass, to maximize your chances of resisting aging’s effects on your body you need to add three additional forms of exercise to your weekly workouts: cardio, flexibility (stretching) and neuromotor (these are routines that promote balance, agility and coordination. like tai chi and yoga).The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise weekly; 2-3 full-body flexibility sessions a week; and 20-30 minutes of neuromotor exercise 2-3 times a week. Be aware that meeting the ACSM’s challenging recommendation is only half the battle. You’ll also need to limit the time you spend seated, which means stretching your legs frequently while at work (standing up for a few minutes every half hour or so will also help) and cutting down on after hours sedentary activities.