Written by TEAM MD
09 April 2021

 

Weightlifting-Slows-Aging-Process-in-Masters-Athletes

Weightlifting “Slows” Aging Process in Masters Athletes

Between ages 40 and 60, most people lose about 15 percent of their muscle mass. Worse, they lose muscle-nerve connections, so the muscles they have don’t work as well – and many of the fast-twitch muscles convert to weaker, less powerful slow-twitch muscles. Is this inevitable? No, according to a study by Dr. Stephen Pearson and colleagues from London. They compared elite masters weightlifters competing in the World Championship with age-matched controls and found that 80-year-old weightlifters had the strength of 60-year-old control subjects. Both groups lost power at the same rate – approximately 1.25 percent per year after age 45. But, the lifters could generate 32 percent more power at any age group than the non-lifters. Both groups lost power faster than strength. Lack of strength and power are deadly for older adults. Weight training is one of the best ways to fight Father Time and stay fit into your 80s and beyond.

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Mix Load and Reps for Maximum Gains. In their textbook Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and Its Applications, Brooks and Fahey first reported the practice of periodization of training that was introduced in the Soviet Union in the late ‘70s. Periodization varied the volume and intensity of training using load, peak, recovery, and conditioning cycles. Load cycles used multiple sets of four to 10 reps, while peak cycles involved three to five sets of one to four reps using very heavy loads. Recovery cycles were rest periods during heavy training, while conditioning cycles were off-season conditioning programs. A basic principle of periodization was that athletes should not mix peak and load cycles. For example, if a workout called for five sets of two reps at 365 pounds in the bench, the athlete shouldn’t finish off the workout doing 20 reps at 225 pounds – no matter how much it gratifies the ego. Arizona State researchers showed that this advice might not be correct. They found that people who mixed higher rep load workouts with high-intensity, low-rep workouts on different days of the week gained more strength than people who segregated load and peak cycles. The body adapts best to changing stresses. This important study shows that you should change your workout frequently to get the best results. (Med Sci Sports, 34: 1199-1206;J Strength Cond Res, published online)

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