When I’m talking about bodybuilding, I’m not talking about standing on a stage, drug-enhanced with a fake tan in a little g-string, having stripped away every ounce of body fat.
This is not healthy and not what bodybuilding is supposed to be. What we need over 50 is to build our bodies, developing them in such a way to protect us from injury, illness and disease, things that we become more susceptible to as we age.
Bodybuilding should be about creating a natural, strong, muscular and aesthetic physique through resistance training and good nutrition. The muscle balance that comes with this improves our posture and protects our joints, like our knees, where they work as shock absorbers.
Making sure our joints stay in proper alignment with a symmetrical aesthetic that doesn’t allow one muscle to be over-developed, pulling us out of line against a weaker underdeveloped muscle. Protecting us from pain, especially in the most common areas like knees, hips and back.
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Osteoarthritis is a disease that affects the tissue in our joints, causing them to break down and is more common in older people.
Knee Osteoarthritis is well studied, and they’ve found a relationship between muscle weakness and the symptoms of osteoarthritis, including pain. The more muscle strength you have, the less pain you’ll experience.
We should look at this in two ways those of us who are over 50 and still relatively pain-free want to continue to train and build muscle to protect our joints and ourselves from future debilitating pain.
For those who are already experiencing pain from arthritis and may feel any sort of strength training would be far too painful, they did an interesting study using people over 50.
When we think of strength training, we might think we need to train heavy, like with 80 percent of our one rep max. Well, in this study, they had one group exercise with 60 percent of their one rep max for 3 sets of 8 reps which isn’t anywhere near failure.
Then they had a second group work with only 10 percent of their one rep max, but they increased the volume to 10 sets of 15 repetitions 3 times a week. We need to make our workouts progressive, but we can start light and gradually work our way up as our joints and tendons allow us.
What they found after 8 weeks is both groups had significant improvement in knee pain, physical function and muscle torque.
Weight training, when done right, doesn’t just protect our joints, but it strengthens our bones, keeping them strong and protecting us from fractures.
One thing bodybuilders are very good at is getting super lean into single-digit body fat levels. Much of this is done through nutrition, but another thing that helps is their increased resting metabolic rate.
Now I’m not proposing we should be striving for single-digit fat levels. There is a healthy range, but as we get older and our metabolism starts to slow down. We can use weight training to reverse this and reignite our metabolism.
They took 12 untrained men and put them on an 18-week resistance training program.
They found while the weight training subject's overall body mass didn’t change, they gained 2.1 kg of fat-free mass and lost the equivalent in fat mass. This additional lean mass resulted in a significant increase in their average daily metabolic rate. So they burned more calories every day even though they were only training twice a week.
Staying at a healthy body fat percentage helps to protect us from a host of Illnesses
They took a group adults did progressive Resistance training program 3 times a week for 16 weeks annd increased lean mass, reduced Systolic blood pressure, and decreased trunk fat mass.