Which strength training myths do you need to bust today?

Posted by Al Boyle
On February 18, 2024

“You don’t want to believe this, but that–that ain’t us up there no more, Apollo. We can’t do that the way we did it before. We’re–we’re changing, we’re like… turning into regular people.”

 

Rocky, explaining to Apollo that they’re not in their prime anymore
Rocky IV (1985)

In a previous edition, I spoke about losing the baggage that comes with the clarifying statement, “for your age”.

That’s someone else’s narrative, not yours. Not mine.

These strength training myths contribute to the narrative. It’s time to toss them into your mental recycle bin where they belong.

You can’t gain muscle mass after a certain age

I guess somebody forgot to tell Sylvester Stallone?

Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Jillian Michaels?

Denise Austin?

Cher?

Doubt it. There’s no shortage of uninformed opinions, naysayers, and detractors out there.

They knew–and they still know–who to listen to.

It’s tough to realize you can’t do what you used to do. At least, not at the same high level anymore.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop. Instead, adjust your goals. You’re playing the long game.

Now, maybe you don’t want a heavily muscled look. Maybe you’re more interested in maintaining than gaining muscle mass.

These are just a few celebrities over 50 proving it’s possible:

  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Sharon Stone
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • Tom Cruise
  • Elizabeth Hurley
  • Angela Bassett
  • Salma Hayek
  • Denzel Washington
  • Patrick Stewart

Yes, we lose muscle mass as we age. But we can slow our loss through consistent exercise, particularly strength training.

Strength training can not only slow our muscle mass loss, it can improve our:

  • Mobility
  • Balance
  • Mood

It can also decrease your risk for heart disease, Type II diabetes, and other health problems.

Older adults should avoid strength training

“I would never want anybody to come away from this thinking, ‘I’m too old to do anything about it.’ I think as long as you’re breathing, you have a chance to do something about it.”

 

Peter Attia MD
The Peter Attia Drive podcast
#261 ‒ Training for The Centenarian Decathlon: zone 2, VO2 max, stability, and strength

Peter also says–and I’m loosely paraphrasing here)–the weights you’re lifting with proper technique today prepare you for success with a strength challenge at an advanced age.

Could be lifting a grandchild. Or a suitcase. Or a grandchild in a suitcase. ← That came out wrong.

If you’re not lifting weights, you can use resistance bands, perform movements in a pool, or use your own body weight.

The prevailing thinking behind this myth may be that some have tried to go from zero to hero in a day, leading to injury.

Whether you haven’t trained in a long while or you’ve never trained, the smart play is to have a conversation with your doctor about your potential limitations before engaging with a certified trainer.

Strength training is difficult to learn

“Nemo! Ah, ha ha! Nemo! Ah, ha ha! I don’t get it.”

 

Chum, not getting Marlin’s “joke” when Marlin says his son’s name, interrupting the joke’s telling
Finding Nemo (2003)

I had the opposite problem for years: I thought I knew how to strength train. Time and injuries have taught me otherwise, in painful , and sometimes excruciating, detail.

Don’t be me.

There’s no shortage of qualified trainers who can teach you how to strength train. And it’s never too late to learn.

The science regarding the human body and fitness is constantly evolving. Think you know what you’re doing? You might, but given what’s at stake, isn’t it better to know?

Working with a professional will help ensure you’re basing your regimen on cutting edge information that aligns with your body’s needs, limitations, and fitness goals.

The final round

“Rocko! The last round of your life. The last round!”

 

Paulie, reminding Rocky to give his last round everything he has
Rocky Balboa (2006)

One more. Feel the burn…

“If you plan to have a remarkable marginal decade, by definition it means that all the decades that came before it also had to be pretty remarkable.”

 

Peter Attia, MD
The Peter Attia Drive podcast
#261 ‒ Training for The Centenarian Decathlon: zone 2, VO2 max, stability, and strength

The “marginal decade” he refers to is your life’s last decade. And it makes perfect sense: You wouldn’t expect to win an Olympic gold medal without training for it. Why would your fitness goal be any different?

Peter also said that, generally speaking, if everything in your life is a 6 or 7 out of 10, taking your exercise to a 10 out of 10 is going to have a “greater impact on both the length and quality of your life than any of the other domains that I can think of”.

You and your body deserve it.

What strength training myths are you busting?

Resources

https://www.coreptiowa.com/blog/post/3-myths-about-seniors-and-strength-training/

https://blog.ohiohealth.com/busting-eight-myths-about-exercise-and-aging/

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contentid=1492&contenttypeid=1

https://peterattiamd.com/training-for-the-centenarian-decathlon/

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