After the age of 30, everyone experiences sarcopenia, which is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, at the rate of about 3 to 5 percent every decade. That, says Jeff Tomaszewski, Chief Life Transformer at MaxStrength Fitness, has a profound effect on a person’s physical and mental abilities.
“When we lose our muscle mass, it affects all of our other subsystems,” Tomaszewski says. “It affects balance, joint health, posture, weight management, endurance, mental health, functional independence and overall longevity.”
Smart Business spoke with Tomaszewski about how the role of strength training in maintaining muscle mass and improving overall health.
Why is strength training significant?
Strength training encompasses the benefits of many other forms of training. For example, it can bring significant improvements to a person’s cardiovascular health because by making muscles work harder, the heart and lungs have to work harder. Strength training also increases flexibility as the exercises put muscles through a full range of motion, stretching them and increasing pliability.
Strength training improves a person’s overall health profile, makisng positive changes to cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and bone density while also sustaining fat loss.
Anything that physically fatigues the muscle will drive change in muscle mass. That can include bodyweight exercises, machines, free weights; there are lots of ways to go about it. The simplest introduction is through bodyweight exercises — pushups, pullups, squats, planks, anything that can be done without equipment. Those exercises can be dynamic, which is movement such as pushing up and down on the floor, or static, which is holding the position until it can no longer be held. Even people with physical limitations can start strength training with using bodyweight exercises.
How might improving strength improve mental health and combat stress?
Improving physical strength has a substantial positive impact on a person who’s often under significant mental stress, such as CEOs, by enhancing mood and reducing stress. Regular strength training releases endorphins — the body’s natural mood lifters — which can lead to an overall improvement in mood, decreased feelings of anxiety, and can boost confidence and self-esteem. As physical strength improves, so does a person’s quality of sleep, which has significant benefits for mental health. Additionally, the mental timeout of doing exercise and physically taxing the body reduces the physical symptoms of stress, such as muscle tension and headaches.
Who can help those whose time is limited overcome obstacles and get started safely?
Many people are intimidated by the traditional gym setting, especially if they’ve never used the equipment or performed the exercises before. That’s where working with a professional can help. A trainer can introduce accountability as well as tried and proven systems that take the guesswork out of exercise.
Often, someone left to their own devices will stop a program they’ve begun because it’s challenging. But that’s exactly when they need to continue — they need to push past the fatigue to realize results. A trainer will make sure the person is performing the exercises correctly and guide them to a level above and beyond where they’ve been in an efficient, effective and safe manner.
Working with a trainer is also buying time and speed. A trainer with years of experience has gone through the literature, understands the science and knows exactly how to maximize performance. That saves the person all of that guesswork. A trainer will specifically design a program tailored to the individual’s needs and walk them through the step-by-step process so they don’t need to worry about the logistics and the details — just show up and put in the work.
Often the most difficult part of starting a strength training program is taking the first step through the gym door. But once there, a trainer will teach the system and ensure the person gets the most efficient, effective workout possible in a fraction of the time they’d normally spend at the gym. ●
INSIGHTS Health & Fitness is brought to you by MaxStrength Fitness.