Which exercises are the most effective at slowing muscle loss as you get older?
A case study by Mansour Ansari
Exercises alone are not enough. You need a change of lifestyle. As we age, we lose muscle fibers slowly but surely. The rate at which we lose the muscle fibers, or gain weight (fat) is related to our lifestyle: muscle loss, bone thinning effects linked to our diet, hormones, sleep, and stress level.
In my case, when I hit the fifties, I was experiencing the impact of partial muscle loss around my knee joints, posterior, legs, gluteal, and core, I was weak, getting weaker rapidly. I had to make drastic changes to correct this.
The barbell strength training has no equal in building muscle and strength, mobility, balance, stamina. Note that by muscle, I am not advocating ways to pursue bodybuilding type muscle. I am strictly referring to the rehabilitation of the body, recovering lost connective tissues, and develop an underlying foundation of strength. That is much more important to average older adults experiencing muscle mass loss and, poor health. You can turn it around if not too late.
Back to my story, initially, a two years program of barbell strength training helped me remodel my physique while building a solid mass of connective tissues improving my functional fitness, improving the quality of my life where it matters the most. To date, I am maintaining what I created the first two years of my lifestyle. I have optimized my fitness greatly since then.
I eased my self into strength training. First, I couldn’t squat because it would hurt my joints and my knees would inflame (osteoarthritis), I lacked adequate mobility in my hips and joints. Lucky me, I could deadlift, and I was able to do cardio, though.
I can vouch for a program of barbell deadlifts to rehabilitate a weak body.
For example, conventional deadlifts (full body rehab tool), Romanian deadlifts (hamstring), Clean deadlifts, deadlift from the rack, from a deficit, Farmers Walks mixed with pull-ups, dips, and push-ups, cycling, and cardio are excellent choices. For the first two years, I followed a Powerlifting lifestyle including the diet/sleep. I slowly added added some overhead pressing (Benching). Gradually, I tested the barbell squats working out with the empty bar and eventually training with light weights, and the rest is history for me. Meanwhile I learned the correct way of strength programming and mastered the barbell techniques by working with a coach.
Almost a decade later, at the age sixty-three, I am in decent shape, but my story is not all about the deadlifts, squats, cardio, or the OH presses. So, about three years ago, I added the Olympic Lifts to my routines. It was probably the second best decision I have made for my general health and fitness. I kid you not.
For maximum health/fitness results, I highly recommend adding a plan of Olympic Weightlifting (optional) to the strength training routines but don’t skip the strength training.
To illustrate the proposal, I try to give you a visual example. To me, the results of Strength Training, the whole lifestyle choice was similar to winning the million dollar jackpot, the addition of Olympic Lifts won me the grand lottery. I adore both.
In a nutshell, a prescription of barbell squats, deadlifts, and overhead pressing offers the most impactful method to build strength and develop regenerate muscle mass at any age. The older adults, however, must focus more on recovery and diet. To pull it off, you need a coach and a plan that you can safely make progress with.
At my age, 65, I enjoy optimized fitness better than when I was 25. I also have developed excellent endurance and stamina, cardio conditioning, and speed. I am surprised I can do this at my age, but ten years of experience proves that Weightlifting is a superior method of rehabilitation. I am fully convinced. For overall efficacy and health benefits, general strength training comes close if you don’t want to bother with Weightlifting.
Begin with a plan of daily walking. Good things will start happening from there.