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Help Stuff the Bus with Rock 102 for the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre

posted by Fitness Focus    |   November 17, 2015 13:33
Calling all Gym Members! Help Stuff the Bus with Rock 102 for the Saskatoon Food Bank & Learning Centre.

There's a nice big donation bin here at the front desk at Fitness Focus; between now and December 10th we're collecting donations for the Rock 102 Stuff the Bus campaign. While Food Bank usage is down across the province, it has risen in some areas, such as Saskatoon in 2015; it doesn't take much time or money to help out those in need.
Most wanted food items include:
- Whole Grain Cereals
- Infant Formula
- Hearty Soups & Stews
- Whole Grain Pastas
- 100% Real Fruit Juice
- Canned Beans & Protien
- Canned Vegetables

Saskatoon Gyms Fitness Focus Food Bank

Strength Training With The Team Wawryk Personal Trainers

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 11, 2014 19:50

Training in the gym with Team Wawryk Personal Trainers. Fitness Focus and TrustedSaskatoon.com brings you trusted tips from Chris Pylypchuk, part of the Team Wawryk Personal Training Team.  Chris has been a part of Fitness Focus for fifteen years and has been working with Team Wawryk since 2010.

Team Wawryk is ready to train you; offering a training service that is suitable for both the beginner and experienced athlete. In addition to individual training sessions, they also offer group training sessions.  They specialize in weight management, nutrition and diet planning backed by over 50 years collective experience in the gym.

Canadian Adult Fitness Tax Credit

posted by Fitness Focus    |   November 25, 2013 13:56

The cost of the Canadian Government’s plan to implement the Adult Fitness Tax Credit is stated to be much lower than the originally estimated cost researched by Fitness Industry Council of Canada. On September 25th, a report from the federal budget office was released. This report proclaimed that the implementation of an Adult Fitness Tax Credit could cost the government upwards of $268 million over five years. If the credit were implemented, it would allow Canadians to claim a non-refundable tax credit of up to $500 for eligible physical activity program costs against their taxable income at a rate of 15 per cent, or a maximum of $75 deducted from tax payable. In 2007, Fitness Industry Council of Canada (FIC) commissioned an economic report from the Centre for Spatial Economics (CSE), which outlined the potential costs of implementing the tax credit, as well as potential economic benefits that would result from its implementation. The federal budget office currently estimates that the implementation of an Adult Fitness Tax Credit could cost $268 million over five years. The 2007 CSE report estimated that it would cost government $389.5 million, which makes the government’s prediction $121.5 million less than expected. 

Based on the CSE report, the implementation of the tax credit would also create an economic benefit of $625 million over five years in net healthcare savings versus the tax loss. If both the federal and provincial governments participate, the health care savings would reach $1.1 billion by 2029. With an implemented Adult Fitness Tax Credit, the CSE report estimates the number of physically active adult Canadians would increase by almost one million people. Research consistently shows that a physically active person is more likely to have better health outcomes than a non-active person. Regular physical activity is effective in the prevention of several chronic diseases, untimely saving health care costs. Additionally, the likelihood that workers would miss work due to illnesses related to physical unfitness would decrease. During the 2011 election campaign, Prime Minister Steven Harper pledged that an Adult Fitness Tax Credit would be implemented once the budget was balanced. In March of 2013 at the House of Commons, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty updated his fiscal plan. He stated that the goal remains to balance the Canadian budget by 2015. “The lower cost estimate by the government is positive news for an Adult Fitness Tax Credit and the fitness industry. The estimated cost of the program, and the anticipated balancing of the budget, makes the possibility for an Adult Fitness Tax Credit even stronger,” says David Hardy, President of FIC. FIC is dedicated to continue lobbying the government to ensure that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s re-election promise from April 2011 of implementing an Adult Fitness Tax Credit is completed once the budget is balanced (expected in 2015). For more information on the Adult Fitness Tax Credit or to review the CSE report, please visit http://www.adultfitnesstaxcredit.ca

10 Tips and Tricks for Weight Loss

posted by Fitness Focus    |   June 16, 2013 16:01

Here are 10 tips and tricks for weight loss that you may never have heard.

1.       The weight loss equation

The easiest way to explain the process of losing weight is that weight loss occurs when the body consumes less calories than it burns.  So the simple equation goes like this: Calories In – Calories Out = Weight Loss.  There are obviously many other important factors involved here, but keeping this simple formula in mind can be helpful in many situations.

2.       Monitor your daily calorie intake

Do Not obsess over counting calories. Being aware and maintaining a clear idea about the number of calories you're consuming daily is important to keep on track with weight management.  Get to know how to use food labels; know what you are eating in terms of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and remember: 1 gram of Carbs=4 calories, 1 gram of Protein=4 calories and 1 gram of Fat=9 calories. 

3.       Eat at predefined hours

Plan to eat your meals at the same time of day, everyday.  This helps digestion since our biological clock is synchronized with our brain and stomach.  Also, eating with consistency will help your know when it actually needs food, versus when your brain wants food.  Eating with consistency makes it easier to monitor and maintain weight management. 

4.       The importance of Water

Dehydration, lack of energy, tiredness and headaches are just a few of the effects from not drinking enough water.  Many of us make this critical mistake. All the maladies aside, when it comes to weight loss, water can assist detoxification and the removal of unnecessary toxins from the body and skin but also helps with digestion and keeps the stomach full, which reduces hunger and the unnecessary consumption of calories. Like vitamins and minerals, water also has a daily recommended intake.  For women, its just under 3 liters of water per day and for men its about 4 liters.  So, begin your day with a cold glass of water to restart all your body's natural functions for the day and don't forget to carry a bottle with you at work, during your daily errands and of course in the gym.

5.       Do not rush into getting super-fast results

Follow a slow and steady regimen to manage your weight loss and keep it off.  Taking on a crash diet from the Internet will end right where you started before diet.  Proper, healthy weight loss takes a bit longer.  Take time to do it right, and learn the proper changes to your lifestyle to make your weight management something you can do for life.

6.       Learn how to lose weight the safe way

Even people that have made healthy living part of their lifestyle for year make mistakes and often just aren't doing things correctly.  So as a beginner, its important not to get discouraged; there are many paths along the way to your goals and a lot of them will be dead-ends. If you are new to dieting and weight loss then most probably you are confused from where to start and what should be your first step etc. This is very common and one of the most popular questions we get from our readers the last 6 years. In my opinion before even starting a diet or weight loss program you should do some reading and familiarize yourself with the basic weight loss concepts. I am not suggesting spending days learning the theory, after all losing weight is a practical matter, but learning a few important concepts in advance can prove very helpful in the long run. The guide you are reading now is a good starting point as it covers all aspects of weight loss, fitness and dieting; you can continue reading our other articles as well since we have planned to gather all the information you need in one place.

7.       Keep a food and emotions journal

For many people emotions and feelings are associated with the quantities of food consumed.  When you are stressed or depressed you turn to food (and especially fatty food) for comfort. This is may be happening to you as well and you know that this is bad and can destroy all your hopes for losing weight. You cannot easily control this but one handy tip to try is keeping a food and emotions journal. This is basically a piece of paper (or an online food journal) where you record what you eat per day and your emotional state. If you do this for a couple of weeks and go back and have a look at the results you may identify some patterns and take some precaution measures. For example you can remove sweets and snacks from your cupboards and replace them with healthy alternatives. By doing so when you are feeling stress and turn to food for relief you will not end up eating a tone of calories but food items that are at least healthier.

8.       No need to measure your weight on a daily basis

As mentioned before, weight loss takes time and getting on the scale everyday won't make the process any faster but most probably will add more stress and frustration. Instead try to weigh yourself once per week with consistency; that means the same time of the same day every week because the later in the day will always be high than your weight in the morning.

9.       Never try to follow more than one weight loss program at a time

If you choose to follow a commercial diet or weight loss program then concentrate on one program at a time. Good weight loss programs have different phases, each phase having a clear start and finish goal. Follow the program guidelines correctly for the time required and evaluate your results at the end. Mixing different programs together or not following their instructions will not generate any good results.

10.   Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you are not getting any results. The Internet is a great way to learn how to lose weight but sometimes other factors such as diseases, functional disorders may hold you back. A professional (a doctor or nutritionist) will be able to identify these and suggest ways to overcome them.

 

Beyond The Weight Room With Melissa Leier: Find Your Fitness Personality

posted by Fitness Focus    |   May 6, 2013 16:40

Now that we’re a few months into the New Year, if you have committed to new fitness practices, you’re likely either enjoying new activities while planning to keep on going with what you’ve started or you are struggling to keep doing what you committed to and wondering where that crazy idea came from in the first place! For many, that’s often the case after trying something new. If it’s not the right fit for you, you may give up due to frustration, boredom, difficulty or lack of enjoyment.

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that both exercisers and trainers can align fitness regimens with personality types to best structure a lasting routine and recognize pitfalls. Figure out what drives you and use that knowledge to help you stick to it and enjoy it. The key to thriving in those fitness challenges you set for yourself toward long-term goals is to find your fit and work with your personality, rather than against it. For example, consider if you like consistency in your day to day or prefer an ever-changing environment? Do you work best with specific goals set or do you like to go with the flow? Are you an early riser getting your obligations out of the way first thing or are you more spontaneous, taking opportunities to be active as they arise or at random times during the day? First things first, what is your personality?

National Health & Fitness Day Act

posted by Fitness Focus    |   December 9, 2012 15:48

It was recently announced that MP John Weston of West Vancouver introduced a private memberís bill to establish a National Health and Fitness Day. The bill encourages local governments to open the doors of their facilities on a complementary basis on the first Saturday of June each year. This act hopes to benefit Canadians by encouraging participation in healthy physical activities at a time when obesity-related conditions such as diabetes are taking an increasing toll on our health and economy.

National Health and Fitness Day Saskatoon

This September, Statistics Canada reported that 31.5 per cent of Canadians between ages five and 17 are over-weight or obese. Weston makes it very clear in his statement that he is NOT proposing to create a National Skinny Day. He wants to create a day which revolves around educating Canadians, young and old, about the importance of staying fit through physical activity.  In turn, this Bill will encourage individuals of all demographics to participate in physical activity in order lead a healthier lifestyle.

 Weston has the support of all four parties represented in the House of Commons. Two MPs, the NDPís Peter Stoffer of Nova Scotia and Liberal Kirsty Duncan of Ontario, have publicly endorsed Westonís initiative. With the assistance of the fitness industry, this Bill has a high potential of passing. Currently, many fitness facilities have also shown their support towards hosting National Health and Fitness Day. Some clubs who have already shown their support include, Curves (national), Cambridge Group of Clubs (Ontario) and Fitness Focus (Saskatoon). We are hoping that we can get as many fitness facilities and clubs on board as possible to promote this initiative.

Fitness Focus Gift Certificates For Christmas

posted by Fitness Focus    |   November 30, 2012 15:29

Fitness Focus Saskatoon

Its cold outside, the snow is blowing, and the cabin fever is likely starting to set in. Get to the gym and bring a friend! Gift certificate for a membership at Fitness Focus are a perfect gift for Christmas; especially since winter means that most of us are stuck at home waiting for summer to get active again.

Gift Certificates are available for nearly any denomination. Start a new membership for someone or you can add some time to someone's existing membership.

 

Pick up a gift certificate at Fitness Focus today 1250 Ontario Avenue, or purchase over the phone.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions: info@fitnessfocus.ca

Beyond The Weight Room With Melissa Leier: Compeition Nutrition

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 7, 2012 19:50
How Dieting Impacts The Body And Mind

HOW WE FUEL OUR BODIES and our brains has a significant impact on what we can achieve during a major physical transformation as well as how we function day to day. Athletes who train for physique competitions fuel up for a purpose and have specific goals in mind to reach the desired outcomes. Nutritional plans are different for short-term phases, like a leaning-out phase of preparation for a physique contest, also called the “diet down”, and longer terms, such as building lean muscle mass in an off-season. When it comes to the sometimes extreme practices of contest preparation nutrition, there can be negative impacts on an athlete’s body and mind.

What We Do And How We Do It

Competition preparation varies from athlete to athlete, but generally starts 16 to 20 weeks before the contest date. To sculpt that chiselled, competition- ready physique, competitors do more than adhere to a gruelling workout schedule. Following very specific nutrition protocols makes all the difference while preparing for a contest. The goal of competition preparation is to reduce body fat while preserving muscle.

Food selection, meal timing and calorie intake vs. expenditure each play a role in achieving winning physiques for competitions. The right nutrition plan essentially helps eliminate subcutaneous fat, making the skin appear thinner and allowing muscle striations to emerge, showcasing your lean physique. Then competitors can show off the art of a muscular physique resulting from all their hard work in the gym.

Competition nutrition plans aim to trim away fat and this is only done by burning more than you’re consuming to create a calorie deficit. During contest prep, frequent meal times, clean eating and sufficient protein content help preserve lean mass. This allows athletes to reach body fat percentages as lean as six to eight per cent for women or two to four per cent for men without a significant loss of muscle mass.

It Works, But…
Although following an exact and strict plan will achieve the desired physique results for a contest, it should be considered temporary and should change post-contest. A contest prep diet does restrict or limit certain food choices and it may not be wise to eliminate nutrients our bodies may need in the long-term. Some physique athletes go two to three months without fruit or dairy, with limited essential fats/oils, high-sugar foods and starch carbohydrates. All athletes are impacted differently. Some will breeze through a contest preparation and not have anything change with their systems during the different phases of nutrition. However, others may experience dry skin or hair, irregular digestive systems or even emotional ups and downs as a result of a restricted content prep diet.

Carb Depletion And Mental Fog

Reducing certain carbohydrates in the short-term runs the risk of producing a metabolic condition of ketosis, which can potentially cause an athlete to feel lethargic, sluggish and tired. The problem with this is that it can decrease the intensity of training and activity level, which is needed to burn calories. In addition to the physical impact, some athletes report that the lack of carbs creates a “mental fog” or an impact on cognitive performance. The mental fog could result in little things like forgetting where you set your keys down or putting the dry oatmeal back into the refrigerator and the eggs into the cupboard. Therefore, it is important to find a healthy balance of nutrition with sufficient macronutrients to fuel workouts and brain function, while allowing your body to burn more calories than you’re consuming.

Appearance

Some athletes find that having nutrition plans high in protein and low in fat, sugar and carbohydrates, while avoiding excessive sodium and dairy, can lead to the body storing less water. This can reduce the appearance of bloating and help with showing muscularity striation, but sometimes the skin can look less full, showing wrinkles and looking dry. This tends to be even more apparent the day of the competition when water intake is reduced. Often you’ll see athletes with “shrunken in” cheeks or more apparent shadows under their eyes. I find that this look leads to some people’s perception of the bodybuilder athlete as looking “unhealthy,” but this effect usually only lasts a day or two.

Digestion Regularity And The Cheat Meal

The temporary reduction in certain nutritional options can also impact some athletes’ digestive systems—bowel regularity in particular. I recommend staying well hydrated and consuming sufficient fibre from celery, cucumbers, asparagus, spinach and more. I describe it as a reduction rather than an omission because many have found that a strategy that includes a “cheat meal” once in a while can be helpful. This can not only get the digestive system moving again, but can refuel the body full of energy when certain things have been limited. Having one cheat meal every few weeks throughout contest preparation or as needed means you’re not depriving yourself of cravings, making it more do-able to go the distance with super clean eating over the course of several months and not feel like you’re missing out.

The Houdini Abs Effect

The post-contest period can be disappointing to those new to the sport of competition. When an athlete has unrealistic expectations of maintaining the look of the physique they had on stage, it can seem like the weeks of work they put in to lean out can all disappear within one to two weeks. But they are not necessarily “gaining it all back.” It can be the body’s skin cells filling back up with water content from post-contest nutritional and hydration changes, which creates a softer look on top of the muscle. I call this the “Houdini Abs Effect”—there one day, gone the next! For me, it takes several months to shed the body fat to have my abdominal muscles showing, but within three days of re-hydrating they’re gone. Don’t let this play mind games with you. As long as you practice regular exercise, clean eating and healthy lifestyle practices year- round you are doing great, whether you have defined, chiselled abs or not!

Positive vs. Negative

Yes, there are some potentially negative impacts on the body in the short term from the strict dieting necessary for competition. However, more often than not, the positive impacts outweigh some of the negatives. Emotionally, endorphins released from exercise will boost our mood and we will feel great. Regular exercise paired with a clean eating nutrition plan is the key to vitality.

Why We Do It

So, with all of the potential downsides for athletes during contest preparation, why do we do it? Well, it is the personal challenge, experience and sense of achievement that we love. It is the visual confirmation of our hard work. You get to see the curves, cuts, striations and bulk of muscle hypertrophy built up in the gym. It is the sense of accomplishment that we’ve taken our fitness to the next level and the personal motivation that separates us from those who don’t compete. Remember, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it!

 

Photos by Tyler Harris

Sweat The Technique: A Few Words On Weight Training

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 6, 2012 12:41

Here is Our Favorite Article from the October Issue of Saskatoon Wellbeing Magazine.

Saskatoon Wellbeing’s debut issue back in January featured professional bodybuilder Kai Greene, a noted positive thinker, in a piece we called Kai Greene and The Power Of Mind. As an inspiration to the magazine, we thought it was time to revisit the man, who, aside from being the master of his thoughts is also the master of his physical movement inside the gym. As he likes to say, “The physical you is a walking manifestation of your mind.” So it’s time to focus, all of you men and women who lift weights.

Proper form is essential. It allows you to load and maintain the stress of the weight on the muscle you are attempting to build. Instead of perfecting their form on each exercise, many people add more weight as soon as their strength progresses and then their form begins to fail. That’s assuming they had any to begin with. When the stress is diverted from the targeted muscle area to the joints and the joints start to assist that muscle group, muscle becomes stubborn to grow, even if you are still taking sets to failure and staying within the correct rep range. You may get a bit stronger. You may even see positive changes at first. But, over time, you will not see the gains in the mirror that you could be seeing.

As much as anyone in the world, Kai Greene has made the most out of his physique through an intense and focused connection between his mind and his body. The biomechanics, form and almost three decades of increasing poundage has allowed Greene to generate complete fibre recruitment of every muscle in every workout. No action goes to waste. Every contraction of the muscle is deliberate and a by-product of intense visualization. It is a fluid orchestra of movement.

 > When Greene is doing t-bar rows or seated pulley rows he visualizes not just on the pull toward his chest, but on meeting his hands with his chest halfway through the movement. The result is more lat recruitment and space for contraction. If you can imagine pulling your elbows with your back instead of pulling the weight with your elbows you will begin to understand his visual process.

> When Greene is doing lat pulldowns, he is not just going through the motions of keeping his elbows forward and pulling the bar down to his chest with his lats. He is subtly rolling his scapula back at the same time and rolling it forward on the way up. This creates maximum recruitment and full range of motion, also helping him stay loose and impingement free.

> When Greene is doing a bench press or narrow grip press he is pressing the weight with an arc, driving it back and slightly over his eyes, while maintaining a slight arch between his shoulder blades and glutes. All of these actions contribute to taking the stress out of his front delts and moving it into his pecs.

> When Greene is performing straight-legged deadlifts he is focusing the tension on his glutes and away from his lower back, something that is very difficult to accomplish. He pushes the outsides of his feet laterally into the floor, flexing his entire lower body, then commences with the stiff-legged movement.

> When Greene is walking on the treadmill during his daily warm-up, he is flexing his glutes and hamstrings on the back end of each step. This consistent, detailed focus enhances his mind to muscle connection, creating pathways that allow him to more efficiently stress his muscles with the resistance to come.

        Read more of this article from Kai Greene at http://www.saskatoonwellbeing.com

The Anti-Aging Agents of Exercise and Weight Training

posted by Fitness Focus    |   October 2, 2012 23:00

Questions from around the gym: Working out helps me shape and tone my body, what are some of the health benefits of weight training?

The Anti-Aging Agents of Exercise and Weight Training

By the time you finish reading this article, you, like every other person alive on the planet, will have gotten a bit older. From the moment we are born, we begin to mature but naturally, we don’t really pay any attention to getting older until we start actually seeing and feeling all the tangible signs of the passage of time on our body. We are living longer than ever before mostly due to advances in medical technology and improvements in living conditions.  In fact, by the year 2030, there will be over double the amount of North Americans over the age of 65 than in the year 2000. Unfortunately, we have been  influenced once again into viewing the aging process as an illness that we must treat and reversed.  Increased body fat, significant loss of muscle mass and strength to the point of infirmity in addition to the slew of age associated conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis are erroneously seen as an inevitable consequence of growing older. However, studies of older individuals who regularly engaged in weight training and bodybuilding have always challenged the idea that such infirmities come more as a self-fulfilling prophecy as a result of inactivity and poor dietary choices than a fate that we are all destined to suffer.  This article is going to take a look at the physiological aspect of aging and how weight training and exercise can create what gerontologists nowadays refer to as successful aging; basically getting older with a low probability of disease or physical disability, maintaining high cognitive and physical function and having an active engagement with life in later years.

Understanding The Mechanisms Of Aging
Start by understanding just how exactly does aging occur. It is easy to recognize the results of aging, however there are certain biological mechanisms at work that we are often unaware of. The number cells that make up our body are kept at a relatively steady number through the process of mitosis (remember back to hisgh school biology, cells dividing) typically even with the number of cells that are dying. This balance is know as homeostasis, and it is utterly necessary for optimal health and body function however this equilibrium cannot be maintained indefinitely.  In what is called the Hayflick limit, all animal cells have a limited number of times that they can reproduce. As we get older, senescence sets in- which is a decline in the ability of our bodies’ cells to divide. This usually starts in our early thirties and continues on throughout our lives. One prevailing theory is that the everyday occurrence of cellular reproduction leads to cumulative damage to our DNA and cells begin to die or not function correctly. This process, called apoptosis is actually beneficial as it acts a way of ‘cleaning up’ that benefits the healthy remaining cells. Taken as a whole, aging thus is nothing more than our bodies decline in being able to deal with stress. Maintaining homeostasis becomes more and more difficult until a point is reached where the organism dies.

The Role Of Weight Training In The Prevention of Muscle Wasting

 Building muscle however through the use of a well executed weight training program of sufficient intensity is a way of increasing our bodies’ potential response to stress. As we get older, one of the main aspects working against us from being as strong and as built as we were in our younger years is sarcopenia. Sarcopenia which means literally ‘poverty of the flesh’, refers to the loss of skeletal  muscle mass that comes with aging which in turn leads to weakness and frailty. For the average member of the population, as much as 50% of your skeletal muscle mass is lost between the ages of 20 and 90 years resulting in in a corresponding reduction in muscular strength. Such loss of muscle mass is usually associated as well with an increase in overall body fat. However as normal an occurrence this might be for most of us, studies suggest that lack of exercise- or more specifically weight bearing resistance exercise (like weight training) may be one of the overriding causes of sacropenia.

We don’t have to lose such large amounts of muscle mass as we age, but without an active lifestyle that incorporates some form of resistance exercise over the course of time our bodies will indeed fall victim to the syndrome of ‘use it or lose it.’ While it would be absurd to think that weight training can allow you to be strong and muscular as you were in your twenties, preliminary research shows that those who engage in intense weight training over the course of their lifetime are able to demonstrate physical qualities and abilities on par with if not exceeding that of untrained individuals in their twenties while well into their fifth decade of life. With most of our medical anti-aging focus resting on the shoulders of pharmaceutical companies trying to find a pill form solution to the combat the effects of the march of time, comparatively little is invested in researching protocols that are far less potentially lucrative such as weight training. Nevertheless, short term studies thus far do indeed show that resistance exercises like weight training increase the ability of our muscles to synthesize proteins and thus minimizing the advent of skeletal muscle decline over the years.

Getting Older- A Detailed Look At The Physiology

As we get older, it is not only our muscles that get significantly weaker without physical activity but also our bones. Increased bone porosity and reduction in bone mass can lead to the debilitating effects of osteoporosis. Which as we know can be both reversed and prevented by the implementation of weight bearing activities such as weight training. There are some aspects however that are beyond our control, as with the advancing years comes a natural decrease in the speed of nerve conduction, reduction in peak cardiovascular ability as well as a decline in kidney and other organ function. As mentioned earlier in an explanation of the Hayflick limit, our cells have a limited number of reproductions; and as you get older the motor units (motoneurons) in your fast twitch muscles begin to die. You don’t immediately notice it, as our bodies have a remarkable system of compensating. Consider that a muscles in  your leg may have 250 motor units with each motor unit having as many as a thousand muscle fibers under its control.

This ratio of motor units to muscle fiber is known as an innervation ratio and in this case would be 1,000 muscle fibers per motoneuron.
Over the course of time, those 250 motor units in your leg muscle may drop by as much as half to 125 by the time you are 70 years old, and you would think that this would make you only half as strong, but it isn’t that straightforward. You see, we lose muscle fibers at a much slower rate than motor units so you would have only lost 10% of the muscle fiber in that leg muscle by the age of 70. However, the remaining 125 motor units sprout new branches to the muscle fibers that have lost their motor units to activate them and do more work than they did before. As a result, there is a higher innervation ratio, in this example it would be let us say 1,500 muscle fibers per motoneuron as our motor units take control of more muscle fibers as a way of helping us retain our strength as we get older.

Our nervous system also slows with the passage of time and so the mechanisms of muscle contraction slows down as well. Despite these natural declines, regular resistance type exercise and an overall active lifestyle can help minimize and offset the effect of these changes in our bodies. The more muscle mass built up over time, the more strength, coordination and motor skills you will have as you get older. A point lost sadly on the millions of women who invest most of their time pursuing aerobic type exercises and lower impact activities like yoga out of a misplaced fear of developing man-sized muscles and thus curtail their involvement in weight training- the very exercises that will help them stay looking and feeling younger as the years go by.  

Hormone Replacement Isn’t Always The Answer
Our hormones also play a role in the reduction of our muscle mass as we get older. Testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) help our bodies’ build and maintain muscle mass but there is a marked reduction in production as we get older. High intensity weight training has been shown to increase all three hormones naturally and within standard human parameters. It might sound like a good idea to forgo weight training and instead turn to hormone replacement therapies but research shows that this reduction in hormones may be a key mechanism that allows us to live longer. Mammalian models with reduced growth hormone (GH) and/or IGF-1 appear to live longer and while the administration of testosterone replacement therapy for men has become a lucrative and fast growing industry here in the United States, presently available data do not justify the broad use of such hormones for anti-aging purposes.

Effects Of A Lifetime Of Weight Lifting On the Aging Process

While it is established that there is a natural decline in our bodies from the age of 30 or so due to the processes mentioned above- there are also many examples of individuals who defy the narrative of decline for far longer than one would expect. In 1987, Dr. Fredrick Hatfield- (or Dr. Squat as he is affectionately known) set a world powerlifting record squatting over 1,000 lbs at the age of 45- more than any human being in history had ever successfully lifted in competition. A feat he was able to continue well into his fifties. My good friend and natural bodybuilder Kenny Hall started competing in his twenties and kept on winning titles for the next half a century. His greatest accomplishment was winning the Pro Mr. America in 1969 but he maintained a level of muscle mass and definition that allowed him to easily best other competitors decades younger than he was until he retired in his 70’s so that others would have their chance to win as well.

The science of Gerontology has only just started to pay attention to the amazing examples set by those engaged in a lifetime of weight training and drug free bodybuilding and research reveals that involvement in such activities can ‘create possibilities for people to age positively and reconstruct what aging “normally” means.” Such studies also highlight the self fulfilling prophecy that our society’s acceptance of advancing age as a time of disengagement, dysfunction and disease goes a long way in our not taking action to prevent it from being just that.  As long as we see aging as a downward trajectory of physical and mental deterioration, we are doomed to experience it as such. One of the common perspectives of men and women involved in weight training activities over the course of their lives and who exhibit remarkable physicality into the later sixth decades of life is what was termed a ‘mondadic styled’ body. In short, they focused on who they were and what they were doing as opposed to being influenced by what society expected them to be or the examples of their peers whose aging process tended to follow the narrative of decline that we are so used to hearing. Without turning to hormonal solutions that can often cause more problems than they solve, these individuals centered themselves on following a lifestyle. A lifestyle that allows them to significantly offset the impact of aging and achieve what we are all looking for- twilight years that aren’t defined by disease and disability but by engagement with life on all levels. We don’t need drugs or DeLeon’s fabled fountain of youth, we just need to make certain forms of exercise a part of our lives at all times.

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