THE IMPORTANCE OF RESISTANCE TRAINING (maintenance & optimization of health and longevity)

THE IMPORTANCE OF RESISTANCE TRAINING (maintenance & optimization of health and longevity)


Resistance training is so much more than a modality to build strength and alter body composition. It’s a modality that improves your quality of life, and increases vitality and longevity. Resistance training cures you of the bad and leaves you with the good while physically transforming your body. It empowers you. It provides you with the knowledge that you’re bettering yourself. It keeps you coming back for more and provides long term sustainable results that contribute to your heath and well-being.

As the American lifestyle became more sedentary and the rise of decreased health and longevity as grown over the past decade the promotion of physical activity has become more encouraged. At this point, I think we all know that exercise is crucial to living a heathy life. It decreases risk of disease, improves sleep, reduces stress and the list goes on. However, the initial emphasis was placed on aerobic training as the primary method for weight loss and benefits towards health. Aerobic training is great for metabolic health (i.e. reduce stress, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, lipids) and does play a part in maintaining and optimizing good health. Implementing a combination of aerobic and resistance training is optimal and advised. However, when you use resistance training as a primary method for exercise you’re directly working against one key factor: the natural progression of aging.

As we age there are specific factors that interfere with our ability to maintain aesthetics and optimize our health (hormones, fat storage shift, sarcopenia/muscle loss, osteopenia/bone strength, decreased elasticity and collagen production). It’s an inevitable part of life that our bodies are going to change, internally and externally. So the question relies heavily on how to maintain a heathy body composition and simultaneously contribute to our health. When understand we this it becomes easier to shift our efforts towards methods that reverse aging and improve these health factors.

We’re are seeing a paradigm shift towards resistance training as a primary exercise method. Over the past decade new research and studies are emerging with the benefits it can provide to improve our quality of life. The general population has started to realize that resistance training is more than building muscle and altering body composition, which is amazing.

The goal is to get your desire results but in a way that feels good by providing confidence, knowledge, energy, stamina and strength. I’ve outlined below specific factors that hold the most value towards moving well and feeling good, for as long as possible:

  • Hormonal balance / influence (decreases fluctuations / optimize hormonal profile and fat storage). Several factors influence the balance of our hormones: aging, stress, nutrition, body composition, insulin resistance, to name a few. Resistance training creates hormonal changes that help both men and woman in building dense muscle tissue and assists with decreasing the shift in fat storage in problematic locations. Strength training can also help regulate sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) when we age. In men, testosterone levels drop which can affect muscle growth, energy levels and sex drive. In woman, when you reach perimenopausal your estrogen levels are starting to fluctuate and are slowly decreasing. Once menopause takes place there is a significant drop in estrogen causing a shift in fat distribution viscerally (fat surrounding internal organs). Visceral fat is more damaging to your metabolic health compared to fat deposited in your arms or legs for example. In summary, if you want a healthy hormonal profile, strength training – independent of other lifestyle and nutritional changes – is a key component to balance and maintain dense tissue and eliminate problematic fat storage.
  • Increases muscle tissue (decreases sarcopenia). Sarcopenia is progressive and generalized loss of muscle tissue. Starting around age 30-35 we start naturally decreasing muscle tissue and overall function of muscle tissue. On a more extreme scale physically inactive people lose 3% to 5% muscle mass every decade. Sarcopenia is inevitable due to aging but we want to slow the progression for reasons beyond appearance. The importance of maintaining muscle tissue is valuable for longevity by maintaining general strength, stamina, and posture. Additionally, muscle tissue plays a major role in determining your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which is how many calories you burn at rest. Your total resting metabolic rate accounts for 60-70% of your total body expenditure in non-active people, where fat is the body’s preferred energy source at rest. Increasing muscle size through resistance increases RMR, therefore increasing or sustaining fat-loss overtime, which again is more than maintaining healthy body fat but more increasing longevity and living comfortably.
  • Increases Bone Density (decreases Osteopenia). Osteopenia is a loss of bone mass and weakening of your bones. The weakening of your bones increase your chances of developing osteoporosis. This bone disease causes fractures, stooped posture, pain and decreases quality of life. It is important to understand that osteoporosis is not a disease in a clinical sense, but a condition. Your bones are in a state of building until the ages 30-35, after that point we lose bone density. Yours bones can also be affected by genetics, sex hormones (que estrogen & hormone fluctuations above), physical activity, lifestyle and even medications. Similarly to muscle, bone is also a living tissue, constantly undergoing renewal, and it responds best when challenged through impact loading exercise to rebuild and become stronger. Resistance training is extremely valuable for building the density of your bones and becoming stronger. By loading the bone through a progression of strength and repetitive mechanical force the bone begins to remodel. This greatly reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis or bone weakening. Also, incorporating Vitamin D naturally or through supplementation is also valuable for prevention.
  • Metabolic Health / Long term weight control. Only 12-15% of Americans are considered metabolically healthy. Metabolic health translates to many valuable health concepts that are transferrable to longevity and decreased risk of chronic disease. In order to be considered metabolically healthy this means having ideal levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, cholesterol, blood pressure and waist circumference. Your muscle cells will burn more calories than fat cells will. When you build muscle mass, you are also improving your metabolic health by boosting your resting metabolic rate. Increased muscle tissue and density in your skeletal system plays a vital part in metabolic health by regulating insulin, oxygen, blood, and improving detoxification.
  • Optimize Fat Storage (decreases inflammation & visceral fat ). Excessive body fat (primarily viscerally) is associated with many risk factors such as elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, increased insulin sensitivity and increased inflammation – these are the culprit to chronic disease. As we age peripheral fat tends to shift viscerally. There is countless studies stating increased fat in the abdominal cavity is the cause of underlying disease and decreased health in general. By implementing resistance training it can significantly decrease likelihood of visceral fat in older men and women. The emphasis is heavily on the decreased likely-hood of fat storage viscerally in pre and post menopausal woman (which is common due to drop in estrogen). By shifting fat away from the abdominal cavity it decreases inflammation, increases resting metabolic rate (RMR), improves insulin sensitivity, and enhances sympathetic activity.

As you can see there is a lot of similarities between these concepts. Each of our bodies systems are interconnected and dependent on each other. All of your body systems work together to keep you healthy. Your bones and muscle tissue work together to support and move your body freely and comfortably. What is good for one is often good for the other. Resistance training does just that by taping into these various body processes. It is a viable long-term method to prevent weight gain, deleterious changes in body composition and optimize your health in the process. You do not need to lift like a body builder or weightlifter to reap these benefits. Nor do you need to strength train six days a week. Implementing resistance training two times a week can bring positive change to your life. There is no better feeling than becoming stronger, fitter while optimizing your health and well-being. It’s never to later to start, and anyone at any fitness level can do it. So what are you waiting for?

In simple bullet form here is what I outlined above and what will improve:

  • improve bone density
  • improve joint & ligament health
  • improve insulin sensitivity
  • improve posture
  • Improve balance
  • improve sleep and energy levels
  • improve sex drive
  • improve self-esteem
  • improve cognitive resources
  • improves blood pressure
  • improve metabolic health (increase RMR)
  • improve muscle tissue (decrease sarcopenia)
  • decrease visceral fat
  • decrease inflammation

Training Specificity

Training Specificity

“Great results comes from great focus and specificity, not only great variety.”

My earlier days of training were riddled with trail and error periods where I experimented with different movements, rep schemes, and loads. Initially I wasn’t entirely sure what my goal was but after becoming more comfortable with mechanics I decided that growing my glutes and legs was a top priority. With that in mind I would go in the gym and start my workout with a random warm-up without activation. Then I would jump into eight different lower body workouts thinking that as long as I hit all of them, my glutes were bound to grow. At first there were some noticeable changes but before I knew it I was plateauing and simply wasn’t happy with the results. I slowly began to realize that my training sessions lacked two key principles required to grow muscle: progressive overload and specificity. It wasn’t so much about the quantity of exercises I was doing , but slowly figuring out exercises that best targeted my glutes and then getting stronger within those exercises. In addition to that, I realized my warm-up had to align with my training goals which also meant activating the desired muscle group prior to going into my main exercises.

Progressive overload simply means doing more over time. In order for muscle to grow and strength to increase, the body must be forced to adapt to tension that is above what it previously experienced. This type of demand placed on your body dictates the type of adaption that will occur. However, these adaptions will never be linear, and that is okay and part of the process. It’s more about making personal progression in the long haul and being ruthlessly consistent. This is what eventually leads to an overall progression of strength, body composition and aesthetics.

Specificity, is my personal favorite principle to optimize growth, and in my opinion is not addressed enough. The term speaks for itself meaning that for training to be effective it must be specific and targeted towards what you are trying to achieve. Randomized programming, sensationalized exercises, and training a specific region once every few weeks will only frustrate you and make it difficult to reach your goal. Specific demand placed on a specific body part dictates the adaption that will occur. In summary, you must make sure your training matches your goals, period. However, the focus can vary based on personal goals and the degree to which you isolate that specific muscle group also depends on personal preference.

Ladies, in short, if your looking to make changes to your body composition be extremely specific towards what you want to achieve. Focus on getting stronger and progressing in those movements. The truth is, for most people the more they focus on getting stronger and improving athletisism, the faster they end up losing fat, building muscle, and loving their body. Do not steer away from fundamental principles that work. Simplify, train with intent, be patient, and above all, stay consistent!

I’ll be going into more details on exactly how to structure your sessions for optimal growth and progression, stayed tuned.

Hip Mobility

Hip Mobility

It’s 2020 and our sedentary culture has lead to our society become physically inactive. The rise in popularity of the internet and smart phones has contributed to a round the clock lack of exercise in people everywhere. Sure, with major technological advancements and direct access to anything we want we certainly more ‘mobile’ in our freedom. We can talk about how heart disease is the current number one causes of death, and the obesity epidemic is still thriving. But one thing that has the power to change how we move, feel and increase life expectancy is mobility, hip mobility and all that it entails.

Joint Mobility

Everyone at any age or fitness level needs to be able to move their limbs and joints through their full range of motion. This goes for fitness enthusiasts, geriatrics and the younger generation. Emphasis on mobility allows us to move comfortably without a second thought. With that, you are able to perform day to day tasks like walk up the stairs, or pick up groceries. In terms of reaching your fitness goals increasing mobility is even more important, allowing you to properly use weight (or yourself) with proper form and full range of motion. If your joint mobility is poor, performing any type of physical activity is going to be that much harder, and the increase for injury is that much higher. In order to thrive, we require full use of our limbs, joints and muscles. No, I am not saying you need to be able to do a full split or be a pro yogi (although I wish), simply regaining and maintaining full range of motion.

Hip Mobility

Just like our bones and muscles require resistance training to maintain strength through adaptation, our joints require regular movement and use to maintain health and mobility. As I’m sure you may have heard before, the body works together as a whole and everything is interconnected. The most common deficiency is in one specific location, the hips. In my case specifically, my lack of hip mobility has hindered improvements in both hypertrophy and strength. It took years of me neglecting stretching and mobility exercises to finally realize that in order to see changes and growth I needed to prioritize that, and STAT.

One huge factor that decreases our hip mobility is a sedentary lifestyle. So many of us in today’s world are forced into a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting negatively impacts us in two ways: it weakens the glutes and shortens the hip flexors. Did you know that the sole function of your glutes and hip flexors is to stand in an upright position and is responsible for movement of the hips and thighs. So when your glutes and hip flexors are are weak your lower back or knees ending picking up most of the slack (and not in a good way). With that excessive sitting and weak posterior chain, your hip extension is no longer sufficient.

Restoring hip mobility has the potential to:

  • reduce or eliminate lower back and/or knee pain
  • improve your power output allowing you to fully engage posterior chain during squats, deadlifts etc. and making them safer
  • improve overall strength and power of your hip extensions, again for compound movements, but also for explosive movements.

But most of all, hip mobility will improve your entire relationship with the rest of your body, eliminate a major stressor on your system as a whole and watch your fitness increase and your body achieve greatness!