Resistance Training Rocks All Ages!

resistance training3[This is #6 of 16 blogs that will be the basis of a book project – “16 Simple Truths to Lose Weight, Gain Strength and Be Happy.” The goal is to send the manuscript to a publisher by mid-October. Each of 16 chapters will cover one specific “truth.” Each blog, published every Monday, will be a synopsis of each chapter. You are now cordially invited to join the process. Please leave a comment and offer your thoughts, ideas and insight. Thank you.]

There are many sports. And there are games we call sports. But I’m not interested in competition, or a particular specific skill like putting a small, dimpled ball into a silver dollar size hole 300 yards away. Great game, amazing skill, but sport? Doesn’t sport involve beating time, or a feat of strength or at least both an offensive and a defensive component? Don’t you at least have to sweat? And standing in the warm tropic sun on some of the worlds’ most valuable and scenic real estate sipping an Arnold Palmer doesn’t count. Now, let’s talk about getting fit, not necessarily for sport, or golf, but for life.

What does it take to be fit? Well there is certainly an aerobic component, flexibility is key, and the more research done on resistance training or strength training that is completed, the more important it becomes. Other components of total wellness include nutrition, the single most important facet, and second to that is adequate sleep. Also important is destressing or “centering” through quiet time, prayer, yoga or Tai Chi.  We’ll cover frequency, exercise order, training load, intensity, volume and rest in our next blog. For now, let’s dive into the latest science of resistance training and why it is proving to be a critical piece of attaining and maintaining our optimal health – so that we can enjoy a brisk game of golf (sorry golfers, that dig was for my brother).

resistance training 5To begin we may want to consider the end game, that is what is the outcome or the things we would measure to ensure resistance training was living up to the research. Test protocols would include maximum muscular strength, maximum muscular power, anaerobic capacity, local muscular endurance, aerobic capacity, agility, speed, flexibility, body composition and anthropometry (girth measurements). Yes, all the above can be greatly improved by resistance training. Who know the deeply tanned, blond muscle heads, were so smart? Quick trivia question: Name anyone who has risen to the top of four totally different arenas; among Hollywood’s elite for more than three decades, a six-time world champion in his sport, held the top government position for seven years in the U.S.’s largest state (leading some 38 million people, more than most countries), and has made a fortune in real estate – the king of bodybuilding – Arnold Schwarzenegger.

resistance training 2Now back to the wisdom and effects of resistance training, which could be performed with free weights, machines, medicine balls, bands, kettle bells, tractor tires or even your own body weight. Regardless of what is assisting gravity to keep your next personal best just out of reach, the muscle reacts and adapts the same way. And keep pushing and pulling, your body has an amazing ability to transform itself into quite the powerhouse and to defy gravity. At least to a point. The bottom line is that with an hour or so of resistance training a few days a week you can look better, feel better and actually be better. Just remember it is a single component of your total wellness program. By the way, while you’re busting it in the gym, just think how easy it is to master the two most important components – 8 hours of sleep and 8 glasses of water. You go champ.


resistance training 6According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association you can count on a bit of weight lifting to increase muscular strength, muscular endurance, maximal rate of force production, vertical jump, anaerobic power and sprint speed. And that’s just for performance. It also produces a fair share of positive enzyme activity, contributes to metabolic energy stores, and does a world of good for connective tissue and body composition. In regards to enzyme activity it increases creatine phosphokinase, myokinase, phosphofructokinase, lactate dehydrogenase and sodium-potassium ATPase, which are all very fancy names for molecules that provide the gun powder for all the bioenergetic fireworks during the creation of energy that enable muscle contraction, which makes skeletal movement possible. Now that’s an independence day worth celebrating. And keep that party going with all the newly stored energy as the body packs away increases in ATP (critical for muscle contraction), creatine phosphate, and glycogen.

resistance training 4Hold on party people, there’s more. In addition, resistance training increases the strength of your ligaments, tendons and collagen content. And did I mention it helps decrease your percentage of body fat, while increasing your fat-free mass. Sold! Resistance training really does rock. And get this studies now demonstrate its safety and benefit to children as young as eight and no real upper age limit. One more thing, imagine what an incredible prescription resistance training could be for obesity, given it doesn’t require you to be the fastest, biggest, strongest, most coordinated or even have eye hand coordination. It’s like golf without the frustration (just kidding, golfers). Actually resistance training requires careful instruction from a trained professional and a thorough physical assessment before beginning. So, let’s go PTA groups! Let’ see some fund raisers and organized movement to go beyond our gifted young athletes and put in a weight room for all the children. While each child has gifts in various areas, what they share in common is the need to be well, that is, to be fit. Only then can they truly optimize their gift. C’mon one more!

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