WEIGHT TRAINING FOR THE GROWING BOLDER GENERATION(S)
On the morning of my 72nd birthday, I posted a blog on the Growing Bolder website entitled, “A Message on My 72nd Birthday.” The next to the last paragraph was as follows:
Get regular, vigorous aerobic exercise, keep your core muscles strong, train with weights (absolutely vital as you age), consume a healthful diet with lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, engage in activities for which you have a passion, learn something new on a regular basis, challenge yourself, etc. More controversial, but something that has worked for me since my 20s, and has allowed me to sometimes go as long as 10 years without so much as a common cold, I take a slew of vitamins and minerals daily and something that has worked unbelievably well for me, a regimen of 5 grams of L-Arginine Complete daily.
As I mentioned, I believe weight training to be a vital part of everyone’s health/fitness regimen, and I believe it to be particularly important as we age due to the phenomenon of muscle loss and a tendency to gain fat. Personally, I have weight trained for over 50 years and have done so with everyone from a future Mr. America winner to a slender girlie girl!
If you are not currently training with weights, I will furnish you with enough information to get you started and if you currently utilize weight training, I will furnish you with information which I believe will allow you to have equal or more progress in less time spent at the gym. Note that I said nothing about less effort.
Not only are we each an experiment of one which dictates that we take the information furnished and hone it to our personal needs, but to further complicate the matrix it is important to understand the phenomenon of body or soma types as the scientists label it. There are three different soma types: Mesomorph, Endomorph and Ectomorph. In the 1970s, noting that there was no information for effective weight training in the various “muscle magazines” for anyone but the Mesomorphic body, I wrote an article dealing with techniques that could be used by those not particularly physically gifted, and discussed techniques that could be utilized by different body type individuals looking for the most efficient training methods.
Here is an illustration of the three soma types:
The Ectomorph is typically skinny in appearance with a small bone structure and narrow shoulders and tends not to be muscular.
The Mesomorph has an athletic body, muscular with narrow hips and broad shoulders.
The Endomorph is the body type with large bones/frame typically carrying excessive amounts of adipose (fat) tissue. Most of us are a combination of body types.
The three body types are not only different in appearance, but typically have personality traits in common with others of their body type. Mesomorphs tend to be the leader-of-the-pack type, the multi-sport athlete, confident, and the guy who dates the head of the cheerleader squad. The Ectomorph often is the shy person with little self-confidence who will probably be a member of the chess team rather than the football squad. Athletically, they make great distance runners and tend to be great climbers as cyclists. The Endomorphs tend to be gregarious types not very prone to exercise who are the type that become the president of the social club. Athletically, they excel at sports such as Olympic weight lifting, throwing the shot put and playing on the line of a football squad.
I have often said that I believe in setting very challenging BUT ACHIEVABLE goals. If you are an Ectomorph, you will never play fullback for the Dallas Cowboys, whereas the Mesomorph can probably be found playing any position. As an aside, the Endomorph is the guy sitting on your back pushing your face into the turf when you attempted a failed run off tackle! You will not see that Endomorph playing wide receiver or cornerback however.
The reason I bring up the subject is that body type dictates to a large extent not only how we weight train, the intensity of said training, but also the results that we can expect from our training. The typical Mesomorph can simply walk by a weight and watch his bicep grow a quarter inch where the Ectomorph struggles to make gains. The challenge with the endomorph is to convince that body type to even go to the gym! Once inside the gym, however, Endomorphs frequently discover that they have great physiques hiding under the fat! In other words, if you are an Ectomorph, for example, don’t set your goal to be Mr. Universe!
As an aside, I am an Ectomorphic body type and for me it was quite a struggle to get to the point where I could finally bench press 200 pounds. I used to frustratingly watch the bigger lifters warm up on the Olympic Bar with two 45-pound plates (an Olympic bar weighs 45 pounds), which is 135 pounds – a weight I could not lift for one repetition. I think my happiest day as a weight trainer was the day I could finally warm up with two 45 plates easily banging out 10 warm-up reps with the weight.
Here is a shot of me in my late 60s getting fitted on my bicycle. As you can see even though I have tiny bones (one physician opined the thinnest he has seen on a male), I have reasonable muscularity even though when this picture was taken I was training 27 hours a week on the bicycle which makes it rather difficult to enhance one’s muscularity. Unfortunately, even though I have always been able to do very heavy squatting with a few hundred pounds, my genetic make-up dictates that my legs will continue to appear to be a mounting platform for feathers!
The point of all above is this: No matter what your age or what your previous history, age or body type, you will make great gains and be the best you can be. If you are not currently weight training, you will attain measurable and visible progress in your strength and appearance within 6 short weeks. When you replace fat with muscle, your basal metabolism will increase hence you will burn more calories even when you are inactive – muscle gain enhances weight loss. I have often heard women express the fear that they will build large muscles. The building of muscle mass requires testosterone in amounts not possessed by women naturally, and women will find that they simply enhance the way they look by building a shapelier – not a larger body.
In the next installment, I will get down to the “How To” specifics of weight training. Be sure to tune in!