When it comes to overall health and longevity you’d be hard pressed to find any better exercise than lifting weights.
Stress relief, better posture, greater sense of wellbeing and an increase in hormone production to name just a few of the benefits of resistance training. And, of course, you look better aesthetically as a result. You have no excuse not to make lifting a part of your health and longevity routine.
I covered the benefits in this article on the basic principles of lifting weights and building muscle but I forgot to include a very important and long-lasting one.
That is the benefit of muscle memory.
Muscle memory is one of the greatest gifts to those who have invested at least a couple of years into solid weight lifting.
Here’s a fact. If you’ve spent at least a couple of years weight training, then take a year off you and then decide to start again you will regain your original size and muscle in much less time compared to someone who has never trained at all.
This is muscle memory.
When your body has achieved a certain size and strength in the past getting back to that size after time off is easier than starting from scratch.
Briefly explained, the science behind it is to do with nuclei in DNA.
When you lift weights consistently and progressively the nuclei in the muscle increase. The more nuclei you have the more muscle on your body.
And here’s where it gets interesting.
When you stop training the nuclei don’t die but, instead, hibernate. They are present but are not used in the muscle even when you stop training. But when you start weight lifting again they fire back up allowing you to get back to your original size and strength with less effort.
Sometimes life takes over and we forgo hitting the gym hard. Work gets crazy, you start a new business, you have kids. If you’ve trained for years take solace in having muscle memory.
Good health over a lifetime (longevity) is about taking the long-term perspective. The diehard ‘gym bros’ will tell you that you shouldn’t miss a day at the gym, never mind a year.
If lifting weights is your life then you should go to the gym as much as possible. For the rest of us who train to live and don’t live to train it’s different.
I train to develop a strong and healthy body so it can carry me through life and experience as much of it as possible. My aim isn’t to get as ripped and muscular as I can possibly get. That takes years of precious time and commitment.
I prefer to spend allocate my time doing different pursuits, not just one. That said, you still have to build a rock solid muscular base to ward off sarcaponia which is a muscle wasting disease that increases as we age.
At the age of 30 men lose three to eight percent of muscle every decade but if you build a muscular base you can prevent this from happening as long as possible.
Thanks to muscle memory building a muscular base as early as possible will last you a lifetime.
Regardless of how old you are, if you’ve never done any form of resistance training start now. The earlier you start the better as the younger you are the easier it will be to build a muscular base.
If you’re a later age in life start now. You’re never too old build muscle and improve your health. Look at bodybuilding 97-year-old Charles Eugster to see that ageing is a mindset.
How long does it take to build a muscular base?
It depends on a number of factors such as age, genetics, workout effort and overall lifestyle and diet but training consistently for two to three years will build a muscular base.
When’s the best time to start building a muscular base?
The earlier the better but regardless of your age it’s never too late.
What type of exercises should I do to build a muscular base?
Your lifting routine should consist mainly of exercises that require multiple muscle groups to perform them. These are compound exercises and consist of:
- Bench press
- Shoulder press
- Pull ups
Exercises that isolate the muscles such as curls, raises and extensions can be used also but they are more refining certain parts of the body not building a base. Prioritise compound exercises first.
I’ve built a muscular base, now what?
You can do a few things.
Continue training if you’re enjoying the gym and are accomplishing other life goals and responsibilities.
Go into maintenance mode and hit the gym once or twice a week doing an all-over body routine.
Take time off to do other activities knowing that the laws of muscle memory can get you back to original muscular frame in less time it took to achieve it.
If you build a muscular base it can last you a lifetime.
Provided you’re willing to hit the gym and train hard through various points in your life you’ll always maintain a solid strong frame. Sylvester Stallone has managed to do it whereas Arnold didn’t yet they are both from the same era and it seems Arnold has barely trained since going into politics.
There is no excuse not build a muscular base because the risk of sarcopenia increases as you age. As well as adding quality of life, you made add quantity of life too.
If you’re not already, get building. It’ll last you a lifetime.