Program Design & Anti-Aging – A Quick Glimpse

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Above is a slide from our upcoming Program Design Course we’re holding in Essex on October 21st, 2016. The slide covers Tuft’s University Study on Biomakers of anti-aging. The list is of aspects we want to manage to help slow down the aging process.

As you can see the top two factors are strength and muscle mass. This signifies the importance of strength training, especially in an aging population. The number one issue of aging is sarcopenia, or the loss of lean body mass. With the loss of lean body mass there is also loss or force production, or in layman’s terms, strength. No muscle, no strength, no stability, which as we age, can increase incidence of falls, injuries, and ability. Now, the question is, what kind of strength training is best? At Muscle Nerds we believe a wide range of strength training should be instigated, from bodybuilding work to pure strength work.

Now, let’s explore factor number 3, basal metabolic rate. Yes, strength training increases metabolic rate, but what type of strength training? When exploring the basic muscle fiber types, type I, type IIa, and type IIb, they all have varying consequences when speaking abut metabolic adaptations.

Metabolic rate, for the most part, is dictated by health of the thyroid, and health of the mitochondria. So which muscle fiber types are best for this? Type I and IIa have been shown to have the highest density and potential of mitochondria. This means for long lasting health, it is good to train with some traditional bodybuilding work in the 8-15 rep range, and to even jump into higher rep ranges including 25+ reps. Thank you to Phil Learney, Ales Potrc, and Luke Fowler for opening my eyes to the absolute horror and benefit of high rep training.

Remember that factor one is muscle mass. If you want to increase muscle mass, you should work on ALL muscle fibers. It’s quite common in the industry to stick to lower rep ranges and heavy strength work. This is excellent for strength and nervous system training, but it will limit your ability to fully grow muscle tissue and especially muscle tissue endurance. Increasing the amount of mitochondria in type I and IIa will also increase your ability to dip into fat stores for energy.

The fourth point is body fat percentage. See above – highly oxidative fibers love using fat as fuel.

Factor five is aerobic capacity. If you stick to current trends in the strength community, and avoid aerobic training, you are missing out on a great biomarker for health. Aerobic capacity is best trained with, you guessed it, traditional aerobic work. Don’t think of standard aerobic work as “working off calories.” There are numerous health benefits to using aerobic work…just as with everything else, keeping a good balance of aerobic and anaerobic work is very important.

Next is blood sugar tolerance. Weight training and anaerobic conditioning reigns supreme here. Even diabetics can increase their blood sugar tolerance by using some standard weight training and sprint work a few days a week.

Number 7 – Cholesterol/HDL Ratio. We’re going to lean heavily on diet for this, but, aerobic work is fantastic for managing poor blood fat status. If you have irregular blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), instead of jumping on a statin immediately (unless your doctor says it’s imperative), try three days of weightlifting and three days of aerobic conditioning a week and enjoy the positive changes in your labs. You’re doctor will be ecstatic at the results.

Blood pressure is another factor that aerobic conditioning can really show to be of great benefit. In most cases, high blood pressure is indicative of elevated stress. Aerobic conditioning is tonic for the nervous system. By balancing your anaerobic and aerobic conditioning, you may be able to lower your blood pressure naturally, by increasing adaptations to the cardiovascular system. If your blood pressure is accompanied by erectile dysfunction, you might even find great benefits for “sexytime.”

Rounding out our list at number 9 is bone density. Weight bearing activity is highly recommended, so get after those weights. But, also realize that undernourishment, as well as stress lowers bone density, so again, the stress reducing benefit of light aerobic work can form a synergistic relationship with heavy lifting.

Lastly, regulation of internal body temperature. If your mitochondria is not functioning, you will have poor temperature regulation. All forms of exercise will help in this situation, but keep in mind also that diet and the thyroid will have a huge impact as well. Make sure you aren’t overdoing the anaerobic training, as a constant barrage of acidity can wreck havoc on your lean body tissue and mitochondria. It’s been shown in many studies that aerobic training can increase beiging of fat tissue, making it more metabolic and increasing non-shivering thermogenesis, which increases core body temperature.

Taking into consideration all of the above, it’s worth noting the importance of balance to your exercise program, your diet, and your lifestyle. Just because something is good, it doesn’t mean that more is better. Just because something in excess is bad, it doesn’t mean that a smaller does isn’t good. Understands the benefits of a variety of different training methods, and blend them all accordingly so no aspect of health is neglected and/or impaired.