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Monday, December 10. 2018
Whatever "anti-aging" is, it sounds good to me. So fit those things into your program. What we feel is important, at least to us, is "Fitness for Life" which means Strength, Endurance, and Athleticism. So, without neglecting your telomeres, it's good to get balanced fitness so as to be as fully in life as possible.
No exercise can extend your life to any important degree (for life extension, try not being heavy, and getting full medical check-ups every few years) but a balanced fitness program can keep you active as long as you do not do too much road running. That destroys joints and cripples many people.
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I don't know if it is even possible to "know" this with any certainty. I have a large family and now that I am 75 many/most of the people I knew well all my life have passed on. Some of my family lived into their late 80's and some died in their 70's. A very few died even younger. Almost without exception those who lived the longest never "exercised" were over weight to obese and in some cases had health problems (diabetes for example). Some of the male members of my extended family led active lives/physical work. But most of those who died younger (late 70's) were men. Most of those who died late (80's and 90's) were women, very overweight who in my entire life never did anything physical that exceeded making dinner.
So where is the "anti-aging" in this equation? I think that at best that stretching, moderate exercise and flexibility exercise will allow you to avoid the walker and cane longer. But I think the biggest factor on longevity is simply genetics and avoiding cigarettes.
As usual with studies of this type, the researchers have no idea what resistance training is all about. Not a clue.
The participants did back extensions, crunches, pulldowns, seated row, seated leg curl, seated leg extension, seated chest press, and lying leg press. At no point did the participants actually stand up and support any weight! No squats, no deadlifts, no bench press, no overhead press. And they did two sets of 16-20 of all exercises, which means they had to use light weights. That is not resistance training, that's cardio. And they only adjusted weights every six weeks. These "previously inactive individuals" should have been able to add weight after pretty much every session, at least at the beginning, if the researchers had any idea about resistance training.
There is nothing to be learned about resistance training from this study.
I think the big problem with their "resistance" training protocol was the exercise selection and its avoidance of compound exercises, using free weights and standing on your feet.
While I would have selected a different protocol, I have less of a problem with their set and rep scheme except that very few UNTRAINED people who are unaccustomed to grinding out barbell sets are going to exert themselves like the subjects doing the HIIT protocol.
Several things I didn't see mentioned (for the resistance training group): rest intervals (between exercises and between circuits) and a comparison of work between the three groups.
While some here have decried the resistance program as too "high rep", the real problem with their comparison seems to be more related to the work done and probably the intensity of effort. Certainly, most of us could design a barbell circuit that would be as taxing as any HIIT regimen - see barbell complexes by folks like Dan John where you pick up a moderately heavy barbell and do 6-8 exercises of 8-10 reps each in a continuous manner without stopping, then rest for 2 minutes and repeat for 4 cycles. Think that would provide more meaningful info for those of us you would like a little strength with our fitness regime. They could also add a "real" resistance training arm and look at a group doing something Bill Starr's 5x5 program using squat, cleans (or DL) and press (or something similar).
Nonetheless, the study is a good jumping off point and I hope someone more in tune with actual barbell training picks up the torch.
You mention very important points such as rest periods. I'm also not even sure how you can compare work intensity of crunches and back extensions between two people. Just showing again the inadequacy of the study.
My comment on your solution though is that a weight that you can do 6-8 exercises of 8-10 reps each in a continuous manner without stopping, then rest for 2 minutes and repeat for 4 cycles, is not heavy, it is not building strength above some relatively low threshold.
5x5 (Stronglifts) will build strength, no doubt, and many, many people have gotten strong following that protocol. The problem is it's actually too hard, making recovery between workouts very difficult and progress stalls after not too long (older folks are especially vulnerable to too much volume interfering with recovery). That's where a program such as Starting Strength's 3x5 comes in. While still very taxing, it's not as hard to recover from and progress can be made for a longer period. Once progress on the 3x5 scheme stalls, you move to another program template such as the Texas Method or HLM (Heavy/Light/Medium) to continue progressing.
Here's an interesting article on the problems in the exercise science field and why we will probably not see a paper that improves on the one under discussion: https://startingstrength.com/article/science-medicine/the_problem_with_exercise_science
I didn't mean to imply that the circuit or complex was intended as an optimal program for strength. Rather that a circuit/complex as I described would be more likely to have similar results as HIIT than the "resistance training" program they designed using machine/isolation exercises.
My point with the 5X5 wasn't meant to pinpoint a particular program, but to point out that someone needs to look at a real resistance program - heavy compound movements - instead of what they call resistance training.
Regarding Bill Starr's 5X5 vs Starting Strength, I think if you look at Starr's original program, you'll see that it's quite similar to SS. If you look at the 1st edition of SS, you'll note that SS (for younger lifters) has even more work and less recovery than Starr's program. I assume you know that Rip learned much of what he does from his coach, Bill Starr.
Nothing I can disagree with there, mike. I tend to get overly pedantic sometimes.
Yep, I'm familiar with Starr and his influence on Rip and the evolution of the SS philosophy and methods. I spend too much time at startingstength.com, reading the articles and participating in the forums.
I'm old school - started strength training in the 60's before it became commonplace with athletic programs, i.e. I remember when coaches would tell you it would make you "musclebound" and slow.
I learned from an "old fart" in the days when there were three Olympic lifts (snatch, C&J and press).
I agree with most of Rip's opinions (and Sullivan's as well) and think that their publications - especially Barbell Prescription) - have added a great deal to the public understanding of what strength training should be (versus the bodybuilding mags that most people equate with strength training).
Two areas where I think they perhaps fall short are:
(1) Not enough emphasis on mobility. Strength is great, but if you can't move the joint thru a full range of motion due to mobility issues, you're just as screwed as if you can't do the movement due to lack of strength. People like to train strength because results are easier to see - not so with mobility - and more impressive ("I can DL 400" sounds more impressive than "I can bend over and tie my shoes" - but functionally, the opposite is true).
(2) Strength endurance and power aren't emphasized enough. If you can pull 400 at age 65, but can't shovel snow for more than 5 minutes because your back fatigues, that's a problem if you live in areas with snow. As far as power is concerned, I see that as a bigger deficit in seniors than strength alone (and harder to regain).
If you're over 40 or in a "tactical" profession, e.g. law enforcement, military, etc., you might find either "Tactical Barbell" or "Ageless Athlete" to be of interest.
I see that a lot, that there should be more emphasis on mobility and endurance in SS. I'm 57, 5'10", 210 lbs, squat in the mid-300's, deadlift in the mid-400's. In my adult life I was never able to touch my toes until after I was lifting for a while. I can squat to depth, bring the bar to my chest in the bench press and fully extend my arms up doing the overhead press. I'm really not sure what extra mobility I need.
I would think someone with a 405 lb deadlift could shovel snow longer than someone with a 225 lb deadlift, all else being equal. For the stronger guy, each shovel-full is going to feel lighter and be easier to move than for the weak guy. I can't think of why the stronger guy's back would tire sooner. How long would a distance runner last? And remember that power is force divided by time. You get stronger, your power output has no choice but to go up as well. You know who holds the 100m indoor rowing record? Brian Shaw, 2x world's strongest man (Comments not letting me embed a YouTube link). That's power. Of course, Brian's a freak of nature so that helps. And I'm certainly not saying spending some time doing HIIT on a rower or with a prowler sled is a bad thing at all. I should be doing more of it, in fact.
Interesting discussion mike. I would say we agree on the big picture, but the fun is always in the detail.
"I would think someone with a 405 lb deadlift could shovel snow longer than someone with a 225 lb deadlift, all else being equal. For the stronger guy, each shovel-full is going to feel lighter and be easier to move than for the weak guy. I can't think of why the stronger guy's back would tire sooner. How long would a distance runner last?"
That a stronger person should last longer than a less strong person sounds good in theory, but it doesn't play out in the real world - at least for trained people (MxS training versus adding in phases of endurance strength). The reason has to do with muscle physiology/biochemistry and energy systems. If your theory was true, we would see elite lifters winning the mile run or other endurance events....but we don't.
I agree that the stronger guy would last longer "all else being equal, but remember, if the less strong guy is less strong because he is also training strength endurance (i.e. adapting the enzymes and mitochondria inside his muscle cells) then all else is NOT equal.
In the end, how you design your training program depends on your objectives.
"And remember that power is force divided by time. You get stronger, your power output has no choice but to go up as well. You know who holds the 100m indoor rowing record? Brian Shaw, 2x world's strongest man (Comments not letting me embed a YouTube link). That's power."
As you get stronger, your ability to display power will go up...unless you get slower. Training at slow speeds (probably better stated as "not TRYING to move the weight as fast as possible even if it actually move slow") teaches you neurological system to do that movement slowly.
Here's an example (I used to be a wrestling coach): It was popular for a brief period of time to have wrestlers do certain moves (shooting for a takedown) using resistance bands to hold them back. NOTE: This was also tried with sprinters. The problem is that it screws up the mechanics of the movement and actually makes wrestlers and sprinters slower, i.e. less powerful.
100m row isn't power. It's more strength endurance - as is the world's strongest man competition - but closer to strength than to endurance on the strength/endurance continuum. The closer we get to the strength end of the spectrum, the more MxS matters (as expected). I'm willing to bet that Shaw would not fare so well in the 2000m row.
For pure power, let's look at C&J, Shot Put, vertical jump, etc.
RJP is right, the researchers do not include actual resistance training. I'd also argue that what they call endurance training and HIIT training are both just forms of conditioning.
The benefits of conditioning on DNA is interesting and seemingly beneficial at a molecular level, but one thing I've learned from visiting my mother-in-law at her assisted living facility the past couple of year since she moved in is that what all the residents have in common is weakness.
Here's a recommendation for those of us that are getting a little bit grayer: https://www.amazon.com/Barbell-Prescription-Strength-Training-After/dp/0982522770
Agreed. What they called resistance training was really not a meaningful strength program, nor was it even a well designed weight based circuit program. A properly designed circuit training program using free weights and compound exercises should have produced results no worse than their other conditioning programs. Even their HIIT protocol - 4 x 4 minutes - isn't what most of us would term high intensity.
Hopefully, someone will pick up where they left off and look at a real resistance training program, e.g. 5X5 with 3 or 4 compound exercises, and a real HIIT program (with the emphasis on high intensity).
Absolutely spot on, MikeL. The Barbell Prescription is just about the most important book out there for the graying sect.
Some worthwhile videos by the author:
An hour-long lecture that explains it all:
Aah, just go here and watch them all: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwNjgwAS3wBBxcwouQz5J9w
Thank you Dr Joy. Great find! Always heard exercise is aging in reverse. Cool that science is starting to show how. Makes tweaking the home routine possible. Appreciate an article that has EZ and free links to complete source articles and foot notes. My take aways - Telomere growth - cool! - it doesn't take much- 3 X 45 min/ wk sessions. Many ways to achieve anaerobic and some level of "exhaustion". Resistance, if one is not challenging ones self isn't enough (yet it shouldn't be too hard to figure out what to add). If the NO mechanism is correct then there are also likely builds with food and fasting. RE: no VO2max improvement - so add to the routine and build it! It's not rocket science. Plus didn't ya'll just post something on the importance of squats to neurons? Couldn't find the original but here's close enough: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-05-leg-critical-brain-nervous-health.html Watching my parents their partners move into old age. The ones that exercise are having a much better time - more mobility and independence, better cognitive function - way better quality for the time vs the ones that do nothing (and fall off toilets).
"The ones that exercise are having a much better time - more mobility and independence, better cognitive function - way better quality for the time vs the ones that do nothing (and fall off toilets)."
OR it could be exactly the opposite and the ones who are ill and suffering the reality of aging cannot and thus do not exercise while those who by luck/genetics have not yet endured the inevitable results of aging continue to lead active lives. Is it merely correlation and not causation?
Having known them all for some time, exercise and mental outlook have a major impact. I'm sure it's one way to get the most out of your genetics by putting a thumb on the epigenetic scale and working neuroplasticity to your benefit. The most defiant has both MS (early onset) and parkinson's. He's an inspiration of how not to give up. No doubt he's lived much longer and better than he could have. At 68 he still does 20 minutes of exercise daily. The other inspiring one manages a health issue with exercise and insatiable curiosity. He keeps a pace in his 70's that would drop most 50 year olds. The one that will probably outlive everyone is ornery, hits the gym and keeps very socially active (or she did until she benched her social life due to health issues with her partner). The worst one just announced he was throwing in the towel and his health has followed. He could be in much better shape with a little effort and forbearance (medical test verified - both ambulatory ability and cognitive function but he won't stick with it unless the choice is "death shortly" - then he will do just enough to get back to a sedentary and depressed existence). I'm not saying anything will make you 20, but small amounts of muscle function, coordination and mental ability make for possibly longer, definitely more independent and higher quality life for your self and your partner.
But that fails to answer the question of is it the exercise and mental commitment that improves longevity OR is it the genes that makes them not only healthy enough to exercise but to also live longer? In other words are we assuming incorrectly that exercise will make you live longer?
My stepsons grandfather lived to 99 and his wife/widow is still alive at 101. I know enough about these two people to know they never exercised in their life. But that isn't a compelling story and doesn't fit the narrative so it will be ignored. It is a wonderful fantasy that we can exercise ourselves into a long and healthy life but is it true or just wishful thinking? Statistics can be played/twisted to prove or disprove almost anything. Is that what we are doing.
For context I will state that I am 75, have always exercised, still exercise probably more vigorously than a 75 year old man should and would like to believe exercise is why I am healthy. However of my many friends and aquaintences who died recently almost all died because they were smokers and some died resulting from genetic diseases. Exercise seems to have played no part at all in these deaths or in the life of those still alive. It seems to be (in order of effect) smoking, genes, accidents and going to war that determines early death.
I don't think anyone will argue that there is evidence that exercise will increase longevity. What it will do is increase the quality of those final years. Rather than being bed-ridden and dependent on numerous drugs, an active person is more likely to be independent and self-sufficient, able to get themselves off the toilet without assistance. What condition was your stepson's grandfather in when he passed on, if I may ask?
"And before you ask: at present there is absolutely no solid evidence that strength training—or any other exercise or dietary program—will substantially prolong our life spans. But the preponderance of the scientific evidence, flawed as it is, strongly indicates that we can change the trajectory of decline. We can recover functional years that would otherwise have been lost. There is much talk in the aging studies community about “compression of morbidity,” a shortening of the dysfunctional phase of the death process. Instead of slowly getting weaker and sicker and circling the drain in a protracted, painful descent that can take hellish years or even decades, we can squeeze our dying into a tiny sliver of our life cycle. Instead of slowly dwindling into an atrophic puddle of sick fat, our death can be like a failed last rep at the end of a final set of heavy squats. We can remain strong and vital well into our last years, before succumbing rapidly to whatever kills us. Strong to the end."
Well put RJP (initially read that as RIP ha ha). I've watched one circling the drain do a reset with physical therapy and not die, that's a data point for me (the same one that was told his cognitive decline could be reversed with adequate sleep). Plus all the near miss falls that could be avoided now (and the blood clots) with a little more core strength and movement vs the other that hasn't fallen against all odds. I count that as direct data on longevity. You can't have 2 bodies or a monte carlo's worth of your own bodies and get real data, but you can have a sense of it. The 68 year old who only just started using a wheel chair, should by all rights have been in one 15 years ago (longer if he'd just given up) and could have already deep vein thrombosis-ed out or had a life ending fall. 2 data points, now I can make a line! My GGrandma was dead at 34 and her son at 97. Thats quite a window for optimization. I'm aiming for healthy enough up to a sudden catastrophic failure. Seems optimal. Although I'd rather think of it as a warriors death than a failed squat death. Doesn't matter if that's 65 to120 although living beyond the mid 80's doesn't seem at all appealing from what I've seen. (apparently dashes and at symbols flag comments as spam)
He was fine, never sick, Walked slowly but did OK. In the end he just passed away quickly and quietly.
I do think exercise is good. I do think that stretching and flexibility exercise will make your late years better. But it's kind of a difficult thing to prove that it really works. The burden for those who would prove it is to explain the many people who live to very old age and are healthy until they die and have never exercised. And when you factor in all those who do in fact exercise all their life and still die at 65 or so it just takes the wind out of the argument.
Interestingly my wife just now told me that her workout partners husband just passed away at age 65 while he was working out in the gym. Talk about crazy coincidences.
First, my sincere condolences to your wife's workout partner.
Second, I don't think you'll find anyone here or elsewhere that would dispute genetics being a major, if not the major, factor in determining overall health and longevity.
Third, as I wrote in my previous post, "I don't think anyone will argue that there is evidence that exercise will increase longevity." (But then there's this, just out this week: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/12/10/674380082/exercise-wins-fit-seniors-can-have-hearts-that-look-30-years-younger)
Finally, surely you're not saying it's better to be old and weak than old and strong?
"surely you're not saying it's better to be old and weak than old and strong?"
Not at all. I'm still a believer in exercise and do indeed think it improves the quality of life and "possibly" your health in old age. My issue is simply that the broad claims for exercise, especially the belief that it can make you live longer, seem to pale when compared to the effect of genes and bad habits like smoking and drugs/alcohol.
"Was it Squats?"
I don't know. It may not even be meaningful that he was in the gym when it happened. It was just ironic in the context of this discussion.
2. Other shit, e.g. smoking, obesity, crappy diet, etc.
A tip of the hat to MikeL and RJP for the recommendations for "The Barbell Prescription" and the accompanying videos on the Greysteel Channel. Great information and a fresh approach for seasoned citizens.
I have been working to incorporate the principles in the book into my workouts for several months now.