Biggest anti-aging secret? Build muscle.

By Christiana Purves

by ELYSIAN Magazine

For the longest time, the fitness industry has placed individuals (specifically women) looking to take care of their health on a merry-go-round of fad diets and workouts that keep you coming back for more, but do not yield the results you desire. 

Ever tried the “Abs in Five,” only to have zero abs? Cellulite Blaster, only to lose weight but still have cellulite? A diet that restricts everything enjoyable about life, just to break it for a day and gain five pounds? 

See none of this ever works long-term for two science-based reasons: 

  • Restricting is not as effective as a lifestyle change.
  • Building muscle replaces fat, blasts cellulite and makes you younger, metabolically speaking. 

According to a recent study, the benefits of dieting usually do not last longer than a year. On a diet for six months, give up. Back on another diet, give up. You are essentially in this negative feedback loop that not only has you starting and stopping new diets, but also negatively impacts your metabolism.

I bring up dieting because in order for you to build muscle that will set you back in time 10+ years, your diet, or lifestyle rather, needs one key ingredient to start — protein. Before you jump on another diet bandwagon, I encourage you to try tracking your protein intake. The scientifically proven rule is one gram of protein per pound of body weight. For instance, a 140-pound individual should be consuming 140 grams of high-quality protein per day. 

Now for the second part of this equation — building muscle. 

Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a doctor of pharmacy and cardiovascular research scientist, describes muscle building as your health insurance. In fact, he’s found that just 30 minutes of minutes of weight training will increase your metabolic rate over the next 24 hours, burn around 120+ additional fat calories over those 24 hours and improve your metabolic health. 

Your metabolic health is the cornerstone of turning your internal age back several years, if not decades. The best way to boost your metabolic health is weight training, not cardio. Now, there is absolutely a time and place for cardio to keep your cardiovascular system in prime condition. However, it is not as much as you may think. Just 20 minutes a day of brisk walking will do wonders for your cardiovascular system, lower blood pressure and aid in sleep performance. 

Another topic I would be remiss if I didn’t address, is that of bone loss as we age — especially in women. This leads to the risk of broken bones and other health complications. As we age, muscle building is even more imperative so that it creates a buffer for our bones. A majority of broken bones and torn ligaments can be caused by lack of muscle surrounding the area in order to protect it. This is why I believe Dr. DiNicolantonio likes to refer to muscle as our health insurance. 

In fact, Dr. Peter Attia, who studies how to improve longevity in his patients, states that strength training is the single best exercise to activate osteoblasts, which then in turn helps build bone density. It has also been scientifically proven that individuals, and this is highly skewed toward women, over the age of 65 who fall and break a hip are 30% to 40% likely to pass away within the year. 

Strength training will do wonders for your health and longevity. 

Weights are your friend. Lifting the same weight each week for months or years is NOT your friend. There’s a proven method in muscle building called progressive overload. It essentially means that you’re doing one of three things each time you perform a certain lift. 1. Increasing weight, 2. Increasing repetitions, and 3. Improving form. 

Where do you even start? Start with these five lifts and just the barbell (45 pounds) or a 5-pound dumbbell.

Key lifts: 

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts 
  • Hip Thrusts 
  • Bench Press 
  • Overhead Press 

Not sure about some of these lifts? Ask a trainer at your gym or quickly look up a video of the lift on the internet. Start with light weight. Perform four sets of eight in each of these lifts per week. Add five pounds each week. Watch your body change! 

It doesn’t have to be a complicated workout throwing weight around (ouch) and performing 20 different lifts in one workout. That has actually been scientifically proven to not help you gain muscle. 

I encourage you to try eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day and perform the lifts I listed above each week, applying the progressive overload method for six weeks. You’ll be amazed at the results. And the best part? It’s highly sustainable and can fit into practically any lifestyle.

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