It is true that over each decade as we age, we lose a lb or so of muscle and gain more lbs in fat. We can lose up to 20% of our lean muscle mass after age 40. Our metabolism slows by up to 5-10% as soon as we hit 30! It continues to decrease each decade after that. We really have nothing good going for us except the prospect of grandkids and wisdom! However, my point is NOT to depress you with the thought of ageing. It is to enlighten you on the concept of strength training now (even if your 70+) and what it can do positively for those muscles, every day you age.
Meet Ernestine Sheperd. The world's OLDEST female body builder. She has been bodybuilding only the last 6 years, starting at the tender age of 71. That means Ernestine is 77 years old! She was inspired intially by her (deceased) sister at the age of 56 and pursued on without her; crowned in 2010 as being the world's oldest bodybuilder. Ernestine started running late in her fifties finding that this was the answer to help alleviate all the medication and symptoms she was taking/having for high blood pressure, cholesterol etc. As her fitness increased, her meds decreased, as well as her depression.
She became so inspired by her results and change in health that she went on to live her sister's dream of bodybuilding. Of course she met obstacles along the way, but starting slowly, staying determined and disciplined has shown her that nothing is impossible. And know what? She has no muscle atrophy, dementia, or disease. She is using what she has and not losing it. Well, I can't speak for her possibly forgetting where she parked her car, but you get the jist.
Strength training doesn't have to lead to the sport of bodybuilding. There are many visible benefits way before you ever get to that level. Strength training will build your strength (duh!). But what this does to go further; self-dependence, confidence, ability to keep up, support for joints, increased metabolism (refer above if you didn't realize that decreased) disease prevention, healthy heart and lungs, burn calories, increased self esteem, reverse muscle atrophy, fight depression, burn fat (refer to above if you missed that) while at the gym AND post workout, the ability to play (whatever you do for fun in an active daily life) LONGER. BETTER. MORE. And aesthetics. Of course. You will have a firmer physique resulting in a pleased appreciation for all your hard work. What is one of Ernestine's guilty pleasures? Not a sinful dessert as she battles acid reflux and has a strict bodybuilders diet; "I like to wear skimpy clothes. Oh, yes, I do. I love to have my back out and my stomach out. I like catsuits- all those things. I COULDN'T wear them years ago." (p.71; TIME magazine inc special: Your Body; the science of keeping it healthy). I had to supress some giggles when I initally read that. But Google her and see for yourself.
Nothing. Short. Of. Impressive.
To start, train 8-10 of your muscle groups (quads, glutes, hamstrings, chest, shoulders, back, biceps and triceps) in one set of 8-10 reps, TO FAILURE, 2x/week. The key to strength building is FAILURE. You want to fight for those reps at least at the half way point of the amount to the end of the set WITHOUT losing form. Struggle. Safely. Reap the rewards. As you get stronger, you can start playing around with more complicated strength exercises, change the type of workout and reps/sets balance. Dont be afraid of heavy. Make the load your enemy while you lift, your friend after you conquer it.
Muscle doesn't know age. Don't let your age determine how LITTLE muscle you have. Its a myth that you won't or can't be strong as you enter centurion territory. Or independent. Or disease free. Or in a sleeveless shirt. Without bat wings.
Now, where did I put those keys?