People who are physically
inactive can lose 3% to 5%
of their muscle mass per
decade after age 30

The Science

High intensity resistance training is one of the areas of fitness that has been most extensively backed by scientific research. If you’d like to read some more background information, we’ve selected some of the best articles for you to read:

1. Sarcopenia with ageing (WebMD)

This article explains how Sarcopenia (or Muscle loss with aging) affects us as we get older, and why strength training is the primary method of treatment and prevention for all of us.

“People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you will still experience some muscle loss.

Resistance training has been reported to positively influence the neuromuscular system, hormone concentrations, and protein synthesis rate. Research has shown that a program of progressive resistance training exercises can increase protein synthesis rates in older adults in as little as two weeks. For optimal benefits with minimal risk of injury, the proper number, intensity, and frequency of resistance exercise is important.”

2. Resistance Exercise Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle

“Resistance exercise can increase muscle strength, function and mass in older adults even into the 9th decade of life. An increase in muscle strength and hypertrophy are the main phenotypic outcomes of resistance exercise programs in younger adults; however, resistance training in older adults can also increase mitochondrial capacity, and studies have shown that skeletal muscle atrophy and mitochondrial dysfunction often co-exist and may be causally related. Furthermore, resistance exercise training can reduce markers of oxidative stress, and increase anti-oxidant enzyme activity in older adults. […]

“Our observation of a “reversal” of the aging signature in skeletal muscle following six months of resistance exercise training is interesting from a number of perspectives. It is well known that resistance exercise training results in an increase in strength, function and muscle mass in younger and older adults. Furthermore, long-term habitual physical activity is associated with a lower risk of age-associated morbidity and mortality.”

3. Skeletal muscle as a regulator of the longevity protein, Klotho

This article is just the latest explaining why muscle is such a good thing to have in abundance. Apparently there is a “longevity protein” called Klotho that is strongly correlated with both lifespan and skeletal muscle mass.  This article highlights evidence that Klotho is not just correlated with skeletal muscle, but is actually produced by skeletal muscle activity. In addition, the degree of Klotho upregulation may be proportionate to one’s level of strength and fitness.

4. The truth about Exercise and public health – Professor James Timmons Dec 2012 Loughborough University

5. Strength training for grandma and grandpa
Date: June 11, 2011
Source: Deutsches Aerzteblatt International
People lose 30 percent of their muscle strength between the ages of 50 and 70 years. However, maintaining muscle strength in old age is enormously important in order to maintain mobility and to be able to lead an independent life and manage everyday tasks independently. Scientists conclude that progressive strength (resistance) training counteracts muscular atrophy in old age.

Older and stronger: Progressive resistance training can build muscle, increase strength as we age
Date: April 2, 2011
Source: University of Michigan Health System
It’s often thought that older adults must tolerate the strength and muscle loss that come with age. But analyses of current research reveal that not only can we fight the battle of strength and muscle loss as we age, we can even build muscle and strength well into our golden years.

Study on 90-year-olds reveals the benefits of strength training
Date: September 27, 2013
Source: Elhuyar Fundazioa
After doing specific training for 12 weeks, people over the age of 90 improved their strength, power and muscle mass. This was reflected in an increase in their walking speed, a greater capacity to get out of their chairs, an improvement in their balance, a significant reduction in the incidence of falls, a significant improvement in muscle power, and mass in the lower limbs.

Resistance Training to Momentary Muscular Failure Improves Cardiovascular Fitness in Humans: A Review of Acute Physiological Responses and Chronic Physiological Adaptations

Effects of Resistance Training on aged Skeletal Muscle and Mitochondrial Function
Flack, Kyle
Date: 2014-01-23
ABSTRACT With the aging of the baby boom population and an increased life expectancy, individuals aged 65 years and older are the fastest growing segment of our population. Aging brings about changes in skeletal muscle such as reduced muscle strength and mass, as well as cellular deficits such as increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) deletions and mutations. Muscle mass declines at a rate of 1-2% each year after the age of 50, leading to muscle weakness, functional impairments, loss of independence, and an increase in falls. Additional declines in muscle mass and reduced muscle strength may result in a lower resting metabolic rate, reduced lipid oxidative capacity, increased adiposity, and insulin resistance. The rising number of individuals aged 65+ will increase demands on health care and health care costs, possibly leading to inadequate public resources and less care for the aged. This large societal impact, coupled with the aging of our population, suggests a clear need for methods that will improve the aging phenotype to enhance functionality, quality of life, and overall health for our aging population. This investigation aspires to delve into a relatively unexplored area of aging research and evaluate potential means that could help improve the aging phenotype. The associated mitochondrial impairments, mitochondrial mediated apoptosis, and mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) deletions and mutations that accompany aging lead to a decline in physical fitness and oxidative capacity, and exercise has been shown to reverse or help prevent many of these disturbances. Resistance exercise training (RT) is currently the most effective known strategy to stimulate skeletal muscle hypertrophy and increase strength. Strength gains after RT lead to an improvement in activities of daily living and quality of life. There is some evidence suggesting that RT may lead to increased antioxidant enzyme capacity, decreased ROS production and increased electron transport chain (ETC) function in older individuals. The present study will lay a foundation for future research and further developments in the area of RT, mitochondrial function and aging.

Strength training as a countermeasure to ageing muscle and chronic disease. Reduces visceral fat, triglyceride levels, resting and exercise blood pressure. May also improve cognitive function.

A short-term progressive resistance training program leads to clinically meaningful improvements in glycemic control and muscle strength in untrained middle-aged type 2 diabetic patients of Asian Indian ethnicity.
N Am J Med Sci. Aug 2012; 4(8): 336–343.

doi: 10.4103/1947-2714.99507
PMCID: PMC3421911
Resistance Training Leads to Clinically Meaningful Improvements in Control of Glycemia and Muscular Strength in Untrained Middle-aged Patients with type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Unaise Abdul Hameed, Dilshad Manzar, Shahid Raza, Mohd. Yakub Shareef,1 and Mohd. Ejaz Hussain

Resistance training and functional plasticity of the aging brain: a 12-month randomized controlled trial
Teresa Liu-Ambrose correspondence email, Lindsay S. Nagamatsu, Michelle W. Voss, Karim M. Khan, Todd C. Handy
Received: July 6, 2010; Received in revised form: May 11, 2011; Accepted: May 15, 2011; Published Online: July 08, 2011

Lifetime of fitness: Fountain of youth for bone, joint health?

Being physically active may significantly improve musculoskeletal and overall health, and minimize or delay the effects of aging. “An increasing amount of evidence demonstrates that we can modulate age-related decline in the musculoskeletal system,” said the lead study author.. “A lot of the deterioration we see with aging can be attributed to a more sedentary lifestyle instead of aging itself.”

Older adults: Build muscle and you’ll live longer
Date: March 14, 2014
Source: University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences
The more muscle mass older Americans have, the less likely they are to die prematurely, new research shows. The findings add to the growing evidence that overall body composition — and not the widely used body mass index, or BMI — is a better predictor of all-cause mortality. “In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” said the study’s co-author. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.”

Not only is she thinner than you, her muscles work better, too: Role of muscle function in maintaining weight
Date: March 20, 2014
Source: American Physiological Society
Researchers examined how muscle physiology effects leanness. They found that while rats with ‘lean genes’ burned a similar amount of calories at rest as those with ‘obese genes,’ the muscles of lean rats burned much more energy during mild activity. The research sheds new light on the role of muscle function and metabolism in maintaining weight.

Hormone released after exercise can ‘predict’ biological age
Date: February 17, 2014
Source: Aston University
Scientists have discovered a potential molecular link between Irisin, a recently identified hormone released from muscle after bouts of exercise, and the aging process. Irisin, which is naturally present in humans, is capable of reprograming the body’s fat cells to burn energy instead of storing it. This increases the metabolic rate and is thought to have potential anti-obesity effects. The finding provides a potential molecular link between keeping active and healthy aging with those having higher Irisin levels more ‘biological young’ than those with lower levels of the hormone.

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