The Impact of Functional Strength Training On Longevity

Muscle mass and its relationship to healthspan
Written by
Brian Leddy
Female fitness model exercising with battle rope 2023 11 27 05 24 31 utc

In the realm of fitness, strength training often takes center stage. But not all strength is created equal. Functional strength training, a holistic approach emphasizing real-world movements and longevity, has gained significant attention in recent years. Let's delve deeper into why this form of training is essential, especially as we age.

Muscle And Its Strong Connection To Longevity

Scientific evidence increasingly points to muscle mass as a key indicator of longevity. The more muscle you have, the longer you're likely to live. But it's not just about bulk; the quality of your muscle matters even more.

This is where functional strength training comes in. It focuses on building not only muscle mass but also strength, power, and neuromuscular control – all of which are crucial for maintaining independence and vitality as you age.

The Power of Power

While strength is the ability to exert force, power is the ability to exert force quickly. Studies have shown that a decline in power is a major contributor to the loss of physical function as we age.

This decline can lead to falls, injuries, and a loss of independence. Functional strength training, with its emphasis on explosive movements like jumps and throws, can help counteract this decline and keep you agile and resilient.

Endurance Training: Not Just for Cardio

You might think of endurance training as the domain of runners and cyclists. However, it can also play a vital role in muscle growth, especially when combined with traditional strength training.

Research suggests that a period of endurance training can actually enhance muscle growth when followed by hypertrophy (muscle-building) training. This is particularly beneficial for beginners, who may see accelerated gains from this approach.

Fast-Twitch Fibers: Your Anti-Aging Arsenal

Our muscles contain two main types of fibers: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. Slow-twitch fibers are responsible for endurance, while fast-twitch fibers are responsible for power and speed.

As we age, fast-twitch fibers tend to atrophy, leading to a decline in strength and power.

Functional strength training, with its focus on explosive movements, can help stimulate and preserve these vital fibers, keeping you strong and agile well into your later years.

Training for Longevity

So, how can you incorporate functional strength training into your routine? Here are some key strategies:

Prioritize Compound Movements: Focus on exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, like squats, deadlifts, presses, and rows.

Embrace Variety: Include a mix of heavy lifting, plyometrics, and bodyweight exercises to target different aspects of strength and power.

Don't Neglect Endurance: Incorporate Zone 2 cardio or other forms of endurance training to complement your strength work.

Progressively Overload: Gradually increase the intensity and volume of your workouts over time to continue challenging your muscles.

Listen to Your Body: Rest and recovery are essential for muscle growth and injury prevention.

By embracing functional strength training as a lifestyle, you can not only build a strong, capable body but also set the stage for a long, healthy, and active life. Remember, it's never too late to start investing in your future self.

Brian Leddy Profile Image
Brian Leddy CEO & Co-Founder, BodyStack (FDN-P)
Certified Functional Diagnostic Practitioner (FDN-P) and owner of Leddy Functional Wellness. Formerly an Adweek Executive and Media Entreprenuer, Brian pivoted his career to focus on inspiring and coaching people from all walks of life to make positive strides in their respective health journeys. Brian is a Co-Founder, and now serves as the CEO of BodyStack.
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