fitness · health

Fighting Sarcopenia with a one two punch!

Why resistance training is crucial!

Free weights

Sarcopenia, which simply means a loss of muscle mass, is a condition that you might think is only present in the elderly, but the truth is it can begin its attack on muscles as early as thirty. For every decade we live and are inactive we can lose from 3 to 5 % of our muscle mass which can result in loss of strength, stamina, and mobility ( What can we do – exercise, but more specifically we should combine resistive training (weight bearing) along with a diet higher in protein (


There are three main components to having a physically healthy body: cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, and eating a well balanced diet. Combined, these three are unstoppable, but on their own they have flaws. When you only try to eat right your muscles are not being challenged. When you only lift weights your lungs and heart are not being challenged. When you only do cardio you are not providing the body with enough muscle building potential.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Elite Trainer Nicholas Knutson says, “Cardio workouts for the most part do not provide enough resistance to challenge the breakdown and repair cycle of the muscles.”

When we lift weights our muscles experience trauma, resulting in muscle fiber tears. Our bodies respond by activating ‘satellite cells’ which are located on the outside of muscles, they fuse together and fuse to the injured muscle fibers, working to repair damage and make new muscle fibers. To truly make gains in muscle growth, muscle protein synthesis (repair) must outweigh muscle breakdown. (

Dr. Mike Clark, chief executive officer of the NASM states, “While cardio training may burn a good amount of energy (calories) during the activity, it will not burn the same amount of calories as increased muscle mass will. Muscle burns calories all day long.”

Suzanne Luft, NASM Elite Trainer adds, “Resistance training not only tones your muscles, it can favorably change your body composition (increase muscle tissue, decrease body fat percentage) which can raise your metabolism and help maintain healthy weight. Resistance Training has also been shown to prevent bone loss.” Luft recommends, “full body resistance training should be performed 2-3 days a week with at least a day of rest in between each session. “

So now you’ve added resistance training to your workouts; now what’s up with your diet? According to Motley, fats and carbohydrates are essential to healthy growth, but protein is the key ingredient for building muscle tissue, and because it is not stored effectively by the body, a consistent supply is required.

Nuts: a good source of protein

Eating protein at the right time is a must do for maximum benefit. Here are some guidelines: Protein for breakfast equals a quick energy boost and consuming protein within 30 minutes after a workout helps the muscles to repair. Protein snacks between meals and before bed can also make a difference. The amino acids in protein help to rebuild and maintain muscles throughout the day and even through the night. ( Be mindful that eating more protein will not build more muscle, only exercise will build muscle (


According to, women need approximately 46 grams of protein per day, and men 56 grams. Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center offers this advice, “I encourage people to choose lean forms of protein like red meat, poultry without the skin, nonfat or low fat dairy products, and fish.” Protein servings of meat should be about the size and thickness of the palm of your hand, and should not take up more than a 1/3 of your plate. Plant proteins like beans and lentils and whole grains like quinoa, spelt and amaranth are also rich in protein.

No matter your age, it’s never too late to attack the onset of sarcopenia; just remember to always seek guidance before beginning a resistance training regimen. As with most things, education, desire, and implementation are key factors in helping us to better our physical selves; allowing us to age with graceful strength.

1. University of Maryland Medical Center: Aging changes in the bones-muscles-joints>…>medical encyclopedia>all articles
2. How do muscles grow?; Young sub kwon, MS and Len Kravitz.Phd
Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier
Mayo clinic staff

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s