I used to think 40 was old.
I remember the day my dad turned 40.
I thought – because really, I no idea of a sense of time – that he was going to die of old age soon.
I remember it made me sad when he told me that he was 40 – it was in the kitchen or our tiny suburban home. I was 10 years old at the time.
My dad was my hero… still is even now that he’s 72.
As I write this, I’m 43 years old… and I realize how wrong I was.
Especially now where it’s common to see people thrive well into their 90s.
But I think, nowadays especially, that we have to ask the question…
Even though we’re all aging (that number is only going to go up)… Do we have to “get old”?
Can we have a great quality of life and not be dependent on things like…
- medication & pills
- physical aids like canes, wheel chairs or oxygen machines
- even other people like nurses or caregivers or our family members
I don’t know about you, but my goal as a father of 5 is to be independent well into my old age.
I don’t want to be a burden on my kids.
So I’m doing everything I can NOW to stall and even REVERSE the aging process.
In the end, there’s little we can do to prevent getting old… BUT we can do things in our life to delay “getting OLD”.
FACT: After the age of 30, we start to lose muscle at an exponential rate.
The average sedentary adult will lose 3-5% of lean mass per decade after the age of 30.(1)
This process of losing muscle due to aging is called SARCOPENIA.
SARCOPENIA is a condition characterized by loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. Sarcopenia is a syndrome characterized by progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength and it is strictly correlated with physical disability, poor quality of life and death.(2)
If you’re already active – which I’m guessing you are if you’re reading this – then you’re on the right track.
But there’s a little more to it…
Fast Twitch Muscle Fibres… The Key To Staying Young
Within the human body you have different muscle fibre types – Slow Twitch & Fast Twitch.
Slow-twitch muscle fibres are fatigue resistant, and focused on sustained, smaller movements and postural control.
They contain more mitochondria and myoglobin, and are aerobic in nature compared to fast-twitch fibres. Slow-twitch fibres are also sometimes called type I or red fibres because of their blood supply.
You’ll find slow-twitch muscle fibres in your calves, your abs and your heart.
Fast-twitch muscle fibres provide bigger and more powerful forces, but for shorter durations and fatigue quickly.
They are more anaerobic with less blood supply, hence they are sometimes referred to as white fibers or type II.
Fast-twitch fibres are found in your chest, quads, hamstrings and glutes.
Fast twitch muscle fibres are responsible for activities like…
- throwing your kid up in the air and catching them
- pushing someone out of the path of a moving car
- jumping up to the that helium balloon that’s stuck on the ceiling
- getting up off a toilet
…You know, all the things that make you a SUPERHERO in their eyes (OK, maybe not the toilet part)😉.
Here’s the thing, though…
Regardless if you’re active or not, research shows that your body will selectively choose to atrophy your Fast Twitch Muscle (Type IIb & IIx muscle fibres) more than your Slow Twitch muscle.(3)
“Atrophy”: To waste away, especially as a result of the degeneration of cells, or become vestigial during evolution.
Because of that, strength and power are lost as we age.
Unless, of course, we PURPOSELY train our fast twitch muscle fibres.
We need to train to be STRONG, but (more importantly?), we must train to be POWERFUL.
So even though the mainstream has always said that cardiovascular activities like walking, hiking and cycling are good enough to maintain a good quality of life for an aging population – and they are…
…none of those activities address strength or power which are critical to living an optimal life as we get older.
Remember, we’re all aging… it’s natural. But the key to NOT “getting old” is building & maintaining fast twitch muscle… and there are specific ways to train your FAST TWITCH muscles…
Let’s get into that on the next page…
Important Points to Remember…
- Sarcopenia is a condition characterized by progressive and generalized loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength due to aging
- The average adult with lose 3-5% of muscle mass every decade after the age of 30
- Your body will selectively chose to atrophy your explosive fast twitch muscle fibres over your slow twitch fibres
- In order to maintain and BUILD muscle mass as you get older, you must train your fast twitch fibres using exercises specifically designed to stimulate their growth & strength.