Carrying on

So far, we have learned about F.A.C.E.-ing our future through flexibility and aerobic exercise. Next on the agenda is carrying a load. You may be wondering what exactly that means. Let’s start with a few things it does NOT mean:

  • Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders
  • Hauling a bunch of laundry to be folded
  • Pumping iron on a machine at the gym

I’m sure the first two sounded self-explanatory, but perhaps the third point sounded surprising to you. Yes, carrying a load is about building strength, but I specifically do not call this “weight lifting.” That is because in real life (and sports), we never use just one muscle to get a job done.

For example, in the past, working out the quads meant sitting on a leg press and pushing weight away from our bodies. You probably never sat on your butt to push anything like that, but I’m sure you can remember the last time you used more than one muscle group to pick up a child or move a couch.

In chapter eight, I teach you to carry a load and build strong muscles through resistance training that mimics everyday activities.

Use it or lose it, sister!

I’m talking about muscles! Have you ever had your arm in a cast? At first it was tight, but eventually it felt loose. That’s what happens when you don’t lose your muscles. They go away, but that doesn’t mean you lose weight. One pound of muscle is typically replaced by a pound of fat. The problem is, a pound of fat takes up 18% more space than a pound of muscle. That means if you don’t lose your muscles, you will not only get bigger, but also weaker.

It’s never too late

Don’t worry! If you lose muscle, it is not gone forever. Many studies show that muscle loss (or muscle disuse atrophy) is reversible in as little as eight weeks of training.

Loads of improvement

The benefits from carrying a load do not stop at growing stronger. If you routinely carry a load, this will help you:

  • Burn more calories
  • Retain more protein
  • Have more energy
  • Regulate insulin levels
  • Decrease risk of bone fracture

How to get started

Just like aerobic exercise doesn’t necessarily mean breaking out the legwarmers and leotards, carrying a load doesn’t go hand in hand with big, sweaty men grunting and hoisting weights at the gym. In fact, you do not need access to a weight machine at all. Free weights, dumbbells, kettle bells, and exercise bands are great ways to carry a load. Plus, one of the best loads to carry is your own weight.

For the complete guide on carrying a load as part of F.A.C.E.-ing your future, check out chapter eight of Fitness After 40, Second Edition. I outline everything you need to know including how much weight you should lift, the number of reps you should do, and the types of equipment to use. I also added 24 new exercises for you.

Now when I end this post by saying, “carry on,” I think you know what I really mean!

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