What image do you see when you think of someone living the last ten years of their life?
Are they hunched over and walking so slowly, it is almost as if they are not moving at all? Are they at the pharmacy counter for half an hour waiting for ten different prescriptions to get filled? Perhaps all your mind can produce is a hospital. And who could blame you? When a fall for your average elderly person means an automatic broken bone, the hospital is just one errant banana peel away.
Why do the last ten years of life conjure up such awful images? Because, scientifically, old age is no picnic and most people do not take a ton of proactive steps to prevent it from being that way.
As Dr. Jonathon Sullivan, MD, Starting Strength Coach, author, and expert on aging explains in his article, Barbell Training is Big Medicine:
It’s a life of waiting to die from a skin infection or a broken hip or a blot clot, of needing a stupid little fucking go-cart to get from here to there, of not being able to reach your own ass to wipe it, of narcotizing yourself with alcohol, cigarettes, American Idol and Doritos so you don’t have to face your own grim existence as a slowly rotting Jabba The Hut.
Well, that sounds shitty.
Fortunately, it does not have to be so. Whether you are young and wanting to invest in your body early like your 401(k) or are starting to see some grey hairs and wanting to avoid the frail bones that go along with them, you can prevent the suck by getting underneath a barbell.
As our friend Dr. Sullivan says,
In a system (the aging person) whose default mode is to die . . . barbell training signals for survival and for growth. It forces muscles to grow stronger and more flexible, tendons and ligaments to become thicker, bones to start sopping up calcium and lay down new matrix, kinesthetic perception to get with the program, and endocrine systems to get off their ass.
In other words, when it comes to battling old age, barbell training is pretty heavy metal.
This makes logical sense. It’s impossible to imagine someone deadlifting 135 pounds one day lying in a hospital bed the next day. It’s difficult to envision someone squatting with a barbell on their back twice a week needing help getting off of the toilet the next week. And if you want to imagine a grandmother lifting her grandchild in the air on his third birthday, you will have an easier time creating that image when you learn that the grandmother lifted a barbell over her head earlier that day.
What image do you see when you think of the last ten years of your own life? If you start barbell training now, it doesn’t have to be a negative one.