Is weight training good for your bones? Yes, it certainly is — if you implement it optimally of course. So find out how you can!
Over the last couple of weeks I have written a couple of articles describing how and why weight training is good for your joints (check them out here and here).
So I thought I might as well keep that ball rolling and answer a question that comes up more often than you might think: “is weight training good for your bones?”
What You Need to Know About Bone Health
Keeping your bones healthy and strong is pretty damn important.
I mean, if they become weak and brittle, then you are going to be at a much higher risk of incurring bone fractures and breaks.
Now this obviously not a good thing.
In fact, it can be an absolutely terrible thing.
I mean, while a fractured bone will be an uncomfortable experience for most, it can be a literal death sentence for some individuals (particularly those entering their golden years).
So, to put it simply, strong bones = healthy life.
Bone Health and Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease is typified by a significant reduction in bone density.
This occurs when your rate of bone production is outweighed by your rate of bone degradation (which i should mention is a normal process). In this scenario, your bones will become weak and brittle, in which you become much more susceptible to breaks and fractures.
But here is the really scary thing: osteoporosis affects more than 700,000 Australians over 50 nationwide.
And no, that is not a typo.
More than 700,000.
For those of you playing at home, that’s a helluva lot of people.
Now, the good news is that osteoporosis (and the decline in bone density that precedes it) is not a death sentence.
In fact, there is a growing body of research clearly demonstrating that exercise can have a seriously positive impact on the health of your bones.
And of those types of exercise that appear to have the most benefit?
Well, encase the title of the article didn’t give it way, weight training appears to be king.
Is Weight Training Good for Your Bones?
Amazingly, progressive weight training has been shown to cause steady increases in bone mineral density. Importantly, this occurs in:
- Healthy individuals,
- People with diagnosed osteoporosis
- Those at a high risk of developing osteoporosis
So, by simply weight training a few times per week, you can see some huge increases in your bone health.
This is not only going to significantly reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis in the long run, but will also limit your likelihood of experiencing bone breaks and fractures.
Optimising Weight Training to Improve Bone Health
You now know that weight training is the key to increasing the health of your bones. But there a few things that need to be considered here:
- Heavy loads appear better at stimulating bone growth than lighter loads
- Free weights that place load on the lower limbs and the spine appear most effective
- You need to progressively increase loads as you get stronger, to continually force adaptation
- Three sessions per week appears optimal
If you manage to adhere to these general rules, you can be guaranteed that you will see some good improvements in bone density.
Take Home Message
So, is weight training good for you bones? Yessir, it certainly is.
If you implement it optimally, of course.
With this in mind, weight training is something that should be performed by all individuals — especially those looking to improve bone health and stave off osteoporosis.
About the Author
It would be rhetorical to say: that your body is special. And you would only want the best to be guiding you through your health and well-being safely. And yet, one can still be suggestible- picking up dodgy anecdotal tips from ‘that guy’ on the lat-pull-down machine.
I have personally experienced the exercise benefits, being safely loaded, and moving with confidence with one of my colleagues. Leaving my body and surrendering to an expert has given myself a deeper appreciation of the importance of finding an expert in human movement. The pain management clinic I visited helped me get rid of all the unnecessary physical pain I was feeling due to the stress caused by travelling long distances every day. I have always been on the other side to what I have been accustomed too- and as bias as it sounds: my colleagues here at iNform health really know how to manage and care for their clients.
Here are three reasons why you should be exercising with an expert.
1. Your tissues need time to adapt to load.
Your tissues, all the way down to the extracellular matrix- are for ever adapting to stressors and making proteins. Prescribing appropriate load- will ensure ones tissues will safely adapt; which will add a host of benefits to ones neuromuscular system. Reduced risk of tendonopathies, appropriate motor learning and myonuclei growth (muscle hypertrophy). On the contrary, excessive loading that exceeds the capacity of the neuromuscular system can induce the contra effects to the aforementioned. Tendon pathology, disorganised motor learning due to inappropriate load and systemic inflammation (abnormal prostaglandin levels) due to poor tissue healing.
2. Assessing the capacity of the neuromuscular system before undertaking load is paramount- and if neglected, your ‘health professional’ is going in blind.
If there is a muscle inhibition due to de-conditioned tissues, or a previous pathology that was poorly rehabilitated, would you feel safe to be loaded? Or if you were unable to co-contract your gluteus maximums, or have adequate lumbo-pelvic control? And yet, you may still be subjected to axial loading in your first session…! A thorough musculoskeletal assessment can identify any red flags and give your health professional valuable subjective/objective information to prescribe appropriate exercise correctives. This will then ensure more complex movements are performed safely.
3. Co-care is so important in addressing the whole individual.
Here at iNform, our clients are closely monitored by a wonderful internal/external team of allied health professionals; ranging from: GP’s, physio’s, osteo’s, chiros, pod’s and psychologist (without exhausting). All working and communicating together for the greater good of your physical and mental health. Co-care leads to better clinical outcomes, a proper working diagnosis, and the right form of treatments that benefit you the individual.
So, next time you are wanting to move with confidence. Be interrogative with your research. Find an evidence based approach that doesn’t involve a lecture from ‘that guy’ wearing a weight belt with a skimpy muscle singlet (stereotyping much?).
About The Author
The holiday season is fast approaching, organized sports are coming to a halt, work is winding up and many of us are embarking upon holidays. The Christmas break is a time where we are often given the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family while having a break from a regular schedule. While this opportunity to recharge may be necessary, it can also be to the detriment of any fitness progress and goals you have achieved throughout the passing year. Fitness loss is commonplace, not only during the Christmas holidays but during any extended period of reduced physical activity and we often refer to this effect as detraining.
Detraining and the Residual Training Effect:
Lets talk about detraining, you may have heard about it somewhere along the grapevine or maybe you have had first-hand experience with it, most likely the latter. The relationship between detraining and the residual training effect revolves around the idea that after cessation of training or an acute reduction in volume the body begins physiological processes which slowly untie any positive adaptations to training we may have made (detraining/deconditioning). It is these physiological characteristics that when grouped together make up what we call fitness components. These components include speed, maximal strength, aerobic endurance, strength endurance and anaerobic endurance. Now, while these may not all relate to you, there are most likely one or two which are inclusive in your fitness goals (no matter how basic or specific they are).
However, it may not be all doom and gloom. It is important to know that not all of these characteristics deteriorate at the same rate, some are much more resilient to detraining than others.
The table below gives an outline of how long the physiological adaptations are maintained during a period of detraining.
The Residual Training Effect
What effects the residual training effect?
- Duration of training before reduction or cessation
- Training age and physical experience
- Intensity used during the detraining period (moderate to high-intensity exercise reduces rate)
You may be asking “how does this relate to me?”
As shown in the table above we can see that speed is the most susceptible to change (2-8 days), whereas maximal strength and aerobic endurance are the most resilient (25-35 days). If your goals are to maintain speed and strength endurance it would be counterproductive to completely stop training, these components would best be maintained with a few short sprint and full body hypertrophy sessions during the break. Whereas if your goals are to maintain maximum strength and aerobic endurance; While it would not be ideal to completely stop training, the reduction in training volume would not have such a detrimental effect as the components mentioned previously.
So what should you take out of this?
- Try to integrate some moderate to high-intensity training into your break to slow down these detraining effects.
- Short sessions with a focus on the components that are most susceptible to change or relate closest to goals are recommended.
- Sports where repeated sprint ability (RSA) is critical to performance (AFL, Soccer, Basketball), should focus training on sport-specific needs for the athlete and include short sprint sessions. There is not a great need to prescribe or complete long aerobic/anaerobic endurance sessions during the break where time is often scarce.
- Reflect on your current and previous goals and how this concept relates to you if you are planning on taking a break.
About The Author
With Christmas around the corner, we are entering a period of overwhelming enjoyment.
Days off work, weekends that are filled with staff shows and family functions, and of course lunches and dinners with friends.
How good is it?
But, as always, there is a small negative associated.
Namely the fact that we have a tendency to go absolutely crazy across the entire Christmas period, throwing caution to the wind, and eating our weight in goodies.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer that a bad meal isn’t going to derail your progress.
A single piece of fruit isn’t going to make you skinny, and a single donut isn’t going to make you fat. As we all know, it is the accumulation of good habits that keeps us healthy, while alternatively, its the accumulation of not so good habits that makes us unhealthy.
However, despite knowing this full well, we as humans seem to love a good blowout.
I’ll use myself as an example.
The Cadbury Effect
I am a sucker for chocolate.
I have a ridiculous sweet tooth, and to be completely honest, chocolate is my proverbial kryptonite.
Interestingly, my wife and I could have an unopened block of chocolate in the fridge for the better part of a year, and I wont touch the thing. However, if we were to open it, I can guarantee that it will be gone within the hour.
Now, I realize that this doesn’t really make sense, but the reason I do this is to get rid of it.
Somewhere in the depth of my subconscious, I think to myself: ‘stuff it, I’ve already blown it, I might as well eat the whole thing‘.
We know it doesn’t make sense, but we still do it every damn time.
Not just for chocolate either (which is still not great) – we as humans have a tendency to do it for absolutely everything.
Even things that last for days or weeks at a time…
The Christmas Blowout
When it comes to Christmas, things can go downhill pretty fast.
A bad afternoon can easily turn into a very bad weekend. And that weekend can very easily roll into an extremely bad week.
All of which comes down to that same mindset.
“Welp, Ive blown it – ill get back on track after new years…”
Extremely common, and extremely stupid.
All in all I completely understand where we are coming from, but that doesn’t make this mindset any less flawed.
We know that one single afternoon of eating and drinking isn’t going to derail a years worth of progress.
Hell, outside of a little bit of bloating and a potential stomach ache, the likelihood of this single night doing any lasting damage is pretty slim.
But two weeks of eating, drinking, and being merry?
That’s when the damage starts to accumulate.
Diet Damage Control
So in my mind, diet damage control over Christmas comes down to mindset.
Take a step back and realize that a single meal isn’t going to derail all of your hard work and progress.
Enjoy that meal as much as humanly possible. Be social, drink, and be happy.
But don’t let it become a two week binge.
Keep physically active (as normal) over the Christmas period.
Eat as you normally would outside of those key social situations.
And enjoy the time off!
About The Author
I can certainly appreciate that the words ‘train smarter not harder’ do indeed come across a little gimmicky – but that certainly doesn’t make them any less appropriate.
For those of you who are aware of the iNform way, you would understand the premium we place on quality movement.
Our process always starts with the identification of movement dysfunction and muscular imbalances. We can then prioritize your training to improve upon these identified issues, therefore causing lasting improvements in how well you move. This process essentially acts as the foundation from which you can commence your performance journey – ultimately setting you up for future training success, exponentially increasing your physical capabilities, all while simultaneously reducing your risk of injury.
Pretty cool, right?
There is (or as of now, was) however, a little bit of kicker.
While each and every one of us here are iNform have always had a firm belief that this process worked, and worked well (and had the anecdotal evidence to prove it), we didn’t really have a method of quantifying it.
Well, until now, that is.
Train Smarter Not Harder
So, for those of you in the know, I am currently undertaking a PhD at the University of South Australia, where I am looking at the associations between movement quality and physical performance.
In short, I am testing out the effectiveness of the iNform methodology.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am well aware that this could have been disastrous. Imagine spending three years of my life trying to prove something that iNform have been building for the better part of two decades, and then seeing it fail.
And it all comes crashing down.
Like I said, disastrous.
However, as you might have guessed (given the title of this post and all), this wasn’t the case.
In fact, the key training study that I am going to be talking about genuinely smashed all expectations out of the park.
While I wont give you all the boring details (especially since the study is yet to be published), I will give you a bit of a rundown of what we did, and what the results were – and I can only assume that you will be as impressed as I was…
A Big Tick For Movement Quality
Pretty simply, we recruited a bunch of people into the study who had a fair amount of gym experience (about 6 years on average). We then took them through a battery of tests. These included iNforms MovementSCREEN assessment of movement quality, the FMS (another assessment of movement quality), and a number of strength and power measures.
To be honest, it was pretty comprehensive (and fairly time consuming…).
We then split the participants into two evenly matched groups.
One group underwent a training program built around the results of their individual movement assessment. This training was designed to improve upon any pre-identified movement dysfunctions and muscle imbalances (we can call these guys the iNform group). The second group underwent a training program built around the recommend guidelines for resistance training. This was done with intent to improve strength and physical capabilities (we will cause these guys the strength group).
Both groups underwent two (both 60 minutes long) training sessions per week for a total duration of 8 weeks. They were also fully supervised, with their training regime provided by a trainer in a one-on-one setting. At the end of each training session we also took a measure to determine how challenging the participants perceived the training.
Now it is important to note that the strength group weren’t simply performing some trashy cookie cutter program – it was still tailored to their individual capabilities, and it was built around training guidelines set by The American College of Sports Medicine.
It pretty much perfectly replicated what you would normally see in a normal personal training setting.
Which is why the results were so damn exciting (or at least, we think they are).
After the 8 weeks of training, we took all the participants through the same baseline testing battery. This allowed us to compare any differences between the two groups, and establish what method of training caused greater improvement in movement quality and performance.
Now to be completely honest, I did have a couple of expectations coming into this.
I really thought that the iNform group would see larger improvements in movement quality, while the strength group would see greater improvements in physical performance. Which in my mind, would make sense.
But that isn’t quite what happened.
The strength group saw large improvements in both their MovementSCREEN score of movement quality and their physical performance measures. With this, their FMS score of movement quality remained for the most part the same.
Interestingly, the iNform group saw the same degree of improvement in their strength and power measures. In conjunction with this, they saw greater improvements in their measures of movement quality.
Which in itself is pretty damn cool.
However, things start to get even more interesting when we start to look at how challenging the participants viewed their training…
You see, the iNform group found their training program significantly less difficult than the strength group. In fact, they rated every single session easier than the strength training group did.
Which suggests that they got better movement quality improvements and comparable performance improvements for less effort.
To be completely honest, these results took us somewhat by surprise. Not that we didn’t have faith in our processes, but the degree in which the iNform group improved their performance was pretty high – comparable to what most would consider the gold standard method of training.
Moreover, considering that this came with much less perceived effort, well its pretty outrageous really.
While we cant be sure why this happened, we suspect that it was because the iNform method of training is more ‘targeted’. It revolves around identifying the weakest link in the chain (or in this case, the body), and then training to improve that weakest link.
So although the method of training may be less intense than traditional strength training methods, it really works on what needs to be worked on.
Which obviously leads to improvements in performance and movement quality.
Take Home Message
I guess what we are trying to say is that the iNform way works. We now have evidence to support it, which we will be sharing in its entirety as soon as its published.
But what does this mean for you?
Well in my mind it clearly shows that training with iNform can improve how well you move, while simultaneously increasing your strength and power. Moreover, you will find this method of training less challenging than ‘traditional, training methods.
Train smarter not harder.
Have you heard about how exercise and ADT should go together like sausages and bread? Research has shown exercise can help to reduce side effects of this treatment (without influencing the effectiveness of the drug). Prostate cancer, unfortunately, needs male hormones (androgens such as testosterone) to thrive, so one of the main types of drug therapy for this disease is androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). These medications aim to reduce or block the effect these hormones have. Whilst it can be an effective treatment, reducing the amount of testosterone in a man’s body does have a significant impact in the form of confronting side effects such as weight gain, loss of muscle mass and menopause-like symptoms. Here is a look at 6 different ways exercise can help you deal with treatment side effects:
1. Exercise and ADT: Improving body composition whilst on ADT
As a typical side of effect of ADT, men may notice an increase in abdominal fat and reduction of your muscle mass. However, did you know that exercise can lessen the change in your body composition? Research shows that if men complete 2-3 sessions of progressive resistance training per week, they will minimise the loss in muscle mass and strength. If men were taking ADT for a short time (3 months), a combination of moderate to high intensity aerobic and resistance training will help prevent changes in fat mass. However, if men are using ADT over a long period of time, they will have to also make changes with their diet to see changes in your fat mass.
2. ADT can impact your strength and endurance: Exercise can help!
ADT and the lack of testosterone can impact their day-to-day capacity/endurance and as such can affect their ability to do the fun things in life (playing with grandchildren, working in the shed, catching up with friends etc). The great news is exercise can help! Whilst it is not new that exercise can help keep everyone feeling fit and capable, the interesting thing is that the sooner men start/continue once ADT is commenced, the less ADT related capacity you stand to lose.
3. ADT can lead to excessive fatigue, but did you know exercise is one of the best treatments?
Due to the decline in androgen production (ie: testosterone) and other cancer-related issues, men may notice an increase in their fatigue levels. This may mean they do not feel as able or motivated to live life as they used to. Whilst it may be counterintuitive, research shows that progressive exercise (building up to 150mins per week) is arguably the BEST medical management strategy to reduce fatigue. That being said, it is important to learn how to regulate how much they do depending on how they feel. One day they may find the walk to the letterbox is moderately hard, whereas another day they may be able to complete a full 30 min moderate intensity brisk walk. Interestingly, the higher the fatigue levels, the greater the benefits from exercising.
4. Keeping the bones strong is really important when on ADT
Another side effect of ADT is a possible reduction in bone mineral density (and may even lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures). Preliminary research shows that at least 2 sessions of resistance training per week can mitigate losses in bone density. However, this exercise needs to be reasonably heavy and “impact” the bone – we want to challenge the bone enough to increase its density. We recommend that exercise is slowly progressed to this impact exercise so as not to increase the risk of injury.
5. Exercise can reduce your risk of other diseases whilst on ADT
Men are already dealing with a lot thanks to a prostate cancer diagnosis. SO it is important to note that due to the changes in hormone levels and a combination of other factors, there is an increased risk of developing other metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure in men on ADT. There is preliminary research showing positive changes in blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In other cancer populations, they have shown that exercise can provide a protective effect against the cardiometabolic diseases. So to reduce the burden, get on your bike!
6. Other side effects from ADT can be impacted by exercise
There are a few other benefits, which are fantastic for men on ADT! Did you know that new evidence suggests that exercise may help to preserve sexual activity and libido and lessen declines in sexual function? It may improve mood and reduce psychological distress, anxiety and depression. Finally, observational data suggests that is may even reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer and even improve overall lifespan. If we could put all these benefits into a pill, would you take it?
The when, where and how of exercise for men undergoing ADT?
For many men, they are not exactly sure where to start, so here are a few ways:
- You can visit an accredited exercise physiologist who specialises in treating those with cancer who can set you up with an individualized program. This will help give you the tools and knowledge to exercise and get the benefits from it.
- There are a few online programs that can guide you if you do not want to or do not have the resources to visit an exercise specialist. Check out online!
- If you are comfortable exercising on your own, you can get straight into it. Much of the literature prescribes 2-3 resistance training exercise sessions per week plus building up to 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week (but remember that you do not want to go to hard to quickly – building up is the best way!)
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