How Lifting Weights Makes You Younger

Let’s focus on what drives most of us to workout as much as we do, or should, for a moment.

Firstly, there is a feeling ignited in us from the chemical and hormonal release, this induces the associated physical high that follows exercise. I appreciate that this is often masked by burning lungs and aching legs but it is a commonly reported physical return, a natural drug high in which you become your own dealer with an unlimited supply.

Then there is the psychological effect. We feel good about ourselves for having actually done the thing that we set out to do, for not avoiding the hard work, for remembering that we actually like doing this stuff and that we really like the fact that it might actually be good for us!

Of course, there is also the pure physical return, the cause and effect. When you lift weights, you get stronger and create body shape change, when you blast the cardio your body adapts and responds, becoming fitter in a range of ways, there is no ambiguity in this it’s a direct response. The only variable is how often you do the exercise and then produce a physical environment in which your body actually adapts to the challenge.

Let’s also consider the medical aspect. Exercise and diet are critical in improving our health and wellbeing, they aid in our immunity and produce the best form of mitigation against disease and illness. Whether trying to super-humanly transform yourself or rehabilitate yourself, the outcome is always positive.

Finally, the big one, to live longer. Not just longer but, more importantly, better.

The search for maintaining youth is eternal, as every manufacturer of pills, lotions and potions for time has proven. However, the big developments now are coming from our accelerated understanding of science and use of technology in analysing the human body and its response to a vast range of stimulus thrown at it. The news is good!

I want to give you the most up to date advice on how to ensure we stay young forever and I will do this over a number of articles in the weeks ahead. For now, I will focus on one of the easiest quick fixes, future proofing by making your muscles strong!

Fear not, this is not an advert for Flex Magazine. I am not going to suggest that getting larger muscles is the answer, for most people the idea of growing mass is as appealing as……..well, growing older. The problem is that our muscles do become smaller and weaker as we get older and this is bad news. Losing 5-6 pounds of muscle per decade after our thirties will only make our ability to burn fat and maintain vitality harder.

A 2007 research paper by Mark Tarnopolsky set out to measure the effects of DNA strands on people who were subjected to lifting heavy items regularly. The measurement was to look at the DNA effects, the mitochondria stimulation in the muscle cells and establish (the holy grail) whether or not we could reverse the process of ageing in our body by doing so!

I’m not going to keep you in suspense, the result is that by lifting weight regularly there is a massive narrowing of the age gap between ability of an individual in their 20’s and their 60’s, decreasing the gap from 60% as a differential down to just 36% after just six months.

176 genes reversed the effects of ageing by exercising alone, and more importantly the ones that are more active in the ageing process were slowed whilst those that are associated with staying young were improved. In short, by lifting heavier loadings we stay and become genetically younger.

Not only does lifting heavy load regularly make us younger it also makes us leaner. Research also proved that increasing the activation and strength of our powerful (fast twitch) muscles was the most effective way to burn fat and regulate insulin in our body.

And do you know what is even better? The thing that may turn out to be one of the most important parts of our body for maintaining youth, our “Telomeres”, is improved by exercise.

Telomeres are part of our chromosomes and, size being everything, their length is vital to our wellbeing. The factors that shorten our telomeres are the obvious no-go’s such as poor sleep, stress, alcohol, medication, but most importantly chronic over-exhaustion and lack of recovery.

What research has shown is that when lifting heavily for strength (NOT size) our telomeres increase in length. There is a difference between using weights to get strong and weights to get big and we want to focus on the former.

Also, the research found that repeated long endurance training in people over the age of around 40 had a negative effect on telomere length, particularly for extreme durations. SO, we need to ensure that long duration cardio is only one part of a routine for longevity, with an emphasis instead on short, power and strength-based resistance and cardiovascular training instead.

As we get older, we lose pounds of muscle every decade and we need to reverse this trend in order to stave off the illnesses and conditions that occur as we lose fitness due to a lack of ABILITY to exercise. Heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, hypertension and many more are all somewhat preventable if we go about protecting our body from being UNABLE to exercise appropriately to decrease the exposure to ageing conditions. In short, we need to give our body the chance to fight, because it will and it does!

By way of example, when I was in my teens I was a sprinter. My entire training profile was geared around working at very high intensities for very short periods, lifting very heavy weights and performing explosive bounding exercises to create a fast moving body. When I was 19 years old I had 5% body fat, weighed 76kg. When I turned 30 I was still training hard but had shifted the emphasis a little towards endurance training and whilst still very lean, my body fat was 9% and my weight was……still 76kg. Which of course means there had been a slight composition shift, less muscle and more fat, albeit small, I keep reminding myself of that!. I told myself at 30, when I reached the grand old age of 40 that I would not be any different in weight or shape. I went back to working hard on the sprints, stair climbs including races up tall staircases such as the Nat West Tower in lung busting 6 minute surges, lifting heavy weights and introducing high intensity tennis training with any player I could find who was good, could kick my butt and make me work!

At 40, I measured in at………still 76kg, but back down to 6% fat despite the decade of ageing.

So, naturally, I vowed that by 50 I will be the same again.

Now, at 47, taking regular Styku tests to keep check, my data is still exactly the same but my body has to work in different ways, recover with different strategies and use dietary changes. I am predominantly Vegan and supplement with Curcumin, Zinc, Oyster Extract and about 20 others that I’m happy to share if when you see me in Evolution, a different method to twenty years ago, but with the aim to keep the levels where they need to be. If I tried to increase long duration running now, my levels of muscle mass would decrease quickly, and my joints would take longer to recover than before. My hormone, specifically testosterone levels, are high (32 on the scale of 13-30), but this would rapidly change if I did not focus on short, high cardio sessions and heavy loading rather than trying to do triathlons, half marathons or marathons that I did 10-15 years before. It doesn’t take more work or time, it takes different types of work and more diligence to ensure that the body stays the same. How we work, eat, sleep and rest, how we manage stress and our ability to positively visualise our own pathway are just a few of the ways to maintain vitality.

We can stay as young as we choose. The evidence shows that we can lose decades of ageing in our muscle responses by using the appropriate forms of training, eating, personal care and supplementation. Our telomeres can extend and our chromosomes can act as they did in our twenties when we are in our forties, fifties and sixties, but we need to act with maximum attention.


Blood tests: establishing the profile of your body allows us to make specific changes to your diet and exercise.

Telomere test: We can establish the length of your telomeres and create a lifestyle programme that will lengthen them and improve your longevity.

The correct supplement regime: Through blood tests, urine analysis and Dutch tests we can provide you with the precise supplementation programme.