Back in graduate school more than 30 years ago, Rami Odeh worked on an early study to learn if people over 80 could see any benefits from weight training.
Back then, conventional wisdom said it was hopeless. But the study found the opposite.
“We had 90-year-olds doubling their strength,” Rami, now 60 and a fitness coach, gym owner, and author, recalls.
Throughout the decades since, Rami never forgot that powerful finding. And when he decided to transform his distance runner’s body into a muscle machine by 60, it helped fuel his fire. (You can see his results in the photos above, taken a year apart.)
“The No. 1 link to all-cause mortality is the amount of muscle tissue you have on your body,” he says. “It’s not your heart health. It’s not your lung health. It’s not your diabetes. They all matter. But the amount of muscle that you can hold onto is the No. 1 correlation to all-cause mortality. So, weight training is the key.”
Everyone Needs Strength Training
The story behind Rami’s compelling before-and-after is relevant for anyone over 50 who worries it might be too late to gain muscle, even if you understand how crucial it is to healthy aging.
First, understand this: You don’t have to want Rami’s dramatic, magazine-ready results to practice strength training. He happens to be one of those intense individuals who thrives on extreme challenges – and he wanted to see his abs (a common desire of men at any age).
But if we don’t practice strength training, we lose muscle mass, which leads to frailty, falls, obesity, loss of independence, and a ton of other problems that nobody wants.
If you think strength training is just for bodybuilders – or obsessive types like Rami – imagine getting off the toilet without any muscle. Or lifting your grandchild. Or bringing in the groceries.
Movement Above All Else
“First and foremost, let’s get people moving, whatever it takes,” says Rami. “But ultimately, If you’re not weight-training, you’re not really going to change your body and you’re not really going to live longer.
“The benefits apply to real life – that’s how we need to talk about it. From feeling great at the beach to feeling good with your spouse… knowing you can play with your grandkid in the pool and not throw your back out…”
Rami worked so hard to pack on all that muscle because he wanted to prove to others that it’s possible – even after a lifetime of long-distance running at the expense of his muscle mass.
He says it’s key to have powerful motivation of your own.
“The majority of people I work with just want to be the best that they can be,” and weight training delivers peak functional fitness and time efficiency.
“If you focus on weight training, which is the best bang for your buck, the time is so little,” Rami found. “You don’t have to spend all day in the gym.”
We agree. Come see us and we’ll help develop a plan for your unique goals.
Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.