How & Why to Be Strong – Part 2

How & Why to Be Strong – Part 2

Women at CBF exemplify a well-timed revolution in fitness because they are building muscle. Back in the fitness Dark Ages of 21st century, being feminine meant being anorexic, weak, and helpless. The ideal female was supposed to look like Twiggy. Boomer women weren’t often encouraged to build muscle. 

They are now. Nowadays women can be every bit as shaped and strong, in their own gender and age-appropriate way, as men. The happy and growing body of research shows that regular strength training restores muscle in older adults.  

This cool video, called The Physical Transformation of the Female Body, highlights the evolution of the female body as related to exercise, including the start of vigorous aerobic workouts by movie stars like Jane Fonda to today’s women pumping iron in the gym and proudly displaying defined muscle. (The video used to have a great soundtrack, but YouTube removed it due to copyright issues, but you’ll get it.) 

Once upon a time, women feared if they developed muscles, they’d look like a guy.  This should never have been a concern unless they planned to take male hormones and spend hours each day in the gym (like the female body-builders in the video did). Women have smaller skeletal frames and less testosterone, therefore naturally smaller muscles than men. However, a cross-section of a woman’s muscle can be just as strong as a male’s – at every age.


Both Boomer women and men are wise to develop muscle because if they don’t consistently train their muscles, age-caused hormonal changes (menopause in women, andropause in men), it vanishes (sarcopenia) at a rate of about 1 lb. per year, starting at age 50.

Boomers at CBF train hard. They get it.





How & Why To Be Strong – Part 1

How & Why To Be Strong – Part 1

For older adults, strength training is a fountain of youth. Getting stronger won’t make you look just like those ripped, young, photo-shopped bodies in gym ads. But who cares? The compelling reasons to build strength are more than skin deep.


Strength training is the single most critical type of exercise for older adults because it has such a high impact on overall fitness and health. Consider these impressive benefits cited in the Fitness Professional’s Guide to Strength Training Older Adults by Baechle and Westcott:

Replacing muscle, reducing fat, increasing metabolic rate, decreasing low-back discomfort, relieving arthritic pain, minimizing osteoporosis, enhancing glucose utilization, speeding up gastrointestinal transit, lowering resting blood pressure, improving blood lipid level, and improving post coronary performance, as well as boosting self-confidence and beating depression.

There are others as well, such as improving sexual sensitivity and performance, enhancing your brain’s rapid decision making and memory, and fortifying your immune system. Over the next few blogs, we’ll elaborate on some of these benefits.

Meantime, here is how you can get the most benefits from your time at CBF. As you know, we do a lot of strength building exercises. Mostly, in every class we emphasize whole body, compound exercises that exercise multiple joint complexes, and isolate a few muscles, like the triceps, for isolated work in every class.

A CBFer can achieve significant strength gains by doing the following:

  • Attend class consistently, meaning at least twice a week. Strength is increased by stressing muscles, recovering, then stressing the muscles again over short spans of time. Sporadic attendance minimizes strength gains.
  • At circuit stations focused on strength, aim to systematically increase either the amount of resistance you are lifting or increase the number of repetitions completed in the allotted time from one month to the next. The increases can be gradual, but should be planned.
  • Put your greatest effort and energy into exercises that address the parts of the body where you are weakest. For instance, most women greatly benefit from strength work in the upper body if they spent lots of their younger exercise time doing aerobics.
  • Make sure you eat enough protein. A good rule of thumb is 1.0 to 1.2 grams per 2.2 pounds of body weight. Older adults need more protein, especially when doing higher level exercise like we do at CBF.






Beyond the Gym

Beyond the Gym

A hard corps CBFer was preparing to travel to the Florida Keys for her daughter’s wedding. She said she intended to maintain her fitness, and requested a list of the Bodyweight 8 exercises, which, as CBFers know, is one of the hardest workouts we do in the gym – no exercise paraphernalia or timer, just moving body weight against gravity with no rests.

When people leave for extended periods, we often hear about their vague plans to continue exercise. Then when they return and are asked how their exercise has been going, most answer sheepishly that they, uh…, well… didn’t do much, other than walking. They might ask: Does lifting a full glass of wine to my lips or getting up from a low lounge chair by the pool count?

Based on experience, we assumed exercise at a wedding would be a long shot. Too much going on – rehearsals, conversations with relatives and friends, festivities, etc. Happily, in this instance, we were totally wrong. A couple of days ago, we received a cool email with these iPhone pictures taken a few minutes after 7 am Eastern Time  in paradise.


Who can’t help but smile when you realize this:

- You don’t need to stop exercising just because there’s no gym handy. Your body is all you need.

- When you stop exercising, you start to de-condition within days. Knowing that, doing some body weight exercises like those in the picture, even for 15-20 minutes every other day, will preserve base fitness, especially if supplemented by daily walks at a brisk pace.

- Demanding exercises like the Bodyweight 8′s, which involve a lot of big muscles, can really help dampen the metabolic onslaught you risk at social festivities where you will tend to eat/drink more high glycemic and fattening foods (breads, sweets, booze). You maintain better blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, both good for your heart and waistline.

- Apparently the only one other person in the wedding party, besides the CBFer, willing to drag themselves out of bed and workout under a beautiful morning sky is a buff young man (actually the Best Man). He shows great form. Maybe the two of them inspired others, still in their PJ’s and sipping coffee and watching from their hotel windows, to join them at their next workout. Within groups (which is one reason why people workout in gyms with others), healthy behaviors can be infectious.