How & Why to Be Strong – Part 3

How & Why to Be Strong – Part 3

CBFers build strength in every class. Sure, we frequently work on flexibility, cardio, agility and coordination, too. But strength is top priority because it is so crucial to maintain a high level of functionality in your everyday life, for all your life.


It is well-known that the older (especially 50+) we get, the faster muscle mass declines, along with control of muscles. Fortunately, there is a growing body of scientific research showing that strength training (resistance exercise) can substantially slow this process. As documented by Dr. Signorile, PhD, in his book Bending the Aging Curve: “Resistance training can counteract the loss in muscle tissue and the decrease in neural control that occurs with aging.”

Here’s what strength training does that keeps your muscles younger:

- Increases the size of muscle fibers, in particular Type II (more on this in our next blog) which are necessary to generate power.

- Increases the firing rate of motor nerves, meaning muscles perform faster and generate more force, enabling agile and coordinated movements.

- Improves the ability of motor units (muscles fibers work in groups) to recruit other motor units to meet increased demands. Think when you screw off a bottle cap; if two fingers won’t twist it, the more powerful wrist muscles get involved.

- Increases calcium flow in the muscles, which enables muscles to contract quickly and forcefully, then relax, characteristic of “young” muscle.

- Increases the presence of satellite cells that allow muscles to repair themselves quicker and increase in size. Satellite cells are at work when you feel that soreness the next day following a workout, and ultimately turn into more muscle mass.

For these reasons, we do frequent and intense strength training.

It’s not always fun, but it’s always beneficial.











Every Breath You Take

Every Breath You Take

All the exercises we do at CBF have a purpose. Some are to gain the well-known benefits of exercise that are common to people of all ages. However, many are included to attain benefits specific to older adults.

One of the biggest changes older adults experience, when they remember their younger selves, is a decline in endurance. Post-50 there is a dramatic decrease in the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to working muscles. While there are several causes, a major one might come as a surprise. As explained by Joseph Signorile, PhD in Bending the Aging Curve: “With age, the ability to inflate the lungs decreases due to a weakening of the respiratory muscles and a drop in the elasticity of the rib cage.”


Most people are unaware that their lungs do not breathe on their own. The lungs fill or collapse from a mechanical process in which air pressure is adjusted in the thoracic cavity, mainly through movements of the diaphragm and rib cage that fill or un-fill the lungs, which are otherwise passive as balloons. If the rib cage loses the ability to lift and expand to maximize the volume of oxygen rich air to enter your lungs, endurance declines.

With aging, a loss of elasticity occurs in the sterna-costal joints, where thick ligaments attach ribs to the sternum on your chest, and the costal-vertebral joints in the upper back, where ribs attach to the spinal column.

At CBF we do a lot of exercises with twisting and rotations in warm-up and cool down, as well as in the circuits with medicine balls, maces, stability balls and tubes, to promote flexibility in these joints, as well as to strengthen the muscles between the ribs, in order to ensure strong lung function.

Also, to help you optimize your lung function is the reason you’ll sometimes hear a cue to lift your head or straighten your back or pull your shoulders back during an exercise. It’s all about maintaining good exercise mechanics. Upright posture enables the rib cage and diaphragm to do their jobs.

You’ll breathe easier as breathing gets harder, right now and in the long run.


At the Hop

At the Hop

In this video you’ll see CBFers doing something cool – lifting a very heavy object – their own bodies – against the most powerful force on earth – gravity. Unlike many of their older adult peers, they can do it safely because their bodies are conditioned and under control.

Through numerous hopping, skipping and jumping drills combined with squats and lunges after a thorough warm-up, they have strengthened the muscles, ligaments and tendons in the lower leg to withstand the diverse forces across  ankle and knee joints when they go up and down, forwards or sideways. Their central nervous systems automatically direct the muscles to sequence the movements and assure safe landings. Their cores are strong to remain upright and balanced over stable hips.

At CBF we always include explosive movements like these that require quick reactions and power because those elements most important for older adults to perform after well-rounded strength training.