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The Lasting Effects of Strength Training 

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The Lasting Effects of Strength Training 

As personal trainers, we understand the transformation that takes place underneath the surface, but do you? Uncover the secret to enhancing your bone density through consistent strength training. 

Did you know by the age of 30, you begin to gradually lose bone density? This is a natural process in the human body,  but there are ways to offset or slow down the rate of this process and it’s found in your daily actions. Incorporating strength training not only physically supports your goals, but also biologically. Let’s dive into the biological benefits strength training has on your bones.

 In response to loading the muscle through exercise, cells called osteoblasts migrate to the bone surface and begin bone modeling. Osteoblasts secrete proteins, primarily collagen molecules, that sit inside small deposits on our bones to increase strength. 

Strength training imparts force or stress on specific regions of the skeleton that can cause “deformation”. The most typical forces seen can be bending, compressive or torsional that are common during regular exercises.

When stress is placed on the bone, new bone formation will occur predominantly on the outer surface of the bone, increasing in diameter and strength. Bone cells work together to regulate the formation of new bone tissues such that forces experienced on a regular basis do not exceed minimal essential strain (MES). MES refers to the threshold stimulus that initiates new bone formation. 

Consistently exceeding these thresholds will signal to the cells that build bone (osteoblasts) to migrate to the area of stress and begin to form denser bone. There are 5 principles to follow to ensure you are surpassing the MES threshold on a regular basis. 

  1. Specificity of loading 
  2. Speed and direction of loading i.e. sprint training, tempo, time under tension 
  3. Volume – i.e. repetitions 
  4. Progressive overloading – i.e. gradually increasing weight, reps, and frequency 
  5. Variation – i.e. changing direction and distribution of weight 

It has been suggested to refrain from machine only exercise regimens because of the lack of variation that could be performed on such machines. By primarily sticking to dumbbell weights, barbells, and any exercise that allows for different directions to be performed – you are essentially allowing the collagen proteins to conform to the lines of stress being experienced at that moment. By doing so, you are continually presenting unique stimuli for new bone formation to occur. 

An interesting study found that young bone may be more responsive to bone stimulus than mature bone. Evidence indicates that physical activity during growth modulates the external geometry and architecture of bone (specifically trabecular bone – which is a spongy bone that responds very quickly to stimulus), enhancing skeletal strength. This pushes the importance of getting your kids into any type physical activity while they’re young so they build thicker and denser bones to fight bone loss as they begin to age. 

If you are a visual learner, use the link below to learn about osteoblasts (cells that build bone), osteoclasts (cells that break down bone) and how the bone matrix plays a significant role in the density of the bone. 

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