The body undergoes tremendous changes as we age. Muscle loss is an inevitable change that happens after the age of 35. The onset of muscle loss differs from person to person but it eventually does happen. With age comes the constant danger of loss of balance, fractures, and other injuries. That is why it is important to maintain upper body strength.
What is Sarcopenia?
Sarcopenia is the gradual loss of muscle mass. Muscle mass is lost at the rate of 1-2 percent and after 60 years of age, it can increase to 3%.
So what really happens? Sarcopenia not only reduces the strength in the muscles but also affects the speed at which the motor neurons carry messages from the brain to your muscles. So, the effect is doubled: loss of muscle mass and slower reaction time.
The impact of Sarcopenia can be reduced with a consistent, active lifestyle.
Importance of Upper-Body Strength
Most people tend to focus on lower body strength to prevent the accumulation of fat around the hips and belly. The upper body also requires equal attention. Why?
- To perform everyday activities with ease. That includes pushing, pulling, lifting, carrying, bending.
- A strong upper body improves your range of motion and flexibility.
- Upper body strength increases muscle mass.
- Improved muscle mass means better bone density.
- Reduces the risk of diabetes and keeps the heart-healthy.
Know your target muscle group
What is the point in discussing upper body strength if you are not aware of the muscle group that comprises the upper body? The upper body has 7 distinctive sets of muscles and each plays a separate role.
- BICEPS: The most well-known muscles are the biceps. Located in the upper arm, beneath the shoulder, it is crucial for bending your arm to do your daily simple activities like brushing, combing your hair, or carrying things.
- TRICEPS: Located on the bottom part of the upper arm, the triceps help you extend your entire arm to its full length.
- PECTORALS: These are muscles of the chest, just above the rib cage. Strong pectorals help you
push heavy objects.
- DELTOIDS: Made of 3 parts: the posterior, anterior, and medial, the deltoids allow you to reach backward, forwards, and sidewards.
- TRAPEZIUS: Located in the upper back, they help hoist and carry loads on the back.
- RHOMBOIDS: They are the mid-back muscles that allow you to pull and push the shoulder blades.
- LATISSIMUS DORSI: The big muscles on the back that look like wings.
Exercises To Strengthen The Upper Body
The ideal way to strengthen the upper body muscles is to use a set of dumbbells. When they are not available, a couple of water bottles will also do the trick. Or one can also use one’s own body weight to get the workout done.
An ideal upper body workout session should last for about 45 minutes. The exercises should target the entire muscle group so that the whole upper body gets the benefit. A warm-up session should be done before tackling the following exercises:
1. Chest Press: The chest press is an ideal exercise for the pectorals, triceps, and the anterior deltoid. A proper push-up, a set of weights, or a chest-press machine are the ways to perform a chest press.
How to do it?
Start off by keeping the core tucked, chest up, and shoulders pulled back. Now push the weights or the floor away from your while maintaining the posture. Hold for a few seconds and bring back your hands to the position.
This should be repeated 8-12 times to condition the muscles.
2. Overhead press or shoulder press: An overhead press strengthens the entire deltoids and is ideal for building strength and power.
Grab a pair of dumbbells or a resistance band and stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Raise your arms to shoulder height with a dumbbell in each arm. Slowly extend the arms above the head. Hold for a few seconds and bring them back to position.
3. Tricep Dips
Designed to get rids of those flabby “Batwings”, tricep dips can be done with a sturdy chair or chest-press bench. Hold on to the seat of the chair or bench with your back towards it. Slowly dip your knees and upper body to an almost sitting position and slowly go back up again. Repeat at least 10 times.
4. Bicep curls
Biceps curls are favorites among fitness freaks. Hold a dumbbell with your arms extended. Slowly curl your elbow without moving the shoulder and bring the weight inside as far as possible.
These 4 simple exercises can be done for beginners and time and repetition can be increased with progress.
Importance of a Proper Trainer and A Proper Diet
Now that you know your muscles and your exercises, it is crucial to focus on finding the right trainer and following the right diet.
Working out under the watchful eyes of a trainer is crucial for senior citizens who wish to build upper body strength. Seniors are prone to sudden fractures, imbalance, and weaknesses. It is also important to take it one day at a time. Building strength and muscle mass must be done on a slow and consistent basis.
How important is a good diet? Following a balanced diet is a mantra for life and not just for spurts of interest. Intake of adequate protein, healthy fats, and carbs are essential for tissue growth and recovery.
Lean animal protein, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, green leafy veggies, fruits, and fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids can fulfill your daily nutrient needs. Hydration is absolutely important. How about cheat meals? Yes, cheat meals can be included once a month in moderation.
If you are looking to build and strengthen your upper body after recovering from a head or spine injury, HAMSA Rehab is your ideal choice. Reputed to be the leading physical medicine and rehabilitation centre in Chennai, HAMSA’s team of experts will give you the proper guidance and training you require to restore your health.
Come to us with hope! Give us a call!