Will weightlifting keep your bones strong?
- The effect of weightlifting on bone density.
- The ideal weight and repetition amount per exercise.
- How speed of an exercise effects bone density.
- Postural considerations during exercises.
- The different ways a muscle contracts.
Exercises that create both bone and muscle loading, such as impact exercises, have a a highly beneficial effect on bone density. However, some may be saying ‘I hate running’ or ‘I prefer to exercise indoors’. Well, here’s the good news. There are other, non-impact sports that still help to increase bone density. Furthermore, they may even be more enjoyable.
Let’s focus in on thigh bone density alone.
Non-impact, high intensity resistance training (such as weight lifting) is more beneficial than impact exercises in increasing bone density. However, a combination of everything (resistance, impact and cardio exercises) is the most beneficial.
Let’s have a look at how this works.
The bone growth or repair process is called the ‘osteogenic response’. This can be triggered via resistance training. The continuous torsion, compression and tensioning of a bone creates local electrical signals that both, increase the amount of bone density. Furthermore, it inhibits bone resorption (a fancy name for the process of breaking down a bone to release it’s minerals for other purposes).
Muscles are made up of a few types of fibres – type 1, type 2a and type 2b. Importantly, type 2 fibre contractions are the most likely to stimulate bone formation. Therefore, it is beneficial to utilise what is known as a ‘vigorous muscle contraction’. To create these, a combination of resistance, speed and high loading is used. When ‘vigorous muscle contractions’ are performed roughly four times a week, type II muscle fibres should be activated.
Now for specific info on exercise intensity and repetitions.
Research shows that to maintain or improve the bone density of the thigh bone, exercises of 70-90% one rep max, with three-four sets of eight-twelve reps must be performed two-three times a week. As well as an improvement in bone density, due to the general benefits of exercise, an improvement in physical function and daily life will also be seen.
Explosive VS. strength training.
There are a few ways in which a muscle can contract.
- Concentric – meaning to contract and shorten. An example of this would be to bend your elbow. Here your bicep muscle is shortening.
- Eccentric – meaning to contract and lengthen. An example of this would be to have someone else straighten your elbow whilst you resist them slightly. Here your bicep muscle is contracting whilst also lengthening.
- Isometric – meaning to contract without a change in muscle length. An example of this would be to have someone else try to straighten your elbow whilst you resist them with the same force. Here your bicep muscle is contracting without shortening or lengthening.
Let’s look at research involving concentric and eccentric contractions used in an explosive or controlled manner. After a two year training regime, those performing explosive concentric contractions maintained their lower back bone density. However, those performing slow concentric contractions lost 2.4% lower back bone density.
Does posture help?
The short answer is ‘yes it does’. When considering spinal fractures, it is very important to ensure that the posture is correct. This is true during exercises as well as during everyday life. Research shows that there is a significant reduction in spinal fractures if the strength of the back muscles (and therefore posture) are improved.
A thank you note…
Finally, Pinnacle Posture thanks you for reading this blog post. We hoped you enjoyed it. Importantly, please share it via social media and direct it to those that it may help. After all, a reduction in pain, a chance to continue in a sport or even an eased concern can change someone’s world.