The motivation to begin bodybuilding often varies. Most beginners' goals include losing body fat, building muscle, or a combination of both. I had an unusual reason to start training. I didn't want to prematurely die. While this would not be an unreasonable goal for a middle-aged, out-of-shape person, I was 12 years old at the time I began regular training. I can't explain why I had a morbid fear of death at such a young age. Perhaps it related to my parent's divorce, which occurred shortly after I was born. They married two years earlier, but the marriage fell apart when I arrived. I often tell people that I'm a "war baby." in that my parents took one look at me and went to war. In any case, even as a child, I tended to be analytical. I looked at a few bodybuilding magazines, and then watched the film, Hercules, which featured the 1947 Mr.America and 1950 Mr.Universe, Steve Reeves. Bodybuilders such as Reeves and those pictured in the magazines looked healthy to me and were undeniably superior physical specimens in my mind. I reasoned that building a larger muscle mass would likely lead to less disease and degeneration of body and mind with the passing years. So I began regularly lifting weights at age 12. In the beginning, my only goal was to build muscle and stay healthy. I had no plans to compete, but that came about four years later.
Since that time, research has confirmed the many health benefits of exercise. At first, the focus of the research was entirely on aerobic or endurance training. Aerobics effectively train the cardiovascular system and do a lot more, such as favorably influencing blood lipid levels that protect against the onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD). But for years, weight training was not only ignored by scientists who study exercise but also wrongly criticized. Early reports examining the effects of weight training suggested that it could raise blood pressure levels dangerously high. This could result in a stroke or a heart attack. What wasn't realized at the time was that not only was the rise in blood pressure induced by weight-training temporary but regularly lifting weights led to lower resting blood pressure. More favorable research about resistance training gradually emerged over the years. Today resistance training, mainly weight training, is considered a healthy activity that offers complimentary effects to that of aerobics. For building muscle, weight training is best, while aerobics still holds the edge for cardiovascular conditioning.
But how does weight-training, or more specifically, bodybuilding activity that features the goal of building larger muscles affect longevity? You can analyze the results obtained from weight training in several ways. In 1997, a term was coined, Sarcopenia, which refers to the gradual loss of muscle mass with age. For those who are . . .