Calisthenics and Weights : Longevity Factor

Epictetus554

Level 1 Valued Member
Hello Everybody,

I wanted to get a discussion started on calisthenics and weights. Now, I understand that it's fully possible to have the best of both worlds and just to do both modalities. My main reason for training is longevity and health. In the long run, how do these two modalities match up in terms of longevity.

I have worries that lifting heavy weights, even with perfect form may produce micro traumas long term. Injuries that aren't really apparent until later in life. I also have concerns of the ballistic nature of many lifts, namely the kettlebell snatch. I've read warnings from people like Steve Maxwell who have had shoulder issues from the kettlebell snatch. In a podcast Steve also mentioned that DC Maxwell's hip replacements, may have been a result of her focus on kettlebell movements. I have also noticed allot of kettlebell pioneers, namely Dan John and Mark Reifkind, who both have had replacement surgeries. If I'm not mistaken Geoff Neupert stepped away from lifting for an extended period of time to focus on Original Strength resets. I really don't know if this is from kettlebells or previous mileage. This worries me as I want to age gracefully and without joint replacements/pain. It seems to me that many weight lifters seem to gravitate towards calisthenics as they age. I see it all the time at the local park I exercise at, allot of former lifters are now doing basic calisthenics and walking. They have a use to/back in the day way of speaking about the gym. I feel as though calisthenics should be a main course with deadlifts and loaded carries as the spice.
  1. It makes sense to me that slow and controlled movements would be the safest for just about anyone who isn't an athlete?
  2. What's the benefits of ballistic movements for the lay person? Would it help them carry groceries better?​
  3. How strong does someone need to really be to live a long and healthy life?​
Thank you and much Respect, Epictetus554
 
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watchnerd

Level 5 Valued Member
  1. It makes sense to me that slow and controlled movements would be the safest for just about anyone who isn't an athlete?
  2. What's the benefits of ballistic movements for the lay person? Would it help them carry groceries better?​
  3. How strong does someone need to really be to live a long and healthy life?​
Can I ask what age we're talking about and what time span?

There are few absolutes to your questions, and there are spectrum of of activities that could be helpful or harmful to health depending upon the individual and their particular issues.

In terms of generalities, though:

1. First, avoid injuries.
2. Reductions in strength, mobility, power, and bone density are a biological fact of aging. Resistance training can help slow these processes.
3. Resistance training must provide enough of a stimulus to invoke an adaptation if one wants to slow age-related regressions
4. How much stimulus is "enough" will vary highly by individual, their current capabilities, and current pathologies.
5. Dosage is important at any age -- too much training stress will lead to declining health, even in youth. Too little will lead to no change in homeostasis.



  1. It makes sense to me that slow and controlled movements would be the safest for just about anyone who isn't an athlete?

Are you talking about a slow and controlled movement with a weight, like a Turkish Get Up?

Or are you talking about Tai Chi?

Slow and controlled isn't necessarily super-safe if loaded and near maximal capacity.

Conversely, things that are as safe as possible (think physical therapy exercises) may not provide any adaptive response to a healthy individual.


2. What's the benefits of ballistic movements for the lay person? Would it help them carry groceries better?
Ballistic movements use power.

Power degrades quickly as we age, but is helpful in situations that require us to reflexively act and use our strength quickly, such as getting knocked off balance,

Retaining power as we age helps make us more resilient.

It might help with groceries a little, but that's not the main reason to train it for the lay person. The main reason is to be able to catch yourself if something unexpected happens.


3. How strong does someone need to really be to live a long and healthy life?
In absolute maximal strength terms, not particularly strong.

Blue Zone populations of especially long-lived people (Loma Linda, Sardinia, Okinawa) are not populated with thousands of oldsters who lift heavy weights all day.

What they are populated with are people who stay moderately physically active, exhibit a high degree of self sufficiency, retention of primal movement patterns into old age, retain a sense of purpose and community connection, and who eat very healthy.


So where does all this leave you when it comes to strength training?

1. Do whatever you can do, at your current age and ability, that is challenging, but not hurtful.

2. Any modality (free weights, bodyweight, yoga, running, etc.) can push the boundaries of risk injury at the advanced levels, and requires specialization that may detract from being well-rounded.

3. Variety in movement types, energy systems, planes of motion, balance, and stability are more important to general health than getting really good at one thing


Full disclosure:

I'm 50 years old and regularly train explosively as I compete in Olympic weightlifting. But I only do that 3 days a week. The other days I'm doing flexibility and mobility work (yoga, basic gymnastics), balancing work, walking and rucking, rowing, training with clubs, and logging.
 
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Don Fairbanks

SFG II
Certified Instructor
What @watchnerd said, we age we loose IIa and IIb fibers faster than type I. People slow their gate, start shuffling. You catch a toe on the curb, fast twitch will allow you to Quickly replace foot to new balanced positioned instead of falling on your face. My feelings, use it or lose it. And if your are worried about risk, lighten the load. Also these fast twitch fibers gobble up sugar. Avoiding pre-diabetes and diabetes is a major benefit here. I've heard 88% of US population is metabolically unhealthy. Not good. Almost all KB training is on your feet, forcing balance, and can be done with power. Excellent.
 

Epictetus554

Level 1 Valued Member
Are you talking about a slow and controlled movement with a weight, like a Turkish Get Up?

Or are you talking about Tai Chi?

Slow and controlled isn't necessarily super-safe if loaded and near maximal capacity.

Conversely, things that are as safe as possible (think physical therapy exercises) may not provide any adaptive response to a healthy individual.
Yeah, the turkish get up or maybe a super slow and controlled chin up. Something like that.

Thank you everyone for the responses. I guess one has to be their own coach in order to make an informed decision.

Thanks again, Epictetus554
 

pet'

Level 8 Valued Member
Hello,

Super slow and controlled can be safe provided you do it with bodyweight only, as mentioned by Pavel in the Slow Twitch trainnig article series.

The super slow get up may be tricky. Indeed, IMHO, this is better to be proficient at it, with the regular pace in the first place, because if done slowly, it becomes quite taxing. Usually, it becomes really hard during the "odd position" such as the tripod. Then, performing it very slow require to be well aware of what we are able to do in terms of endurance.

Very slow chin up are safer, assuming we do not use the full ROM (once again, as mentioned in the ST article). Indeed, some folk tend to have issue at the elbows due to either overuse or too much loading.

  1. It makes sense to me that slow and controlled movements would be the safest for just about anyone who isn't an athlete?
Some atheletes can be injured using calisthenics or weights: there are tons of factors:
- overuse
- poor technique
- poor attention paid to recovery
- carreer duration

What's the benefits of ballistic movements for the lay person? Would it help them carry groceries better?
F = Mass x Acceleration

Then based on physics, to get strong, you can either:
- lift fast (usually, the weight is lighter, like the kb swings, snatches, etc...)
- lift heavy (regular pace or slow pace, like DL, squat, TGU, etc..)

Both are useful. As far as the "grocery" topic goes, there is also a component of endurance. Of course, in general, strength transfers to endurance. However, some kind of "specific" may be interesting in this case (farmer carry, etc... which is a kind of blend between strength and endurance).

How strong does someone need to really be to live a long and healthy life?
No need to be "strong" per se (meaning lifting huge weight when you are 90 yo), as along as you keep your autonomy.

Blue zone folks never go to the gym. They just have an active lifestyle
- whole food, presumably organic
- low stress level
- lot of social interaction
- lot of outdoor activities, most of the extremely aerobic

This does not mean that lifting is not necessary. Same goes for tough bodyweight moves. Indeed, resistance training permit to maintain muscle mass as we age. It also promotes bone density. As we age, I think that a moderate resistance training regime may be interesting.

So if I would have to wrap it up, I'd go for:
- Almost daily walks. May be a "sprint" here and there
- Carry all my groceries
- Socialize: meeting friends, family, ...
- Resistance training 2 or 3 times a week for a few reps.
- Eat whole food (no junk food, no refined sugar, low / very low alcohol), not that much fat, drink plenty of water
- Stress management: breathing, focus on the really important, learning, good sleep

Kind regards,

Pet'
 

Alan Mackey

Level 6 Valued Member
I like a controlled tempo, but super-slow and isometrics are definitely NOT my cup of tea.

Resistance is resistance, no matter the implement (bodyweight, plates, kettlebells...).

You can match (not necessarily that you should) any implement with any tempo.
 
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