man and a woman in the gym

It’s not unusual to hear people making excuses for why they don’t lift weights. One of the most common is that they don’t want to build too much muscle, but a new study has shown that building muscle could be one of the keys to a longer life.

Research by the University of Michigan found that people with low muscle strength are 50 per cent more likely to die earlier than their counterparts who have good muscle strength.

In fact, the older you get the more important it is to build and maintain your muscle strength, the researchers found.

Kate Duchowny, lead researcher, commented: “Maintaining muscle strength throughout life - and especially in later life - is extremely important for longevity and ageing independently.”

It’s important to note the distinction between muscle strength and muscle mass here. While muscle mass can lead to greater strength to a certain degree, there comes a point where you need to train differently depending on whether you’re looking for increased strength or increased mass.

As Livestrong explains, developing muscular strength involves lifting heavier weights with fewer repetitions and longer rests between sets than if you’re going for mass. To develop mass you want to use moderate weights and have a high number of repetitions and/or sets, with shorter rest periods in between.

The University of Michigan study goes to show that you’re never too old to start weight training. The key is to have proper supervision to ensure your technique is good and that what you’re lifting is appropriate for your body.

Online personal training can be a convenient way to help you keep up with your regular weight training, even if you’re only doing it at home, and ensure you get advice on how to start developing a weight training programme.