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Developing Bone Density

Weight training provides muscle growth and increases the density of our bones. That is amazing. However, it depends on the type of weight training you are performing.

There is a difference between doing bicep curls (isolating movements) and deadlifting (compound movements), pertaining to bone strengthening.

Barbell movements are a different stimulus for the body because multiple muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons are recruited to overcome a specific load. These can be defined as compound movements.

Compound movements recruit multiple muscles and joint groups, such as back squats, deadlifts, bench press, snatch, clean and jerk, or push press. These actions require a higher mechanical loading than doing isolating movements. 

There is a variety of different connective tissues that will grow over a prolonged period, especially from barbell movements.

  • Bone
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Muscles
  • Cartilage

Osteoblasts are cells that manufacture the outside surface of the bone. Over time, as they are developed, our bone mineral density will increase. Physical activities that include weight-bearing exercises are most effective for bone formation.

Here is the key to chronic new bone formation:

When new forces are developed in the body to overcome a load, then previously exceeded the amount you used to do, new bone formation in this particular area is a new mechanical strain to the body. 

For example:

Your maximum back squat or deadlift is 100kg/220lbs for one repetition. If you follow a weight lifting program, and within six months, your new one repetition maximum is 140kg/308lbs, here are some of the results about the body:

  • You can produce more muscular force through the ground to overcome a new load
  • Increased your maximum muscular strength
  • Bone mineral density is initiated
  • Ligament and tendon strengthening in ankles, knees, and hips

False Theories for children

I started weight training when I was 14 years old. Around that age, I remember I leg pressed 1,000 lbs for one repetition, and the gym owner told me to calm down and that I was going to hurt myself because "lifting weights at a young age is not okay."

Well, that is a false statement. Over my career as a Coach, I've heard different theories:

"weights are bad for children."

"weights are not good for you."

 weights stunt growth."

Well, I have some good news. There is no scientific evidence that physical training delays growth in boys or girls.

Weight training generates compressive forces that are essential for bone formation and growth for children. However, this is when a Coach comes into place. It does not mean your children should do maximum weight training daily. A steady progression of a variety of different exercises will be beneficial for children to start training at a young age. Start with bodyweight exercises before you accumulate weight.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis has a bone mineral density that is below -2.5 standard deviations. Another word for this is osteopenia. Loss of bone and muscle formation occurs as we naturally start to age, and when physical activity is not being conducted.

When bone mineral content is low, fractures in the hip, spine, or wrist can quickly occur. In other words, weight training is not meant to cause injuries but to help us get through life by reducing the incidence of non-contact injuries.

Loss of bone development with age is directly correlated with a lack of physical activity, nutrition, and supplementation. 

In summary, weight training is not meant to cause injuries, but to help strengthen the human body to endure what life offers to us. Our bones will get stronger through the efficient technique with a variety of different movements being conducted and proper nutrition.

 

Book Reference

Smith-Ryan,  A. E. & Antonio, J. (2013). Sports Nutrition and Performance Enhancing Supplements. Linus Learning.