Most people know that aerobic exercise is good for you and good for your brain, but what about strength training for improved brain function? A recent study looked at preventing cognitive decline and dementia in people aged 50 – 86.
The study followed 100 people who did resistance training using 80% of the one repetition maximum resistance level. They study measured the effects on their brains through tests and MRI’s. After 6 months, participants showed improved cognitive function along with growth of key areas of their brain.
The key conclusion of the researchers was that everyone should do at least two strength training sessions per week to keep their mental function strong as they age, and that the strength training needs to be intense – using 80% of their maximum one repetition maximum or more.
As always maintain perfect form and move smoothly throughout each repetition of each exercise to keep the target muscles loaded throughout the entire exercise until you can not perform another repetition in good form.
Instead of having to measure your one repetition maximum strength in each exercise (which can be dangerous unless you are working with a trainer) remember the 8 – 12 repetition rule. If you cannot perform 8 repetitions in good form with smooth controlled movement and no momentum – lower your resistance. Once you can complete 12 repetitions in good form increase your resistance slightly. Do 1 – 3 sets of each exercise and each workout should consist of 8 – 12 exercises done at least 2 times per week.