How Strength Training Increases Bone Mass

Strong bones are tantamount to enjoying an active lifestyle at every age. So how exactly can we build healthy bones? Nutrition is important, but there’s a lot more to bone maintenance than the classic childhood commandment “drink your milk!” suggests.


Even with a highly nutritious diet, we all lose bone density as we age. The Arthritis Foundation notes that women, in particular, lose roughly half of their trabecular bone over a lifetime. Cancellous bone, also known as trabecular bone, is one of two types of bone tissue. It has a spongy texture and fills long bones, and can also be found in pelvis, ribs, skull, and vertebra. This tissue is where blood cells are created, and is more vulnerable to fracture due to its porous composition.


In addition to trabecular bone loss, women also lose nearly thirty percent of their cortical bone, which is the denser bone tissue that covers trabecular bone. This type of bone makes up eighty percent of our skeletal mass and enables us to support ourselves and bear weight. In women, most overall bone loss happens in the first decade following menopause, and all people lose roughly 0.5 percent of bone density per year.


Bones are in a constant state of remodeling in which the body breaks down bone tissue to release calcium, magnesium, phosphate, and other minerals into the blood in a process called resorption. The body replaces this bone through ossification. But later in life, bone resorption eclipses ossification, leading to a loss of bone mass.


Both trabecular and cortical bone tissue are crucial to bone health. So how do we actually rebuild these types of bone and decrease bone loss as we age? The answer is weight training.


How To Fight Bone Loss

Weight training is the number one way to increase bone mass. Putting stress on bones actually generates bone tissue itself, creating more robust, denser bones. Tugging and pushing on bones during properly executed weight training triggers bone-forming cells, called osteoblasts, to act and create new bone.


Studies have shown that weight training and other types of resistance-based exercise effectively maintain and improve bone mineral density and bone strength. This is particularly helpful for women over fifty, who are at the highest risk for osteoporosis.


Research has shown that, in order to build bone mass, exercise should be weight-bearing. Weight-bearing exercises generate the most mechanical force and apply the most pressure to your bones. Weight training with free weights or weight machines is the best way to challenge your bones and stimulate bone growth.


Why Weight Training Works

Bone mass is created by stress. When a mechanical load is applied to bone, additional bone cells travel to the site of stress to create additional bone. These cells, called osteoblasts, produce more bone until they become completely surrounded, and become osteocytes.


When weight training to support bone formation, it is necessary to determine what level of load-bearing stress your body requires in order to stimulate bone growth. This threshold is known as your desired level of minimal essential strain. Your trainer will be able to assess your target level of minimal essential strain.


Before weight training begins, it is important to assess your current level of bone density. At All Inclusive Health, our Tanita Body Composition Monitor uses small electric currents to calculate your bone mass and helps your trainer evaluate how much weight you should bear during exercise. In fact, the Tanita Body Composition scale gives bone mass value in pounds making it is something we can assess for all clients. After exercising at All Inclusive Health, one client mentioned, “I feel stronger and my bone scan actually proved my bone density went up!!!!! Highly recommend Julie as a fabulous personal trainer.”


Start Early To Prevent Bone Loss

Bone mass increases until the age of thirty, and our highest levels of bone strength typically occur in our twenties. When people prioritize bone health early, they build up bone strength and density that slows and prevents bone loss later in life.


Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake are important at this stage, as well as weight-bearing exercise. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests that adults in this age range perform at least thirty minutes of weight-bearing activities at a minimum of four times per week.


All Inclusive Health Can Help

We customize our fitness plans to meet you where you’re at and lay the foundations for you to attain a happier, healthier lifestyle. Our personal trainers and nutrition specialists work with clients of all ages and abilities to build strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and bone health. If you’re looking for outcomes that will have a lasting improvement on your quality of life, contact us today. The best medicine is always prevention.