Lifespan, Strength Training and Improving Resilience article by Marty Gallagher

Lifespan, Strength Training and Improving Resilience

Don’t fear the stressors, they breed resilience and resilience breeds longevity

Human DNA strand (above): living to 150-years of age could become the new norm – but only for the strong and resilient

Human life could eventually max out at 150-years. Artificial intelligence analyzed all health-and-fitness-related information, and researchers determined that the human lifespan is most significantly based on two data points: biological age — defined as the combination of stress, lifestyle, and chronic diseases — and resilience — how quickly the person returns to normal after responding to a stressor. 

UK Daily Mail   

Youngish tech billionaires are funneling massive amounts of money into the research and development of life extension. The 2021 tech gods are just the latest uber-elite to use their wealth to seek out the elusive “elixir of immortality.” Time is the undefeated heavyweight champion. Everyone everywhere has a biological clock that is ticking every instant of every day; the sand grains tumble through the hourglass unimpeded for every one of us, without distinction. As Jim Morrison pointed out, “No one gets out of here alive.”

The billionaire boys hope that by assembling the world’s best aging experts, the best scientists, the finest medical professionals’ money can buy, by funding all the research needed, they can beat somehow someway beat the biologic clock. The goal is to find a way, some method, pill, some sort of genetic modification, a magic bullet that will add decades to the human lifespan.

These modern oligarchs are just the latest in a long line of powerful men seeking a shortcut to obtaining a longer life. The big jackpot is immortality. The quest for immortality can be traced back 5,000 years to ancient India and China. The Chinese formalized alchemy, the quest for extraordinarily long life or immortality. Alchemist established schools, created sects, alchemist cults arose. The alchemist had a tantalizing message, and their influence and legitimacy were sanctioned and funded at the highest levels of these ancient societies.

At least three major strands of Alchemy emerge: Chinese alchemy, centered in China; Indian alchemy, centered on the Indian subcontinent; Western alchemy, which occurred around the Mediterranean and whose center has shifted over the millennia from Greco-Roman Egypt to the Islamic world, and finally medieval Europe

According to historical sources, numerous emperors from China’s various dynasties succumbed to the negative effects of the elixirs of immortality they were consuming. These include the Wuzong Emperor (Song Dynasty), the Jiajing Emperor (Ming Dynasty), and the Yongzheng Emperor (Qing Dynasty). Mercury and jade were favored by Taoist alchemists.

Mercury fascinated the alchemists of ancient China. This toxic metal was believed to have spiritual significance, and it was seen as the key to immortality. Mercury was often used as an ingredient in the ancient Chinese elixirs of immortality. Other long-lasting metals or minerals believed to bestow immortality and used in the production of immortality elixirs included cinnabar and jade.

Optimally, modern life-extension scientists will create a pill, medical procedure, or vaccine that would safely melt away excess body fat while simultaneously building and strengthening lean muscle mass. This would result in a radical change in body composition. In turn, this leaner stronger body would add decades to a person’s lifespan, assuming they avoided cancer, accidents, extreme mental stress, and infectious disease.

It might come as a shock to the larger medical community, but such systems for radically altering body composition already exist, far better versions then what they recommend and are practicing. Adhering to a coherent transformative matrix most certainly will add decades to anyone’s life – and you don’t have to drink mercury and jade sprinkled with cinnabar: strength train, preform cardio, institute a disciplined nutritional approach, and pay homage to the psychological aspects of the process. Science is finally coming around to our way of thinking. In May of 2021, The Daily Mail ran an article with the headline, “Study shows how you can become 3 years ‘younger’ in eight weeks.” 

Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trail

Over eight weeks, researchers monitored the results of a ‘treatment program’ focusing on diet, sleep, exercise, relaxation guidance, and supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients. The randomized controlled clinical trial involved 43 healthy men between the ages of 50 and 72. Results show committing to these lifestyle changes produced “statistically significant” reductions in the biological aging of cells.

The Journal Aging

If you dig deeper into this study, you find that the three year “age reversal” came about as a result of instituting and adhering to a halfway sensible diet, enforced sleep, a scientific form of meditation, and some mild-ass exercise done “in the 60-80% of maximum range” for 30-minutes five days a week.

In other words, by adhering to a matrix of getting deep and restorative sleep, engaging in some form of meditation, instituting a healthy nutritional regimen, and instituting even a mild exercise program, aging could be reversed, and lifespan increased.

A decade ago, I wrote a 450-page book called The Purposeful Primitive. It was written to share our transformational matrix, a blending of hardcore (minimalistic) strength training, intense cardiovascular exercise, the consumption of nutrient-dense organic foods, and an equal emphasize on Brain Train, i.e., the psychological aspects related to triggering, obtaining, and sustaining a radical physical transformation.

We created the transformational matrix science is just now discovering. Our approach was amped-up, our modes and methods done with greater training intensities, our dieting more disciplined. Ergo, our gains and progress were light years superior to those experienced by the study participants. 

Our strength training is necessarily brutal, maximally intense, and infrequent; our cardio is frequent, short duration, mostly sprinting and the various “burst” cardio protocols; our nutrition approach champions locally sourced, seasonally appropriate proteins and produce. Rest and recuperation are critical. Brain Train addresses psyche, long-term adherence, habit force, set-to-set resilience, mentally accelerating recovery and releasing stress-relieving endorphins, creating a post-workout meditational state we call the “glow state.”

Science has come around to a watered-down version of the Purposefully Primitive matrix in 2021. The mainstream waters down everything they touch, they leave gains lying on the table. Their nutrition is timidity masquerading as sensibleness, their exercise meek, mild, and one-dimensional (the wrong dimension) and their recovery/mediational approaches safe as warm milk. Our advice: keep the matrix, amp up the intensities.

Human lifespan is most significantly based on two data points: biological age — the combination of stress, lifestyle, and chronic diseases — and resilience — how quickly the person returns to normal after responding to a stressor.

If humans could control and limit the stress in their lives, if they could live a healthy lifestyle full of exercise and attention to diet, if they could avoid getting cancer or body wasting diseases – and if this same person had a trait called resilience – defined as how quickly a person returns to normal after responding to a stressor - these individuals were destined to have a long lifespan.

Strength training and burst cardio create resilience. Hit a max set, recover, hit another max set; sprint all out, recover, sprint again…this is resilience training personified. For the elite strength trainer, intense stress is created by an all-out top set occurring within a workout. After setting a new personal record in the squat, say 405 for 5 reps, the trainee must find a way to recover quickly because it is now time to bench press.

Over time, the elite strength trainer becomes adept at recovering quickly and completely after one maximum effort and before the next. Repeated maximum exertions followed by full and complete recovery is resilience training.

Lifestyle guidance in this study included a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, at least 5 days per week at an intensity of 60-80 percent of maximum perceived exertion. Exercise is well-known to be broadly beneficial for almost every aspect of health and has been shown to extend mean lifespan in animal models.

You can bet your last dollar that the “exercise” was cardio and done on some sort of device, stationary bike, treadmill, etc. Exercising at a 60% exertion rate for anyone other than the feeble and totally unfit is a complete waste of time. For cardio to be effective we need to sweat and exert. There is no adaptive response triggered by mild 60% efforts. 

Effective strength training purposefully creates stressors (the effort) and then speedily and effectively recovers, regains hemostasis ASAP. Over time, and with endless repeated practice, resilience is improved. Compare this to the human that has zero physical stressors in their lives. A 60% effort, except for to feeble, is not enough of a stressor to create resilience. Resilience is created in direct proportion to the amount of effort generated and the length of time needed to regain hemostasis.

Effective training self-induces physiological stress. The stressing of targeted muscles is the stimulus for growth. Muscle growth is a defensive action on the part of the body. Adding muscle, creating additional muscular horsepower, is the body’s way of coping with repeated and continual stressors. Stress, recover, stress again…repeat ad infinitum. Mild stresses are no stresses at all insofar as building resilience. There is an undeniable relationship between degree of exertion, rapidity of recovery and the building, the increasing of that nebulous quality – being resilient.

Until science comes up with the magic bullet that effortlessly extends life, the surefire, all-natural way to add decades to your existence is to add some stressors to your life. Hardcore resistance training, sweaty, lung-bursting cardio. Intense exercise is the greatest natural stress-reliever known to man. Add some nutrient-dense, organic food-fuel and some legislated rest and you have all the life-extending bases covered. Want to develop life-extending resilience? Embrace exercise-generated stressors.

About the Author
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of multiple books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher biography here.