Weight Lifting Can Make You Smarter

Weight Lifting Can Make You Smarter
By Dr. T. J. Tomasi
Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research

Weight Lifting Can Make You Smarter

One of the most common questions my students ask is “How can I get more distance,” so I outline a program for them that includes attention to 4 areas: (1) swing technique, (2) equipment, (3) mental approach to the long ball, and (4) body strength.  When it comes to the last one, I include some advice: “Don’t just work out when you find the time – instead, make a workout part of your lifestyle.”

I usually list all the advantages of a ‘fitness lifestyle,’ and now there’s another reason I can add to the list: Science says lifting weights makes you more intelligent. Dr. Yorgi Mavros, of Sydney University, states, “What we found … is that the improvement in cognition function was related to their (the subjects) muscle strength gains.” The weight training program used in the study involved lifting weights that were 80% of the maximum each participant could lift one time. Once established, they lifted this weight twice a week. As they got stronger, the amount of weight was increased to keep to the 80 percent level. MRI scans after just six months revealed that specific areas of the brain increased in size. Basically, the participants’ overall intelligence improved significantly after lifting weights.  Dr. Mavros summarized the results as follows: “The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.” While the study focused on people 55 and over, the mechanism is projected to work for all adults.

In a second study, Mavros showed that weight training may well serve as a fire-wall against mental decline. But it’s not only the brain that prospers – there is another aspect of weight training that protects what’s called your “muscle reserve.”  The problem is that without intervention you’ll lose ~10% of your flexibility a decade, and between the ages of 50 and 80, your muscle reserve decreases by 40% and your strength by 60%. Muscle reserve is an interesting concept. In order to save energy and to protect against injury, a striated muscle uses only the amount of muscle fibers it calculates is needed to do the job – the rest are held in reserve.  Muscles grow when you force them to call up the reserve fibers. When you’re young, it’s relatively easy to recruit your muscle reserves, but when that reserve thins out as you age, it becomes difficult to find enough fibers to reach your quota, so your muscles shrink. Fortunately, you can intervene in the process by using a customized weight lifting routine that will lessen the decline – and like the amazing Gary Player, if you work at it, you too can be an energizer golf bunny well into your 70’s.  

If you’d like to study with Dr. Tomasi and other PGA Master Professionals, contact The College of Golf today.

1 comment

  1. I absolutely love this article! I read your articles often. I hope you are doing well. I live in East Tennessee now. I have missed being your student.

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