Older Adults Need Strength Training to Keep Mobile and Stable

When we started working together, my 70-something client could barely bend her hips and knees.

Within several months, she was doing squats and finding new mobility to move.

One of the best parts of my job as a trainer at the WAC and Simple Training is working with older members who are strength training. 

Most of the time, we’re building strength with slightly bigger weights and fewer reps than they?re used to.

And the cool part is how they and their muscles respond to the strength training!

There are multiple goals for older people and strength training: muscular strength, increased mobility, as well as self-confidence and injury prevention. 

By their early 40s already, most adults start losing muscle mass at about five percent a decade. And this decline means an increased mortality risk. 

Losing muscle also makes getting out of a chair or walking up a flight of stairs more difficult.

Decreased bone density – which increases with strength training – makes it more easy for older adults to break bones. 

But strength training can change all of that, if it’s done correctly and with enough stress on the muscles.

A 2016 analysis from the Penn State College of Medicine found adults over 65 who strength trained at least twice a week had “46 percent lower odds of death for any reason than those who did not.

They had 41 percent lower odds of cardiac death and 19 percent lower odds of dying from cancer.

“Done regularly (e.g., 2 to 3 days per week), these exercises build muscle strength and muscle mass and preserve bone density, independence, and vitality with age. In addition, strength training also has the ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and the signs and symptoms of numerous chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes, while also improving sleep and reducing depression.”


Other research has shown that progressive resistance training – gradually increasing the weight, number of repetitions, or number sets – can create big increases in muscle strength for older women and men. 

What To Do For Strength Training

Start with body weight exercises, like air squats, wall pushups, and some knee planks.

You might even try the TRX straps, which work your core as well as body muscles. 

Then gradually progress to dumbbells, using light weights and doing three sets of 12 to 15 times movements.

Resistance bands and the TRX are also great options for you. 

Regardless of the weight, practice good form. Ask a trainer for help if you need it. 

Strength training is critical for everyone, but especially for older adults.
Strength training is critical for everyone, but especially for older adults.

Just Resistance Training? 

If your schedule allows it, do three days a week of strength training.

It’s also important to work with your mobility and balance.

Yoga classes are great for both. 

Endurance training, like walking, running, cycling, rowing, or using an elliptical, is also important as endurance training for older people has been shown to provide equally big health benefits. 

Got Questions?

I’d be happy to set up a free training session to help you find exercises that work for you!

Spread the love