The Importance of Strength Training For Adults Over 50

Caroline Mameesh

November 27, 2020

Fitness Training | Health & Longevity | Joints & Back Health

Wysefit app workout

Did you know that you can lose half of all muscle mass on your body by the time you’re in your 80s? The good news is that there’s a way to prevent this.

The solution? Resistance strength training. By incorporating strength training into your routine, you’ll be able to stay active, healthy, and pain-free for many years to come. 

Maybe you aren’t sold yet on the benefits of strength training for adults over 50 (including seniors!), and that’s okay. Here we will break down the importance of strength training as we age.

What is Strength Training?

Before we go any further, it’s necessary to get a basic understanding of what strength training is. 

Generally speaking, strength training can take many forms. It involves pushing, pulling, lifting or otherwise moving your body against gravity, a weight, or a resistance band for 2-4 sets of 5-15 repetitions, depending on your goals and the activity.

“Sets” refers to the number of intervals you perform a given exercise. “Repetitions,” or reps, are the amount of times you do that exercise in a given set. So if you were to do 3 sets of 10 reps each, you’d perform that movement 30 times broken down into a 3×10 structure.

The Benefits of Strength Training

  1. Weight Loss

When most people think weight loss, they think cardio. Strength training vs. cardio for weight loss is an age old debate, but the answer is quite simple. Strength training is more effective.

You see, when we strength train, we’re building muscle mass. That part is obvious, but what you may not know is that increased muscle mass boosts your metabolism. The higher percentage of muscle you carry, the more calories you burn at rest. This refers to your basal metabolic rate, or BMR.

This means that strength training is like passive income. Put in the effort during workouts and it will help you lose weight when you’re sitting, sleeping, driving, and so on.

We know that being overweight leads to a variety of health problems, from diabetes to hypertension, so it’s crucial that we keep that weight off as we age. When it comes to strength training vs. cardio for weight loss, strength training is the clear winner.

  1. Functional Movement

Remember when you were a kid and you could bend over, run around the neighborhood, or wrestle with your siblings pain-free? Perhaps that’s no longer the case (or perhaps you’re no longer wrestling your siblings…but we aren’t here to judge). 

As we get older, we sit a lot more. Most people are at a desk from 9-5, only to move over to the couch when work is done and sit some more, before eventually lying down to sleep. This causes your body to break down. Human bodies are meant to move, not sit.

Strength training is advantageous because it preps your body for functional movement, or movement that we do in our everyday lives. Squats? Those allow you to lift the couch when it’s time to help your daughter move apartments. Lunges or step-ups? Those will whip you in shape for climbing staircases.

It’s important to note that core strength is of particular importance. Having a strong mid-section maintains spine and back health, preventing all-too-common back injuries.

The work you do while strength training prepares you for movement in everyday life.

  1. Prepping For Later

Ever seen Grace and Frankie? Here’s an amusing GIF from a scene where Grace gets stuck on the toilet.

Don’t want to find yourself in a similar situation? Understandably so. One of the many benefits of strength training is that it keeps your body nimble so that you can continue doing functional activities. 

Right now it may be easy to get off the toilet or swing a golf club, but that won’t be true forever if you neglect strength training. According to research on the topic, we lose about 1.5-5% of our maximum strength per year after age 50. Over time, activities that were once easy become painful or unmanageable.

The Framingham Disability study found that out of women aged 75-85, 62% had difficulty kneeling, 66% couldn’t lift more than 10 lbs, and 42% couldn’t stand more than 15 minutes. I doubt you want to suffer these same plights.

In addition, resistance strength training makes our bones stronger preventing osteoporosis!

Strength training is an investment. Put in that time now and you will continue to reap the benefits later, so you can keep living your life to its fullest.

  1. Living Longer

A 15-year cohort study found that strength training is linked to living longer. This study details how those who continue to strength train after 50 and later in life have lower mortality rates.

To improve your overall health and live longer, strength training is key. Although cardiovascular exercise is great, only strength training was found to be associated with longevity.

  1. It’s Rewarding!

Listen, we all love to look and feel good. Strength training accomplishes both. Put in the consistent effort and, over time, you’ll tone up and feel your very best. 

Did you know that strength training can combat depression, release endorphins just like cardio does, and help you work through problems in other areas of your life? It really is a mind and body activity. Why not give it a try?

Won’t Strength Training Actually Break Down My Body?

No! Quite the opposite. While we don’t advise squatting 500lbs like some of the bro’s do at your local gym, strength training, when done correctly, builds your body up and keeps it that way.

However, to ensure that strength training helps and doesn’t hurt, it’s absolutely imperative that you do the right exercises with the right form. This is no place for guesswork. Make sure you do your research and have a program which allows you to do safe and effective workouts.

So…What Does This Look Like?

Great question! If you’re curious, here’s what a sample strength training routine for adults over 50 would look like, courtesy of the Wysefit app:

Note: You can do these exercises every day using your bodyweight. The best strength training workouts require some equipment and/or resistance bands, but this little routine is a good starting place.

  1. Modified or regular planks 2-3 sets of 20-30 seconds as tolerated. 
  2. Chair Squats 2-3 sets of 10-15
  3. Glute Bridges 2-3 sets of 10-15
  4. Wall push ups 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions
  5. Step ups 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions each leg
Modified Plank
Glute Bridge
Chair Squats (Tap-backs)

Proper form and proper warm up are extremely important. It’s true that some exercises are known for leading to certain injuries, like squats and knee pain or deadlifts and a slipped disc. However, this is the result of improper form or working out on cold muscles. Using a program like Wysefit removes all guesswork and shows you exactly how to condition your body so that your workouts lift you up, not hold you back.

When starting any strength training program, you will spend some time at the beginning discovering what the appropriate amount of sets and reps is for your body. If you cannot complete all reps and sets in a given workout, that’s okay! You will get stronger with consistent time and effort.

If you have concerns or health conditions, please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. However, even if you suffer from certain ailments like back pain or arthritis, there is a way to strength train safely and to effectively reduce pain. Wysefit figures this all out for you.

Strength Training is For ALL Ages!

It is our hope that this article convinced you to at least give strength training a shot. This doesn’t have to be complicated, and all your workouts can be done with minimal equipment and from your living room.

Not sure how to get started? Check out Wysefit. We do all the thinking for you, providing personalized programs backed by experts. Our programs are perfect for everyone, beginners included.

Start strength training today and reap the benefits for years to come. Your future self thanks you.

Try Wysefit Strength and Conditioning classes.

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