The American academy of sports medicine recommends seniors lift weights two times per week, at minimum.
Even one time per week of lifting can produce incredible results.
I’ve been working with a group of 8 women, ages 65-84 and most of them only work with me one time per week.
They’ve increased their overall strength by a huge margin and all of them can get up and down off the floor, balance on one leg, stand up easily from a chair, walk without feeling like they’re going to fall, and feel confident in their body’s ability.
If you’re still wondering if a 70 year old, or older, can gain muscle mass and strength, you’ll want to check out this article I linked to in this sentence.
What body parts should you workout as a senior?
You should workout every portion of your body that has muscles!
Full-body workouts can be great, but you can also break down longer workouts into shorter bouts throughout the day and still confer the same benefit.
Workouts that target shoulders, back (upper, middle, lower), arms, forearms, upper legs, and lower legs are great.
What types of exercises should a senior do to improve their strength levels, safely?
I’ve taken 8 women through this routine for over a year with no injuries and steady progress in strength, mobility, and balance.
You can try each of these exercises for approximately two sets of 10 reps to start and then progress to three sets of 10 and beyond as your body acclimates to the activity.
There are safe if you do them correctly.
If you’re not sure you are doing them correctly I’d highly recommend working with an expert to help you get the form down properly!
Bent Over Row
Single leg balance
Reactive balance training
What does the research say about seniors and strength training?
People who are stronger, live longer, full stop.
The stronger you are, the greater chance you have of watching your grandkids and great-grandkids get older and stay independent through that whole process.
“During the study period, 9.6% of NHIS adults age 65 and older (N = 30,162) reported doing guideline-concordant ST and 31.6% died. Older adults who reported guideline-concordant ST had 46% lower odds of all-cause mortality than those who did not (adjusted odds ratio: 0.64; 95% CI: 0.57, 0.70; p < 0.001). The association between ST and death remained after adjustment for past medical history and health behaviors.”
How long will it take to build muscle and strength from a resistance training program?
You will see strength increases first.
Muscular strength is defined as the maximal amount of force a muscle and all of its motor units can produce.
Muscular strength is a combination of many different factors including the size of the muscle, the percentage of type II vs. type I fibers, and rate coding (or the speed at which electrical impulses are transmitted), among other factors.
In the first 4-6 weeks, while there is a slow progression of protein synthesis occurring (protein is the building block of muscle), you likely won’t notice a big difference for the first 6-8 weeks in terms of muscle size.
You will notice strength gains in the first 4-6 weeks that are attributed to an improvement in rate coding or neurological adaptations to strength training.
Your nervous system actually gets better, quicker, at performing certain tasks and this creates more strength as your muscles are firing more efficiently at the same size.
To gain significant muscle mass you should expect to wait 6 months to a year to see really large results.
Too many people have no patience and give up after two weeks because they had improper expectations from the get-go.
How fast do older adults lose muscle mass when they don’t lift weights?
Fast. It’s estimated that seniors lose muscle mass at the rate of 1-2% per year if inactive.
If that’s you, it would behoove you to get started on a strength training program to reduce and even reverse the loss of muscle mass.
In you are untrained, meaning you haven’t lifted weights for a while or you haven’t lifted in your life, ever, then you could actually gain muscle mass instead of lose it in your older age.
That’s pretty cool, right?
Getting older doesn’t need to be a slow and steady march to disability and death.
You can live your life independently, strong, and healthy to the very end.