If you’re new here, I’m a physical therapist, powerlifter, and strength coach. I’ve worked with 100’s of people of all ages from ages 12 up to 98. 

There is no particular age that you should stop lifting heavy

I was quite intrigued when I saw that this was a question that people were asking. 

Our bodies are meant to move. We are meant to use our muscles and work them. This is what keeps us going well into our 70s, 80s, and 90s.

In this article, I’m going to cover briefly a few reasons why you might need to modify your lifting, and then I’ll also provide a link to an article showing you the benefits of strength training if you’re older than 65 and why exercise is important (really these apply to everyone).

cartoon man carrying box from van

Is There Really An Age That Lifting Heavy is Not Advised?

As I shared above, there is no specific age that you should stop lifting heavy things. 

The most important thing to know is to know your limitations. If you never strength train and practice lifting heavy objects in the gym, or, you’re not routinely lifting objects that are quite heavy around the house, in the garden, or elsewhere in your job, then it may not be a great idea to lift something heavy that you don’t feel confident in moving.

What About If I’ve Had A Joint Replaced or I have Some Other Condition?

There are a few conditions that I’ll list where you will likely have some sort of lifting restriction

  • Large, painful inguinal or abdominal hernia
  • Immediately after a total knee replacement, hip replacement, etc. 
  • Total Shoulder Replacement. Due to the new biomechanics of the joint, there is less stability, so, there is usually a max of a 10 lb lifting restriction overhead.

Notice how I did not include osteoporosis or osteopenia here. That’s because lifting weights and just generally lifting heavy things is important to help build bone density.


How is ‘Heavy Lifting’ Defined?

When I first hear heavy lifting I immediately think of the gym and doing deadlifts or squats. 

When you hear this you may think of lifting some heavy object at your house like a couch, chair, cast iron skillet, or something along those lines. 

As I shared in the paragraph above this one if you are routinely practicing lifting heavy things, regardless of your age, you are completely okay to lift heavy objects wherever you are. There shouldn’t be any fear around that. 

What about if I never practice lifting heavy things?

If you never practice lifting heavier things and you don’t strength train at the gym this doesn’t mean you can’t lift heavier objects however you are likely at a higher risk of injuring yourself. 

One of the potential reasons for this is that your body likely isn’t used to firing the muscles needed to perform the movement at that specific intensity.

I’ll give you an example. 

I was riding my bike down the Hudson riverside bike path in New York City. We rode for about 13 miles from Washington Heights, all the way down to Battery Park, the southernmost portion of the city. 

We decided to stop and get off the bike for a short duration to use the restroom and grab something to eat. 

I got off the bike and my legs immediately cramped and I nearly fell down. 

What’s the lesson here? If you do something that you aren’t accustomed to doing your body will likely remind you of it. 

This is why I recommend everyone progresses to learning how to lift heavier weights at least 1x a week. The recommended amount of resistance training for adults is two times per week but one of those can be lighter weights.

Do I Need To Be More Careful As I Get Older?

I hear this about once a day with my clients. “Well, I’ll just be more careful.” 

That doesn’t work. Hear me on this. That. Doesn’t. Work.

yellow warning sign

Being more careful usually means that “I know I have a problem with my balance, strength, etc, but I’m not doing anything about it.”

Don’t be that person. 

Start lifting weights, hire a personal trainer if you don’t know where to start, and for the love of God stop lying to yourself. 

And I say this out of love. If you want to make yourself feel psychologically safe by avoiding the physical reality of your situation, that is only a short-term solution and eventually will catch up with you. 

Key Takeaways

  • You should never stop lifting heavy weights unless you have a medical condition where it is contraindicated (there aren’t many).
  • If you don’t routinely lift heavy things then you likely are at a higher risk of straining a muscle or experiencing some other type of pain or discomfort (this is my opinion based on working with clients)
  • Read this next article if you want to start lifting weights but aren’t sure where to start