Older and Stronger: Progressive Resistance Training Can Build Muscle, Increase Strength as We Age
This is not new information, yet the percentage of adults 50 and over who maintain a rather sedentary existence remains quite high. Why is it that with all this information we remain chained to a desk or couch and don’t find time to exercise? It seems we, as a population, would rather spend our money on doctors and medicine than on trainers and gyms, and to me that seems odd.
“Resistance exercise is a great way to increase lean muscle tissue and strength capacity so that people can function more readily in daily life,” says Mark Peterson, Ph.D., a research fellow in the U-M Physical Activity and Exercise Intervention Research Laboratory, at the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Through resistance training adults can improve their ability to stand up out of a chair walk across the floor, climb a flight of stairs — anything that requires manipulating their own body mass through a full range of motions.
Normally, adults who are sedentary beyond age 50 can expect muscle loss of up to 0.4 pounds a year.
“That only worsens as people age. But even earlier in adulthood — the 30s, 40s and 50s — you can begin to see declines if you do not engage in any strengthening activities,” Peterson says.
A review article by U-M researchers, published in The American Journal of Medicine, shows that after an average of 18-20 weeks of progressive resistance training, an adult can add 2.42 pounds of lean muscle to their body mass and increases their overall strength by 25-30 percent.
Recommendations for those over age 50
Peterson says that anyone over age 50 should strongly consider participating in resistance exercise.
A good way for people to start on a resistance training program, especially for people who are relatively sedentary — and after getting permission from their doctor to do so — is to use their body mass as a load for various exercises.
Exercises you can do using your own body weight include squats, standing up out of a chair, modified push-ups, lying hip bridges, as well as non-traditional exercises that progress through a full range of motion.
Transition to the gym
After getting accustomed to these activities, older adults can move on to more advanced resistance training in an exercise and fitness facility. A certified trainer or fitness professional that has experience with special populations can help with the transition.
Peterson says you should feel comfortable asking a trainer whether they have experience working with aging adults before you begin any fitness routine.
“Working out at age 20 is not the same as at age 70. A fitness professional who understands those differences is important for your safety. In addition, current recommendations suggest that an older individual participate in strengthening exercise two days per week,” Peterson says. “Based on the results of our studies, I would suggest that be thought of as the minimum.”
Don’t forget to progress
As resistance training progresses and weights and machines are introduced, Peterson recommends incorporating full body exercises and exercises that use more than one joint and muscle group at a time, such as the leg press, chest press, and rows. These are safer and more effective in building muscle mass.
A good fitness professional can help plan an appropriate training regimen, and make adjustments based on how you respond as you progress.
“We firmly believe based on this research that progressive resistance training should be encouraged among healthy older adults to help minimize the loss of muscle mass and strength as they age,” Peterson says.
I’m going to reiterate that the point of this article is not to build muscle for the sake of looking like a bodybuilder. Rather, it is to “…improve their ability to stand up out of a chair walk across the floor, climb a flight of stairs — anything that requires manipulating through a full range of motions.” As a trainer who works extensively with this population I have seen tremendous results in my clients. The good news is that it doesn’t necessarily require hiring me 3 times per week for the rest of time. Many of my clients work with me 1-2 times per week for a month and then one time bi-weekly or monthly for maintenance. This way they get all the benefits while keeping it affordable and fun. If you’re in or around the San Diego area I’d love to hear from you.
To read the entire article: http://tinyurl.com/42pk6x9
About Rick Binder, CFT, CES
Rick Binder, CFT, CES is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer in San Diego, CA. In addition he is an NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist, a Certified TRX Instructor and he holds a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Hapkido Blend. He has trained groups and individuals to improve their level of fitness and self confidence. For information, rates or to schedule training sessions you can reach him directly at 818-324-0462 or at firstname.lastname@example.org