Most everyone knows that strength training is important if you want a strong body and a nicely-muscled physique, but it’s also important for many other non-cosmetic reasons.
A study published by a German science journal pointed out the numerous benefits of strength training for aging gracefully and healthily, including: reduction of age related muscle loss, increase in muscle strength and mass (as the trainee in this story, demonstrates in the gym), reduction in the loss of bone density, and improvement in posture and coordination (which helps decrease the likelihood of falls).
Now before you start thinking: “it’s probably too late for me,” or “the gym is for muscle heads,” or “the weight room is intimidating,” I’d like you to introduce Tom, a client of mine for over 6 months, who is 76 years young.
Tom’s also no weakling; he never retreats from the barbell or heavy dumbbells (I wouldn’t let him anyway). Although we began our training program with higher repetition ranges, simpler exercises, floor routines, and machines and bands (as opposed to free weights), we now lift with significant intensity, using compound movements and free weights.
As the journal article points out, improvements in strength capacity were noted with high intensity weight training (>75% of the individual’s maximal strength capacity, or somewhere around the 8 to 12 repetition range).
Moral of the story?
Relatively heavier weight training (over time) triggers higher increases in strength than training at a medium or low intensity (e.g., 20 repetitions in a given set).
It’s always nice to have the reassurance of German bilingual science journals and all, but it’s even more interesting to see the hard work and results in the flesh. Tom’s exercise journal (a sample of his gains is shown below) demonstrated impressive gains in muscle strength over the course of 6 months. We’re talking strength gains over 100% in a number of lifts. Impressive is an understatement!
Tom strength trained with me 2-3/week, for 30 minutes, using full body workouts to achieve these results. If you’re over 65 or you think you’re “too old” to get in the gym and see results, Tom’s training log will inspire you to get to the gym. It’s never too late to start. You too can get stronger with age!
Leg Pressing 260 lbs x 11 reps
Leg Pressing 260 lbs x 12 reps
Leg Press: Starting weight 45 lbs x 20 reps, ending 160 lbs x 12 reps.
Leg Extension: Starting weight 60 lbs x 20 reps, ending 120 lbs x 12 reps.
Leg Curl: Starting weight 60 lbs x 20 reps, ending 135 lbs x 12 reps.
Bench press: Starting weight 45 lbs x 20 reps, ending 75 lbs x 12 reps.
Incline DB Press: Starting weight 15 lbs x 15 reps, ending 25 lbs x 12 reps.
Seated Cable Row: Starting weight 60 lbs x 13 reps, ending 90 lbs x 12 reps.
Sumi Singh is an Austin-based personal trainer with nearly 2 decades of experience in fitness. She holds specializations in pre-and post natal fitness, group fitness, and sports nutrition. She’s the author of Stay at Home Strong, a complete workout program for new moms. She’s also an online diet coach, a busy single mom, has set various world, National and state records as a powerlifter, and holds an BSc from Tufts, and a Masters from Duke University.