Like most trainers I enjoy working with competitive high school, collegiate, and professional basketball athletes. But I also discovered that working with senior clients is actually a lot of fun and very educational. We’re talking about clients 50 and over. We can’t turn back the hands of time but we can definitely slow it down. Because if we don’t do anything, we naturally lose physical function and become more susceptible to injury as we get older. This includes increasing the risk of falls due to a loss of balance, fractures because of lower bone density, and other debilitating problems.
Bones become more fragile as we get older due to a decrease in bone mineral content. We also lose lean muscle mass as we get older; a condition called sarcopenia. The decrease in muscle mass results in a decrease in muscular strength. Most people don’t realize that these processes begin as early as age 30. Reports show that 40% of women aged 655 to 64 years, 45% of women aged 65 to 74 years, and 65% of women age 75 to 84 years were unable to lift about 10 pounds.
As we lose muscle mass we also lose power. Power recedes at a faster rate than muscle strength when we get older. The problem is that power is necessary to complete most daily activities like walking, getting up and down stairs, and squatting.
We have seen significant increases in muscle strength, power, muscle mass, bone density, and general functional abilities in our clients that regularly participate in progressive weight lifting programs. Clients also increase their energy and and resting metabolic rate when they train. Aerobic training and weight lifting are beneficial for older adults, but only weightlifting can increase muscle strength and muscle mass. We’re not talking about lifting 3lb dumbbells for a thousand repetitions either. Nobody got time for that. Heavy weight lifting is the fountain of youth.
Now get out there and get your weight up!