STRENGTH TRAINING AND WHY WE SHOULD BE DOING IT AS WE GET OLDER
Strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness. As we age, our lean muscle mass naturally diminishes. Our body fat percentage will likely increase over time in order to replace the lost lean muscle mass (if we do nothing to prevent this!)
Strength training can help to preserve your lean muscle mass and enhance it no matter what age you start at.
Strength training has a multitude of benefits, such as:
Bone density – By placing a mechanical tension (i.e. a weight) on your body, you are placing a stress on your bones. Your bones then adapt to the additional stress placed on the body by increasing their bone density in order to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Weight Management – Strength training can assist in managing weight or even losing weight.
Enhanced Quality of Life – Strength training can improve the ability to do daily tasks by protecting your joints from injury. Strength training can also build larger and stronger muscles which will contribute to better balance and a lesser likelihood of falls as you get older. This can help you to maintain your independence as you age.
Keep That Brain Sharp – Regular strength training and aerobic exercise has been found to improve learning and thinking skills in the older population.
Options to consider:
Strength training can be performed in the luxury of your own home or at the gym. At our gyms, the choice of equipment is unparalleled. Here are some strength training options to consider:
Body Weight – You do not need to be using state of the art equipment to get started. You could start your strength training journey with little to no equipment at all. Squats, push-ups, lunges, planks and pull ups are a great way to get started.
Resistance Bands – Resistance bands provide an increased resistance when stretched. They can be used to make squats and push ups harder or they can be used to make pull ups easier. They can also be used for accommodating resistance training.
Free Weights – Barbells and dumbbells are a traditional strength training tool. There is an endless amount of exercises that can be performed using free weights. They can be used to work on maximal strength training or to correct muscle imbalances with unilateral strength training.
Weight Machines – These machines can guide you through a movement and can target certain body parts so that you can work in isolation or perform compound movements.
Suspension Training – With suspension training, you suspend a part of your body(i.e. upper body or lower body) while performing an exercise like push ups or planks.
Before You Get Started
If you have not been regularly active for a considerable time or suffer from any sort of chronic condition, check in with your GP before partaking in strength training or an aerobic fitness programme.
Before you begin your workout, it is important that you perform a warm up. Consider going for a brisk 5-10 minute walk as colder muscles have been found to be more prone to injury than warmed up muscles.
Choose a weight that you can comfortably do 10-15 repetitions with for the movement you are performing. When you feel that this weight is “too light”, consider moving to the next step up.
Listen to your body. Give your muscles time to recover and allow for at least one full day of rest each week. If you find a strength training programme is causing pain, stop performing that exercise immediately. There is an abundance of exercises to choose from. Also consider using a lower weight or performing less sets and repetitions.
It is important to use the correct technique to avoid picking up an injury. If you are new to strength training, work with a trainer or fitness instructor to learn the correct form and technique. This will go a long way in progressing!