The Blog

Resistance training to combat ageing……

There’s a subtle myth out there in our society that is putting people over 50 at risk. It is responsible for increased rates of chronic disease such as diabetes, osteoporosis and depression and anxiety. The myth is that, as we get older, we should slow down. We aren’t as strong as we used to be so we should just stick to gentle activities and not push ourselves too hard. The idea is that, as we age, we should be retired to a dusty cellar like fine wine, to be taken out only on special occasions.

And it couldn’t be more wrong. Or more harmful. As our 50s or 60s or beyond approach we should be living our best life. It’s common around this time for the kids to be moving out, retirement is just around the corner (or has started already) and you’re starting to think about what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. This should be a great time, full of possibilities! The idea that we should age gracefully and somehow wither away, not being able to do the things you love is just cruel. Yes, it is true that as we age there are physiological changes that can lead to reduced muscle mass, strength and function. There is potential for increased vulnerability to falls or chronic disease. But there is a way to combat all of these things and more. We say you should fight for the great opportunities that later life brings. We believe you should age just a little bit disgracefully!

Strength training is an absolutely phenomenal way to combat the effects of ageing. There is strong evidence for strength training helping:

  • Muscle strength and mass
  • Physiological vulnerability (frailty)
  • Debilitating consequences on physical functioning
  • Mobility
  • Maintaining or improved independence
  • Management of chronic disease
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Quality of life
  • Healthy life expectancy

Just have a look at this 7 News report on these inspirational women getting into strength training to combat osteoporosis. Or perhaps the story of Charles Eugster might give you some food for thought.

In a recent review published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, resistance training for older adults was found to be safe if properly designed with appropriate instructions for technique and with adequate supervision. The key with the above examples is that they started with what their bodies were capable of and built up appropriately from there in a progressive manner.

The current recommendations for resistance training in adults over 60 are that 2-3 times per week you complete 2-3 sets of 1-2 multi-joint exercises per major muscle group at 70-85% of your maximum weight for a single repetition of that exercise. So, if we use legs for example, that would be 2-3 sets of squats and 2-3 sets of lunges with about 3 quarters of your maximum weight, 2-3 times per week.

Note from the above table that it is recommended that you include some power training in there as well, where you slightly reduce the weight and increase the speed of the movement. This will help greatly with ease of movement.

Strength training should be individualised to your needs and be programmed to progress you along as your body adapts and gets stronger. It should be considered an essential tool that you use consistently to age disgracefully!