I’ll get straight to the point with this one - it is never too late to begin strength training. If you only take one thing away from this, make it that!
As we get older our bodies naturally begin to slow down. Muscle starts to deteriorate with some studies showing that this can be a loss of up to of 8% every ten years after the age of thirty and potentially higher still after sixty. As well as decreasing overall mobility and strength, when this is compounded with a naturally lowering bone density as well, bodies after fifty are generally more susceptible to injuries, fractures and breaks.
Now, these factors may lead you to think that adding the additional stress of weight training to the body at an older age, might not only be painful but also a probably very dangerous too. Thankfully, this is incorrect and even better, when done the right way, an exercise and strength training regime at fifty or beyond will in fact serve as a method to combat and minimize all the negative effects that natural ageing has on the body.
Like anyone just starting out in the gym the key to working out at fifty is to work with the level you are currently at and be sensible with the training methods you undertake. A good program will cater to and improve your mobility, stability and strength as you work through it and after that, the sky’s the limit!
I’ve personally coached a man in his sixties who is now outlifting what he could in his thirties and also a golfer in her fifties, who since weight training has improved the power of her shot to matching her husband’s. He hates me, but it’s still a win.
While everyone’s body will vary differently in its individual response to exercise, studies showed that an average of 0.5-2 lbs of muscle growth per month is normal in over fifties when undertaking a regular strength program and over the course of a 10-12 week program there will be a significant decrease in unwanted body fat too, improving overall health and wellbeing.
The benefits are numerous but, in a nutshell, maintaining strength training into your later years will:
• Prevent and reverse sarcopenia (age related muscle loss) keeping you stronger and fitter for longer.
• Give you more energy! The body responds to the demands put on it, tell it you need it to be active again and it will respond.
• Improve your balance and coordination. Around 3 million adults need treating for fall injuries every year. A common denominator being these cases usually involve non active individuals.
• Improve your overall mood and outlook. The effects of exercise fighting depression and anxiety are backed by science and unlike medication, there are no side effects (apart from looking great).
• Improve your cardiovascular health. This reduces the risk of heart disease, lowers blood pressure and helps maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and body fat. • Improve your bone density. Preventing the onset of osteoporosis and help to maintain joint health
Despite all that, it’s understandable that for some the idea of starting out at the gym now may be a bit intimidating or perhaps it’s simply never appealed to you and you’re still not 100% sold on squats and protein shakes. If so, keep this in mind - full body strength training doesn’t just mean picking up heavy weights, it means increasing your overall, functional strength and fitness. Basically, it lets you keep on being you! We have seen numerous clients not only improve their general quality of life but many of them also return to actively taking part in the sports and activities they enjoyed in their younger years too, sometimes even going beyond what they were capable of back then. So basically, when you pick up training, you’ll tell your body when to stop, not the other way around.