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Fitness Education: Importance of Strength Training with Aging

Importance of Strength Training with Aging

Muscular Strength decreases with aging, and these changes can be altered by regular strength training all major muscle groups 2-3 days per week, with at least 48 hours separating training sessions for the same muscle groups. Insufficient muscular power has been associated with a greater risk of accidental falls, while fast-velocity repetitions can safely optimize muscular power training. Limitations in muscular strength are correlated to mobility disability. Increasing lower body and core strength and muscular endurance can lead to significant changes in how easily people move from sitting to standing positions.  Establishing a base of support with one’s feet spaced hip distance apart creates stability for movement, while changing this base of support offers further stability challenges to the exercise. Core stability is improved when older adults perform multi-joint exercises across all planes of motion (moving something from below the hips to above them, moving something across the body from left to right, and moving something from front to back). Additionally, regular strength training can help manage, attenuate and prevent chronic diseases and health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Strength training is important across the lifespan and its importance becomes greater with aging.


When beginning a strength training program to increase muscular strength, begin with very light or light intensity using body weight, resistance bands or light free weights. Start with 10-15 repetitions for 1+ sets resting 2-3 minutes between sets. Proper form involves controlled movement through the full range of motion with concentric and eccentric (muscle shortening and lengthening) muscle actions. Breathing should guide movement, as strength training is nothing more than a moving meditation. As one adapts to a new training program, exercises will begin to feel easier, and participants should continue to challenge muscular strength by gradually increasing frequency of training, the number of repetitions and sets, and/or intensity through increasing resistance.


FITT Principle for Strength Training in Older Adults
Frequency 2-3 days per week (with 48 hours between sessions for the same muscle groups)
Intensity 20-50% 1 repetition maximum; Begin with body weight, resistance bands and light weight free weights
Time No specific duration of time in total
Type Resistance Exercise involving each major muscle group
Volume Repetitions:

8-12 repetitions to improve power

10-15 repetitions to improve strength

15-25 repetitions to improve endurance


1 set for novice exercisers

1-2 sets for muscular endurance

2-4 sets for strength and power


Rest 2-3 minutes between each set

Rest 48 hours between sessions for any single muscle group

Progression Gradual progression of increasing frequency, more repetitions and/or sets, and greater resistance