Strength Training After 50

Sometimes when I talk with boomers and seniors about weight lifting, I’m met with blank stares!  But resistance training is hands down the most critical type of exercise for healthy aging.

Why Lift Weights?

  • As we age, our metabolism slows down, and we tend to exercise less.
  • This leads to a 3% – 5% loss of muscle tissue (lean body mass, or LBM) per decade after age 30.
  • As a result, muscle tissue decreases in proportion to fat tissue, leading to a loss of strength, balance, and the ability to function independently.
  •  Without adjusting eating habits, weight goes up (mostly in the form of fat), contributing to degenerative diseases (heart disease and diabetes).
  • Strength training is the only known intervention to protect against age-related muscle weights

When Will I Start to Notice the Benefits of Strength Training?

  • Noticeable changes in strength take about 10 – 12 weeks in those over 50.
  • Be patient and consistent, progressively increasing the amount of resistance!

What is DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness?

  • You may feel muscle pain a day or two after you exercise.
  • This is a normal occurrence, caused by exercise-induced microscopic tears in muscle fibers.
  • DOMS usually occurs when an individual begins strength training or increases the intensity/duration of the program, and will lessen in a few days.

I heard that muscle weighs more than fat; will I actually gain weight as a result of training?

  • Not likely.  An hour of weight-lifting 2 – 3 times a week will not build pounds of muscle.
  • Maintaining LBM actually helps bolster your metabolic rate to burn more calories throughout the day.

Do I need to eat or drink extra protein for strength training to be effective?

  • You need to eat enough protein to build and maintain muscle mass.
  • While most Americans eat more than enough protein, some seniors don’t meet their needs (2 – 3 servings of protein/day).
  • The timing of protein intake is important in building muscle tissue (within 30 – 60 minutes after exercising).

As a female, will I get bulky muscles?

  • No!  Females don’t have enough muscle mass or tissue-building hormones for large, bulky muscles.

What other health benefits might I expect from strength training?

  • Increased bone mineral density
  • Improved short-term memory
  • Improved blood sugar control
  • Decreased percentage of body fat
  • Decreased depression and anxiety
  • Decreased arthritic pain

For more information about active aging, check out my ebook:  7 Fitness Myths Debunked. 

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