Posted by: Street | March 1, 2010

Are Your Grandparents/Parents Strength Training?

There are exceptions obviously, but it doesn't have to be this way.

“The benefits for elderly individuals of regular participation in both cardiovascular and resistance-training programs are great.Health benefits include a significant reduction in risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus and insulin resistance, hypertension and obesity as well as improvements in bone density, muscle mass, arterial compliance and energy metabolism. Additionally, increases in cardiovascular fitness (maximal oxygen consumption and endurance), muscle strength and overall functional capacity are forthcoming allowing elderly individuals to maintain their independence, increase levels of spontaneous physical activity and freely participate in activities associated with daily living. Taken together, these benefits associated with involvement in regular exercise can significantly improve the quality of life in elderly populations. It is noteworthy that the quality and quantity of exercise necessary to elicit important health benefits will differ from that needed to produce significant gains in fitness (Tanaka, 2001).”


 As one advances in age, significant muscle loss (sarcopenia) and strength loss is usually accompanied. In fact, by the age of 50, most have lost 10% of their total muscle, and muscle strength declines by nearly 15% in the 6th and 7th decade. Sounds like some pretty dooming news; on the other hand, one’s ability to benefit from a strength program does not decrease with age. Individuals can still benefit from significant gains in muscle strength, muscle mass, functional capacity, and fall prevention to name a few.

 I’ve had the distinct opportunity to work with many senior citizens in a strength program, and I must say that I’ve enjoyed working with them more than anyone else (with a couple exceptions). I’ve witnessed how much stronger they can get, significant increases in mobility, and the joy they get from having a better functional capacity. What I’ve learned from working with them, is that one doesn’t need to have the most creative, cutting-edge program to benefit from resistance training. I think many people get caught up in the trends (including myself), and we forget how basic movements are probably the most beneficial. So when we train our elderly clients (all clients for that matter) we try to be “brilliant at the basics,” a quote from Michael Boyle.

 Tanaka, R. S. (2001). Exercise Prescription for the Elderly: Current Recommendations. Sports Med , 809-818.

 – Coach Street

I know I hope I'm feeling like this guy when I'm his age!



  1. Is the muscle drop off due mainly to becoming more sedentary or is it physiological? I also wonder if it’s kind of a self sabotage; you think you’re old and think you’re more limited in movement, therefore you don’t even try to do as much.

    • I think it’s a combination of all things. Physiologically, especially in women, the hormones in women have significant changes upon menopause, which is why strength training is so imperative for them in order to delay/prevent the onset of sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteopenia/osteoporosis. I think psychologically yes, some think they’ve worked long and hard for retirement so they should get to enjoy doing nothing; however, nothing comes at a costly price (potentially life). I also think there’s a sort of exercise-divide, much like the technological divide. Our elders are not very educated in the realm of physical activity, exercise, and nutrition. It’s hard for them to break 50 years of potentially damaging habits.

  2. I just emailed this article to my parents – my dad was just talking about how he needed to start strength training – hopefully this will motivate them.

    Thanks for the info Brandon!!!!

    • I hope so too Gail! Thanks for reading!

  3. Good article Brandon!

    You bet your Dad is working out! 6 days a week, 4 days of weight training and two days of intense cardio. Down to 192, seems like 214 pounds was a long time ago. I feel great, my diet is good and we have 12 weeks to go. 15 more pounds and a lot of work yet to do to get there. I want to look good in camo……….


    • You’ll get there big dog! Follow the Precision Nutrition’s Get Shredded Diet to the T. Start taking pictures of your transformation, seriously! You are going to want to document this experience so you know how YOU got there. You never know, you may want to do another one in the future! In fact, please e-mal me the pictures so we can track your transformation.

      Coach Street

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