How to strength train safely

Learn how to do strength training safely and effectively.

How to strength train safely

Strength training is important, especially for older adults as it helps to keep bones and joints strong, ward off osteoporosis and diabetes as well as provide a host of other health benefits.

Benefits of strength training

In addition to aerobic exercise, strength training is important, especially for older adults as it helps to keep your bones and joints strong and wards off osteoporosis and diabetes, as well as offers a host of other health benefits. 

When starting a strength-training routine, it’s recommended that you alternate days of aerobic activity with days of strength training. Aim to strength train on two to three non-consecutive days of the week. If you’ve never done strength training before, it’s always best to seek guidance from a professional to gain insight on proper technique and the best exercise for you.

What kind of strength training?

The three major areas involved with strength include:

  • the trunk and back (i.e. your core/torso)
  • the upper body
  • the lower body

Strength training can include training with weights or using your own body weight, such as when performing push-ups. Body-weight training is a great form of low-impact exercise.

How many reps and sets?

It’s important to find a balance between preventing injury and increasing how much weight you lift and the number of repetitions (reps) to perform to increase your strength and muscle mass.

When starting your strength training routine, aim to complete two sets of 10 repetitions unless you’ve been instructed otherwise. As you progress, you can increase your routine to three sets of 12 repetitions. If training with weights, you can increase or decrease the weights as needed.

Remember to breathe throughout the exercise. Count up to three and exhale when lifting; count down from three and inhale when lowering. Wait one or two minutes between each set.

How much weight?

A fitness professional can guide you with which weight to start if you’re new to strength training. Otherwise, try to give yourself two weeks from beginning your weight-training regime before increasing how much you lift.

Aim to focus on being able to complete each repetition in good form, rather than trying to lift heavy weight as this can increase your risk of injury. It’s important to know your body’s limits and not push yourself when you feel pain or are unable to perform the exercise correctly.

Try to challenge yourself – remember, if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. And always seek professional advice before beginning a new weight training routine.

Exercise suggestions

The most effective way to weight train and build strength is to perform two or three exercises, three days per week.Visit the Mayo Clinic for strength trainingexercises that are suitable for older adults.

As always, don’t forget to warm up and cool down properly before performing any physical activity.

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    18th Sep 2017
    If you have never done weight training before I strongly suggest you get some tuition and advice from a real-life qualified fitness professional before embarking on this sort of program. Form is everything and incorrect form can injure at any age.
    18th Sep 2017
    I agree KSS I've done weight training all my life and I've had some injuries which is common in any sport, but if your just starting now you have to be very careful after all weight training can do a lot of damage if done incorrectly. I think most older people underestimate what their capable of with the proper training.
    The pom
    18th Sep 2017
    I have been using 3 kg weights for many years now and find I can happily go through a set of exercises regularly. As I am well into my 80s I don't push myself too hard but do a series until I find it becomes slightly difficult then rest. My diet is good and I am non smoker, no alcohol. My doctor who I have been seeing for a very long time is very happy with my condition so I will just keep it up as long as I can. I also do a lot of mental exercises to try to keep that side in health.
    18th Sep 2017
    I have recently started strength training using 2 kilo weights, three days per week, and aim to increase when the exercises become easy. I can feel the benefits already, and this encourages me to continue. I also walk for at least 30 minutes most days.

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