Expert Q&A

Strength training: Is there an age limit for beginners?

What age is too old to begin strength training?

-Glenda from Florida

There isn’t any age at which strength gains can’t be made. Sensible strength training can benefit people of all ages. It’s true that strength does diminish as people age, but this is mostly caused by inactivity. Strength loss among those in their 60s has been measured to be as much as a 20% decline. By age 70 the number can climb to 40% of the strength of a 20-year old. However, this decline can be offset by resistance training with free weights, gym machines, elastic resistance and calisthenics.

Strength training exercise at any age

The key to a sensible training regimen lies in where you begin. Never do more than you are able to without pain. The exercises should be difficult but not impossible. If they’re too easy, you’re wasting your time and getting fewer results than you’re entitled to. If the exercises are too hard, you could get injured, find it difficult to stay motivated and lose interest altogether.

Whether you begin at home with small hand held weights or enlist the help of a trainer at a health club, you can get stronger regardless of your age. Aim for two to three groups (sets) of each exercise, doing each individual exercise anywhere from eight to 12 times in a row (reps).  Rest between sets and don’t do the same exercises two days in a row. When the exercises get easier and you feel like you can do a few more before tiring, add another pound or 2 to the weight load.  It won’t take long for you to start looking and feeling incredibly better.

Michele Silence, MA
Contributing Expert

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