Senior man lifting weights at the gym

How Older Adults Can Benefit from Strength Training

Lifting weights and building muscle is not only for bodybuilders. There are many important benefits of strength training for seniors. Staying active and keeping yourself strong can strengthen your bones, boost metabolism, help to manage chronic conditions and improve virtually every aspect of your life.

I do cardio. Why strength train?

Strengthen your bones: The pressure put on bones during strength training can make bones denser. Developing stronger, denser bones means a lower chance of developing osteoporosis.

Boost your metabolism: People naturally lose muscle mass as they age, and their metabolism slows. By developing more muscles through strength training, you’ll burn more calories and increase your metabolic rate.

Manage chronic conditions: Building muscle can help diminish signs and symptoms of diabetes, heart disease, depression, arthritis, obesity and back pain.

Grow your quality of life: Everyday life is easier when you grow stronger. You’ll improve balance and reduce your chances of falling.

Senior man doing leg workouts at the gym

Where do I start?

If you’re just getting started with strength training for seniors, talk with your doctor. Warm up with an aerobic activity like walking before you begin strength training. If your muscles are warm before you start, you’re less likely to injure them during your workout.

Choose your workout.

No matter where you’re working out, there are great options for strength training for seniors. While gym equipment can be helpful, you can use your own body weight and still get results. We’ve listed some examples of strength training exercises for seniors to get you started.

Bodyweight workouts:

1. Standing Marches

Stand tall with a chair or a wall beside you for support. Lift one knee until your foot is off the ground. If possible, keep raising your knee until it’s level with your hip. With control, place your foot back on the floor and switch to the other leg.

2. Toe Lifts

Stand straight and hold onto the back of a chair. Raise up onto your toes and lower down with control.

3. Wall Pushups

Stand facing a wall. Raise your hands to the wall, straight out from your shoulders. Bend your elbows diagonally to bring your chest closer to the wall. Your heels may lift off the floor. Press into your hands to bring your arms straight again.

Senior man lifting weights

Free-weight workouts:

When selecting your dumbbells, choose a weight that will make your muscles tired after 12 to 15 repetitions.

1. Bicep Curls

Stand tall with your arms by your sides, palms facing forward, holding the weights. Raise both arms simultaneously toward your shoulders and slowly lower the weights back down. Repeat.

2. Tricep Extensions

Stand or sit straight in a chair. Lift your arms above your head and hinge them at the elbows until your hands are behind your head. Without arching your back, straighten your arms until they are once again above your head. Repeat.

3. Overhead Press

Stand or sit straight in a chair. Hold dumbbells at your shoulders, elbows pointing toward the floor. Press weights straight up while you exhale. Return weights to shoulders. Repeat.

Weight-machine workouts:

1. Seated Leg Curl

Insert the pin into your appropriate weight in the stack. Adjust the seat so your knees are lined up on the pivot. Keep your legs hip-width apart and point your toes toward the ceiling. Push your heels down, and slowly raise back up. Repeat.

2. Lat Pull-Down

Grab the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. Hold the bar firmly while you sit down and place your thighs beneath the pads. Pull the bar down to your chest, bending your elbows. Anchor your shoulder blades down your back. Pause with the bar at your chest and slowly raise it back up. Repeat.

3. Leg Press

Select your weight resistance. Adjust the seat so your legs are at a 90-degree angle with your feet on the board. Push evenly through all parts of your feet. Straighten your legs, without locking your knees. Bend your knees so your legs are at a 90-degree angle again. Repeat.

Group of seniors doing strength training exercises

Strength training for seniors is an important part of your overall wellness routine. At Abbey Delray, residents have access to a new fully equipped fitness center and a full-time fitness director who’s ready to help them with whatever they need. Along with other renovations, you’ll find state-of-the-art Helsinki University Research (HUR) equipment designed for safe and effective full-body workouts.

HUR equipment offers expertly designed strength training for older adults. Pneumatic resistance (or air resistance) ensures a safe and effective workout for seniors with different stamina levels and ranges of abilities. The smooth motion and lack of inertia makes these machines ideal for people going through rehabilitation after illness or injury. They use the natural muscle movements, so they’re easy on joints while building strength.

If you’d like to find out more about our specialized strength-training equipment or our general approach to holistic wellness for older adults and the rich lifestyle at Abbey Delray, fill out the form below.