Strength training is often hailed as the magic bullet for healthy aging, as it offers numerous benefits at every age and stage of life. However, the approach to strength training should be tailored to each age group. In this guide to building strength at any age, experts provide valuable insights and recommendations.
For individuals in their late teens to early 20s, functional training is crucial. During this period, the body undergoes significant changes in biomechanics, composition, and center of gravity. Functional training mimics everyday movements and reduces the risk of injury. Learning proper form and movement patterns is essential, and adding weight should only be done once form is perfected.
Progressive overload is key for this age group. Start with low weights and gradually increase the load every two to four weeks. The goal is to work all seven primary movement patterns, incorporating compound, plyometric, and unilateral exercises. Aim for three 30-minute training sessions per week, focusing on major muscle groups.
In the late 20s to mid-30s, hypertrophy and power training become important. Muscle mass and strength typically peak in this age range, but muscle mass starts to decline after age 30. Hypertrophy training involves moderate to heavy loads and stimulates muscle growth and strength. Power training focuses on speed and force, enhancing the neuromuscular system. A combination of hypertrophy and power training, along with progressive overload, improves body composition, bone density, and power while reducing the risk of injury.
In the late 30s to 40s, heavy lifting and power training are pivotal. This is the time when perimenopause begins and fluctuating reproductive hormones affect muscle repair and strength. Lower reps and heavier weights should be used, aiming for three to five sets of six to eight reps. Power training should also be incorporated to activate the central nervous system. Heavy lifts can help manage body composition and improve bone density.
Overall, strength training is essential for healthy aging. By tailoring the approach to each age group, individuals can maximize the benefits and mitigate potential risks. Whether you’re in your twenties or fifties, strength training should be a priority to enhance physical and mental well-being as you age.