Strength Training – Going Strong After 50

You already know that strength training is the best way to build larger and stronger muscles. You have undoubtedly seen bodybuilders on magazine covers and heard football commentators report on the amount of weight key players can bench press. You may also be aware that lifting weights is an important component of athletic conditioning programs. In fact, you may have done some strength training as a sport team participant.
You may think, however, that only young or athletic individuals should use strength­ training equipment. Indeed, many people tell us they feel that way. They pass by the strength ­training facility and wish that they were in good enough shape to use the exercise equipment. But they need to understand that you don’t get strong in order to do strength ­training exercises—you do strength­ training exercises to get strong.
Then again, you may be a seasoned strength trainer who has read muscle ­building magazines and accumulated dozens of barbell plates. Although you know a lot about strength­ training exercises, you should consider the needs of an older musculo skeletal system that is still responsive, yet more susceptible to overuse effects and training injuries. The exercise programs we’ll present in this book provide both a safe and time­ efficient approach to strength fitness. In fact, many committed strength­ training exercisers have switched to our program because it produces excellent results, requires less training time, and carries a low risk of injury.
You may have heard that strength training is bad for your heart and raises your blood pressure, but that is most unlikely. In fact, research conducted at Johns Hopkins University reveals that sensible strength ­training exercises are beneficial for cardiac rehabilitation patients and studies at the University of California show that properly performed strength training may actually reduce resting blood pressure.
Perhaps you are already overweight and fear that strength training will make you even heavier. Not so. Study after study has shown that strength ­training exercises simultaneously increase muscle and decrease fat, resulting in a lower body weight and a healthier body composition.
Of course, it could be that you are simply too old to benefit from strength training . . . but don’t count on it. Research with 60­, 70­, and 80­year­old men and women has demonstrated many physical improvements from a basic program of strength­ training exercises. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association has reported significant gains in muscle strength and physical function in 90­ year­ olds who do strength training exercises! As Dr. William Evans, one of the leading researchers on exercise and aging says, ”You’re never too old to exercise, but you’re probably too old not to exercise.”
Most likely, what you haven’t heard about strength training is far more important and accurate than what you have heard. For starters, strength training can prevent the otherwise inevitable loss of muscle and reduction in metabolic rate that accompany the aging process. But what if you have already experienced significant muscle loss and metabolic slow­down? Good news! No matter what your age, you can replace muscle tissue and speed up your metabolism through regular strength training.