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Resistance Training in Older Adults

National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Position Statement on Resistance Training in Older Adults

Resistance training can be intimidating to anyone with limited experience in a gym. There are obvious concerns about technique, parameters, exercise progression, and ultimately safety. For anyone who has not had the luxury of a professionally-assisted introduction to managing these variables it can be overwhelming to know how or where to start with resistance training.

First off, there is no substitute for quality instruction regarding technique and safety. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your participation in a resistance training program, please contact a professional for guidance. With that said, however, let’s consider some key points from this position statement by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) which outlines general recommendations for resistance training in adults (link to the NSCA infographic included below).

1. A well-designed program with proper performance is safe and healthy for older adults.
2. A well-designed program can/should be adapted and modified to allow safe performance and progression.
3. Properly conducted resistance training can result in a variety of physiological and functional improvements including, but not limited to, muscle strength, neuromuscular functioning, mobility/movement, and resistance to injury.
4. Performance of 2-3 days/wk per muscle group on non-consecutive days.
5. Recommending 1-3 sets.
6. Progress to a resistance that is challenging (but performed with good technique) for 6-12 reps to directly target muscle strength, 8-12 or 10-15 reps to target muscular growth and endurance.
7. Program should initially (and continually) be INDIVIDUALIZED. After all, this program is meant to help and promote wellness in YOU specifically.

With the right guidance, a resistance training program is not something to be feared, but something that instead may be a source of strength and wellness in your life. Challenge is the stimulus for growth– however, we must ensure that the challenge is appropriate and yields wellness rather than injury.

If you have any other questions regarding resistance training in older adults, please call Omaha Physical Therapy Institute or check out our Wellness program and our WellFIT program!

Matt Vetter, PT, DPT, CSCS

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