Strength training for everyone

Susan Dawson-Cook

The words strength training may conjure up images of muscle-bound men grunting and sweating through a grueling circuit of machines set at heavy weights. In reality, there are nearly as many ways to approach strength training as there are stars in the sky. People can get stronger using machines, hand held weights, resistance bands, suspension straps, weighted bars, stability balls and even your body weight.

Too many people assume strength training is for athletes and younger people. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by strength training workouts since they can be customized to match your ability and personal goals and can gain you many more years of independent living. There are gym franchises, like the one found here:, that offer fitness for all the family. You can click the link if that sounds like something you want to be a part of.

We’ve all heard that old adage “use it or lose it.” As we age, muscle mass is slowly lost through a process called sarcopenia. Oh, no! Those muscles are necessary not only for activities you might enjoy such as golf and tennis, but also for getting up from a chair, in and out of a car or bending down to pick something up. The good news is regular strength training workouts slow age-related muscle loss and can actually build and strengthen tissues so if you get with it, you won’t wake up one day too weak to walk.

Strong muscles will enable you to enjoy life more. When you work major muscles to fatigue, your body responds to this by building more muscle and bone tissue so that the body is better able to tackle the next workout. And before long, what was once difficult—-perhaps gardening, housecleaning or playing with the grandkids—-now becomes easier.

Participating in regular strength training can also lessen the likelihood of falls. Fast twitch muscles react in an emergency (such as when you trip over something) so you can keep that stumble from ending in a face plant. That’s why personal trainers often encourage their clients (and anyone else who will listen) to do strength activity on foam rollers or BOSUs. Practicing being unstable on a regular basis helps the body and brain become accustomed to center-of-gravity shifts and more proficient at righting itself when a sudden surprise strikes.

Strength training workouts can easily fit into your schedule. They can be done two or three times a week for 30 to 60 minutes. Strength workouts don’t have to be scary. They can be customized for your fitness level, limitations and even can be done with equipment you have at home. What’s really scary is losing independence when it can so easily be yours for much longer. Seek support from a personal trainer so you can start gaining instead of losing strength in the muscles that will serve you well if you train them right.

Strength training can be risky if conducted by inexperienced individuals. If you are a gym owner, you may want to protect yourself from incurring financial losses resulting from injury on the premises – what is gym insurance?

Susan is an AFAA certified group exercise instructor, personal trainer and freelance writer. Her SaddleBrooke employer is Vital Moves (850-4089). You can email Susan directly at [email protected].