Why You Need to Start a Resistance Training Program Now (regardless of age, gender, or exercise experience)

By Dubuque Physical Therapy Team

February 12, 2021

Written by Amanda Edwards, PT, DPT, CSCS

There are many health and psychological benefits in participating in a resistance training program. You can also do it with little to no equipment in your own home if you are not comfortable going to a gym right now.

 

Here’s The Why

Prevent Age Related Muscle and Bone Loss

Did you know we lose 3-5% of our muscle mass each decade after we reach our 30s?

Along with loss of muscle mass, we also lose bone density which increases our risk of developing osteoporosis. This is more prominent in women, but research has shown that individuals can reduce the decline in bone mineral density by performing weight-bearing exercises and resistance training.

Important for Preadolescents

There are many myths that state that preadolescent individuals should not participate in strength training because it can “stunt their growth”. This has been proven false by many studies and avoiding resistance training can actually be detrimental to those young athletes.

Studies have shown that this is an important time period to start participating in weight-bearing activities and strengthening in order to improve bone mineral density and reduce future risk of injury. Those who participate in strength and conditioning programs or sports or activities that include weight-bearing movements and plyometric activity tend to have less bone-related injuries in the future.

Improves Mood

Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to our brain, which results in the release of endorphins and therefore may improve our mood. Working out with a friend or family member is more likely to hold you accountable and is more fun as well!

Decrease risk of injuries

Along with decreasing muscle mass, our metabolism, reaction times and aerobic capacity also start to decrease. This is slightly depressing, but the good news is studies have shown we can significantly slow that progression if we dedicate a little bit of time at least twice a week to a resistance training program!

Participating in a resistance training program can also improve your balance and prevent falls.
As far as injuries go, strengthening can help improve neuromuscular deficiency and improve our biomechanics. Did you know female athletes are 6X more likely to tear their ACL compared to male athletes? There are hormonal and anatomical factors that can contribute to this increase in injury rate but participating in a strength training program has shown to improve neuromuscular deficiency and improve poor biomechanics, therefore decreasing risk of injuries.

You can do it from the comfort of your own home without fancy equipment

Using simple objects around the home such as soup cans to add weight can be helpful. There are many simple body weight exercises that you can do to get a great workout in such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and step-ups!

It is especially important for women

Some women may avoid strengthening and gyms due to social stigmas, but women are capable to tolerating and adapting to stress or resistance exercises just as well as men. Women have about 2/3 of absolute strength compared to men, but they can increase their strength at the same rate as men.

Why it’s important for older adults

The population of those over the age of 65 is growing. The loss of bone density and muscle mass as we age can make activities of daily life difficult. This can increase our risk of falling, cause fractures, and decrease quality of life.
As mentioned above, resistance training can decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis and osteopenia. One of the highest risk factors for developing osteoporosis is physical inactivity.

Those over 65 that participate in a progressive resistance program can show significant improvements in muscular strength, power, and mass, as well as bone density and even gait speed.

 

Not sure how to get started?

If you are new to starting an exercise program, you should seek advice from a professional, such as a licensed physical therapist or certified personal trainer. Making sure you are performing exercises with correct technique is critical in order to avoid injuries. Contact Merge Performance Institute at 563-588-3891 to get in touch with a personal trainer. If you have medical issues, be sure to consult with your primary care provider as well.
Always perform a warm-up and cool-down for at least 5-10 minutes.

Start easy and simple! Functional exercises, such as squats, lunges, step-ups, and push-ups with no weight are a great way to start.
Rest and good nutrition is important too! Resting at least 48-72 hours between sessions is recommended for beginners.
Make sure you are performing your exercises pain-free. Muscle soreness is normal, but having pain is not.