Strength training is the most effective way to build strength and even lose weight. We previously even spoke about how strength training can be done at home without lifting any weights. It has an immense number of benefits and is one of the most effective ways to exercise anywhere. However, when it comes to lifting weights, is there an age limit?
Weights - Restricted to the youth?
When you think of lifting weights, you immediately picture young fitness enthusiasts working hard and lifting weights. However, this does not go to say that older people cannot do the same. A study found that the ability to lift and build strength and size is also present in the elderly. They were more mobile and functional when it came to everyday movement and this could also possibly reduce the risk of physical ailments at old age.
You are right to be concerned about injuries. You may have come across occurrences when a weight was too heavy for someone and they sustained an injury. If someone as athletic could face injury, then the elderly are no exception. A study was done on people aged 70-79. They were separated into two groups, one trained in walking/jogging and the other did resistance training. 11 out of 57 subjects who were lifting for a one rep max faced injuries. 8 out of 14 subjects who were jogging also faced injuries along the training program. However, let’s not get discouraged by facts and figures here and talk about what can be done to improve health.
It is concerning that if people who were being studied by scientists under a controlled environment could face injuries, then so could the old person at the gym. However, many factors go into research studies, and limitations are one of them. Here are some ways that senior people can avoid pitfalls when getting started into strength training.
There is no shame in asking for help, especially when you wish to get better. Exercise and trying to live a better lifestyle than before has no age limits, and going the path of a lone wolf need not always be the norm. Many personal trainers are certified to deal with people suffering from ailments and other issues due to age. Due to their understanding, they are better equipped to teach and handle clients that wish to lift but are facing issues. This will greatly reduce any risk of injury.
Very few make the decision to make their lives better, and it is a commendable thing to even get started, as the saying goes “Well begun is half done”. However, you might fall far from half if you simply follow a good training plan. Exercising is one among the many factors that can benefit your health, and therefore it is important to supplement it with a balanced diet, and proper medications for any ailments. Before beginning a regime, it is important that you visit a doctor and get cleared for lifting weights, and even inform your trainer regarding the same. Changing things one at a time is the best approach to any change, however, you should aim to change your lifestyle in the long run to become more healthy.
What about being too young?
This is another common concern. Children until the age of 14 are usually restricted to performing typical exercises like running, swimming, calisthenics and such. The common notion is that lifting weights will stunt your growth, and thus you will not grow taller. However, this is far from the truth. Cycling at an incline, bodyweight exercises, and even something as simple as carrying backpacks to school requires a certain amount of effort from your muscles. So even though you might not have realised it, you have lifted weights when you were younger. Being tall is a genetic factor and has absolutely nothing to do with lifting. Children can safely lift lighter weights and proceed to heavier ones under supervision, as there is no risk to their health but rather many benefits that can improve their health.
Too old to lift?
Of course not! As we mentioned before, making a lifestyle change to improve your health has no age limit. As long as you perform the exercises with the right technique, stay within your capacity and ensure that a balanced diet and lifestyle are complementing your workout routines, you are never too old to lift.
- Evans WJ. Exercise training guidelines for the elderly. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1999 Jan;31(1):12-17.
- Pollock ML, Carroll JF, Graves JE, et al. Injuries and adherence to walk/jog and resistance training programs in the elderly. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1991 Oct;23(10):1194-1200.