Strength training plays a pivotal role in our wellbeing and longevity, and it’s never too late to start.
Research shows that you can start strength training past your seventies and still see some physiological benefits, even if you haven’t exercised regularly before. One small group study measured the impact of strength training between a group of regular runners and cyclists and another made up of non-active individuals — all of them in their late sixties or early to mid-seventies.
Both groups were asked to take part in a weight lifting exercise, and researchers then looked at muscle biopsies of the participants. Results showed that both groups had a similar response to the exercise, and non-active individuals were also able to stimulate their skeletal muscle just as well. So age or inexperience shouldn’t hold you back from strength training.
In this article, Liz Letchford — a Tonal strength coach, athletic trainer, and Ph.D. in kinesiology and rehabilitation science — explains why it’s important to incorporate strength training into your routine as you get older. If you’re approaching the golden years and looking to build muscle or are curious to learn more about the benefits of strength training, this is a great place to start.
Why we need to strength train for longevity
The loss of muscle mass is a natural part of aging, but it can lead to more fragility and less mobility, and this can increase your risk of falls and affect your quality of life. The good news is that lifting weight three to four times a week can support your vitality as you grow older. Strength training helps to increase bone density, combat age-related muscle loss and keep our joints supple.
As part of her Ph.D. research, Coach Liz focused on programming for seniors, and explains that training for longevity takes a combination of strength, endurance, and balance training. She says that “improvements in muscle strength lead to greater independence, more ease in daily activities, and decreases risk for injury.”
“Anyone who is new to strength training should start slowly, as it’s the best way to minimize their risk of injury. Focus on the basics — proper breathing, form, and simple movements to address any imbalances before progressing to more complicated tasks.”
Feeling strong also supports our mental and emotional health. “Some of my clients are dealing with joint issues, strength deficits and medical conditions associated with aging. It is so rewarding to see improvements in strength and mobility lead to more independence and self-confidence.”
Tonal can be a solution for older adults that are both new and familiar with strength training. Our multi-week programs and features are designed to support you every step of the way and help you build confidence in lifting weight.
The benefits of strength training with Tonal for older adults
Whether you’re familiar with strength training, or a total newcomer, Tonal will help you to build more confidence in how you lift. Here are some of the key benefits of Tonal for older adults.
- Our coach-led content will make you feel like there’s someone with you every step of the way, and offers you the opportunity to build strength, endurance and balance from the comfort of your home.
- Tonal always personalizes programs to you and your body. Our programs last for several weeks and consist of three to four workouts per week.
- Tonal creates resistance with digital weight, and tailors the resistance to you for more 170 moves. This takes all the guesswork out of knowing what weight you should lift, because Tonal knows exactly the right amount and increases it in one pound increments as you become stronger.
- With Tonal’s Smart Handles, you can turn weight on and off with the touch of a button. Just get into the position and then turn on the weight when you feel ready to lift. No need to handle heavy or awkward dumbbells ever again.
- If there’s ever a move that you don’t feel comfortable doing because of injury or personal preference, you can always pick a different one in its place. Use Tonal’s Movement Replacements feature to swap any move for an effective alternative.
- You’ll also get to choose workouts and programs suited to all levels of experience from an extensive library. You’ll find content for cardio, building muscle, flexibility, and mindfulness.
Pro Tip: To learn more about lifting weight for longevity, check out Coach Liz’s Tonal Talk. She breaks down which exercises are most important as we age, what Tonal programs are best, and tips and tricks for modifying your movements if necessary.
5 Tonal programs for people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s
Tonal has many programs suitable for older adults, Coach Liz walks us through five program recommendations.
- Program One: Starting out with Tonal
“Not only does this program include higher reps and shorter rest periods to help athletes improve their muscular endurance, but it also explores all of the benefits and features of Tonal. You’ll learn everything from how to pair the Smart Handles to learning good form for several essential lifts.”
- Program Two: Easy on the Joints
“This program was designed to limit the pressure on the knees, hips and shoulders while explaining the science behind both mobility and strength training.”
- Program Three: Off The Floor
“This program was created by Coach Natalie for individuals who have difficulty getting up and down off of the floor. A series of modifications bypasses floor exercises to make it easier for those with mobility challenges.”
- Program Four: More Gain Less Pain
“Joint pain can be exacerbated by traditional strength training programs, so this carefully designed program uses a combination of movements that help to protect and strengthen joints. Each workout includes an educational warm-up to help ensure optimal form. This program is ideal for anyone who wants to build a healthier lifestyle while minimizing wear and tear on the joints.”
- Program Five: Slow and Strong
“This program teaches athletes of all ages how to master basic movement patterns in order to build a strong foundation for beginners to feel confident with strength training.”
Pro Tip: Learn more about strength training with Tonal as an older adult. Read Starting Strong at 67 With Debi Mestre. In this interview, Debi shares how Tonal helped her embark on a strength training journey at the age of 67.