Strength Training

Strength Training



The purpose of this chapter, Strength Training, is to provide the healthcare provider with the necessary tools for helping the older adult start and/or sustain a strength training routine as a part of a well-rounded exercise program. Strength training offers the older adult many benefits targeting improved strength, mobility, and functioning. There are minimal risks when strength training is done according to the guidelines provided and with the support of the healthcare provider team. 

Use of the information and strategies presented in this chapter will…

•Improve your knowledge relative to strength training and older adults.

 •Increase your strength training safety knowledge to minimize injury risk.

•Provide you with information relative to exercise prescription for older adults.

 •Give you with tools and techniques to facilitate a strength training program with older adults •Supply you with examples of an upper and lower body strength training program to implement with older adults.

 •Provide you with a “how-to” for each strength training exercise presented.

This chapter provides information related to…



•Strength training with older adults.

 •Strength training safety and injury prevention.

 •Exercise prescription for older adults.

 •Tools and techniques for implementing a strength training program.

 •Performing a strength training program.

Strength Training

This chapter is designed to give the health care provider basic instructions for a home-based strength-training program and to outline some general safety considerations with such a program.  It is designed to be used as a supplement to the instructions the older adult would receive from a trained professional in a supervised setting.

 Safety Considerations



 •Before initiating any of the exercises described with an older adult, the individual should receive medical clearance from his/her doctor or health care provider.

 •The health care provider should instruct the older adult to hold off from exercising or stop immediately if he or she experiences any of the following symptoms:

•Chest pain

•Dizziness or numbness

 •Unusual shortness of breath

•Abnormal joint or muscle pain/swelling

 •Irregular or racing heart rate

Follow up with the older adult on the presence of any of the above symptoms. Training should be halted until the older adult has been cleared for exercise by his or her doctor.

Exercise Prescription

 When guiding an older adult through the adoption of an exercise program, specifically strength training, the following guidelines should be incorporated into the older adult’s exercise prescription.

•The strength-training program should be performed 2-3 times a week.

•The program should take 20 to 30 minutes depending on how long the older adult rests between sets or exercises.  You may want to suggest the older adult play some music while performing the workout.

•Each exercise should be performed for 8 to 15 repetitions.  If the older adult cannot lift the weight 8 times it is too heavy and he/she should choose a lighter weight.  If an older adult can perform 15 repetitions of each exercise, he or she should choose a heavier weight.  After the older adult has completed 8 to 15 repetitions, instruct the older adult to rest for 1 to 2 minutes then repeat the exercise for another 8 to 15 repetitions.  Each 8 to 15 repetitions is called a set.  The older adult should perform 1-2 sets of each exercise listed on the following pages.

General Training Considerations When Using Weights                   

•When seated, small of the back should be pressed firmly against the chair back.                            

•When standing, natural arch in the back should be maintained.                              

•When lying down, small on the back should be pressed firmly against the surface. 

•Focus should be forward with space maintained between chin and chest at all times.

•All movements should be made slowly under control.  Never allow the weights to drop arms or legs back into the starting position.  Always resist gravity.                 

•Spend 2-3 seconds in the lifting phase and 3-4 seconds in the lowering.                              

•Always breathe during the lift.  Exhale during lifting and inhale during lowering.             

•Never hold your breath when exercising.



About Exercise for Older Adults

The material contained in this manual will help you assist older adults in starting a well-rounded exercise program. To help guide you through the process, a number of resources as well as examples on how to begin an exercise program are provided. A well-rounded exercise program consists of aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance training. All four components are important in maintaining and promoting healthy aging in addition to helping those who are physically weak and frail to improve their functional ability. 0

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