Is Weight Training Really A Sport For The Young?

Something I never imagined when I first became a Personal Trainer was just how much enjoyment, knowledge and inspiration I would get from training older clients.


Dr Catherine Walter
“Oxford academic, 71, a champion powerlifter”
Published By BBC Oxford on 27th Sept 2018

This Video Has So Many Lessons In It…

Dr Catherine Walter holds all the world records for her age and body weight in the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation and believes that “It’s good to have the records because if shows people that older people can be strong.”

And she has a point. A lot of people assume people over the age of 55 aren’t strong… but that’s a huge misconception. I’ve worked with women in their 50’s who I’ve taught to deadlift and gentlemen in their late 70’s who have gone from being unable to leave a hospital bed to bench pressing.

Whilst it’s possible to increase muscular strength at any age, resistance training becomes significantly more important after the age of 40.

The Importance Of Resistance Training 

“After the age of 40, your muscles start deteriorating. Cycling won’t help it, swimming won’t help it, walking to the shops and doing aquagym certainly won’t help it. The only thing that will keep your muscles from deteriorating is resistance exercise, lifting heavy weights.”

What a lot of people tend to forget is that bone density begins to decline after the age of 40, accelerating substantially around the age of 50, whilst Sarcopenia, which is the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, begins to occur at a rate of 0.5–1% loss per year after the age of 50.

To counteract this muscular and bone degeneration, it’s crucial for people over the age of 40 to regularly partake in some form of resistance training, or as Dr Walter puts it “lifting heavy weights.”

Just like anyone starting out in the gym, it’s really important to work with a trainer when starting out. Whilst resistance training can be incredibly beneficial for people of all ages, the risk of injury can substantial increase for someone who is new to this type of exercise or is coming from a sedentary lifestyle.

And whilst most people might be surprised to hear that a ‘young’ trainer would be so excited to work with ‘older’ clients, I find it a real privilege.

Her Attitude Is On-Point

Whilst it doesn’t happen too often to me personally, I have in the past met numerous 20 to 30-somethings at various gyms with egos the size of the Sun, whilst, surprise, surprise, their form left a lot to be desired, and their want for advice even more-so.

I often wish more people my age would adopt the many amazing attitudes and traits my older clients embody as it would serve them so well in both their training as well as life:

  • Their determination is unmatchable
  • Their commitment is unbreakable
  • Their go-getter attitudes are invigorating
  • Their willingness to try is incredible
  • Their life experiences are eye-opening
  • Their focus on health over aesthetics is powerful

“You’re concentrating on what your body can do instead of what your body looks like, which is important for me, and very important for a large number of younger women.”

To say that my these clients have given me more than I could have ever imagined is an understatement. I truly believe I have and continue to become a better trainer, and more importantly, a better person every time I’m able to work with and generally spend time with them.

The Gym Should Be A Place For Everyone

I hope more people will see this video and be inspired to give weight lifting a go, because it’s not only been a powerful and positive influence in my life, but in the lives of so many people I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years.

I really hope more people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond will feel more confident and comfortable enough to seek out a gym and trainer that supports their needs and can encourage them to at least give “lifting heavy weights” a go. Because I’ve seen the positive impact resistance training can have on a person’s health and quality of life, with the right support and guidance, and it’s genuinely life changing.

Take it from me as a trainer, to see someone go from being barely able to walk due to sarcopenia and reduced mobility, to climbing stairs, moving furniture and going for walks out in nature makes me incredible proud, not only as their trainer, but as a friend and fan too. And I know that I can’t be the only trainer who has experienced this.

So if you ever do hear of an older family member, friend or colleague mentioning that they feel that they’re “not very fit” and feel like they’re health is on “a slippery slope”, please take the time to encourage and support them in giving weight lifting a go.

I know for many people, the idea of lifting weights can seem intimidating and boring, but with the right facility, trainer and support, the improvements in quality of life resistance exercise can offer are too great to overlook.

IF this article resonated with you, and you know it’s time for you to take your first step and discover a happier, healthier, fitter more confident you in 2019… Let’s talk.

With no obligations or cost, you have nothing to lose by exploring how weight/resistance training can benefit you today and for years to come.

 

When did you discover the benefits of weight training? Or perhaps you found a hidden passion for another form of exercise later in life? I’d love to know more about your experience… Leave me a comment below and let me know!

 

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