Is Resistance Training for All Ages? Who Should and Shouldn’t Be Training!
Resistance Training for All Ages
Many feel that resistance training is not for everyone. This thinking is faulty for one fundamental reason: every person who exercises – is in some way, shape, or form – strengthening their body. A child who pushes, pulls, and strains their way through gymnastics sessions on a regular basis and becomes stronger and more agile as a result, is resistance training, so it a senior who perseveres through group fitness classes and improves their strength and posture.
While it would be ill-advised for younger lifters (7-12 years old) or older folk (the 50+ category) to train like a bodybuilder in their prime, each of these populations can, when following a proper training program, experience considerable strength and muscle gains. For children and pre-teens, a suitable training regimen will help to establish a dependable foundation for a lifetime of fitness – and for older individuals, training may help improve health and quality of life for years to come.
Children are constantly active, unwittingly pushing themselves to undertake more and more challenging physical tasks on a daily basis. However, children under the age of 12 will rarely show impressive muscular development. This is because their growth resources are used to spark development in many other areas and because their hormonal profile does not support excessive muscularity. However, this does not mean that hitting the iron early is without benefits. The habits and movement patterns children form at an early age, may be beneficial to their health and fitness throughout their entire life.
That being said, the best time for children to undertake activities more physically challenging than regular playground hijinks, is between the ages of seven and 12. During this period, children are old enough to listen, understand, and exercise safely, while still being young enough to learn at an extraordinary rate. The primary goal of an early exercise program should develop proper movement patterns. Developing improper movement patterns at this age will be extremely difficult to correct later in life while developing proper ones will last for years to come – like riding a bike.
Before we move on to older populations, we must debunk some dogma first. Although many believe that weight training will stunt growth in adolescents, the science says otherwise. You heard that right ladies and gentleman, weightlifting will not stunt growth in children — so as long as they are monitored by a trained professional, children need not avoid the weights.
Having both physical and psychological effects, lifting weights builds muscle, strengthens bones, and improves cardiovascular health, while increasing confidence and self-image. Resistance training, in its many forms, can also aid in preventing injuries, facilitating daily activities, and can even slow or reverse some of the effects of ageing.
The primary goal of exercise in older populations is to reinforce proper movement patterns and build strength. Once proper movement patterns have been established and strength levels have begun to improve, training loads can gradually be increased. Even then, given their less than stellar hormonal profile and reduced recovery capabilities, older lifters must keep their training intensity modest and overall volume low. Additional factors must be considered as well — factors such as preexisting medical conditions and prior injuries will govern the various training methods that an individual can safely use. While most elderly individuals should use light weights for moderate to high reps, more physically fit trainees may choose to train in the lower rep ranges with heavier weights. Given the increased possibility of injury and other health-related complications, older individuals should be monitored by a trained fitness professional at all times.
A major limiting factor in older or younger persons is how they view the training process and how confident they are about incorporating exercise into their daily routine. For both populations, the training process must be both fun and engaging. For example, the younger lifter can be shown how their greater strength is correlated with improved sporting performances and an ability to outperform their peers, while the senior trainee can be made aware of the fewer number of falls they have experienced and the improved stamina they have while performing routine daily tasks. Enjoyment, practical benefits, and improved quality of life are important determinants of how successful a training programme will be. By ensuring each of these is addressed, a training mindset can be created and a lifelong love of fitness training can be established, at any age.