Why You Should Lift Weights As You Age

Building muscle goes far beyond the aesthetic allure—it's a pillar of longevity and overall health. Strength and resistance training, commonly associated with lifting weights, is indeed a diverse domain encompassing a variety of exercises from Pilates to calisthenics, and even certain dynamic yoga practices—all aimed at augmenting muscle mass through the process of hypertrophy.

Whereas cardio exercises such as running, swimming, and cycling have traditionally been the go-to for promoting longevity, the tide is turning. A growing body of research underscores the profound health benefits that strength training brings to the table.

Weight Lifting and Disease Prevention

Delving into the science, engaging in regular strength training is linked to a reduced risk of a host of health issues—such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type II diabetes.

A study surveying over 13,000 individuals revealed a stark contrast: those with the least muscle mass were 63% more likely to develop diabetes compared to their more muscular counterparts. Another research split diabetic patients into two cohorts; one embraced regular strength training, and within just six weeks, all participants exhibited remarkable improvements in insulin and diabetes markers. [1]

Frailty Prevention

The virtue of strength training extends beyond these benefits, and impacts age-related frailty in particular. As we age, the decline in muscle mass and bone density is inevitable. This degeneration, known as sarcopenia, can start as early as 30 and sharply accelerates past 50. By the age of 75, over 25% of our muscle mass is already gone.

However, strength training counters this by not just enhancing muscle mass and bone density but also by refining coordination and balance. This reiterates the critical role of muscle-building exercises in our younger years and sustaining it into older age to stave off frailty and uphold life quality. [2]

Regular exercise slows down the progression of sarcopenia. Source: Northern Michigan Sports Medicine Center

In recent studies, strength training has been tied to increased longevity. A comprehensive meta-analysis involving over 370,000 individuals demonstrated that strength training correlated with a 21 % dip in all-cause mortality, which amplified to 40% when combined with cardiovascular exercise. [3]

Corroborating this, the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that integrating 1 to 3 hours of cardio with 1 to 2 sessions of strength training weekly significantly lowered mortality risks compared to either modality alone. [4]

Incorporate Resistance training into your health routine

In light of the overwhelming evidence from recent clinical studies, it's become abundantly clear that integrating resistance training alongside cardiovascular workouts is not just beneficial, but essential for a robust longevity strategy. While venturing into the realm of strength training might seem intimidating at first, the multitude of health benefits it promises makes the journey more than worthwhile.

To ease your entry into the world of resistance training and minimize the risk of injury, we've crafted a collection of guidelines and instructions tailored for those embarking on this transformative path, which you can find below.


Start with a Solid Base

Before beginning strength training, it is crucial to establish a solid foundation of proper technique and form. Ensure you learn how to execute exercises correctly, engage your core, and use proper breathing techniques. Consider seeking the help of a personal trainer or enrolling in a beginner's class to get started on the right track.

Warm Up Thoroughly

Adequate warm-up sessions are essential to prep your muscles and ward off injuries. Initiate with a brief bout of light cardio followed by dynamic stretches to elevate your heart rate and usher blood to your musculature.

Prioritize Compound Movements

Incorporate compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and rows that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. These movements are time-efficient and effective for building comprehensive strength.

Adhere to Correct Form

Maintaining correct form is non-negotiable to avoid injuries and ensure the maximum benefit from each exercise. If in doubt, don't hesitate to seek professional advice or refer to instructional videos.

Incorporate Stability Exercises

Inclusion of stability-challenging routines like single-leg squats and lunges will enhance your balance and stability, pivotal aspects of a well-rounded fitness regimen.

Advance Through Progressive Overload

As your strength training evolves, it's vital to keep pushing your boundaries. The concept of progressive overload—incrementally increasing the weight or repetitions—is fundamental to fostering muscle growth and amplifying strength. With each new level of strength you reach, nudge the bar a little higher to persistently challenge your muscles.

Track Your Progress

Keep a log of your workouts, noting the weights lifted and repetitions completed. This record-keeping is a powerful tool to visualize your progress and identify areas for enhancement.

Value Rest Days

Rest days are just as crucial as workout days. During rest days, your muscles undergo repairing and growing, so it is imperative to give them the necessary time to recover. Consider incorporating active recovery techniques such as yoga or foam rolling to aid in muscle recovery. Listen to your body and take a break if you feel fatigued or experience pain.

Cultivate Consistency

The cornerstone of progress in strength training is steadfast consistency. It's crucial to adhere to your training regimen diligently and creatively adapt when your routine doesn't permit a gym visit. Whether it's a home workout or a bodyweight routine at the park, ensure you maintain the momentum of your strength-building journey.

Start Slow and Gradual

For newcomers, it's advisable to start at a measured pace and escalate the intensity incrementally. This strategy lets your muscles adjust to the new regimen while minimizing injury risks. Begin with 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions per exercise, elevating the weight or repetitions in tandem with your growing strength

It's about Longevity

Bear in mind that strength training transcends muscle enhancement and power—it's a cornerstone of sustained health and long-term vitality. Engaging in regular strength training bolsters bone density, mitigates the risk of chronic conditions, and promotes better balance and mobility, especially as we advance in age.

Don't Neglect Cardio

While the spotlight may be on strength training, it's important not to sideline cardio, as cardio exercises are integral for heart health and endurance.

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