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Youthful body with the right kind of exercise - part 2

In my previous post (Youthful body with the right kind of exercise) I talked about Sarcopenia (the age related loss of muscle mass and force) and about strength training being an effective tool to counteract the effects of ageing on the body. In the present post you will learn how to strength train effectively to get the best results and to keep your body strong and youthful.


There are several training variables that can impact the results from your training. The most important is training intensity (ie load). Intensity is expressed as a percentage of 1RM (repetition maximum) and is equal to the number of repetitions that can be performed with a given weight. Repetitions can be classified into 3 basic ranges: low, moderate, and high.

Diagram 1. As seen in the diagram different training intensities lead to different results. 1 to 5 repetitions per set performed develop especially muscle strength, 6 to 12 reps muscle size, and more repetition muscle endurance.

Studies in elderly subjects have shown that the strength training must be carried out with a high intensity (heavy loads) to give the maximum increases in strength and muscle mass. Low intensity programmes of resistance exercise have produced smaller or no strength gains at all.

A meta-analysis of 47 studies performed in elderly people compared the effects of different exercise intensities. Intensities were: low intensity (12-15 reps), mean intensity (10-12 reps) and high intensity (8 or fewer reps). It was found that higher intensity was associated with a greater increase in strength compared to low and medium intensity (1).

The view that intensity should be reduced at an advanced age in order to avoid injuries and chronic overuse is widespread. However, this effect is not supported scientific evidence. In elderly people, high-intensity strength training is effective, and no adverse effects are to be expected (2,3).

How to do it

Training can be performed with machines, free weights, resistance bands, or the persons own body weight. For beginners training with machines gives the fastest results. Gradually one can then start using other kinds of equipment.

To learn a correct technique and avoid injuries it is good to go through an initial instruction with a fitness professional. Resistance training under the supervision of fitness professional like a Personal Trainer leads to greater workout intensities and is therefore more effective. This is something that has been proven in scientific studies (4).

Basic strength training program

This is a basic full-body program that resembles those that have been used in many studies in elderly people.

  • A workout session lasts 45 – 60 minutes.
  • Warm up before each session for about 5–10 minutes. 
  • The movements during strength training should be slow and controlled
  • At least the last set should be performed to fatigue. 
  • A rest period between sets is 1- 2 minutes 
  • 2-3 training sessions per week (non-consecutive days).
Remember that this is a basic program for beginners. After 6-8 weeks of training with this program a
new, more advanced, program is needed.


One of the consequences of aging is a gradual loss of muscle mass and strength (Sarcopenia).
This leads to a reduced physical capacity, inability to perform many daily activities and a reduced quality of life.

Fortunately, there is something we can do to prevent it. Exercise, especially strength training is very effective and can inhibit the development of Sarcopenia.

Strength training must be carried out at high intensity to give the maximum increases in strength and muscle mass. Studies In elderly people have shown that high-intensity strength training is effective and safe, with no adverse effects.


1. Peterson MD, Rhea MR, Sen A, Gordon PM. Resistance exercise for muscular strength in older adults: a meta-analysis. Ageing Res Rev. 2010 Jul;9(3):226-37.

2. ACSM. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand. Exercise and physical activity for older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998;30:992–1008.

3. ACSM. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009;41:687–708. 

4. N. A. Ratamess, A. D. Faigenbaum, J. R. Hoffman, and J. Kang, “Self-selected resistance training intensity in healthy women: the influence of a personal trainer,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 103–111, 2008.