Why You Need Strength Training As You Age

By Sarah Leahy, CPT – February 1, 2023

With each year of life, strength training doesn’t become less important but actually more.

Strength training is one of the most effective ways to get healthier and stronger as well as improve your body composition. No matter your fitness goal – aesthetic, performance-based, having that “toned” look – strength training can get you there. There are numerous ways to approach strength training, and it can seem intimidating if you’re just starting out. But no matter your age or skill level, strength training is one of the best things you can do for your health. 

Here are reasons why strength training is important for every age:

Young Adults

Woman lifting weights.

When you’re a young adult in your 20s, strength training can help set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy habits. Building the consistency of going to the gym from an early age, especially as you’re building other professional and personal commitments, can help create a base of stability that you’ll carry with you throughout your life. 

In your 20s, you’re able to make some larger strides in weight training, as your body is very adaptable. While recent studies have shown that metabolism doesn’t actually start to slow down until about age 60, when you’re in your 20s, you tend to lead a more active lifestyle outside of the gym, which allows you to gain muscle while keeping your body fat lower. 

This combination means you can see great results in body composition changes and strength gains with a progressive weight training program, whether it’s bodybuilding- or powerlifting-focused. Building that base when you’re young means, as you get older, it’s easier to maintain. 

Middle-Aged Adults

Moving into their 30s and 40s, many people already feel like it’s too late to start or have slipped into an endless cycle of extreme diet trends, all-or-nothing workout challenges, and a lot of ups and downs. The reality is it’s never too late to begin building a sustainable fitness and nutrition routine that allows you to strength train at any age. 

Older woman working out.

When you already have a set schedule, family commitments and a busy professional life, the key to setting yourself up for success in strength training is more about timing than anything else. Plan your day the night before – block off workout time on your calendar, plan meals a day in advance and be prepared with meals and snacks on the go if you have a hectic day ahead. 

The actual programming of strength training is the same as you age – following a basic, progressive, weight training program will get you results, but you may need to focus on increasing your steps and general activity outside of the gym, as your lifestyle typically becomes more sedentary as you move into middle age. Building muscle will help increase your resting metabolic rate, but you still need to move more between sessions; you spend more time outside of the gym than in it, so make that time count by getting more active with your friends and family or taking short walks throughout your work day. 

Older Adults

Older couple using resistance bands.

Many people in their 50s, 60s and beyond think if they aren’t currently active, that’s how they should stay, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. At this age, if you’re unfamiliar with the gym or not sure how to get rolling, hiring a trainer will provide you with programming that starts at your current level and builds safely from there but also will give you the structure of a set time and place to be so you’re committed to getting your workouts in. 

Strength training is one of the only ways to improve and maintain your bone density, which is incredibly important as you age, especially for women. The risk of falls and the associated potential for serious injury also increases significantly as you age, so incorporating balance and unilateral work into your strength training programming is essential to improve your ability to prevent falls and move safely as you age. 

Staying strong and active is the key to moving and feeling better, and it will keep your muscles and bones strong, your movement patterns stable and capable, your blood pressure lower, and help maintain your mental and emotional resilience. 

Strength training is for everyone, and it’s never too late to start. At any age, the key is starting at your current level and following a progressive strength training program that starts with the basics. Consistency with training will keep you strong and capable throughout your life.

About the Author

Sarah Leahy smiling with a weight in her hands.

Sarah Leahy, CPT is a Minneapolis transplant in East Austin, certified personal trainer, award-winning interior designer and former gym owner. She offers in-person and online training with an emphasis on strength training and building confidence in and out of the gym. Leahy’s passion for strength extends to your business, with a full offering of gym design and business consulting services.


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