Weight Lifting for Older Women

I recently read about a study done on postmenopausal women with low bone density that were 58 yrs +. Each woman that participated, performed strength training and high-impact exercises for 8 months. The sessions were held twice a week and were 30 minutes each.

The strength training exercises were deadlifts, overhead presses and back squats, 80-85% of their one rep max. The women did 5 sets of 5 reps of the three exercises.

The high-impact exercises were jumping chin-ups which is basically holding a bar and then jumping as high as possible with it and landing safely as hard as comfortable with.

There was only one mild injury which occurred during the over 2600 training sessions.

“A single adverse event occurred in the HiRIT [high-intensity resistance and impact training] group during the more than 2600 training sessions. At week 28, the participant experienced a mild low-back muscle strain on a final repetition of the last deadlift set. She missed the following 2 training sessions (1 week) before being able to recommence training with nil concerns thereafter and was able to complete the intervention as prescribed.”

“Importantly, no fractures or major adverse events were observed, suggesting HiRIT may be safe for postmenopausal women with low to very low bone mass, despite previous safety concerns.”

Compared to the control group that did unguided low-impact exercise at home, these ladies on average had higher bone density, better strength and performance, lower risk of falls and even better posture after the eight month trial.

The best takeaway from this study is that heavy presses and deadlifts are not inherently dangerous, even for older women. It also doesn’t take a lot of time to make significant progress. Two thirty minute sessions per week isn’t a huge time commitment, but it resulted in big improvements!

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