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7 Important Evidence Based Reasons You Should Resistance Train If You’re Over 30

7 Important Evidence Based Reasons You Should Resistance Train If You’re Over 30


Although aging is inevitable, a sedentary lifestyle can accelerate it’s progression by decreasing physical fitness and the incidence of chronic diseases. (Ciolac E.G. 2013)

  1. Over the next two decades, 77 million baby boomers in the United States will reach retirement age, and by 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 or older. (Papa E.V., Dong X., 2017)
  2. Compelling evidence suggests that resistance training can improve quality of life, prevent or control the development of chronic disease (physically and mentally) and increase life expectancy. It has an important influence on aging and may help to prevent age-related disorders. (Ciolac E.G. 2013)
  3. Many factors contribute to age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, however physical inactivity is probably the most important. (Kalyani R.R., Corriere M., 2014)

Below you will find out how a lack of resistance training can lead to many more consequences than just things like a loss of muscle mass, strength, and a less desirable body composition (Volpi E, Nazemi R, 2010).


Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 (Holloszy J.O., 2000). This rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60 (Melton L.J., Khosla S., et al. 2000).

Age-related muscle loss is a strong risk factor for disability, hospitalisation, and death in older adults. (Fielding R.A., Vellas B., Evans W.J, et al. 2011) (Visser M., Goodpaster B.H., Kritchevsky S.B., et al.)

Changes in skeletal muscle are especially important because muscle is essential for locomotion. (Kalyani R.R, Corriere M., 2014) (Rosenberg I.H., 1997)


Muscle strength can decrease by 12–15% every 10 years after an individual reaches the mid-century mark. (Larson L., 1983). This is important to know because it’s a critical component in preserving functional activity in older adults (Papa E.V., Dong X., 2017).

For example, this study shows weakness is strongly associated with function and disability (Schaap L.A., Koster A., et al. 2013), and this one explains that muscle strength is a critical component of walking, and it’s decrease contributes to a high prevalence of falls. (Dhillon R.J.S., Hasni S., 2018)

This study mentions that muscle strength might even be more important than muscle mass as a determinant of functional limitations and mobility status in older age. (Kalyani, R.R., Corriere M., et al. 2014).

It’s also become clear that decreases in muscle strength exceed what is expected on the basis of the decline in muscle mass during ageing, especially after the age of 60–70 years. (Kalyani R.R., Corriere M, et al. 2014).

Even more, muscle weakness and rapid rate of strength decline both predict future mortality. (Jaul E. Barron J., 2017)


A decrease in muscle mass is accompanied by a progressive increase in fat mass and consequently changes in body composition. It’s also associated with an increased incidence of insulin resistance in the elderly. (Volpi E., Nazemi R., et al. 2010).

These changes in body composition can also negatively affect functional status in older adults. (Candow D.G., Chilibeck P.D., 2005)


An involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function is a fundamental cause of and contributor to disability in older people. (Volpi E., Nazemi R., 2011).

Reduced muscle strength with aging leads to loss of functional capacity and is a major cause of disability, mortality and other adverse health outcome. (Roubenoff R., 2001) A decline of muscle and strength is more pronounced in patients with a sedentary lifestyle as compared to patients who are physically more active. (Dhillon R., Hasni S., 2017)

Functional tasks such as rising from a chair and performing home and personal care (cooking, bathing, using the toilet) are directly associated with muscle loss. (Janssen I., Heymsfield S.B. 2009)


Osteoporosis is a common and silent disease (that affects millions worldwide) until it is complicated by fractures that become common. It was estimated that 50% women and 20% of men over the age of 50 years will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their remaining life. These fractures are responsible for lasting disability, impaired quality of life, and increased mortality, with enormous medical and heavy personnel burden on both the patient’s and nation’s economy. Osteoporosis can be diagnosed and prevented with effective treatments, before fractures occur. Therefore, the prevention, detection, and treatment of osteoporosis should be a mandate of primary healthcare providers. (T., Lale Özışık L. 2017)

Although pharmacological treatments do exist in an attempt to try and decelerate the consequences of low bone mineral density, the side effects associated with these medications, and their failure rate, create a need for an alternative method. (Senderovich H., Kosmopoulos A., 2018)

Exercise is primarily shown to reduce the loss of bone mineral density and increase bone stiffness, demonstrating its ability to act as a barrier to the development of osteoporosis. (Senderovich H., Kosmopoulos A., 2018). More on this later.


Aging is a degenerative process marked by recognized functional, physiological, and metabolic impairments, such as dynapenia and diminished cognitive capacity. Therefore, the search for innovative strategies to prevent/delay these physiological and cognitive disorders is essential to guarantee the independence and life quality of an elderly population. (André de Camargo Smolarek, Luis Henrique Boiko Ferreira, 2016)

Resistance training can provide positive improvements on cognitive capacities of the elderly, bringing enhanced life quality. More on how resistance training effects cognition in the treatment section below.


Many factors contributing to age-related loss of muscle mass and strength have been suggested, with physical inactivity probably being the most important. (Kalyani R.R., Corriere M., 2014).

A decline of muscle and strength is more pronounced in patients with a sedentary lifestyle as compared to patients who are physically more active. (Dhillon R., Hasni S., 2017)

Even professional athletes such as marathon runners and weightlifters show a gradual albeit more slower decline in their speed and strength with aging. (Faulkner JA, Larkin LM, et al. 2007)


Although aging is inevitable, a sedentary lifestyle can accelerate it’s progression by decreasing physical fitness and the incidence of chronic diseases. (Ciolac E.G. 2013)

A lack of resistance training can lead to many more consequences than just a loss of muscle, strength, and a poorer body composition (Volpi E, Nazemi R, 2010).

Fortunately, aged muscle is still very plastic and can respond to anabolic stimuli by increasing its mass and strength. This knowledge is vital for designing interventions to reverse or attenuate the loss of muscle mass with aging and to improve functional abilities in the elderly. (Volpi E, Nazemi R, 2010).


It has been well established that resistance training represents a feasible and effective interventional strategy to counteract muscle and strength loss in various elderly and frail populations (Verdijk L.B., Gleeson B.G., 2009).

Muscle quality has been shown to improve significantly with resistance training in older people and in younger people with muscle wasting (Tracy BL, Ivey FM, Hurlbut D, et al. 2009) (Schroeder ET, Terk M, et al. 2003)


Resistance training has been reported to positively influence the neuromuscular system as well as increase hormone concentrations and the rate of protein synthesis. (Dhillon RJS, Sarfaraz Hasni S, 2018)


Progressive resistance training increases muscle strength, gait velocity, and stair-climbing power in ≥70-yr-old institutionalized physically frail women and men. (Yarasheski K.E, Pak-Loduca, J. 1999)

Several reports have shown resistance training offers numerous benefits beyond muscle strength alone for older individuals. Some of these include things like better balance, functional mobility, and greater fall prevention. (Papa E.V., Xiaoyang Dong X. 2017)


Resistance training can reduce the loss of bone mineral density and increase bone stiffness, demonstrating its ability to act as a barrier to the development of osteoporosis. (Senderovich H., Kosmopoulos A., 2018) High-intensity progressive resistance training may also improve vertebral height as well as lumbar spine and femoral neck bone mineral density. (Senderovich H., Kosmopoulos A., 2018).

This study (Martyn-St James M., Carroll S., 2008) concluded that regular walking has no significant effect on preservation of bone mineral density at the spine in postmenopausal women, whilst significant positive effects at femoral neck are evident. It also says other forms of exercise that provide greater targeted skeletal loading may be required to preserve bone mineral density in this population. (Martyn-St James M., Carroll S., 2008)

This study mentions that contrary to current opinion, high intensity resistance training was efficacious and induced no adverse events under highly supervised conditions for our sample of otherwise healthy postmenopausal women with low to very low bone mass. (Watson S.L., Weeks B.K., et al. 2018)

Also, it may be important to note that this study shows that although resistance training of moderate to high intensity produced similar muscle changes in older adults, a higher magnitude is necessary to stimulate osteogenesis at the spine. (Maddalozzo G.F., Snow C.M., 2000)


As I mentioned earlier, the decrease in muscle mass that occurs with aging and a lack of resistance training, is also accompanied by a progressive increase in fat mass and consequently changes in body composition (Volpi E, Nazemi R, 2010).

Resistance‐type exercise training is currently the most effective intervention to initiate muscle hypertrophy and to elicit improvements in muscle strength and physical performance. (Tieland M., Trouwborst I., 2018.)

Resistance training in older adults also increases power, reduces the difficulty of performing daily tasks, enhances energy expenditure and body composition, and promotes participation in spontaneous physical activity. (Hunter GR, et al. Sports Med. 2004) (Jennifer W. Bea, Ellen C Cussler, 2011) (Going S, Lohman T, Houtkooper L, et al. 2003)


Regular exercise and/or physical activity practice may improve the quality of the years lived, in addition to increasing life expectancy. However, while regular physical activity increases life expectancy, it remains unclear if high-intensity sports activities further increase life expectancy (C.D., Knapp G. 2012).


A new 2019 meta analysis that included 24 studies revealed resistance training appears to have positive effects on cognition. (Landrigan J.F., Bell T., 2019)

Another meta analysis that included 33 clinical trials with 1877 participants, concluded resistance exercise training significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults regardless of health status, total prescribed volume of resistance exercise training, or significant improvements in strength. (Gordon B.R., McDowell C.P., 2018)

A year earlier, a 2017 meta analysis showed resistance exercise training significantly improves anxiety symptoms among both healthy participants and participants with a physical or mental illness. (Gordon B.R., McDowell C.P. 2017)



Older individuals, as a group, tend to experience difficulty sleeping compared to younger adults. Improving sleep would have beneficial public health consequences. (Ferris L.T., Williams J.S. 2005)

Chronic resistance training seems to improve all aspects of sleep, with the greatest benefit for sleep quality. (Kovacevic A, et al. 2018)


Resistance training may also lead to improvements in things like anxiety (Strickland J.C, Smith M.A., 2014), high blood pressure and triglycerides (Cornelissen E.A., Fagard R.A., 2011), and with daily tasks (climbing stairs, putting on clothes, etc.) of people with Alzheimer’s, and much more.


Over the past ten years I’ve coached dozens of people per day, (many thirty to sixty five years of age), through resistance training programs both in person and online.

Whilst many people’s initial primary goals are immediate and superficial (i.e. body fat reduction, increased muscle mass, performance, strength, and ability to complete functional tasks, all with less risk of injury, etc.), other benefits of resistance training appear to rarely spoken of.

Since the resistance training programs I design are based upon each person’s specific goals, schedule, level of commitment, levels of mobility, injury status, and so much more, it’s important to understand just about anyone can start, no matter your age.


  1. Despite the well known advantages of resistance training resistance, it may be a difficult intervention to implement in older individuals due to the necessity of specific equipment and supervision, the possibility that it may not be indicated in certain conditions frequently found in older patients (e.g. hypertension, stroke), and the fact that weight lifting may not be an appealing activity for sedentary people. (Volpi E., Nazemi R., et al. 2010).
  2. There are a countless number of ways to set up a resistance training program. However, making sure you’re implementing the basic principles required for success is most important. For example, causing an adaptation of the body to a progressive increasing load must happen to get stronger. There are several methods you can use to achieve this such as increasing the amount of weight lifted, number of sets performed, range of motion you used, and/or number of times per week you train.
  3. Before you begin a resistance training program, it’s extremely important assess your movement capacity and determine which exercises are safe for you according to your level of mobility, injury history, and body structure etc. If you start a resistance training program without an understanding of these things, injury and setbacks are more likely to occur.

If you have any questions after reading this, or want/need help improving your current training or program (or starting one in general) feel free to reach out or inquire about coaching here on Facebook or here on Instagram.

About Justin Rivelli

Justin Rivelli has been training clients online and in-person at his private gym in Berkshire County, Massachusetts for over 15 years. He specializes in helping 35 to 65 year old adults improve their body composition with well-rounded fitness plans that suit their needs, wants, and lifestyle. You can find out more about him at


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