Resistance training has been around in one form or another for many centuries, since around 500BC supposedly, when Milo of Croton (who went on to become an Olympic athlete) lifted a new-born calf during childhood until it grew larger and he did along with it, to the current day bodybuilding popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What are the benefits of working out?

Working out is often thought of as a young man’s game, however this doesn’t mean there aren’t any benefits to starting at an older age, studies have shown that people over the age of 50 lifting weights 2-3 times a week reversed the normal rate of muscle loss that would often occur for those in that age group (normally losing 10% per decade after 50, 15% past 60 and 30% past 70). It also reduces the risk of diabetes, increases bone mass and density and improves your overall strength, which is something that many often lose with older age. Something that we believe is more important than all those physical benefits, is the sense of purpose that it gives people in their lives, giving them something to look forward to and base their life around. This can be something very beneficial for older people that find themselves without a routine or anything they enjoy doing.


Before this section, there's two things that must be covered, firstly please consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program and secondly, what are sets and reps? Sets are the number of cycles of reps completed and reps are the number of times you perform a certain movement in a row (exercise), so for example, if you performed 5 squats, you have completed 5 reps. You completed 5 reps just once, you've done 1 set of 5 reps. So now we've covered that and the benefits of resistance training, let's move onto general tips and how to apply it into your life. The key principles of it have remained relatively the same throughout the time it has existed (although a lot of nonsense has filled the fitness industry recently simply to make money). One aspect of it that has almost always remained undisputed is progressive overload, this is simply the gradual increase of reps, sets, intensity, frequency or time of an exercise with the aim to improve performance. Simply put, if you bench press 40kg 5 times, you could do one or more of the following to achieve progressive overload next training session:

  • Attempt the same weight for 6-8 reps
  • Increase the number of sets
  • Bench press 42.5kg for the same amount of reps

The same way that many younger aged people use this method and get great results, older people can too, if you feel any nagging pains when moving to a heavier weight, simply lower the weight slightly and perform more repetitions. Remember, since your body is not accustomed to a training stimulus, you'll grow muscle just by performing certain exercises, regardless of whether you improve on them or not (however, if you can increase the weight it'll set you up for progression even after your body is more adapted to training).

Sy Perlis' success story:

All of this knowledge on why and how to begin training is great, but if you still doubt yourself, there are many great examples of people beginning their fitness journey later in life. A great example is a man named "Sy Perlis" from Surprise, Arizona who began training at the age of 60 years old and in 2013 (at 91), he broke the world record for bench press in the over 90s category by lifting an impressive 187.5lbs (85kg!). What makes the feat even more remarkable is that the average male at their physical peak can bench press from 130lbs (58kg) to 160lbs (72kg).

          91 year old weight lifter bench pressing 85 kilos

 It gave me the opportunity to do something to test myself for one thing, and I didn't have to run around to do it, as you would in some other sports”, I got a lot of satisfaction out of it, and it made me feel good, and it was good for me”.

If you would like more information and tips on starting, please visit the links below: