Twice-a-Week Strength Training Best for Over-50 Group

Twice-a-Week Strength Training Best for Over-50 Group


I headed up to Fargo, ND this month for the Northland chapter meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine on “Resistance (Strength) Training Across the Lifespan”.  The 10 hour drive was worth it to hear the top people in the field of exercise science speak. Of course, the Strength Training for Older Adults session was my favorite, as well as the session on recovery foods led by a professor of nutrition. I was pleased to see slide after slide of research confirming the information in my Nutrient Timing blog post. Keep drinking those yummy smoothies!

Here’s some great news about getting the right “dose” of strength training per week. Two times a week is not only enough strength training, but research has shown that twice weekly can actually be better than three days a week.

Muscles need 48 to 72 hours to repair and rebuild themselves stronger after a challenging strength training workout. As we get older, it takes our bodies longer to recover. Personally, I have noticed that I don’t feel recovered on Sunday, two days after a good strength training session on Friday. By Monday, I feel back to normal.

At the ACSM meeting, Dr. Wayne Westcott presented research showing that beginning to advanced exercisers, both young and old, often need three days of recovery time. “Following a relatively hard strength training session on Monday, muscle strength was well below baseline (initial) level on Tuesday, slightly below baseline level on Wednesday, significantly above baseline level on Thursday, and the same amount over baseline on Friday.” Baechle & Westcott

Working hard on the plank

I think that this is very important cutting-edge information as it pertains to women’s strength training for osteoporosis prevention. We don’t want to be working our muscles too hard on Wednesday, when they haven’t fully recovered from Monday! 72 hours of recovery seems to be necessary between vigorous strength training workouts to gain maximum strength. Our stronger muscles will be able to pull harder on our bones, stimulating them to stay strong. If you have been strength training three times a week, and your workouts are in the relatively hard range, I highly advise you to cut back to twice a week workouts, three days apart.  You’ll get stronger muscles, which are highly associated with stronger bones. This should help maximize our strength training that is designed for slowing age-related bone loss and preventing osteoporosis.

Use your extra time to do some more weight-bearing (on your feet) cardiovascular exercise: brisk walking, dancing, raking leaves, hiking, or easy jogging are some good activities.


Comments (Scroll to the bottom to leave your comment)

  1. Susie,

    I have to commend you on your dedication to this field and the effort you put in to keeping current. You are such a treasure in our community!

  2. Hi Susie
    First of all I just discovered your site…it’s just what I’ve been looking for….thank you!!!
    My question relating to this article is that sometimes I split my weight training into several days during the week…a few weights on mon, maybe a few more on tues, then at least one more day during the week and at least one weekend day…
    Would I be better off doing 2 full days of weight training and the rest of the week cardio…or am I ok with what I am doing? Thank you!