When some people think about older adults working out at the gym and/or with a trainer, they often think of exercises done at a slower pace with lighter weights. While it is true that the needs of older adults are different when it comes to fitness, this does not mean that we must train as if we are all fragile.
The November/December 2020 issue of Idea Fitness features an article on power training for older adults: “Power Up Your Aging Clients,” by Gilles Beaudin. When we talk about power, it means adding an element of speed to the workout. Power is force times velocity. We can employ force when doing an exercise; adding velocity increases the power.
During most of our lives, we employ power to get jobs done: pound in a nail, ride a bicycle, etc. Beaudin’s article references research showing that this does not necessarily need to decrease (or cease) as we age. The final words of the article sum it up: “What gets challenged gets trained. What gets used regularly is maintained.” This is an extension of the SAID principle–Specific Adaptation to an Imposed Demand. In other words, when we demand that our body does something, our body will adapt in order to do the job; it is specific because, for example, putting demand on our quads while bicycling may increase leg strength but it will not affect our rhomboids. The SAID principle applies throughout our lives; as long as we regularly make demands on our bodies they will respond and maintain (or build) our strength.
What does Power Training look like? Exercises may include box jumps, jump squats, push-presses, kettlebell swings, or battle ropes. Of course, it is always a good idea to consult a fitness professional to ensure that form is correct, load is appropriate, and that proper progression takes place.
Power to the people means power to the people, no matter the age.