Hi and welcome to ElderStrength.com, the site dedicated for providing strength training programs and information to seniors and the elderly! My name is Jukka and I’m the creator and owner of the site.
My goal with this website is to help seniors find out how important and effective strength training is for health and longevity. Besides health, having a strong body equals freedom and independence as you get older.
For some strange reason our society pushes this idea that you will automatically become weak and frail the day you turn 60, or even 50 and that you should’t strain yourself or you’ll get hurt.
I’m here to tell that no, you are not weak and frail unless you choose to be and that you should definitely strain yourself to AVOID getting hurt by accidents and disease.
This is because strength training makes your body stronger on every level. From your cells to your bone health. It will improve your metabolism, mobility, strength and vigor. Quite simply, being strong makes life a lot easier, especially when you’re old.
This might come as a bit of shock to you, but I’m not exactly senior myself. I’m in my thirties, closing in on 40. I’m also not a certified personal trainer or a fitness instructor. In fact, I’m an engineer by profession.
I want to share this with you honestly, so that you can make your own mind about the content on my site. After all, it’s always good to be skeptical about stuff you read on the internet. I want you to trust my content because it’s useful and correct, not because I claim to posses some credentials you have no way of verifying.
So why am I writing about strength training for seniors, even though I’m not a senior or even a trainer myself? Because I think seniors are the group that would benefit the most health wise from strength training.
You see, I’m a science geek and I’m immensely interested in human physiology, health and aging. I’ve also been strength training myself for over a decade. Before I started, I wasn’t aware how much strength training could change my health and the performance of my body.
Even though I’m not a senior, I’m not exactly young either, when it comes to biology. Aging starts to affect your body before you hit 30. Many people have had the experience where their metabolism is high in their twenties and they can seem to eat anything and stay thin. But at around 35 they realize their pants don’t fit anymore even though they seemingly changed nothing.
The fat starts accumulate, you become less limber, aches and pains become more common, fatigue sets in. Maybe you run out of breath while walking the stairs. What ever your individual symptoms are, if you haven’t been taken care of your body you first start to notice the effects around 30 or 40.
By 50 they can have severe debilitating effects on your health like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. If you don’t make the decision to take care of your body, by the time you hit 60 or 70 you will be weak, sick and lucky to be alive.
I was never athletically gifted as a child so I wasn’t really motivated to exercise or participate in sports. I was weak, slow and uncoordinated. Quite frankly I sucked at almost every sport. Fortunately I loved biking and swimming so I accumulated some level of fitness during my youth.
I my twenties I was living an unsustainable way of life. My diet consisted mainly of pizzas and hamburgers, I drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of candy. I also smoked. I was fat, weak and out of shape. I was suffering from insomnia, gut problems and anxiety.
One day a college buddy suggested I’d join him in the gym. I took him up on the offer and have pretty much stuck to it for over a decade now. At first I didn’t really know what I was doing and it took a lot of trial and error to get the whole process working perfectly.
I was stubborn at first and thought I knew better and didn’t take advice from my more experienced (and very strong) buddy. I followed stupid workout plans I found on the internet, I took protein shakes and surprisingly my results were mediocre at best.
Introducing a real strength training program
At some point I stumbled upon the program Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe. I didn’t buy the book, I just read about it online and decided to try it out. The program involved squatting three times a week with alternating pressing and pulling movements every day as well.
At first I saw decent progress, but my form was horrible, especially on the squats and deadlifts. It didn’t take long for me to pay the price. I broke my back so bad I had to stop training for three months.
After that I did some lighter training for a while until I decided to finally buy the Starting Strength book, learn the exercises properly and train smarter this time.
Once I had the exercise techniques honed in a bit, I started to do the Starting Strength program again. Besides the movements it involves increasing the load every workout. This forces your body to adapt to the training stimulus over time.
For the stress-recovery-adaptation-cycle to take place, you have to have adequate recovery. Unfortunately I was lacking in recovery. I was trying to lose weight even though it’s very clearly stated in the book that you have to eat a lot and increase body weight for the program to function.
I was also suffering from insomnia. Sleep is just as important as food for recovery so no surprise I stalled pretty quickly. I managed to gain quite a bit of strength but nothing near what the average user of the program achieves. I ended up over trained, fatigued and with overuse injuries in my shoulder and hip.
Because my strength training programs failed miserably I focused on doing bodybuilding splits in the gym for the next couple of years. I managed to build some muscle mass but especially my lower body strength was nothing to write home about.
This always bothered be a bit. Sure, I was strong enough for an average office worker but I definitely wasn’t strong for a person that had been going consistently to the gym for several years. I wanted real results!
Third time’s the charm
I decided to give Starting Strength one more try. This time I made sure I ate enough and I had managed to almost cure my insomnia during the past few years.
What do ya know, the stuff works! I managed to bring my squat, deadlift and press to respectable numbers. My athletic performance improved vastly as did my body composition. I weighted the same when I started strength training but I had lost my gut. All the weight had transformed into muscle. Success finally!
But I felt stupid. Really stupid. I could have just learned this stuff the right way from the get go but instead I wasted a lot of time and injured my body couple times while doing it.
The reason I’m telling you this, is because I want you to avoid these mistakes and I want you know that I’m a real person who has actually gone through the trouble of learning strength training through trial and error.
Without my prior failures I wouldn’t be able to grasp how important every single piece of the stress-recovery-adaptation cycle is.
At first I lacked proper stress because my technique was off. This ended in injury. I want you to avoid this.
The second time around the stress was there, I just lacked the recovery. Hence, no adaptation could take effect, and I ended up injured once again. I want you to avoid this.
The third time I got everything in check. The stress was there, I managed to recover from it and my body adapted by becoming stronger and building muscle. I want you to succeed in this as well!
I have since learned a lot and continued with barbell training. Barbell training is a good option for seniors that are otherwise healthy, but it’s not the only way to get stronger and reap the benefits of strength training. The important thing is to get every point in the stress-recovery-adaptation cycle in check.
Why I want to help people out?
Like I said, I’m a science geek and love reading about health, physiology and longevity. This stuff is a passion to me. I also work in a field that is associated with measuring population growth and I know that in most western countries the average age is getting really high.
In short, we have a lot of seniors now and we will have whole bunch more in the coming decades. This is of course troublesome for public health because with age comes sickness. If there’s anything I can do to help the situation, I will, and that’s why I created this website.
I’ve been working in an office environment for the better part of a decade, on a field that has a lot of older employees. I’ve taken notice how much physical fitness seems to affect how healthy and honestly, old, people look like.
There are a lot of people in their 50s and 60s on our field and I can tell right away just by looking at them which ones have been active and exercised a lot. The people who have been active either through exercise or manual labor have good posture, walk effortlessly, aren’t significantly overweight and just generally seem healthier and happier.
The people who have neglected physical fitness have bad posture, back pains, can’t walk fast or even squat to tie a shoe lace without taking support from something.
I also noticed that some older guys and gals in the gym were very fit and strong, even in their 60s and 70s. I thought this wasn’t possible because old people are often portrayed as weak and frail by media.
When I realized this, I had an epiphany. I want to tell as many people as possible that you can seemingly prevent aging from a physical performance point of view by simply doing regular strength training!
When I realized this, I also realized I need to shift my own training goals towards longevity instead of maximal strength or muscular physique. Those are a young mans game and they are not worth pursuing in the long run.
It’s more important to train smartly and hard enough to improve and maintain strength without getting injuries. This is what I want to teach to you as well.
The Goal of Elder Strength
The purpose of this site is to spread the word on the benefits of strength training for older people. The goal is that everything presented on this site will be backed up by science and firsthand experience.
I want older people to acknowledge that they are not weak and that they don’t have to just hopelessly observe as their aging bodies deteriorate.
I want older people to become stronger and healthier. I want to achieve this by providing the best, evidence based workout programs and training principles as well as equipment.
I envision a world where being 80 means you’re just a bit slower than you were in your youth but that’s it. You can carry your own groceries, go for a three-day hike or build a house if you want to. Without being dependent on other people.
Thank you for reading this far. The next decision is up to you. Do you want to become a stronger version of yourself? If so, Start here.
If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.
All the best,
At first the site was supposed to be written by several authors through the pseudonym Elder Strength so most content is created under that pen name and referred to in plural. I have since decided to continue the site on my own for the time being. The site will still present other authors every know and then but I’m the main author if not stated otherwise. Just wanted to clear that out, so you don’t get confused if you read older posts on the site.