We often hear about the need for strength training at any age, but did you know that power training is even more important to functional independence?
You might associate power with elite sports or the massive athletes who “power lift” 800 pounds, and then drop it to the ground with a huge clang.
And research over the past decade shows that power is more closely related to function than strength alone.
Loss of strength and power can dramatically impact your ability to engage in activities you enjoy and will gradually rob you of functional independence. When you climb stairs, is it a slow struggle or can you easily step up – each contraction quick and powerful?
Here are a few reasons that weight training for seniors matters and a few tips for how to get started.
Most of us recognize how speed of contraction would impact something like springing into action after a line drive in tennis.
This effectively controls the momentum of the weight stack but severely limits the ability to increase the speed of muscle contractions – and remember, speed is critical to power.
Training with equipment that uses pneumatic (air), hydraulic (fluid) or magnetic resistance allows you to increase both the strength and the speed of contractions.
The very common functional task of rising from a chair clearly illustrates the difference between muscle power versus muscle strength.
When you stand up at a normal speed the muscles contract quickly; you use power (strength x speed) to rise.
Weight stack equipment effectively trains strength but poses a barrier to power training.
The standard approach to training with weight stacks requires you to use 3 seconds for each lift.
My boyfriend is a soldier in the United States Army. Understand that these guys have to deal with things that the average person couldn’t imagine.