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Decelerate Your Aging Process with Power Training for Older Adults

Muscle Power- the ability to generate force quickly maybe more important than just muscle strength. Both muscle strength and muscle power are closely related, however for us aging adults research studies have demonstrated numerous times that high-speed loaded movements can maximize muscle power and may have a greater impact on functional abilities compared to traditional resistance training.

Age-related slowing of movement typically begins after about age 62 and plays a critical role in the declining health of older adults. When you have been exercising consistently performing conventional strength training and would like to pick up the pace and add some power training in your current exercise regimen then keep reading.

Age-related slowing increases the risk for loss of function and health, for example, slow walking speed is related to higher risk for falls, dementia, frailty and disability. Power training is very important as function happens during quick movements, such as catching yourself when you lose balance to avoid a fall.

Power training or high speed, low resistance power training is an effective way to change and maintain power motor units to help older adults regain balance and function. Power-based training should be performed at resistance levels less than 50% of one-repetition maximum even as low as 20-40%, and not need to be performed to fatigue for functional movement. This is pretty exciting to know if you have osteoarthritis or other joint conditions. Just lower the resistance and start to increase speed.

Simple guidelines to implement power training into your workout:

  • Perform the lifting part of your exercise as quickly as possible

  • Perform the lowering part of the exercise at a slow and controlled movement speed

  • Increasing the speed of any movement means less control and more chance of movement error to occur, so don’t give up good form and movement range for speed

  • Start by increasing your speeds before you start to perform it as fast as possible

  • When you perform any jumping or plyometric exercises, make sure it is safe for you to do so and learn how to land properly

  • Use body eight, elastic tubing, free weights, or water as resistance when you exercise in the pool

Sample exercise:

Power Stand - sit in chair with your arms folded across chest, stand up as quickly as possible , then slowly return to seated position

Hops - hop forward over a line (stick blue painters tape for line on the floor)with a focus on moving both feet together, getting a few inches off the floor, and landing softly

Push-Ups off the wall or kitchen counter, TRX: increase speed at push-up movement, then slowly return to starting position.

Bug Stomp - from seated position(for lower level of function), step out with one foot and stomp on the floor as if smashing a bug. Return to starting position. Progress this to standing and stomping in different directions

Power lunges - step out into different directions then explosively return to starting position. Power Lunges for lower level begin with a dynamic weight transfer, then increase your speed stepping back to your starting position.

Get up and go - sit in a chair in ready position, feet staggered with your hands on your thighs, leaning slightly forward. On the command go(ask friend or spouse, trainer), take off out of the chair into a speed-walk a certain distance and sit back down in another chair, you can also maneuver around a cone or other object and return to same chair. Change the distance and level of difficulty by maneuvering around various objects. Focus on quick explosion and acceleration out of the chair.

When you are not sure how to implement power training into your workout and how to progress give us a call, in one or two training sessions we can get you up to speed. Live well, be well and live with power!

References ACE professional issue September 2017 and October 2018

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