If there was a ‘magic pill’ for ageing it would likely be Progressive Resistance Training (PRT).

Exercise is medicine, and PRT is a potent example because of its benefits in counteracting many age-related declines.

What is Progressive Resistance Training?

PRT is an approach to strength training where the load during an exercise is incrementally increased over time. As the body adapts to the load, the load is then increased again. This is the most effective method to improving strength and building muscle.

Why is it important as we get older?

The National Strength and Conditioning Association states that a properly designed resistance training program:

  • Is safe for healthy, older adults.
  • Can counteract age-related changes in contractile function, atrophy (loss of muscle) and morphology of ageing human skeletal muscle.
  • Can enhance the muscular strength, power and neuromuscular functioning of older adults.
  • Can improve mobility, physical functioning, performance in activities of daily living and preserve the independence of older adults.
  • Can improve an older adult’s resistance to injuries and catastrophic events such as falls.
  • Can help improve the psychosocial well-being of older adults


Is it safe for the elderly to do high intensity strength training?

When you think of an older adult lifting 80% of their 1 repetition maximum lift, it might make you think ‘that’s a good way to get injured’. In fact, it is very safe. A study reviewed the effects of resistance training in 2544 physically frail persons aged between 70-92 years old. They reported only one case of shoulder pain with resistance training! It’s important to know that ‘high intensity’ is relative to each individual. High intensity resistance training in a young athlete might look like a 120kg Deadlift. But for their 90 year-old grandmother, doing ‘sit to stands’ from a chair could achieve a similar intensity.

There are some important considerations to make to ensure that an exercise program is safe. These may include frailty, mobility limitations, cognitive impairment, osteoporosis, poor vision or balance or joint pain. This is when it is important you see an Exercise Physiologist.

If you or someone you know of could benefit from a supervised exercise program call Longevity Exercise Physiology Edgecliff, Pymble, Marrickville, Randwick, Drummoyne, Balmain, Bella Vista and Neutral Bay on 1300 964 002 to enquire today.



  • Fragala, M. S., Cadore, E. L., Dorgo, S., Izquierdo, M., Kraemer, W. J., Peterson, M. D., & Ryan, E. D. (2019). Resistance training for older adults: position statement from the national strength and conditioning association. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research33(8).
  • Cadore, E. L., Rodríguez-Mañas, L., Sinclair, A., & Izquierdo, M. (2013). Effects of different exercise interventions on risk of falls, gait ability, and balance in physically frail older adults: a systematic review. Rejuvenation research16(2), 105-114.