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Why We Train

We train to live we do not live to train

I was fortunate to find strength training at a very young age. I began training to improve my sports performance and quickly fell in love with the process and how it helped me. Little did I know just all the benefits strength training can provide. Since then I have pursued a career in strength coaching over the last 25 years and continued to train myself. I have been a proponent of strength training for adults as they age but only in the last few years have I really been able to see the benefits first hand for the “athlete of aging.”

My favorite client.

My mom has been a wonderful mother and loves her husband, six kids, 14 grandkids and 2 great grandchildren. Being around her family is one of her greatest joys in life. Several years ago, I could see how hard it was on her to have us all around for the holidays. She was in her early 70’s was diabetic and has had double knee replacement. I believe in the power of strength training and how beneficial it can be for everyone no matter your age or situation but I cannot make people want to do it. I could see after that Christmas she was interested in and open to beginning to strength train. We had a conversation and I agreed to help coach her remotely. I wrote a more detailed description of her training progression at the link provided but I will share some details in this blog.

Strength training has so many health benefits that I like to say "it is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth" Almost everyone knows that exercise is important for health but very few people come anywhere close to the recommendations for exercise and even fewer involve some kind of strength training. However, developing strength can make everyday tasks easier like carrying a bag of groceries, a laundry basket, garden bucket or a grandchild These are huge benefits but many do not realize that strength training can also help reduce pain and stiffness from arthritis; help fight diabetes; osteoporosis; obesity, heart disease, back pain and depression.

It is never too late

Still people may think "I have not done anything in years or I am too old, have too many injuries/health issues to strength train". This is not the case. A study completed in 1990 used subjects who were over 90 years of age. They strength trained these individuals for 8 weeks using 3 sets of 6 to 9 reps. They showed a 150% increase in Knee extension strength and a 10% increase in muscle cross-sectional area.

Grandmas getting swol.

My mom had never strength trained before and rarely followed an exercise program. She spent all of her time serving and loving her family. I remember fondly having homemade bread growing up and homemade noodles for turkey noodle soup. I did not know how blessed I was. I tell you this to show you that it is never too late and you can always change where you are and what your situation is. She was not your typical person to strength train and has several obstacles to her training.

These obstacles were.

- She had never trained before.

- She was unlikely to go to a gym and ask for help.

- Any gym would be 35 miles away and she would be unlikely to keep the habit up

- The program needed to be things she could do at home and would not be too much for her

- She needed to build up her habit of training while we build up her strength and stamina

It does not have to be complicated just get started. It does not require a lot of equipment at first.

I started by having her do “Sit to Stands” up out of her chair without using her hands to mimic the squat and build up her leg strength.

We progressed her to a greater range of motion, then added dumbbells, eventually barbell and at the present time she has squatted 80lbs.

I started her training a hip hinge or deadlift type motion by tracing her hands down her thighs. We then added a dowel and eventually added weights in a bucket.

Now she has deadlifted a 170lbs barbell

We stared with a soup can press overhead and she now does a landmine press with 30lbs.

Benefits of strength training

She has lost significant weight from her regular strength training. Her A1C, a marker of diabetes has dropped significantly. She is stronger and can walk much faster and easier. I have seen her sit down on a low fireplace hearth that she never would have even attempted prior to strength training. She improved her bowling average almost 40 points and earned most improved bowler. Health benefits are one thing and they are important don’t get me wrong but if it allows you to continue to do things you love to do and do them better that is the most important thing. She had a 45% increase in her average score of a game she loves. That can provide huge enjoyment and satisfaction just like it can for the young athlete who improves their performance.

Strength training may or may not add years to your life but it will most certainly add life to your years. Improved strength and fitness allows her to attend grandkids sporting events without worrying how far she will have to walk from the parking lot. It allowed her to take her grandson with cerebral palsy to the zoo for hours by herself. Strength has added life to her years.

There have been set backs and times off from training. I remind her that "we train so that we can live not live so that we can train". Through the ups and downs she has continued to train for almost 3 years now and is significantly stronger and it has added life to her years. she is now working on getting friends in her quilting group started training with sit to stands out of a chair. Love you mom, glad I can help you enjoy your years.

She still trains at home and videos her last set of each exercise. She sends them to me and I coach her on her technique, provide feedback and prescribe her next workout. If you are interested in taking the first step towards the Best of your life contact me for online training details. 605-695-0496

168 views2 comments


Oct 21, 2021

Yes, I can help. You can still gain strength which will help with balance. You just need to be careful as you train and progress slowly.


Rachel Dexter
Rachel Dexter
Oct 20, 2021

Love this so much! Any chance you can help someone with a brain injury and balance issues?

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