Age Better With Power Exercise
As an older adult, you’ll see benefits from training for power more than strength.
What is “power”? Power is explosive strength training; it’s when you move weight fast. Jumping, punching, or simply a fast bicep curl is training for power rather than strength. Power exercise develops strength but also functional movement and balance better than strength training. It uses your energy systems differently, as well, often making it seem easier, although a well-design power workout is anything but “easy”! Mostly, power training feels awesome!
There is more variety among my older clients than among my younger clients. That happens due to years of development in some areas and not in others, as well as injuries and deconditioning. My younger clients often have greater aerobic capacity and faster recovery, while some older clients have greater strength than even my fittest youth. But one thing my older clients always need more of is power.
One key way to evolve your strength-training approach is to focus more on muscle power (moving a load quickly). Power is more closely related to physical function than muscle strength for older adults, and power training (according to several systematic reviews) improves function to a greater degree. Several studies suggest that low-load, high-velocity training is the most beneficial for improving balance, while also making the client feel as if the workout is easier (according to perceived exertion ratings). With your clients, start using more explosive movements with lighter loads and focus on getting them to move quickly.