AARP – “Strength Is Not Optional”

My family and I were in LA last weekend for a family vacation and I saw a sign that struck a chord with me. 

I’ll be clear about this:

If you are not actively trying to get stronger

you are making a mistake.

Got that?

I love that the AARP put this ad out. I know that it refers to all kinds of strength, not just physical, but it’s all connected.

As we get older many of us have the mistaken impression that we have to accept all kinds of degradation in regards to their health.

It would be silly for me to say that age has no effect on our condition but I believe it is DRASTICALLY overstated as a cause for our ills.

I’ve had people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s all complain to me about how old they are and feel. The great trainer Ben Bruno once wrote that when people complain about their age to him (I’m paraphrasing here) he tells them the only thing that’s old is hearing them complain about their age!

When I think about AARP’s “Strength Is Not Optional” ad, I think of things like the fact that if you fall, and falling is frequently regarded as one of the biggest fears people have as they age, strength is what is going to help you prevent injury when you hit the ground and then help you get back up. Flexibility isn’t going to do that. Hours of cardio isn’t going to help you do that.

As we get deeper into that, we find that the fear of falling itself MAY ACTUALLY INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF FALLING!! and since one of the biggest benefits of strength training is an increase in self-confidence doesn’t it follow that strength training can help you not fall in the first place? Once again, a bunch of cardio isn’t going to help that.

Many people are afraid to really push themselves when strength training. They do the same things workout after workout and week after week. They’re afraid of getting hurt. I understand that. No one wants to get hurt. Add that to a fear of getting older (getting older still beats the alternative, right?) and we start to see a pretty vicious cycle.

They don’t realize that strength training can groove proper movement patterns that can both fix pain and prevent it!

Many times I’ve given someone a small form adjustment that has taken pain away from a movement that someone was previously afraid of. Once that happens we slowly and appropriately increase the difficulty of the movement to cement the new and improved movement.

Another common occurrence is when someone has joint pain mainly because they’re not strong enough to hold good, stable positions. This lack of stability is causing the joint to have to move or hold a position in a bad spot. A common example here is knee pain. The vast majority of the time knee pain doesn’t actually have to do with your knee. It’s actually a lack of strength in your hips that is causing instability in your knee which is causing pain. Once you are strong enough to hold better positions, the knee pain magically goes away.

This does not happen if you don’t push yourself.

Let’s sum it all up nice and easy.

Strength training allows you to age with more confidence, less pain, more resistance to injury and more resistance to the other things that people incorrectly attribute solely to age.

I know strength training isn’t easy. I know that walking on a treadmill for 30 minutes may feel more comfortable. I also know that strength training as we age can be truly transformative physically, and even more importantly, mentally.

Let me know if you need any help putting together your strength training program.

Thanks for reading!

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PAS, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach
Castro Valley Fitness
2861 Grove Way
510-755-9191
Mitch@CastroValleyFitness.com