Active Seniors

12 week challenge: Week 4 – Building Strength

Strength allows us to do our daily activities – carrying our groceries, playing golf or bowls, getting up and down from the couch – these all involve strength, and allows us to be independent

You may have heard ‘use it or lose it’ – this is true unfortunately. We can lose strength within just a week if we stop doing strengthening exercise, and within three weeks this decrease will become noticeable. The younger you start exercising, the better as it will slow down your muscle loss; however, it is never too late to start!

It may take a while to develop strength when starting an exercise program from scratch, but luckily, if you lose the routine, it is easier to PICK back up from where you left off. This is all thanks to ‘muscle memory’, which involves our nervous system and its ability to regain strength faster when re-starting an exercise routine.

Things to remember with a strengthening program:

  • Start at a sufficient intensity so the body realises it needs to adapt the musculoskeletal system
  • Gradually increasing intensity to build muscle mass and strength – if the movement feels easy, challenge yourself by increasing weights, range of movement or hold
  • The intensity should be enough that you cannot do more than 2-3 minutes of the movement without fatiguing – if you can do this easily, you need to progress yourself!

Changes that happen when we increase strength increases include physical as well as changes to our nervous system. These start to happen within 8-10 weeks of consistent effort and are more noticeable as time goes on.


Components of a strength program:

There are a few components involved in a strength program besides the exercises themselves:

REPETITIONS: The number of continuous movements you do before taking a break. Repetitions will differ based on what you are trying to achieve with your training; however, if you are doing more than 20 continuous repetitions you need to increase your intensity as this is not a great way to build strength.

Tip: increase the load and decrease repetitions – this is a proven way to build strength.

SETS: The number of times you will perform your repetitions before taking a break e.g. 2 sets of 10 repetitions of chair sit to stands would mean doing 10 sit to stands, taking a break for 30 seconds and then doing another 10 sit to stands.

REST: The time you should take between exercises. This will allow your muscles to recover between sets and not fatigue, allowing you to perform the exercise with good technique.

TEMPO: The speed at which you perform the movement, which will vary according to the type and goal of the exercise. Certain muscle groups also have different purposes such as the legs vs. the trunk muscles, and would require to have different training tempo.

WEIGHT: The external load you hold when doing the exercise. This can include just your body weight, handheld weights, a back pack etc. This will increase as your strength improves!


What can strength exercises help with?

Bone density: Our bones respond to the tension placed on them by our muscles and muscle tendons. Strong bones are necessary! We need to safely place load on them to maintain our bone density.

Blood sugar control: Blood sugar control is important for people with diabetes and for heart health. When we do strengthening exercises, our muscles pull sugar from our blood to use for energy, keeping blood sugar at a safe level.

Weight management: The muscles require fuel in the form of fat from other places as it is limited in our muscles. Muscles need this for energy. We also require lean body mass over fat mass as we get older, which resistance training helps with.

Day-to-day activities: Resistance exercises help with building strength that we use in our daily activities, such as gardening, playing with the grandchildren and golf!


Head HERE to register for the 12-week program and download the e-book for pictures of suggested strength exercises and equipment you can get from home!


The GOAL for week 4 – integrate a strength program into your routine at least twice a week. Start at a safe and comfortable level and build as you feel comfortable.

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