Published September 20, 2023

The Power of Strength Training for Stronger Bones

Welcome to our PIVOT Guest Post on Osteoporosis by expert physio, Chris Tiley.

If you've ever wondered how to begin your journey into strength training for better bone density, we've got you covered. Let's dive into what bone density is and why it's crucial, especially as we age.

Inside our bones, different cells work harmoniously. They remove old bone tissue while simultaneously generating new bone tissue. However, with age, this balance shifts, favoring bone tissue removal, resulting in reduced bone density. This decline makes our bones more susceptible to fractures.

The encouraging news is that bones respond positively to the stresses we put on them. This means you can enhance your bone density. On the flip side, avoiding physical activity can worsen bone density. But engaging in regular exercise can bolster your bone health, leading to sturdy bones less prone to fractures.

The Royal Osteoporosis Society (THEROS) identifies two top exercise types for preserving and boosting bone density:

  1. Weight-bearing exercises with impact
  2. Muscle-strengthening exercises

However, individuals with osteoporosis or low bone density might shy away from these exercises due to fear of fractures. This avoidance only exacerbates the issue. THEROS reassures us that "physical activity and exercise are not associated with significant harm, including vertebral fracture." They suggest starting with caution but emphasize that the benefits outweigh the risks.

One fantastic way to incorporate these exercises into your weekly routine is through strength training, also known as resistance training. To build muscle strength effectively, you must challenge your muscles sufficiently. By the end of a set, you should find it challenging to perform many more repetitions. Struggling with more repetitions after a set means you're on the path to increased muscle strength. Aim for muscle fatigue within 15 repetitions to achieve this strength boost. Instead of increasing repetitions, focus on maintaining the same number of repetitions against higher resistance. Resistance can come from weights (dumbbells, barbells) or resistance bands.

Most go-to strength training exercises meet the criteria of being weight-bearing with added load. These exercises often involve standing while holding a weight, providing weight-bearing benefits. They can also be adapted to include a touch of impact, enhancing their bone-strengthening potential.

And here's where PIVOT comes to the rescue. Accessing weights from the comfort of your home eliminates barriers to starting. The fold-out squat rack and safety spotter arms create a secure space for your barbell exercises, allowing you to approach muscle fatigue safely. The pull-up and dip bars enable weight-bearing exercises through your arms, ensuring your arm bones also benefit.

Incorporating strength training into your routine 2-3 times weekly is a proactive step toward maintaining and boosting your bone density. Additionally, relish the multitude of other health perks that stem from being stronger and more physically active. Remember, this journey isn't solely about bone density – it's about overall wellness.

So, take charge of your bone health with PIVOT and embrace the transformative power of strength training. Your bones will thank you for it!

Chris is a physiotherapist who has developed a particular passion for introducing strength training to ageless adults. He loves seeing the results that they achieve, how much their confidence grows and just how much it brings back their everyday lives. As a result he has created Never Too Old to Lift to try and inspire even more people to take action and get started with resistance training.