No matter what your age or condition declining mobility and strength are reversible through resistence training, says personal trainer Ron Cain (Pixabay photo)

No matter what your age or condition declining mobility and strength are reversible through resistence training, says personal trainer Ron Cain (Pixabay photo)

RON CAIN: Building muscle is more important than cardio for older adults

No matter what your age, declining mobility and strength are reversible

Ron Cain | Contributed

Getting older has its challenges, and it’s all too common for people to have some mobility challenges that progress over time.

I have worked with clients as old as 93, and I have learned a few things:

1. – No matter what your age or condition declining mobility and strength are reversible.

2. – Older adults improve faster than young adults and can pack on muscle almost as quickly.

3. – Doing nothing and putting things down to old age will not help anyone.

4. – Most older adults are not eating enough protein or drinking enough fluids.

5. – Walking is the go-to exercise for seniors, and it’s great, but building muscle is more important than building cardio.

Muscle wasting, or sarcopenia, is a common malady that we associate with natural aging, but most of the loss is caused by having one’s butt stapled to a chair. Studies have shown that adults over 50 can and must build muscle tissue through resistance training to:

• Boost their metabolism to help with weight control.

• Improve balance because muscles keep joints stabilized, and stronger joints and support structures impact balance and movement.

• Increase bone density.

• Improve insulin regulation.

• Improve their short-term memory.

During the pandemic, many people are buying gym equipment and starting programs from home. With the development of what we call functional training, it is easy to train without buying expensive machines.

What is functional training? Think of the opposite of bodybuilding. Instead of isolating muscles and bombing them with high-volume workouts to create growth, functional training workouts use light weights, often just tubing, medicine balls, steps and bodyweight.

Additionally, function training focuses on moving several muscles together in more natural movements that mimic daily chores or fun things like picking up your grandchild and pressing them up over your head.

The result of correct functional training will not be big muscles but improved balance, weight loss, better coordination and movement, and perhaps the ability to do heavy landscaping or building that fence without having to take Tylenol after you’re done!


Ron Cain is a personal trainer with Sooke Mobile Personal Training. Email him at


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