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Powerlifting Over Age 50

author image Grey Evans
Grey Evans began writing professionally in 1985. Her work has been published in "Metabolics" and the "Journal of Nutrition." Gibbs holds a Ph.D. in nutrition from Ohio State University and an M.S. in physical therapy from New York University. She has worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and currently develops comprehensive nutritional and rehabilitative programs for a neurological team.
Powerlifting Over Age 50
Resistance training provides numerous benefits that fight the effects of aging. Photo Credit: Dean Mitchell/iStock/Getty Images

Training for powerlifting for anyone older than 50 uses the same methods that younger athletes use. Powerlifting requires you to compete in the squat, bench press and deadlift, so you must practice these lifts. You must pay more attention to your recovery ability, but powerlifting provides numerous benefits for those starting later in life. Improvements in health, lean muscle mass and bone strength follow consistent powerlifting training. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any athletic training program.

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Basic Program

If you are older than 50, you must structure your training program carefully. A routine that features minimal volume and intensity will allow you to gradually learn the lifts while you slowly build your tolerance for training volume. Start by practicing the squat and bench press three times a week, and allow a day of rest in between each training session. Deadlift only once per week, but do so on one of your regular training days. Follow this higher volume day with two days of rest.

Sets, Repetitions and Weight

The weight you can safely control is based on your gender and background. Start light, there is no minimum weight that you have to move in training. If practicing good squat technique requires you to use a broomstick, then use a broomstick. At first, most of your learning to powerlift, like other forms of lifting, is based around skill improvement, not muscle gain, according to a 1994 study in the "Journal of Applied Physiology." Keep your repetitions per set low, no more than five per set. This allows you to focus on technique while limiting fatigue. Begin with only three sets of each exercise, then slowly add volume as your ability to tolerate exercise improves.

Hormones and Muscle

One of the greatest issues you face as you age is the loss of muscle mass, or sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is not due to simply aging, but the decrease in activity as you age, according to a 2001 study in "The Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine." The other primary issue is the decrease in hormone production as you age. Testosterone levels decrease more sharply in men, but the decrease occurs in both genders.

Benefits of Powerlifting

To combat the decrease in testosterone, you can lift heavy, which is the focus of powerlifting. Heavy resistance training has been shown to increase testosterone levels in a 2005 study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research." Another benefit of powerlifting is strengthening your skeleton. Loss of bone strength affects you as you age but is more common in women than in men. According to a 2001 study published in the "American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation," resistance training increases bone mineral density.

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