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Illustration of an elderly woman in athletic wear doing a plank with a dumbbell. The background is light blue, and the text "RESISTANCE BEYOND WEIGHTS" appears to the right of her. In the bottom-right corner, there is a "10 almonds" logo with an image of almonds.

Resistance Beyond Weights

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Resistance, Your Way

We’ve talked before about the importance of resistance training:

Resistance Is Useful! (Especially As We Get Older)

And we’ve even talked about how to make resistance training more effective:

HIIT, But Make It HIRT

(High Intensity Interval Training, but make it High Intensity Resistance Training)

Which resistance training exercises are best?

There are two reasonable correct answers here:

  1. The resistance training exercises that you will actually do (because it’s no good knowing the best exercise ever if you’re not going to do it because it is in some way offputting to you)
  2. The resistance training exercises that will prevent you from getting a broken bone in the event of some accident or incident

This latter is interesting, because when people think resistance training, the usually immediate go-to exercises are often things like the bench press, or the chest machine in the gym.

But ask yourself: how often do we hear about some friend or relative who in their old age has broken their humerus?

It can happen, for sure, but it’s not as often as breaking a hip, a tarsal (ankle bones), or a carpal (wrist bones).

So, how can we train to make those bones strong?

Strong bones grow under strong muscles

When archaeologists dig up a skeleton from a thousand years ago, one of the occupations that’s easy to recognize is an archer. Why?

An archer has an unusual frequent exercise: pushing with their left arm while pulling with their right arm. This will strengthen different muscles on each side, and thus, increase bone density in different places on each arm. The left first metacarpal and right first and second metacarpals and phalanges are also a giveaway.

This is because: one cannot grow strong muscles on weak bones (or else the muscles would just break the bones), so training muscles will force the body to strengthen the relevant bones.

So: if you want strong bones, train the muscles attached to those bones

This answers the question of “how am I supposed to exercise my hips” etc.

Weights, bodyweight, resistance bands

If you go to the gym, there’s a machine for everything, and a member of gym staff will be able to advise which of their machines will strengthen which muscles.

If you train with free weights at home:

  • Wrist curls (forearm supported and stationary, lifting a dumbbell in your hand, palm-upwards) will strengthen the wrist
  • The farmer’s walk (carrying a heavy weight in each hand) will also strengthen your wrist
    • A modified version of this involves holding the weight with just your fingertips, and then raising and lowering it by curling and uncurling your fingers)
  • Lateral leg raises (you will need ankle-weights for this) will strengthen your ankles and your hips, as will hip abductions (as in today’s featured video), especially with a weight attached.
  • Ankle raises (going up on your tip-toes and down again, repeat) while holding weights in your hands will strengthen your ankles

If you don’t like weights:

  • Press-ups will strengthen your wrists
    • Fingertip press-ups are even better: to do these, do your press-ups as normal, except that the only parts of your hands in contact with the ground are your fingertips
    • This same exercise can be done the other way around, by doing pull-ups
    • And that same “even better” works by doing pull-ups, but holding the bar only with one’s fingertips, and curling one’s fingers to raise oneself up
  • Lateral leg raises and hip abductions can be done with a resistance band instead of with weights. The great thing about these is that whereas weights are a fixed weight, resistance bands will always provide the right amount of resistance (because if it’s too easy, you just raise your leg further until it becomes difficult again, since the resistance offered is proportional to how much tension the band is under).

Remember, resistance training is still resistance training even if “all” you’re resisting is gravity!

If it fells like work, then it’s working 😉

As for the rest of preparing to get older?

Check out:

Training Mobility Ready For Later Life

Take care!

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