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Did you know that after age 30, we lose about 5 pounds of muscle every decade? Get started on a regular strength-training program, however, and you’ll regain strength, fire up your metabolism and reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

“Two key factors in developing strength are consistency and gradually increasing the load as your muscles get stronger,” says Elias Haldezos, P.T., O.C.S., C.S.C.S., a physical therapist at John Muir Health. “Setting goals or working out with a partner can inspire you to do what you need to.” More tips:

  • Teenagers should begin their training with moderately heavy weights, although more mature teens—particularly athletes—can use heavier weights. To avoid injury, adolescents should get expert advice on proper form and technique, and the amount of weights to lift.
  • Women should do weight-bearing exercises for the prevention of osteoporosis. Squats and leg presses are a great way to strengthen the spine and legs. “It’s just as important for women to strengthen the upper body, too, because fractures can occur in the upper limbs as well,” says Haldezos. A woman’s wider pelvis can make her prone to developing knee alignment problems during squats or repetitive impact activities. Any knee pain should be discussed with a doctor.
  • Pregnant women should consult their doctor before weight training. The benefits of lifting weights for moms-to-be? Reduced risk of gestational diabetes, an easier delivery and quicker return to normal weight postpartum. Be sure, though, to get adequate calories and avoid overheating during workouts, Haldezos emphasizes. “After the first trimester, avoid any supine [on your back] exercises to avoid cutting off blood flow to the heart,” he adds. “Also, avoid crunches because your abdominal muscles will be too stretched out at that point.”
  • Seniors should start by training just two times a week and emphasize the core—the stomach and back—as well as the hip and thigh muscles (i.e., the gluteal, quadriceps and hamstring muscles). Strengthening these muscles can prevent falls.

Regardless of your age or life stage, don’t give up just because you get sore. “It’s normal to be sore for one or two days,” Haldezos says. “If you have pain that lasts more than three days, though—or if there’s any bruising, swelling or redness in the area—talk to your doctor.”

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