Does weightlifting affect your joints once you’re over 50?

Today’s question comes from an older athlete who recently started weightlifting.

“Does weightlifting affect your joints once you’re over 50? I started weightlifting 2 years ago and recently my doctor said that after 3-4 years, I’ll get my joints completely damaged. Is he right?”

No, your doctor is missing the mark on this one. The common misconception about weightlifting or any resistance training is as a result of the stress it puts on your bones and joints, they’ll become frail and brittle. This is a case of half the story being told. Yes, resistance training breaks down the bones and joints (on a microscopic level), but the body doesn’t break like a piece of wood or concrete. When some part of the body is damaged it repairs it.

Even better, when something is repaired the body super compensates (builds extra) to prevent further damage from the same activity. Weightlifting causes the bones and joints to become stronger after being broken down. However, the benefit to your joints doesn’t stop there. It breaks down the muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding those joints and they get stronger too. When all of these are getting stronger breaking a bone, hurting a joint, or even arthritis all decrease substantially.

So, how do you get started? I mean the gym can be super intimidating regardless of your age, but when you’re 50 plus it’s even worse. Home workouts are a great way to begin building up that starting strength without the overwhelm of other people, equipment, and globogyms. Simple body movements such as squats, lunges, push-ups, bent over suitcase rows, and more can be done nearly anywhere, and all will help build that foundation.

Once you don’t feel as if your body is a foreign entity you can then seek out a gym you feel comfortable with that will meet you where you’re at and guide you to where you need to be. The key here is progression. Seek to progress at a sustainable rate, ensure adequate recovery time between workouts, and make weightlifting an enjoyable activity instead of a punishment for how you ate.

If you have any questions on how to get started, I’d love to chat with you!

Always helping, Christoph