Building strength at 50 – it’s never too late to start

sportmed Exercise Physiologist, Trent Larwood, shares with FIFTY+SA how to make positive changes to our health and fitness through strength training.

WORDS: Trent Larwood, sportsmed Exercise Physiologist

You might not be able to change your age, but it’s never too late to start making changes to your health and fitness by incorporating strength training into your routine. 

As our bodies mature, we are faced with an increased risk of health-related concerns such as osteoporosis, sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass and strength), falls and fractures, reduced balance and cardiovascular disease. When it comes to muscle mass, the decline starts as early as our 30s, but the rate of decline significantly increases on the other side of 50. Similarly, our bone density starts to decline at this age too. 

However, it is possible to slow this process and help prevent other health issues from arising by adding muscle-strengthening exercises into your fitness program. 

Why strength training?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2020/21 only 24% of Australians aged 45-55 were participating in regular muscle strengthening activities. But in actual fact, this is one of the most important types of exercise to help fight against declining bone density and muscle mass. And given the changes that start to occur at 50, it could be argued that this is the best time to start if you haven’t already! Research shows that previously untrained adults over the age of 50 made significant improvements to their muscle mass, bone density and balance after following a resistance training program. 

What is strength training?

Strength training can be any pushing, pulling or lifting movements that work against heavy loads. This can be either planned exercise such as weights training in the gym or unplanned physical activity such as heavy garden or housework. sportsmed offers a number of exercise physiology services that help clients to build strength, including:

  • 1:1 supervised exercise sessions
  • Stronger for Life group exercise classes
  • Type 2 Diabetes group classes 
  • Falls prevention and balance classes

How much should I do?

According to the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour guidelines, adults should aim to complete two muscle-strengthening sessions per week (non-consecutive days), consisting of 8-10 exercises that target all major muscles (eg. Legs, arms, core, shoulders, back). 

However, as the saying goes “anything is better than nothing”. So, if you’re new to strength training or haven’t participated in strength training for an extended period of time, start small with 3-4 exercises once a week and then build up to the recommended twice-weekly 8-10 exercises.

How do I get started?

If strength training is new to you or you’ve been out of action for a while and you’re a little unsure where to start, have a chat with your doctor or get in touch with an Exercise Physiologist. Exercise Physiologists are university qualified health professionals trained to use clinical exercise interventions to prevent and manage a variety of health conditions. If you’re looking to start strength training an exercise physiologist can build you an individualised program tailored to any specific needs you may have.

For more information about the above programs or to find your closest sportsmed Exercise Physiologist, visit 

Trent Larwood is an ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist & Exercise Scientist. Based at sportsmed’s Henley Beach clinic, Trent is experienced in diabetes management, sports injury rehabilitation, chronic disease management, falls prevention and athletic development. A referral is not required to make an appointment with Trent or any of sportsmed’s Exercise Physiologists.


Stepney Healthcare Hub · Blackwood · Henley Beach · Morphett Vale · Mitcham


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