Strength testing is only for athletes right?
While naturally, we think of million-dollar athletes when strength testing is mentioned, every individual regardless of their age, gender, and the activities that they do requires some strength capacity to be able to do the tasks that make up their daily lives.
Older individuals are some of the most common client types that health and fitness professionals deal with on a daily basis, yet for some reason, we often don’t assume performance testing is relevant for them. Yet these older individuals are often still physically active, doing activities and hobbies they enjoy in their later years.
In this blog we're going to explore why strength testing is important to geriatrics and some of the considerations you should have when choosing strength testing equipment.
It is well appreciated that as we age, we lose some of the mobility that we once had. Joints and muscles become stiffer and we lose flexibility. Balance and control is often reduced increasing the risk of falls. Another factor is the involuntary loss of muscle mass and strength as we age.
Unfortunately, this can begin sooner than we might expect.
Volpi's 2004 study found that “Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60”. Metter’s 1997 study also found that muscle power is usually lost even more at a rate 10% faster than muscle strength.
This decrease in strength can have an effect on older clients in many ways:
Fortunately physical activity particularly resistance training has been shown to counteract the reduction of muscle mass, even in older individuals.
It is therefore important for us as health and fitness professionals to be able to:
This is where objective strength testing is important to give tangible baselines and results for our older clients.
Typically tests such as a sit to stand test for time, timed up and go test, or 6-minute walk test has been chosen to assess function for older individuals
While these are useful, they do not provide much sensitivity for where strength gains can be made in individual muscle groups, and usually do not give muscle insight into maximum force or power production in older individuals.
This is where the AxIT System comes in.
Using AxITs variety of isometric strength tests is the perfect way to assess geriatrics. For example:
It is well known that resistance training is important in maintaining the health and wellbeing of older clients.
For example, Seguins 2003 research found that strength-training exercises have the ability to combat weakness and frailty and their debilitating consequences of chronic disease, while Bardtsu's 2020 study found that over 70s that completed resistance training exercises improved in tests of physical function (chair rise, 8 ft-up-and-go, preferred- and maximal gait speed, and stair climb), maximal strength, rate of force development, and body composition.
The challenge when working with older clients is often in increasing motivation to perform physical exercise and selecting the right intensity of exercise prescription to increase strength and muscle mass.
This is where testing can help.
Clients who can see where they started, how far they have progressed, and where they need to get to with their resistance training will be more engaged in their exercise programs and stay compliant. Objective strength testing helps to fulfill this.
Also, having objective isometric strength measures can also help with accurate exercise prescription. Mayer's 2011 study found that muscle mass can be increased through training at an intensity corresponding to 60% to 85% of voluntary maximum contraction in older people. The insights gained from isometric strength testing can help to select the right resistance load to minimise risk of overloading the client which is particularly important in the early stages of training.
Want to learn more about how Strength By Numbers makes advanced assessment equipment accessible to the everyday practitioner working with older clients?
Book a discovery call with our team to find out how our products can help your clients and your business achieve amazing results.