by Robert Linkul, MS, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D, FNSCA
Personal Training Quarterly February 2022
Vol 8, Issue 4
Upwards of 50% of older adults (60 years of age of more) have a life altering limitation called sarcopenia (3). Sarcopenia is the natural degeneration of muscle to a point where regular daily life functions (DLFs) are lost. DLFs include pressing or pulling from overhead, pushing or pulling horizontally, carrying load, hinging at the hip, and maintaining proper posture (2). With the loss of muscle mass needed to perform the DLFs successfully and on a regular basis, the individual’s quality of life can be negatively impacted as their ability to partake in healthy and fun social activities can be reduced (1). The good news is that sarcopenia can be defeated with the implementation of resistance and stability training on a regular basis.
Personal trainers will likely have the opportunity to work with clients who have suffered from sarcopenia and have lost the strength, stability, and ability needed in their body to perform basic movement patterns (3). One of the more common joints affected by sarcopenia is the shoulder. The shoulder is vital for maintaining a health posture and for the ability to press or pull from overhead. With a decreased volume of muscle mass supporting the shoulder joint, the client may simply stop using their shoulder on a regular basis. This increases the client’s inability to use their shoulder and quickly becomes a major physical limitation for them that can cause discomfort and a poor quality of life (2).
In this article, it is the author’s intention to supply the personal trainer with resistance training techniques, progressions, and cues that can assist their clients in overcoming sarcopenia and achieve their goals to eventually press to the overhead position pain free and with confidence. To do this, the personal trainer and their client will need to successfully perform the following progressions. First, the client will need to develop upper body posterior chain strength with a rowing movement pattern that will heavily develop the lats, rhomboids, rear delts, and other posterior chain muscles. Second is the development of the deltoids via multiple angles of shoulder raises. Third is a leverage-based (pivot point) press that will allow a range of motion to be achieved without a large amount of stability. Finally, fourth is a strict overhead press with each individual arm. We will begin with step one, the pivot point retraction row.
1. Du, K, Goates, S, Arensberg, M, and Pereira, S. Prevalence of sarcopenia and sarcopenic obesity vary with race/ethnicity and advancing age. Diversity and Equality in Health and Care 15(4): 175-183, 2018.
2. Linkul, R. Online-Training the Older Adult (O-TOA) Course. 2021.
3. Papadopoulou, S. Sarcopenia: A contemporary health problem among older adult populations. Nutrients 12(5): 1293, 2020.
4. UCSF Health. Overview of frozen shoulder. Retrieved 2021 from https://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/frozen-shoulder.