Resistance Training Progressions for the Older Adult – Deadlifts

by Robert Linkul, MS, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D, FNSCA
Personal Training Quarterly November 2021
Vol 8, Issue 3


This article details the proper pick up, or deadlift, technique for the older adult, including progressions of three exercises that can aid in their ability to perform them properly.

Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass to the point that ability and function are decreased or lost, affects 25 – 45% of the United States population, and 58% of those over the age of 70 (1). Daily life functions, such as proper pick ups (deadlifts), sit-to-stands (squats), pulling items toward the body (rows), and pushing items away from the body (presses), are most affected by the decrease in muscle mass. The decrease in daily life functional movements can result in falls, tissue injuries, broken bones, loss of independence, and lack of activity due to the fear of injury. All of these potential issues ultimately result in a decreased quality of life. This article will target proper pick-ups (deadlifts) and the progression of three exercises that can aid in the older adult’s ability to perform them properly.

This article originally appeared in Personal Training Quarterly (PTQ)—a quarterly publication for NSCA Members designed specifically for the personal trainer. Discover easy-to-read, research-based articles that take your training knowledge further with Nutrition, Programming, and Personal Business Development columns in each quarterly, electronic issue. Read more articles from PTQ »



1. Du, K, Goates, S, Arensberg, M, Pereira, S, and Gaillard, T. 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. O-TOA: Online-Training the Older Adult: Course. 2021.

About the author

Robert C. Linkul, MS, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D

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Robert Linkul is the owner of TOA ( a personal training studio and online continued educationprovider for fitness profession ...

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