Resistance Training Progressions for the Older Adult – Pulls and Rows

by Robert Linkul, MS, CSCS,*D, NSCA-CPT,*D, FNSCA
Personal Training Quarterly February 2023
Vol 9, Issue 4


This article provides four exercises that are specifically designed to assist in building efficient posterior chain strength that can ultimately improve quality of life, ability, and performance for the older adult.

Developing the posterior chain, the muscles on the backside of the body, is vitally important to maintaining a healthy thoracic spine and posture in the aging body (5). Posterior chain development can increase loaded carry strength and potentially reduce unwanted joint stress in the shoulders, hips, and lower back (2). It is estimated that between 20 – 40% of all older adults have kyphosis, which is the rounding of the thoracic and cervical spine to a point of increased risk rate of fracture and overall mortality (2).

Kyphosis is associated with impaired physical performance, decreased overall health, and poor quality of life (3). Rowing and pulling with heavier loads can improve the musculature of the posterior chain including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius, and the posterior deltoid (1). With regard to older adults, this article provides four exercises (including progressions, regressions, cues, etc.) that are specifically designed to assist in building efficient posterior chain strength (anti-sarcopenia) that can ultimately improve quality of life, ability, and performance (1). These posterior chain exercises can help improve upper body strength with the goal of improving kyphotic symptoms of discomfort and poor function (6).

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, MB, 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. Katzman, WB, Wanek, L, Shepard, JA, and Sellmeyer, DE. Percentage of older adults with poor posture. Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 40(6): 352-360, 2010.

3. Kyphosis Overview. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 2022 from https:// syc-20374205.

4. Linkul, R. O-TOA: Online-Training the Older Adult Course. 2021.

5. Taylor, J. Increase hip and trunk stability with loaded carries for injury prevention, rehabilitation, and performance. NSCA Coach 7(3): 2020.

6. Wang, CH, McClure, P, Pratt, NE, and Nobilini, R. Stretching and strengthening exercises: Their effect on three-dimensional scapular kinematics. Archives of Physical and Medical Rehabilitation 80(8): 93-99, 1999.

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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