Does weight training increase bone density?

Posted by for Strong Women

Does weight training increase bone density? Fitness trainers answer the most googled questions. 

When we think about physical strength, we tend to think about building muscles that can squat, press and deadlift. But there are other parts of your body that also need to be strong in order to live a comfortable, healthy and long life.

Your bones are just one example. They’re responsible for keeping the entire structure of your body stable, protecting vital organs and anchoring the muscles. “Bone density refers to the porosity of the bones,” explains fitness trainer Emma Obayuvana. “Bones are naturally porous, but the more porous they get, the more likely they are to fracture and break.” Despite what adverts tell you, it will take more than a high-calcium yoghurt for bones to stay strong, dense and function at their best. 

Strength training is one way to get stronger bones, according to Strong Women ambassadors Emma Obayuvana and Alice Miller. They’re here to explain how that happens, and why it matters.

Does strength training improve bone density?

EMMA OBAYUVANA

“Weight training definitely increases bone density, and it also prevents the natural loss of bone density that happens as we age. High bone density means that you’re less at risk of fractures and even osteoporosis, which is really common in women as we age.”

ALICE MILLER

“Yes it does. People who haven’t done much exercise will find that their bones are more frail as they get older, and they break easier. You reach your peak bone density by 30, but you can preserve strong bones if you continue weight bearing exercise.”

Alice Miller encourages everyone to use weights
Alice Miller encourages everyone to use weights

How does strength training improve bone density?

EMMA OBAYUVANA

“Weight bearing exercise will strengthen your joints and bones because you’re exerting force on your body and skeletal system. If you exert force on your muscle, your muscle is forced to grow bigger, so it’s just the same thing with bones.”

ALICE MILLER

“When you’re training there’s a force that’s working against the muscles. That then pulls against the bone and stimulates the bone growth. Jumping and resistance training are the best forms of exercise to improve bone density, as they force our muscles to replenish and come back stronger in the same way muscles do.”

What’s the best exercise to increase bone density?

ALICE MILLER

“If you’re training for the purpose of staying healthy in older age, I think that the squat is the single best move to practise. That’s because it works the biggest joint and the most amount of muscles in the body. It’s just a great compound exercise.”

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