Building Strong Bones with Resistance Training

January 27, 2015

Did you know resistance training is the best way to build strong bones?


This post summarizes the benefits of resistance training in regards to bone health and highlights which type of resistance training that increases bone mineral density the most


"The National Osteoporosis Foundation distinguishes between exercise that builds bone density and 2 subgroups of exercises that do not have an effect on the bones. There are exercises without impact, like balance or flexibility exercises, and there are exercises where the body weight is not entirely supported (non–weight-bearing exercises, also nonimpact exercises), such as cycling or swimming. Other more effective types of exercise include weight-bearing exercises and resistance training "


"Long-term resistance training has been proven to significantly improve BMD, bone mineral density. Individuals who engage in heavy labor or physical activity (e.g., weight training) from an earlier age have greater bone density than less active age- and gender-matched individuals.


Studies have shown that master athletes engaged in strength- and power-oriented

sports (weight-lifting and throwing events) have higher BMD than endurance athletes (swimmers and distance runners).


Results found that a high-intensity, freeweight training program significantly increased BMD at the hip and spine for both men and women, while moderate intensity training produced no significant changes in BMD. These findings suggest that a higher magnitude of free-weight, large muscle group exercises (squats and deadlifts) is necessary to stimulate osteogenesis, the formation of bone."


"Better results are achieved when impact activities are included because impact seems to be a highly efficient exercise to promote BMD, except for postmenopausal women."



So what does all of this mean?


  • If you only run, cycle, swim, or just do yoga you are not getting all you need from your workouts

  • Proper resistance training added to your routine will increase bone mineral density, thus helping to prevent and reverse osteoporosis

  • Free-weight exercises are better at stimulating bone growth

  • "Machines are unable to develop free, natural biomechanical movement that can transfer to functional daily living"

  • Young or old, resistance training will improve your BMD


How to start resistance training:


  • If you are new to resistance training seek out a qualified trainer to teach you how to properly perform exercises (all of the SAA trainers are certified and have experience training individuals both young and old)

  • Progress loads slowly

  • Everyone is different, an exercise that works for one person may be unsafe for another. Not everyone needs to be doing high impact movements, there are impact and weight bearing movements that increase BMD, but finding the approprite level of intensity is important. Consult with your physician before beginning a training program if you have, or may have osteoperosis 

  • A qualified trainer can prescribe appropriate movements for your fitness level

  • Stick with it! Long term resistance training will yield the best results




Adams, Kent, PhD, Patrick O'Shea, EdD, and Katie L. O'Shea, MS. "Aging: Its Effects on Strength, Power, Flexibility, and Bone Density." National Strength & Conditioning Association 21 (1999): 65-77. Web.


Calatayud, Joaquin, Sebastien Borreani, Juan Colado, and Travis Triplett. "Exercise to Improve Bone Mineral Density." National Strength & Conditioning Association 35.5 (2013): 70-74. Web.

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