Ladies–force is the number one thing that needs to be added into your life if you want to build stronger bones.

Unfortunately, most women take force out of their life as they get older, which only serves to speed up the bone-loss process.

On top of that, many women are hesitant to add higher-force activities into their life due to the fear of injury.

Does this sound familiar to you at all?

Fortunately, adding force back into your life does not have to be difficult, time consuming, or dangerous.

There are two primary ways I recommend all of my clients start adding force into their life with their workouts. The first is high-impact training, which I discussed in detail in Part 2 of this series here. The second is heavy resistance training, and this is where a lot gets left on the table with most women.

When I bring up resistance training to ladies, there are a couple misconceptions I am often met with. One misconception is that resistance training will make them bulky, and they don’t want that.

I can say with 100% certainty that if you are at risk of developing osteoporosis, or if you already have osteoporosis, you will NOT be getting bulky from doing resistance training.

What you will be doing, however, is building the strength of your muscles and bones and in a safe and effective way.

Which leads me to the second misconception–that all resistance training is created equal.

Let me be very clear about this–if you want to build stronger bones, your resistance training needs to be HEAVY.

Building stronger bones does not happen through lifting light weights. It just doesn’t. There’s not enough stimulus telling your bones they need to get stronger. Your resistance training MUST be heavy.

How heavy? It needs to be done using a minimum of 85% of your one rep max. This means if the most amount of weight you can press overhead one time is while holding a 20 pound dumbbell in each hand, you need to be doing your shoulder press exercise holding at least 17 pounds in each hand.

This is heavy enough that it is going to feel VERY challenging from the moment you start the exercise. There will not be a period of, “Hmmm this weight feels pretty good I think I can do some reps here.” From the start of the exercise, it will feel like, “Holy wow I don’t know if I am going to be able to move this at all!”

And that’s okay. It is 100% okay for you to lift heavy, challenging weights.

I know you may be concerned about injury, but with some slight tweaks in how you do each exercise, that concern will be a thing of the past.

I help women overcome this concern every single day when I work with them at my private personal training studio outside of Chicago. And you know what, even though that concern is justified and well-placed, when they do the exercises exactly as I teach them, they build the strength of their muscles and bones without any issues whatsoever.

There are four key principles that need to be followed in order to make sure you are staying safe while you do your heavy resistance training. These principles are our four Exercise For Life Principles.

As a quick overview, they are:

  1. Use your symptom-free full range of motion
  2. Control your moving and non-moving segment
  3. Move slowly
  4. Focus on squeezing your muscles

These are the keys to making sure you stay safe while you do your heavy resistance training. My husband and I put out a free guide for you to learn more about what these principles are and how to implement them in your own workouts. You can get a copy of this by clicking here.

Once you start to consistently implement these four key principles, the concern of hurting yourself when you lift heavy weights will be a thing of the past. I cannot emphasize enough how important these four principles are to ensuring that you stay safe and healthy when you exercise, so if you aren’t already implementing them, now is the time!

Getting older is not a one-way street for women to develop osteoporosis, and losing bone density does not mean you are destined to become weak and fragile.

You can build stronger, healthier bones, but lifting light weights will not suffice.

You need to do your resistance training, and it needs to be heavy. It needs to be challenging. And you need to do it consistently throughout your week.

In my OsteoStrength For Her Newsletter, I cover these types of topics and more, discussing different considerations you need to take with your workouts if you want to build stronger bones and how to go about doing it in a safe and effective way.

This newsletter comes out every Sunday, and you can join it for free by clicking here.

I can’t wait to see you there!

In strength and health,


Categories: Julie Cates

Julie Cates

Julie Cates is an experienced, certified, and insured National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Personal Trainer and mastery level Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT®) Rx Specialist (MATRx). She is one of 88 certified mastery level Resistance Training Specialists® (RTSm) in the world. This combination makes her style of training impactful and still preventative and restorative of joint and muscle issues and pain that are common with exercise. Julie specializes working with women 50 and over. Specifically, her main focus is working with women with bone density loss, muscle loss, Osteopenia, and Osteoporosis. Julie has incredible experience working with brand new exercisers. Very specific types and styles of exercises are needed for restoring and maintaining bone density, and Julie guides her clients through these in a pain-free way. She is also well experienced in helping women exercise even with various joint, bone, systemic, and neurological diagnoses. Julie is definitely your go-to personal trainer for women with Osteoporosis! Julie graduated cum laude from the University of Florida. She earned her degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology with a specialization in Exercise Physiology. Julie is the co-owner of Muscle Activation Schaumburg in Schaumburg, IL. She is a wife and mother of two. Julie can be reached via e-mail at Follow her on Instagram at @julcates!