Strength Training & Bone Health: Asking the basic questions

Lot of talk about strength training helping with bone health/strength.

Two basic questions that might already have been answered but I have not see them:

  1. How much weight (absolute or relative to body weight) do I have to lift to get the body to do it’s thing to work on bone strength/health?

  2. Is the response specific to the bones being loaded or a general full body response? In other words, if I do heavy squats will that only benefit the bones that are getting loaded from that exercise or will it also help the rest of the body?


Guessing here:
1 - more than you currently do (i.e., any amount of increased load will give some degree of stimulus);
2 - probably the bones under load, primarily.

As above, total guess work but would like to know the answers!

I can only make an educated guess as well:

  1. TrainerRoad actually has some sort of calculator available for this question:
    Strength Training Calculator - TrainerRoad

  2. I can only imagine this tends to differ wether your training with free weights or guided machines (don’t know the exact expression in English, sorry). With free weights, you might involve the rest of the body more, while with some sort of aid from a training machine you’re very likely to focus on a single muscle (group), and in conclusion on a specific set of bones.

I’m going to avoid getting too deep into the weeds…

This is going to sound super hand-wavy, but the answer is simply “more than you’re used to.” So, if you’ve never lifted a weight before, just lifting something (provided it’s more than what you encounter in free living) will be sufficient. What’s critical here is that you continue to increase the weight over time (“progressive overload”).

Both, but the loaded bones will get more benefit. Resistance training causes a systemic hormonal response that is overall osteogenic, and the loaded bones get the added local benefit. Do note that a barbell back squat will load just about your entire skeleton. :slight_smile:

…while we’re on the topic of squats, the best core exercise going is the barbell squat.

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