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The Bone Estrogen Strength Study



The Bone Estrogen Strength Training (BEST) Study was conducted between 1995 and 2004 by researchers from the University of Arizona. The purpose was to investigate how strength training affects changes in bone density in post-menopausal women, with the goal of improving osteoporosis. The BEST Study provides the framework of personalized training programs.

Weight Lifting

Training Tips


Regular Exercise Sessions

  • Strength training – 2-3 times per week, (3 is best) with a day in between for recovery

  • Cardiovascular – can be done daily

  • Flexibility training – very important to include following strength training to minimize muscle soreness; can be done daily

  • Balance training – minimize the risk of falling by challenging your balance daily

  • Impact – higher impact activities cause the bones to become stronger; choose the level of impact that you can tolerate safely:

    • Passive, i.e. whole body vibration platform

    • Low impact, i.e. heel drops, walking

    • Medium impact, i.e. jogging, hopping

    • High impact, i.e. running, plyometric jumps

Put it on the calendar

Working with a trainer is a great way to be accountable! If you aren’t working with a trainer, be sure to work out with a friend!

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Water, water, and more water!

Drink plenty of water, before, during, and after your workout.

Pre-workout snack

The BEST protocol requires a lot of hard work, and you don’t want to do it on an empty stomach. You will need energy to perform the workout, so be sure to have a light snack with simple carbohydrates 30 minutes to an hour prior to working out. An apple makes a great snack!

Post-workout snack

Your muscles (and bones) will have a great workout, and in order for growth to occur, your body needs protein! Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, or string cheese all make a great post-workout snack, and they're a good source of calcium, too!

Dress for success

  • Having the proper shoes will give you the support and stability you need to perform the exercises safely. Determine the type of floor surface you will be using. If you are on a wooden floor, you want to make sure your shoes won’t slip. If you are on a carpeted surface, you don’t want a tread so thick that your foot will get caught on the floor.

  • Make sure your clothing is comfortable and allows free movement.

The Building Better Bones and Muscles Workout

  • Cardio Warm-up (3-5 minutes)

  • Weight Training (includes BEST Exercises, plus chest and shoulders) (25-30 minutes)

  • Cardio Weight-bearing (20 minutes)

  • Smaller Muscle Groups (5-8 minutes)

  • Abs, Low Back, and Stretching (5-8 minutes)

The BEST Protocol

  • Alternate moderate and heavy lifting days

  • Moderate: 2 sets of 8 with good form (except military press, then 6 reps)

  • Heavy: 2 sets of 6 with good form (except military press, then 4 reps)

  • Work up to 70-80% max

Essential Exercises

  • Wall Squat with a Stability Ball

  • Loaded Squat, using Smith machine, barbell, V-Squat, or weighted vest

  • Leg Press

  • Seated Row

  • Lat Pulldown

  • Single-arm Military Press

  • Low Back Extension 

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Additional Exercises

The exercises presented with the BEST Study have been shown to be the most effective in terms of bone growth. However, they do not represent a complete list of exercises that you should do to meet your other fitness goals. Be sure to include exercises that encourage strength and endurance through the chest, such as the chest press and (if necessary, modified) pushups. Other exercises that promote a strong core will be recommended by your trainer.

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