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How to Train to Build Muscle with Dustin Jones, PT, DPT

May 11, 2022

Today, I am blessed to have here with me Dustin Jones. Dustin is a Geriatric Physical Therapist with a background in sports and orthopedics. He received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2011 from the University of Kentucky.  Dustin is a board-certified Geriatric Certified Specialist (GCS) and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer (CF-L1).

He blends his sports & geriatrics background to help older adults improve their lives at StrongerLife in Lexington, KY.

Dustin is also the creator of GEROS Health which has been a critical voice in shifting attention towards elevating the quality of care, and more specifically, the intensity of care, that we deliver to aging adults.

In this episode, Dustin speaks about geriatric rehab and the importance of strength training for the 55+ community. Strength training is all about consistency and working at a hard enough intensity to grow and improve your muscles. Plus, strength training is critical for maintaining your mobility, independence, and quality of life. Dustin dives deep into how he helps patients build strength training programs. Tune in as we talk about practicing what you preach, avoiding injuries, and the basics behind gradual progression. 


Here's What we Cover in This Episode:

[02:10] All About Dustin Jones and The Inspiration Behind StrongerLife

  • Dustin took a job at a skilled nursing facility. He realized people were getting physical therapy that was too easy for them. 
  • Then, Dustin started to treat his caseload at the nursing facility as if they were athletes. His patients improved and showed progress more significantly than any of his actual athletes. 
  • Dustin uses his skills at StrongerLife. It is a science-based program that improves physical, mental, and social health for people 55+.
  • After discharging people from physical therapy, Dustin wanted to create a place for people to continue their work. 

[08:25] How CrossFit Has Played A Role In Dustin’s Career At StongerLife

  • Dustin has been doing CrossFit for around four years. 
  • With CrossFit, there is more emphasis on being a generalist. You want to have endurance, but you also want to have strength. 
  • Overall, CrossFit asks you to be good at many different things. 
  • The more consistent Dustin became with CrossFit, the more he was impacted by the strength piece of CrossFit. 
  • CrossFit helped Dustin feel stronger mentally. Plus, he is more confident in what his body can do. 

[13:30] Most Clinicians Are Not Practicing What They Preach When It Comes To Strength Training 

  • The vast majority of folks are not even practicing what they're preaching to their patients. 
  • People’s perception of strength training really isn’t strength training.
  • We must remember that 60% of a one-rep max is the minimum to build strength.
  • How much weight can you lift with a particular movement? The vast majority of clinicians have never even tested it. 
  • Overall, there is underdosing when it comes to physical therapy. 

[16:50] How To Build A Strength Training Program Using “AMRAP”

  • First, Dustin starts with an AMRAP set. AMRAP stands for “as many reps as possible.”
  • When you do AMRAP, the weight should be so heavy that you can only do seven or eight reps total. 
  • Start with five sets of five. On the last set, do AMRAP. 
  • During AMRAP, if you’re doing 20 reps, that means the weight is way too low. 
  • Remember, your high intensity can be low intensity for someone else.

[23:35] What Fatigue Should Feel Like During Strength Training 

  • During AMRAP, your weight should be so heavy you can only do seven or eight.
  • Fatigue feels like you can’t do it again.
  • You should go to failure on the last set during AMRAP.
  • Don’t push anyone too soon too quickly as a general rule of thumb. 
  • At StrongerLife, the first couple of weeks is all about getting people moving. 

[29:30] Dustin’s Top Three Favorite Exercises: Deadlift, Squats, and Push-Ups 

  • The deadlift is a favorite at StrongerLife. 
  • Deadlifts are a total body exercise.
  • Using your hips instead of your back to lift weight will be a total game-changer for the 55+ community. 
  • When you learn how to lift heavy weights, it helps people physically and mentally.
  • Another great exercise is squatting. It translates to so many things in the real world. 
  • Lastly, push-ups are so important. It helps with the ability to get to and from the ground quickly. 

[35:35] Gradual Progression: How To Avoid Injuries While Strength Training 

  • First, think about the danger of not starting strength training. 
  • Sedentary behavior opens the door to physical decline.
  • So many injuries are related to asking your body to do something that it’s not ready to do.
  • The easiest way to prevent injury is a slow progression and listening to your body.
  • All in all, gradually progressing your program will give your body the ability to adapt.

[39:30] How Frequently Should We Work On Our Muscles? 

  • At a minimum, you need strength training a few times a week.
  • The best thing to counteract soreness is to keep moving. 
  • At StrongerLife, most folks lift heavy three to four times a week.
  • Remember to work out different muscle groups throughout the week. 

[49:40] When Is It Time To Start Strength Training?

  • You need to start strength training today.
  • The stronger you are, the more resilient you are going to be. 
  • Find a qualified physical therapist who practices what they preach.
  • That way, you can get introduced to a solid exercise program tailored to your ability. 



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