In any gym, you will usually find most of the men working out are in their 20s and 30s, and some of them in 40s, but you’ll hardly find any in 50s or over 50s.
It’s almost as if most men think weight/strength training are for the young and when one gets in 50s or above, he or she should do walking or at the most jogging.
It’s just a myth that when you reach a certain age, it means you’re past it.
I have seen many men/women in their 50s and even older who defy age, have better physique & are fitter as compared to men/women half their age.
In this article, I am sharing with you 11 strength training tips for men/women over 50 (even in 60s), and show you that age is just a number.
11 Weight/Strength/Resistance Training Tips For Men Over 50 (Or Even in 60s)
Injury Prevention – Number 1 PRIORITY
Injury prevention is #1 rule when working out for older people whether in gym or at home.
Don’t do an exercise if it hurts. In case it does so, stop immediately and look for an alternative exercise. Never do that exercise until you find out what exactly the issue is. This may be because of the angle you’re working the muscle at, bad form, or simply poor posture (these issues are covered in detail later).
Getting a muscle torn or strained may mean a few days out of the gym in the 20s. But, if you are weight training in your 50s, it could mean a few weeks out of the gym.
About two years back, I traveled to Australia and stayed there for three months. At the local gym in the building where I stayed, I met an Australian guy in his 50s who had been training for few years.
He had a good physique for a man of his age & seemed to be well trained for strength training. One day, I saw him walking with difficulty around the gym. I asked him what happened. He told me he used too heavy weight on a machine and strained his lower back.
He couldn’t workout for 2 months. I’m sure he learnt his lesson.
Remember: “Prevention is the # 1 priority in the gym.”
Machines Are Your Friend
Many men in their 50s or over 50s shy away from strength/weight training as they fear it may cause joints pain. I always recommend the older people to use machines more in order to avoid joint pains & prevent aggravation any existing such condition.
In fact, you are less likely to get an injury using a machine.
However, many people almost get offended when you suggest to them for using machines. They just laugh at you saying machines are for weaklings!! They take pride in using predominantly free weights.
Don’t care about what people say – If you are over 50, machines are your all weather best friend.
Not only machines help you avoid injury, but they will also minimize wear and tear on your joints. And in 50s & above 50, preventing joint wear and tear is a BIG DEAL.
Use Higher Rep Ranges
For men/women after 50, ideally the workouts should mainly involve using higher rep ranges – meaning anywhere from 8 to 20 repetitions. Why so? Higher rep ranges involve lesser load and lesser strain on the joints & central nervous system.
While moderate ranges of 6-12 repetitions are ideal for gaining muscles (i.e. hypertrophy), 15+ repetitions are ideal for building muscle-endurance. (Source)
Whereas rep ranges lower than 6 are better in terms of gaining strength, but for women/men over 50s this puts lots of strain on their joints & muscles, and the risk for injury and strain placed on your entire body is just not worth the trade off.
Even if that means you’ll workout using less weight, but with higher reps you’ll sure feel and look better than 99% of men/women your age. And what’s more, you’ll be able to avoid many of the common shoulder & back problems and surgical procedures that many people in their 50s suffer.
Useful Related Post: How Many Reps Should You Do?
Those in their 20s and 30s can get away with just doing a single warm-up set, and then jump straight into a weight/strength/resistance training workout. But if you are in 50s, you need to seriously perform warm-up before any weight/strength/resistance training session.
Firstly, warming up raises your overall body temperature. This lowers the risk of getting any injury. Warming up also increases temperature of the muscles – meaning you can tap into the full potential of the muscle fibers and get optimum results.
A proper warm up also causes release of adequate hormones, namely, growth hormone, testosterone, insulin, etc. These hormones play key role in both your performance during the workout as well as the adaptation phase post workout.
Useful Related Post: Warm-up Benefits
Do Regular Stretching – 2/3 Times per Week
The proverb “If you don’t use it, you lose it” is very true as you grow older.
This axiom applies to muscle mass, bone mass as well as to flexibility. Your body has a natural flexibility when you’re young. However as you age, you should aim to make conscious efforts to maintain your body’s flexibility.
You must stretch at least 2-3 times per week for about 5-10 minutes at a time. Alternatively, you may do some form of Yoga or Pilates.
Regular stretching helps get rid of many of the pains and aches that you develop with age.
Useful Related Post: Stretching Guidelines
Use Correct Form
This dictum applies whatever your age may be, but the older adults must be very particular about using the correct form.
Never use weight heavier than what you can handle because that will make you do the exercises in the wrong manner using poor form. This way on one hand you expose your body to the risk of injuries, on the other you don’t get full benefits of the weight/strength/resistance training.
Always use proper form while doing every exercise.
Useful Related Post: Weight Training Guide After 50
Increase Time Under Tension
As you use less weight and overall workout volume, you should aim to increase the time under tension. This you can do by slowing down the pace of your reps.
Spend 1-2 seconds while lifting the weight (also called concentric or positive portion of an exercise) and 3-4 seconds lowering it (also called eccentric or negative portion of an exercise). It has been shown that the negative or lowering phase actually produces more force than the positive or lifting phase. (Source)
Slowing down each rep increases the time for which your muscle fibers remain under tension, which ultimately leads to greater contractions and more gains.
You Cannot Afford to Skip Workouts
In your 20s and 30s, you can get away with it – but as you grow older this stuff becomes really more important in order to maintain your flexibility, muscle & bone mass.
The efforts you put in now will directly improve the quality of life in your later years – meaning your chances of remaining disease-free, leading an active independent life and consequently staying out of a “care-home” will increase immensely.
I’m sure you will never want to be in a vegetative state or forgetting your own name in the latter half of your life. But that’s exactly what can happen to you unless you put in the work now.
So, you should consider your workouts as an integral part of your daily routine.
Useful Related Post: Weight Training Over 50 or 60
Regarding supplements, I have seen most people usually are on one end of the spectrum or the other. They are either anti-supplements or the ones who include in their diet whatever supplements the so-called health experts recommend.
In fact, the truth lies somewhere in between. The food we get today is treated with several chemicals in order to enhance its taste & extend shelf life. Consequently, it generally lacks in important micronutrients (such as vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, etc.)
To make up the deficiency of the micronutrients in the foods, it has become necessary to supplement.
Right supplements not only boost your performance, but also help with improved recovery, adequate sleep and better cognition. And if you’re weight training over 50, you need every advantage you can get.
Stop Making Excuses
This may be the first start of strength/weight/resistance training in your 50s (or even 60s). Or you may be resuming it after a number of years with an aim to get back into shape.
Whatever it may be, don’t allow excuses get in your way.
Remember this: Just for the reason other guys your age allow themselves go shit doesn’t mean you do the same. Your body may have some limitations, but you must try to find solutions. Moreover, as per my experience usually the limitations are in one’s head.
Most men in their 50s have low testosterone levels. And not doing weight training is the main reason. If you stop caring and looking after your body now, it will too ditch you in your old age.
Now stop making excuses for why you can’t do weight training.
Don’t Neglect Your Posture
If you haven’t been paying any attention to your posture, then start paying now.
In fact the longer you neglect your posture, the worse it would get.
A good posture means lesser lower back pains (a usual problem for men after 50), lesser tension in the neck & improved mood.
The first step in correcting the posture begins with being aware of it. Ask somebody to take a photo of you with a shirt off from the front, back & side.
The photo will help you assess how your posture actually is. It may be that your shoulders are internally rotated or your neck leans forward (kyphosis). This first one is usually common in case of men/women who spend a lot of time in driving or working on computers.
To improve your posture, you must make postural correction exercises an integral part of your exercise routine.