You will usually see most people working out in any gym are in their 20s and 30s. Some might be in their 40s, but you’ll hardly see any in their 50s or over 50s.
It’s almost as if most men think weight/strength training is for the young, and when one gets in the 50s or above, they 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 physiques & are fitter as compared to men/women half their age.
In this article, I am sharing 11 strength training tips for men/women over 50 (even in the 60s) and showing you that age is just a number.
11 Weight/Strength/Resistance Training Tips For Men Over 50 (Or Even in the 60s)
Injury Prevention – Number 1 PRIORITY
Injury prevention is the #1 rule when working out for older people, whether in a gym or at home.
Don’t do an exercise if it hurts persistently. If it does so, stop immediately and look for an alternative exercise. Then, never do that exercise until you find out what exactly the issue is. That may be because of the angle at which you’re working the muscle, lousy 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.
I traveled to Australia about two years back 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 a 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 had happened. He told me he used too heavyweight on a machine and strained his lower back.
He couldn’t work out for two months. I’m sure he learned 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 joint pain. However, I always recommend that older people use machines more to avoid joint pains & prevent aggravation of 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 using machines. They 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 do machines help you avoid injury, but they will also minimize wear and tear on your joints. And in the 50s & above 50, preventing joint wear and tear is a BIG DEAL.
Use Higher Rep Ranges
Ideally, the workouts for men/women after 50 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 suitable for building muscle endurance. (Source)
Whereas rep ranges lower than six are better in terms of gaining strength, for women/men over 50s, this puts lots of strain on their joints & muscles, and the risk for injury and stress placed on your entire body is just not worth the trade-off.
Even if that means you’ll work out using less weight, 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.
Helpful 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 your 50s, you need to seriously perform a warm-up before any weight/strength/resistance training session.
Firstly, warming up raises your overall body temperature. That lowers the risk of getting any injury. Warming up also increases the muscles’ temperature, meaning you can tap into the full potential of the muscle fibers and get optimum results.
A proper warm-up also causes the release of adequate hormones, namely, growth hormone, testosterone, insulin, etc. These hormones play a key role in both your performance during the workout as well as the adaptation phase post-workout.
Helpful 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 flexibility. Your body has 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 older adults must be very particular about using the correct form.
Never use weight heavier than you can handle because that will make you do the exercises incorrectly using poor form. This way, on the one hand, you expose your body to the risk of injuries; on the other, you don’t get the full benefits of the weight/strength/resistance training.
Always use proper form while doing every exercise.
Helpful 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 that you can do by slowing down the pace of your reps.
Spend 1-2 seconds while lifting the weight (also called the concentric or positive portion of an exercise) and 3-4 seconds lowering it (also called the 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 more critical to maintaining 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 forget your own name in the latter half of your life. But that’s precisely what can happen to you unless you put in the work now.
So, it would help if you considered your workouts an integral part of your daily routine.
Helpful 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 to enhance its taste & extend shelf life. Consequently, it generally lacks essential micronutrients (such as vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, etc.)
So it has become necessary to supplement to make up for the deficiency of the micronutrients in the foods.
Right supplements boost your performance and 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 start of strength/weight/resistance training in your 50s (or even 60s). Or you may be resuming it after several years intending to get back into shape.
Whatever it may be, don’t allow excuses to get in your way.
Remember this: Just because other guys your age allow themselves to 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 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 attention to your posture, start paying now.
In fact, the longer you neglect your posture, the worse it will 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. For example, it may be that your shoulders are internally rotated, or your neck leans forward (kyphosis). This first one is usually common in the case of men/women who spend a lot of time driving or working on computers.
You must make postural correction exercises an integral part of your exercise routine to improve your posture.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”