Are you a senior over 50 or even 60, & looking to lose flab – but at the time want to retain (or increase) your muscle & bone mass then this article is for you.
Most of the people over 50 or 60 are tempted to put on a nice pair of running shoes and go out for brisk walking or jogging on the streets or in a park around their neighborhood in the morning, noon or evening. However, while jogging or brisk walking might help in losing some fat – they are not an effective way to retain/increase your bone & muscle mass.
A more effective way to stay trim and maintain your body strong is weight training.
Whereas aerobic or endurance activities help improve cardiovascular fitness by moving large muscle groups hundreds of times against gravity, weight training can do so by providing much resistance and has multiple benefits – fat/weight loss, increasing/retaining bone mass and gaining muscle strength & mass. Actually, weight training trumps brisk walking, jogging, running, biking or other aerobic type workouts.
Beginning Weight Training Over 50 Or Even 60 – Tips & Guidelines
The key is to begin slowly so as not to get injured. Not only an injury will set you back in your capability to workout, but also it can negatively affect your attitude towards weight training. Before you start weight training you need to have an honest assessment of your current physical/heath condition and weaknesses. To succeed in carrying out any new training regime, you first need to be confident in your physical & mental abilities to do so.
Caution: If you have any medical/health issue, talk to your doctor first.
You must not be in a hurry in the first few weeks. Begin slowly and get your body adapted to the movements and familiarized with moving through the full range of motion.
At the beginning do some basic body weight exercises only such as pushups & squats. Push-ups will work on your chest, shoulders & triceps; Squats on the legs and glutes.
You can also try just hanging from a bar to begin gaining grip strength and for stretching your shoulders and lats.
Perform overhead presses with the barbell only (without plates) as well. This will work as a good shoulder, triceps & core stabilizer.
Try some dumbbell rows with lightweight for gaining back, biceps and forearm strength.
Use a light barbell (without plates) to do perform straight leg deadlifts for building strength for your low back and hamstrings.
Useful Related Post: How To Do Deadlifts – For Beginners & Seniors
Do the above workouts three times per week for 2 weeks so as to make sure that you rest at least 24 hours between two consecutive workout sessions.
You must NOT feel sore from these workouts. Objective is just to get your body moving, adapt to bending and become accustomed to moving through the intended range of motion.
You can use light loads (even something like resistance bands) to introduce your body to resistance exercises, and at the same time creating an anabolic stimulus & benefiting from the beneficial impact that these exercise provide.
Variety in your weight/resistance training is another way to avoid the “agonizing” over-use injuries so common as we age. For weight trainers, rotating the exercises using different equipment and working out with varying strength intensity (within your abilities) is a good way to stay healthy and strong.
Variation here is not just limited to selection of the exercises, but also involves changing the exercises order as well.
Building on the previous point of the “Variety”, seniors too need to find suitable ways to increase “time-under-tension” their muscles are subject to, and the difficulty (intensity) of the exercises keeping in view their abilities.
In addition to increasing the repetitions, experimenting with different tempos (within a range of relatively slower speeds as compared to the young trainers) is very effective in providing a different stimulus and producing greater muscle-gaining stimulus, whilst reducing joint stress.
Grouping exercises that focus on lower back into one day in a week can be an effective approach to strengthen the often-vulnerable lower back structures.
In case of those who want to train their legs 3 days in a week, an example of rotation could be to perform a squat or deadlift variation one day, and train with machine & unilateral exercises on the next day, before going back to a squat or deadlift workout.
Caution: On this note, deadlifts & squats must be performed in their strict form to prevent injury and may not be done at all in their full range of motion if you are a beginner with limited movement capability, as this will often do more harm than good.
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Important: With the over 50s people, a usual problem is lack of stability in the joints. Thus at the beginning, utilizing isometrics, unilateral exercises using slow tempos to help improve this vital part of the fitness.
Generally, for the over 50s individuals performing perhaps 4 to 5 exercises per workout at the maximum is a wise thing to do. A great way to train can be selecting an upper body ‘push and pull’ session on one day, and lower body ‘push and pull’ on the next, rotating, whilst keeping an eye on quality.
Working for 10 to 15 minutes per day on flexibility & mobility will be highly beneficial so as to stay healthy & fit as you age.
Useful Related Post: Flexibility For Seniors
How Much Weight Should You Use?
Selecting the amount of load (weight) that you should use depends on the number of reps you can do properly, maintaining good form. Generally, you can workout using a weight that you can lift properly for 10 to 15 reps.
How Many Reps and Sets Are Best For Over 50s?
Traditional weight/resistance training for strength goals involves doing 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps, but that is likely to be risky for over 50s because spine & knee problems can occur when working with heavy weight/resistance.
A safer & more practical approach is to perform diversified exercises and multiple sets that involve the same muscles. For instance, instead of 3 sets of straight biceps curls perform 1 or 2 sets of pull-downs (which targets back muscles and biceps) then perform a set of bicep curls with a lunge or squat.
How Often Should You Weight Train?
For the beginners, twice-a-week training is advisable, at least for one month. As they gain strength, 3 to 4 times per week can be done depending upon the goals. Weight training workout sessions typically need 1-day rest in between to let muscles to recover. Though, 48 to 72 hours of recovery time between workout sessions is recommended. However, if you like to workout every day, make sure to spread out the body parts & muscle groups on different days. For instance, do a chest workout on one day and arms on another, etc.
How Would You know When It’s Time To Add Weight/Resistance?
This depends on your goals. Generally, if you can perform 15 to 20 reps properly using good form & without pain then you can increase weight.
For larger muscle groups, like legs you can add weight 10 percent a time; and for smaller muscles increase resistance by 5 percent.
For Weight-Training plan for over 50s, please watch for our next article. You can subscribe to our site for receiving notification whenever we publish a new health & fitness article.