Although you may feel like you’re too old to start working out, it’s never too late to get in shape. I always ask how old is older when I hear someone raise a query regarding training as an older person. In my mind, “older” is anything over 65, but I predict that in ten years, I’ll be pushing that threshold up to 70.
Whatever the threshold, this advice mainly applies to clients over 40.
As we age, our bodies change, and it becomes more challenging to maintain our physical health. However, staying active and exercising regularly is essential to keep our bodies healthy and prevent age-related diseases. Here are six tips for working out when you’re older:
1. Discard the 3-pound dumbbells.
My gym has a set of three-pound dumbbells. They are in a corner gathering dust. I first became aware of them yesterday and wondered if I might put them to any use. I thought that using them as drumsticks may be entertaining, but I’m not a skilled drummer, or they’re too heavy. Or either. Both.
The use of three-pound weights with senior people genuinely bothers me. This is primarily due to how low the bar is set, which may contribute to someone having a negative self-perception of their physical prowess. Additionally, you’ll perform upper body isolation exercises such as bicep curls and shoulder raises. Although I’m not saying they’re bad workouts, likely, they’re not appropriate starting exercises.
Movement-based and multi-joint workouts will almost always be preferable; I would make that argument for everyone. Short dumbbell isolation workouts may be necessary depending on goals. Still, by the required time, you’ll probably be able to lift more than three pounds.
2. Obtain a physical evaluation
I have 30-minute consultations or assessments with each potential client. Officially, we discuss goals, health and injury histories, physical activity histories, and movement screening at this time.
Unofficially, it’s my opportunity to greet them and make them feel at ease at the gym. They may confidently approach their first workout if they have no prior exercise experience.
Additionally, it allows me to observe their movement and level of fitness.
I employ this strategy for all of my customers. Still, it’s crucial for the older ones because, as we age, the differences in physical ability between people of the same age increase. Even at the age of 50, some players are still competitive. Others could be athletes who play tennis, run, cycle, ski, hike, swim, or even play soccer and hockey. Like their inactive peers, these athletes don’t move like them! I can determine what kind of workout will be appropriate for this new client by beginning with an assessment.
Starting with an evaluation also allows you to see whether you have any physical restrictions that might prevent you from performing specific workouts. This knowledge is crucial because it enables you to recognize which exercises will help your body and which ones you may want to avoid. After all, they could worsen a problem.
Knowing this in advance enables you to choose a program that is suitable for you, which positions you for success even before your first session.
3. Be prepared for imperfect movement
Even the most physically active individuals over 50 will almost certainly experience movement restrictions while exercising. They will range from trivial in some instances to more severe in others. Some people will suffer pain from repeated motions. In contrast, others won’t feel pain but may still have limited movement.
This will be evident in the assessment, as mentioned in tip number two, and how successfully they complete the activities. When performing exercises like rows, a person with an exceptionally rounded upper back will find it challenging to hold their shoulders back. This doesn’t mean you should stop working on a better form or that the row is the wrong choice for you; you may have to adjust your expectations for flawless movement for the time being.
I always think, “Is this flawed form safe?” when I perceive a less-than-perfect form. If the response is negative, I either try to correct the movement, modify, or substitute the exercise. Remember to seek out and practice movement that benefits you rather than harms you. I’ll consider improving the form if I believe it to be secure.
Remember that even though you may be giving it your all, this may not be your best effort for the job. If so, try to include an exercise to help subsequent movements in that area become better.
4. Acquire A Fitness Guide
Suppose you’re an older person training who has never worked out or participated in sports. In that case, your perception of your physical potential only approximates your true physical potential. Possibly less With a trainer, you’ll eventually get the chance to demonstrate exactly how much more you’re capable of.
I’ve discovered that having assistance in realizing your potential is the key to getting there. I will mention something like, “That looked wonderful. Do you want to try a bit more?” when I watch a client complete an activity, and it seems they are capable of more. or “Was that hard, easy, or in the middle?” Some clients are willing to take on more work, while others are wary. I discovered that a more significant percentage of older clientele are conservative, so I need to be more imaginative.
My preferred strategy is to instruct them to complete as many repetitions as possible in the following set. It’s not unusual for someone who previously performed sets of eight repetitions to perform fourteen repetitions with excellent form. And when I ask, “Since you were able to do fourteen at twenty pounds, do you think you can do eight at twenty-five pounds?” I typically receive a nod of assent.
In the rare case that someone does object to adding weight, I fall back on my backup plan: fractional plates. 0.25-pound weights are included in a set of fractional plates and can be added to a bar or a weight stack. What if we increase it that much? I then ask the person to extend their hand where I place the 0.25-pound plate. I’ve had complete success with that move. Magnetic scales that weigh 1.25 pounds are virtually as effective as metal dumbbells and kettlebells.
These tiny improvements mount over days, weeks, months, and years. Finally, you find yourself accomplishing things and being far more robust than ever. Your strength and confidence can grow with the help of the right mentor and coach, which can lead to opportunities for further exploration.
5. The Single-Leg Exercise Killer: Bunions
Although this advice is a little less attractive than the others, it is nonetheless crucial. Bunions, an infection of the big toe’s initial joint that displaces the toe, are a common problem in women over forty. You must understand that a bunion can affect your ability to balance one leg if you enjoy single-leg training.
The single-leg Romanian deadlift is one of my favorite single-leg exercises. Still, it’s also one where many folks have balance issues. It’s interesting how completing this exercise without shoes can often help with balance issues. Examine your feet when you try them on without shoes. You may never be able to perform this exercise properly if you have a large bunion. The single-leg RDL is probably not the best workout for you if you have a bunion and are still having trouble with it. Additionally, lunges and split squats may impact any balance exercises.
With clients who have bunions, I still enjoy working on balance. Still, I typically minimize the amount of single-limb training or switch to choices where the balance is more supported because I want to set them up for success. One hand resting on a foam roller may provide enough stability for the single-leg RDL exercise to be effective.
6. Exercises That Improve Speed and Agility Are Fantastic for Older Adults
Most people associate agility ladders with training professional athletes. Senior clientele, however, comes to mind first.
Training speed and agility with older adults is virtually a no-brainer in cold climates where frozen sidewalks cause a lot of falls each year. Most of them, sports aside, haven’t moved quickly since they were teenagers,
It is empowering and can save a person’s bones to see an older adult climb the agility ladder from perplexity to twinkle toes. You will be more likely to repeat this technique if you slide on the ice as you get used to shifting your feet swiftly in the gym. Naturally, this won’t PREVENT falls, but I’m convinced it can reduce the number of them.
Medicine ball throws are another game-like activity that can be surprisingly beneficial for seniors. Beyond their physical advantages, they’re a pleasant method to boost your self-confidence in your athletic prowess.
Of course, there are certain restrictions. About both of these exercises, wait to incorporate them into your program after they have had enough time in training to develop some strength and coordination.
Make sure the exercises are easy for you to do. For larger-breasted women, agility ladder workouts, for instance, may cause uncomfortable bouncing. Consider your comfort level and select an alternative option if you find yourself holding your arms in a position that squeezes your chest.
Furthermore, power and agility drills may cause minor urine incontinence in some people. This may be the reason you find it difficult to carry things out. If this is the case, if you haven’t already, talk to your doctor about it because while urine incontinence is frequent, it isn’t normal.
In conclusion, these six tips can help older adults start or maintain a regular workout routine. Although it may take some extra time and effort to find the right program and stay motivated, the benefits of exercise are worth it. Regular physical activity can improve strength, flexibility, balance, and overall fitness and help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.