Why strength training is essential

The fitness culture give the impression that lifting weights is reserved only for young men who want big muscles.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

But lifting weights is something everyone should be doing for a whole host of other reasons than just to look better.

This is especially the case for older adults in their 50’s, 60’s where loss of muscle becomes an issue as well as maintaining quality of life and mobility. 

The scientific term for loss of muscle mass is sarcopenia and can result in becoming more frail and losing ability to move well.

Your body adapts to your environment. 

So if you don’t use it and sit down most of the day, you will lose it. 

But if you do use it with just a little bit of strength training can not only help prevent this, it can also improve many things both physically and mentally..

It improves strength to perform everyday movements much easier.

It improves any pains you have from knee pain to lower back pain.

It improves balance. One of the biggest causes of injuries in older adults is falling over and lifting weights involves balancing against a resistance.

It burns fat. Having excess weight will hinder your ability to stay mobile.

It helps to prevent osteoporosis as you age.

Moreover, it improves mental ability and brain function with research showing it can stave off dementia.

So, what’s the best exercises for an older adult who is not used to lifting weights?

First of all, a long warm up is essential.

Also, if you are new to lifting weights you don’t want to overdo it. Focus on the movement and implementing the teaching points rather then trying to lift a heavy weight.

Lifting weights has many more benefits than just building muscle

The below programme sets out a typical programme that could be followed.

These are some of the best exercises you can do because they focus on the larger muscle groups such as shoulders, hips and legs. This will improve strength in the back, posterior chain muscles such as the glutes and hamstrings, improve hip mobility and posture as well as core strength. 

All of these are important for everyday movement and quality of life i.e. working your posterior muscles such as your glutes and hamstrings through hip hinges for example will mean that every time you bend over these muscles will be doing the work rather than having your back do all the work and inevitably end up with back pain. Bending over applies to many everyday scenarios from loading and unloading the car to tying your shoelaces.

Warm up
ExerciseSetsReps/time/restTeaching points:
Walking high knees and overhead punches220 seconds10 seconds restStand upright and lift knee to hips on one leg whilst punching upwards on the opposite side
Leg swings2X10 each legStand upright and kick leg straight in front of you and then behind you
Downward dog220 seconds10 seconds restStart on your hands and knees as if you’re giving a piggyback ride. Lift your knees about an inch off the floor so your weight is on your toes and palms
Arm circles2X10 each armStand in an upright position with your arms up in line with your shoulders. Move the arms in circular motions
Main session
Exercise:SetsSets/reps/rest:Teaching points:

Seated squat
3X10 60 secs rest
From a standing position, initiate the squat by sitting back into the chair, think about actively bracing your core (like someone is going to punch you in the stomach), and squeeze your glutes as you drive up. Keep your chest forward at all times 
Wall press ups3X1060 secs restStand a comfortable distance to a wall with arms slightly wider than shoulder width apart and in line with your chestGently lean body towards the wallPush back out to original position, trying to keep your elbows close to your side
Hip hinge3X10 60 secs restBend at the hips, keep the chest forward and drive up through the heels and push hips forward back to a neutral standing position
Rows3X10 (requires 2 x 3kg dumbbell)60 secs restFrom a standing position holding the dumbbells by your side, lean forward into a hip hinge Start by activating your scapula and drawing your shoulders back and then pull the dumbbells up to your hips. Slowly lower dumbbells and repeat
Cool down
ExerciseSetsReps/time/restTeaching points:

Child’s pose

30 secondsLie on to your front and sit back on your heelsStretch arms out in front of body
Wide legged forward bend
30 secondsFrom a standing position clasp your hands behind back and lean forward
Glute stretch
30 seconds on each legLie down on your back and hug knee towards your chest
Hamstring stretch
30 seconds on each legLie down on your back and lift leg into the air. Clasp hands behind the knee and gently pull towards you

Take action today

Aging is inevitable. 

But there are simple ways to make sure you can live a better quality of life for longer.

You will notice improvements following the programme above. 

And to make sure you are performing the exercises correctly and if you want a tailored exercise approach specific to you than please get in touch by contacting me here – I’m more than happy to help!

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