Weight training doesn't have to be just about building strength and getting bigger muscles. As your body ages, the existing muscle tissue deteriorates at an increasing rate. By the age of 60, many men have significantly reduced testosterone production, which diminishes the ability to maintain muscle mass. Weight-training can reverse this, and with enough effort, men older than 60 can rebuild lost mass, improve strength and regain joint flexibility.
All About the Hormones
The one main difference between men before middle age and men past middle age is hormone production. The male body naturally produces a number of hormones responsible for developing and maintaining muscle tissue, including testosterone. With age and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, the production of these hormones fade. However, consistent strength training can mitigate this lost production in most males, especially when combined with a balanced diet that includes quality lean or whey protein.
Mature Approach to Weight Training
Weight-training for men as they age does become more challenging. The joints aren't as limber, the risk of nagging pain and injuries increases, and stamina can often diminish. It can be difficult for a man at 60 to begin a weight-training program, especially if that man hasn't lifted in a long time, or at all. When beginning a weight-training program at that age, concentrate on simple exercises that can be performed while seated or in a supine position, so that the stress of the resistance hits target muscles more completely. This reduces the risk of injuring joints in other parts of the body.
Go Through the Motions
The best exercises are ones that use simple two-part motions that articulate a minimum number of joints. Arm curls, bench presses, leg curls, leg presses and shoulder presses are a good place to begin. These basic exercises reach many of the main muscle groups in both the upper and lower body. As you progress through several weeks, incorporate more complex exercises like bent-over rows, lat pulldowns and triceps pushdowns. Split your routine into upper- and lower-body workouts so that you don't overtax yourself.
Keep It Low and Slow
Perform your exercises slowly and methodically. Trying to “cheat” your exercises by generating momentum not only reduces the benefit, but it can cause significant joint and muscle injury for those past the age of 60. Follow the correct form of each exercise, and use a low level of weight until you're completely comfortable performing the exercise. You don't need to max out on each lift; the idea isn't to blast your muscles, because your body will require more recovery time to regenerate. Rest two days in between each workout for the same muscles. For example, do your upper-body workout, then your lower-body workout, then plan a complete day of rest before doing your second weekly upper-body workout, followed by your second lower-body workout.