Strength training offers numerous advantages for the active adult. In addition to reducing the risk of disease, strength training helps minimize declines in metabolism and muscle strength that occurs with age. Regular weightlifting helps you improve the ability to perform daily activities and enhances performance in recreational sports and activities. Including different modalities in the strength training program ensures you enjoy variety and decreases boredom.
Strength training after 60 offers numerous benefits in addition to helping you look better, feel better and function better. According to the authors of "Strength Training Past 50," strength training has research-based benefits, too. Strength training after 60 helps avoid the five to seven pound muscle loss per decade after age 50. It helps diminish the decline in metabolism of 3 percent to 5 percent per decade. It also increases bone mineral density and decreases resting blood pressure to reduce the risk of developing hypertension.
Select exercises for opposing muscle groups to ensure muscle balance and decrease injury. Train two to three times per week on alternating days. Due to the microtrauma that occurs with strength training, allow muscle groups to rest for 48 to 72 hours before repeating a workout. Perform 8 to 10 repetitions of exercise to improve strength, and 12 to 15 repetitions of exercise to improve muscular endurance.
Free weights offer unrestrained movement patterns and allow your joints to move through full range of motion. They also increase flexibility and improve overall muscle coordination. Free weights are anything not attached to a cable and include dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls and even body weight exercise. Use proper form at all times.
Fitness machines are the best choice if you are new to weightlifting. Fitness machines are easy to use and are safer than free weights. With fitness machines, weight is changed easily and quickly; movement patterns are predetermined. Fitness machines support the body and are good if you suffer with issues of balance or low strength.
Adding exercise balls to a weightlifting program improves your core strength. The muscles of the lower back, abdominals and obliques must work to stabilize the body when using exercise balls to perform exercise. If you have balance issues, you should begin using exercise balls placed up against the wall and, as strength improves, progress to exercises using the exercise ball away from the wall. Exercise balls are sold in different diameters and coincide with height.
Warm-Up & Cool Down
Strength training puts high demands on the musculoskeletal system. Therefore, it’s necessary to prepare the body for exercise and to end workouts properly. Warm up using the large muscle groups of the body. Perform 5 to 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling to raise the heart rate and warm up the joints before exercise. At the end of the workout, cool down by performing 5 to 10 minutes of low-intensity exercise, such as cycling or walking. Begin and end each workout with stretches for all major muscle groups.
- Health Fitness Instructor’s Handbook; Edward T. Howley & B. Don Fanks
- Strength Training Past 50 2nd edition; Wayne L Westcott & Thomas R. Baechle
- University of Florida: UF Study Shows Strength Training Improves Aerobic Power in Seniors
- ACE Fitness: Free Weights vs. Strength-training Equipment
- National Institute on Aging: Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging