Weight training has been around for many years. I believe that if you want to see the fastest and best result you must incorporate resistance training into your program. Everyone can benefit from weight training. There are many methods of resistance that can be performed to increase the anaerobic properties of the muscle but nothing beats good ole fashioned dumbell training. Dumbells are helpful for providing added resistance that you can’t get from just body weight exercises. Dumbells provide greater stimulation. The greater the stimulation to the muscle the bigger the anaerobic enzymes become. Anaerobic enzymes are the sugar enzymes of the muscle cell. The more efficient these enzymes become, the more sugar you can store in muscle and less in fat.
As we age the muscles atrophy (shrink), hormones deplete, lung capacity becomes more shallow, oxygen saturation decreases, bone becomes more brittle, joints become more dehydrated. In order to combat this effects of aging it is important to exercise regularly and correctly. In order to maximize your efforts you don’t have to workout for hours. In fact, 10-20 minutes a day is all you need.
Here are my recommendations:
If you belong to a gym and have never performed resistance exercises. I suggest that you use machines that isolate the muscles. Fixed isolated exercise machines are safe for the beginner. They also provide varying resistance to allow you to ease into the movement without over doing it. Also another benefit from starting out using machines is that the body can begin to establish the neuromuscular circuitry. The synapse from the brain to the muscle needs to be developed in order to gain greater recruitment of the muscle fibers. This is how strength is developed. Beginners are de-conditioned and aren’t ready for the more challenging exercises. Machines provide a safe environment and resistance to develop the higher levels of motor synapse. Here are three exercises are essential for a beginning machine program.
1. Seated or lying chest press
2. Seated Back Row
3. Lying Leg Press
These three exercises is all you need to begin with. You start with one set at 85% maximum weight. Then eventually you work up to 3 sets. Perform this workout three times per week. Follow up the weight training with a brisk walk for 12-15 minutes. That is it for beginners.
Now for the moderate level. ONce you feel that you have established some fundamental strength and neural control you should move into a more challenging program. It would be good to wean off the machines and incorporate free weight exercises (barbells, dumbells). Dumbells are a great tool for instantly increasing resistance. There are many great exercises with the use of dumbells that you can perform. That is the great thing about weight training, you can constantly change up the program to stimulate new growth patterns. Using dumbells and barbells instead of machines forces the higher brain center to work harder to maintain control. This will increase the caloric output. Also, it begins to stimulate the proprioceptors of the tendons and muscles to help with balance. Here is a moderate level program.
1. Lying Dumbell Chest Press
2. One Arm Dumbell Row
3. Seated Lateral Raise
4. Seated Bicep Curl
5. Tricep Dumbell Kickback
6. Dumbell Squat
Perform 3 sets of 12 Reps. Followed by a brisk walk for 12-15 minutes. That is it. This program will take 30 minutes to complete. That is all you need. When the exercise becomes too easy you simply add more weight or slow down the speed of the movement. You want to make sure that you have a struggle by the end of the rep cycle. If you don’t struggle then it is not stimulating enough.
Now for the Advanced level. This program is designed for those participants who have had at least 3 months of weight training experience. In order to train at a high level you have to make sure that your connective tissue, nerves, cardiovascular system and muscles are well conditioned. Performing Advanced level exercises can result in injury with de-conditioned folks. The idea of the high level is to incorporate body weight exercises and balance exercises. This program requires higher brain activity and focus. Here is the program.
1. Body Weight Push-Ups (kneeling or standard on toes)
2. Modified Pull-Ups
3. Medicine Ball Single Arm Press with Squat
4. Medicine Ball Slams
5. Lateral Walk With Dumbell Chest Press
6. Dumbell Step Ups
7. Dumbell Ball Squats
8. Barbell Deadlifts
9. Barbell Clean and Press
10. Standing on one leg balance exercise.
There you have it! The advanced exercise program. It is a great way to challenge the entire neuromuscular system. You perform each exercise for 1-3 sets and 12 -15 reps. This Advanced program should last about 3 weeks. After that you will have to change it up to create new stimulation. Like any exercise program you have to change it up frequently.
For people over fifty it doesn’t mean that you can’t weight train, it simply means that you must train correctly. You have to train within your own limits. Not everyone is going to respond to exercise the same. You must evaluate your level of fitness and follow the right program that suits your needs. There are literally thousands of different programs out there to choose from. You must know your limitations in order to choose the most appropriate program for you. If you are interested in learning more about weight training and how to train after the age of 50 and you are in the Kennebunk area drop by at The Fitness Nut House and ask for me. I would be glad to show you more stuff.
Daryl Conant, M.Ed