Do you want to know how to weight train safely as a senior? No matter your age, medical experts proved staying fit is extremely beneficial to both short- and long-term health.
Unfortunately, when most people hear “exercise for seniors,” they immediately think of simple walking or mobility routines. Still, muscle building can be a vital part of any elderly fitness routine.
Strength Training for Older Adults: The Basics
Mobility issues, joint pain, and muscle loss often plague many older people. While these symptoms are common in normal aging, weight training can be a great way to build up your body and stave off these problems.
Weight training after age 60 may seem challenging, but there are plenty of ways to incorporate this type of program into your regular senior exercise routine.
Weight Training Exercises Using Only the Body
If you’ve never been a gym rat, getting started with weight training in your golden years is something you’ll want to ease into. The best advice is to start small; there’s no need for an expensive home gym or fancy equipment. You can use your natural body weight to do many basic weight training exercises.
Squats are a simple weight-based exercise you can often do safely in your home using only your body weight. To perform a squat, follow these steps:
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Hold your arms out straight in front of you at shoulder level.
- Brace and tighten your core.
- Lower your body slowly into a squatting position without letting your knees cave.
- Pause briefly before pushing your body up through your heels to return to standing.
Do this about 10-15 times for an excellent set. If you have trouble performing this exercise while standing freely, you can also do squats by standing in front of a dining chair and lowering yourself to the seat with careful control, then returning to a standing position as soon as your rear touches without fully sitting down.
Incline pushups can be a great and effective exercise for the arms, chest, back, and shoulders muscles. Perform incline pushups by following these steps:
- Place your hands on the surface or edge of a table, dresser, or wall about shoulder-width apart.
- Move your feet back until you are at a comfortable angle, keeping your arms straight and perpendicular to your body.
- Bend your elbows to slowly lower your chest toward the object or wall, pause, and then press back up to straighten your arms, keeping your body straight throughout the entire motion.
An excellent set of incline pushups is about 10-15. Work your way up to more advanced forms of this exercise as you get comfortable.
However, to make it simpler for beginners, position yourself a little more upright. The taller the object you place your hands on, or the higher your hands are on the wall, the easier the exercise will be.
Stationary lunges are a highly effective core exercise, especially for seniors. Besides the core, this exercise also works out your hips, thighs, and legs. Perform a standing lunge by following these steps:
- Start by standing tall with your arms down at your sides.
- Then, step back with your right foot, placing your toes on the ground while lifting your heel.
- Bend your front (left) knee and slowly lower your body as far as is comfortable. Allow your back (right) knee to bend as you do so until it hovers just a few inches above the floor,l keeping your weight centered on your front (left) heel.
- Draw in your belly and lift your chest as you do this.
- Pause briefly in this position, and then press through your front foot to raise your body back to a standing position.
Shoot for 10-15 reps to perform a decent set of stationary lunges. You can make this exercise easier for those with joint issues by leaning forward slightly to alleviate some of the joint pressure. You can also place your hands on a chair or wall’s back for support.
Weight Training Exercises Using Dumbbells
Once you’ve become more comfortable with your body’s ability to handle the natural weight, you may wish to advance to more efficient techniques, such as weight training exercises using simple dumbbells. However, stick with dumbbells that are comfortable to lift (albeit with some resistance). Going too heavy too fast can cause injury.
Arm curls are a great dumbbell exercise designed to work out the biceps. Perform dumbbell curls properly by following these steps:
- Using comfortable weights, begin by standing tall with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Keep your abdominal muscles engaged.
- Hold one dumbbell in each hand, letting your arms relax at your sides with your palms facing outward.
- Keeping your shoulders relaxed and your upper arms stable, bend your arms at the elbow and lift the weights until they approach your shoulders.
- Keep your elbows close to your ribs and exhale as you lift.
Repeat this about 8-10 times before taking a brief rest and trying out another set or two.
This beginner-level weight lifting exercise is especially effective for the muscles and joints of the shoulders. You can do the shoulder press in either a seated or standing position. Follow these steps to get it down pat:
- Stand or sit upright and keep your back straight.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand, horizontally at the shoulders. Use an overhand grip (thumbs on the inside and knuckles face up).
- Exhale as you raise your weight above your head in a smooth, controlled motion.
- Pause briefly at the top of the motion.
- Inhale as you return the dumbbells to your shoulders.
Shoot for about 8-12 reps to ensure a good, solid workout.
As the name suggests, the triceps extension targets the triceps of your arms. This exercise is a little more advanced, but you can still perform it safely by closing by following these simple steps:
- Lay face up flat on a gym bench, with your lower legs bent at the knees and your feet placed flat on the floor.
- Firmly secure one end of your dumbbell in both hands with your arms extended above your chest.
- Keep your elbows unlocked and shoulder-width apart.
- Flex your elbows to lower the weight down toward the top of your head, keeping your upper arms relatively perpendicular to your body (be especially careful not to hit your head with the weight accidentally!)
- Keep the tension on your triceps while lowering the weight behind your head until the bottom of the dumbbell is just about in line with the top of your gym bench.
- Finally, reverse the movement until the weight is above your chest in the original starting position.
If you are not confident in your ability to grip a weight in your hands securely, it’s best to avoid this exercise, as accidental damage can result from dropping the weight on your body from above. Also, refrain from locking your elbow, as this defeats the purpose of the exercise by taking the weight off your triceps.
A well-rounded set for this exercise comprises about 5-10 reps.
The Last Word on How to Weight Train as a Senior
Maintaining an Exercise Routine is One of the Best Things Seniors Can Do for Health and Wellness
The older we get, the more important it becomes to practice a fit and healthy lifestyle. Doing so has been shown to directly correlate with positive senior physical and mental health.
If you’re 60 or older, getting started with a safe weight training routine can seem overwhelming. Luckily, senior-focused programs can help you achieve your fitness goals.
One of these programs, SilverSneakers, is often covered as part of your Medicare Advantage plan. To learn more about the SilverSneakers program or how you can get a comprehensive Medicare plan that may cover this program, don’t hesitate to contact the Medicare Advantage experts and licensed insurance agents at MedicareInsurance.com today.