Beginning weight training for seniors is an age appropriate starter program. What that means is that after age 50, training progression for beginners purposely moves at a little slower rate than it might for a younger person.
Does a "slower rate" mean lower expectations? No. Tremendous physical improvements should be expected. Trust the program. It has been senior tested and it works. Doing too much too soon is a common mistake that can be counterproductive.
Before starting out, have a thorough physical examination and discuss with your physician your plans for a beginning weight training program. It is a good idea to print-out the program to show your doctor.
What follows is the exercise portion for the first month of beginning weight training from my book, Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women . . .
TRAINING: MONTH ONE
On alternating days, you will be doing weight training one day and cardiovascular the next, totaling six workout days each week. You rest on day seven. Then repeat the cycle.
On Cardio Days
Note: Even if you are fit enough to do more at the start, I suggest beginning as follows . . .
Day one: Take a five-minute walk.
Day two: Weight training.
Day three (your second cardio day): Take a 10 minute walk.
Then on each successive cardio day, add another five minutes to your walk. By the end of your second week, you will be walking 30 minutes on every cardio day. That is as long as your cardio sessions will be—30 minutes—for the duration of the beginning weight training program.
Once you have worked up to walking 30 minutes nonstop (by the end of the second week), begin increasing the intensity. However, always start out by walking slowly for the first few minutes. Then gradually work up to a fast pace and maintain it until the last five minutes. Then gradually slow it down. How fast is a "fast pace"? After 10 to 15 minutes, you should start to feel some perspiration and be doing a little huffing and puffing — but still be able to speak in short sentences comfortably.
Add some hills to your walk as your fitness improves. There is no set timetable here. Some people will be striding up hills after only a few weeks. Others will need much longer to reach that point. Everyone is different and rates of improvement will naturally differ. The key is to improve. And enjoy yourself.
After you’ve finished your cardio walk, don't sit down immediately. Cool off by moving around and walking leisurely for about 5 minutes. Then, softly, stretch your hamstrings and calves a bit. And that’s it. You’re finished for the day.
On Weight Training Days
Warm-up for a few minutes (3 to 5 min.) by walking around, lifting your
knees a bit and then circling your arms, doing a few light calisthenics.
Move around actively. Pre-workout stretching is unnecessary.
Reps: That’s short for repetitions. For example, doing an exercise for 10 reps means repeating it consecutively 10 times.
Sets: Sets are groups of reps. Let’s say you do 10 reps, rest, and then do 10 more: that’s 2 sets.
Clean: To pull or lift a weight from the floor to shoulder level.
Beginning Weight Training Exercises . . Sets x Reps
Soft (non-ballistic), relaxed stretching: 5 minutes.
Beginning weight training notes for month one
1. Weight train on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
2. Always begin with a 3- to 5-minute warm-up.
3. Rest one minute between exercises. Use weights you can handle comfortably for the minimum number of reps. Use the first couple of workouts to develop smooth form.
4. After developing smooth
form, begin to add one rep per exercise at each workout. When you've
reached the maximum number of reps, at your next workout increase your
weights (5 to 10 lbs.) and drop back to the minimum number of reps. Once
again, begin adding another rep at each workout. Eventually, straight
line progression will not be possible, but keep repeating the process
for as long as you can.
5. Do all exercises in good form at a
smooth, steady cadence. No swinging, bouncing or cheating. In other
words, always control the weights, while both raising and lowering them.
6. Eventually, you will be using weights that are challenging when you reach the last few repetitions of each set. That is good, but it should not be an all-out do-or-die effort. In other words, don’t train to failure. The set should end when you could squeeze out one or two more reps if you had to.
7. All beginning weight training exercises can be done with nothing more than a barbell, set of dumbbells and an adjustable bench. Or, they can be duplicated on exercise machines in a home gym or in a health club. Most resistance exercises can be duplicated, too, using exercise bands.
8. If you experience pain (as opposed to mild muscular soreness) from a particular exercise, discontinue that exercise.
9. The entire routine, including the warm-up and post workout stretch and relaxation, should be completed in less than 45 minutes.
Month two gets a little more challenging. Month three progresses further as you are introduced to super-set training.
Retrun from Beginning Weight Training to the Senior Exercise Central home page.
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