Last Updated on September 15, 2016 by Jeff
Many people believe that aging is just slowly dying. I refuse to believe that. And, better yet, I believe that as we age, we can continue to physically better ourselves. If you’re reading this, I hope that you feel the same way. If not, here are some ways to change your mind.
As we age, there are a few things we need to consider, such as current health status, limitations or constraints, and specific goals. With those in mind, let’s discuss the critical components that play a pivotal roll in staying fit over fifty.
Types of Exercise
Personally, I believe that the most important component to staying fit is the exercise selection. Nothing gives you more “bang for your buck” than resistance training, specifically weight training. As we age, our bodies naturally start to change. Muscles that are not being used will atrophy and strength will greatly diminish.
A decrease in strength doesn’t just hit your ego in the gym, but can greatly affect everyday life. It can make everyday activities like picking up a big bag of dog food all the more difficult. Weight training is critical to help maintain strength. Strength is also a critical component of joint stability and integrity.
Weight training does more than just strengthen the muscles. The resiliency and strength in tendons and ligaments increases, as well. Perhaps one of the most neglected benefits of weight training is an increase (or at least maintenance) in flexibility, assuming that the full range of motion for the exercise is used.
It is also recommended that older adults partake in moderate-intensity aerobic activity as well. Weight training takes care of this. If you weight train appropriately, you should also get a cardio workout as you raise your heart rate.
Most Effective Use of Weight Training
There are many different forms of weight/resistance training. However, the last thing you want to do is spend hours a day in the gym.. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t be in the best shape of your life.
Many people would be surprised at how little time it requires to maintain health, fitness and longevity. With the use of the right exercises and protocols, you’ll enjoy keeping fit while enjoying all else life has to offer.
As we age, our joints and movements become more difficult and sometimes painful. However, we can get ahead of this and prevent most of it from happening. Strength training is the answer. By implementing compound, multi-joint movements, we can increase bone density, improve joint function and range of motion, as well as increase muscular strength.
When it comes to building strength, there are a few exercises that are far superior to others. Most of these exercises are best used with a barbell but can be substituted with other things (i.e. dumbbells, kettle bells, body weight, etc.) until mastered and the barbell is safe to use.
The Dead Lift
Arguably one of the most effective exercises out there, the dead lift is a huge benefactor for the posterior chain. There’s no questioning why this lift has been around forever and why high performing athletes use it to become bigger, faster and stronger.
Often considered the king of all exercises, this compound, full body lift is one that has developed legs that people admire and envy. Not many exercises out there stress the quads, hamstrings, and glutes quite like the squat. Squats are a must have in your exercise arsenal.
The Bench Press
The bench press is one of the most common and popular exercises in gyms today. It could be the king of upper body exercises. It’s great for developing strength in the chest, shoulders, triceps and even your back!
A word of caution, this exercise is probably one of the most common causes of injury. There are several reasons for this, such as improper technique, lack of shoulder mobility, and pride and ego when the lifter tries to lift too much weight. However, when performed correctly, this is a great exercise for total upper body strength.
The exercise list could stop right there and most would be very satisfied with the results it would give them. Every major muscle group is targeted in a way that will yield growth. Even many of the smaller groups are targeted as well. The triceps and shoulders are involved with the bench press. The biceps and forearms are very much at play in the dead lift. And, if you think I left the back out, you’ve never done a heavy set of dead lifts. If you wanted to keep it simple while maintaining and/or improving your fitness, the above three exercises would help you out!
But, if you enjoy the gym and don’t mind staying a bit longer, there are some other exercises that will that will further enhance your physique and satisfy your appetite for lifting.
Standing Over Head Press
A great core and shoulder exercise, the standing overhead press is another great exercise to implement in your training. You can certainly throw this in with a progressive overload strength protocol.
Have you ever seen anybody in the gym with small arms that could rep out 20-30 pull-ups? I didn’t think so. While pull-ups are one of the best bicep exercises out there, the biceps actually play a secondary role to the prime mover, the back.
A variation of the bench press, but the article wouldn’t be complete without a brief mention. Who doesn’t love push ups, right?
Single Arm Rows
Also referred to as lawn mower pulls, these are great for building thickness in the mid back.
If you must throw an isolated bicep exercise in the mix, it might as well be the barbell curl. Again, a progressive overload strength protocol would work well with this exercise.
Can’t leave out the triceps, right? After all, they make up about 2/3 of arm size. So if you’re trying to build up your arms, you can’t neglect the triceps. Use dumbbells, EZ bar, or a barbell for these. Your triceps will thank you!
All exercises/lifts are not created equal. You would be doing yourself a huge favor if the above exercises were the foundation of your exercise routine. You can add more if you’d like, though often times the minimum effective dose (MED) is the most effective.
The above exercises will help you get the most out of your time spent in the gym. All of these exercises are proven to be effective and useful for any goal that you may have. They are tools. How you use the tools will be need to be determined by your current fitness levels and your specific goals, among others.