If you are over age 50 as I am, your goals are probably quite a bit different than when you were twenty something. When I was young, my goal was to get as big and powerful as I could so the shot put and discus would go further. That was it. Anything else was incidental. If my arms got big, great. I didn’t really care. If my chest and shoulder put on muscular size that was fine…but not something I would ever put time into.
As long I my competitive throws went further, I didn’t really care either way. I have never really felt to need to get shredded abs either…not that I was ever really close to achieving that one…
As I have aged, I have made it a point to continue lifting very frequently, but my goals have changed dramatically.
– I still don’t care if I have shredded abs. As long as I don’t develop a beer (wine?) gut, I’m ok with a somewhat flat belly. Not too many people my age and older are going to put a ton of time into the quest for a set of 6-pack abs; Nor should they.
– I no longer care how much weight I squat or deadlift. These used to be a big deal for me. No more. It simply is not worth the pain and soreness to load on lots of plates.
So what is important now? What should you be thinking about at the gym? Here is my take on it…
If you are over 50 – in my opinion – you should focus on the following traits to keep you quality of life high:
1) Maintaining or increasing your Mobility or Range of Motion (ROM). This is a big one. When you start making lots of noises when you bend of to pick something up off the ground, you know it’s time to think about working on your mobility. Executing movement which require you to fully extend the body, reach or touch a body part (besides your feet) to the floor (like lunges) or involve some sort of SAFE turning and rotation need to be included in your routine (Think throwing med balls).
2) Muscle Mass Gain: LADIES OF ALL AGES PLEASE LISTEN – You will NEVER get bulky. Ain’t happening. Muscle mass is the new sexy. Get you some.
As we age, we lose muscle mass at about ½ pound per year. The one and only way to fight this is weight lifting. Not Yoga. Not Barre classes and definitely not distance running. You must lift weights. If you don’t you will eventually reach a point of disability. Yes, disability. You will no longer have enough muscle to perform every day functions. Pick things up and put them down.
Stick with repetitions anywhere from 8-12. If you go too much above that, the weight is too like to get the results you want.
3) Basic Cardio-Vascular Fitness: Interval based training is the way to go here. I always recommend people avoid distance running or steady-state treadmill work. It can be counterproductive as well as cause injury. “Boot Camp” style fitness training gets you fit faster and generally with more functional movements than running alone will do.
Many people will argue that there should be a lot more on this list, but those things (e.g. ‘core’ training) are usually covered if you take care of all the above. Start with this list and you will be ahead of 95% of the population your age!
Committed to your Health!