First of all, never, ever let anyone tell you that you are too old to be weight lifting. Nobody is too old to incorporate weight lifting into their fitness regimen. Weight lifting routines men over 50 should concentrate on includes strengthening both the upper and lower body in each workout.
Many younger weight lifters will do upper body one day and lower body the next day and perhaps lift weights four or five times a week.
It’s not necessary to lift weights that many days per week in order to show positive results. The thinking has changed over the past decade or so and it’s been discovered that lifting weights once or twice a week can do wonders for strength and conditioning.
Actually, the term I prefer is resistance training, because that’s what weight training really is.
WHAT IF YOU ARE OVER 60 OR 70?
So what? Keeping your body strong by incorporating strength training into your life is not for the select few. It’s not just for those under 50. It’s for everyone who wants to do wonders for their quality of life and longevity.
There was a study conducted at a retirement home that should help point out just how much of a difference in weight training can make to seniors. The study was carried out with seniors between 80 and 87 years of age. They began their carefully monitored resistance training with weights that were within their ability to manage.
The amount of weight was slowly increased as they got stronger. At the end of 12 weeks, the seniors in the study increased their strength by about 200% on average. It was really an eye-opener for me when I read that, but when you think about it, it does make perfect sense.
HOW DID THE SENIORS GET SO STRONG?
I had a long career as an endurance athlete. I was a runner who eventually started running marathons and then became an Ironman Triathlete. Some of my best results were realized when I incorporated weight training into my program along with swimming, biking, and running.
I discovered early on how the body responds to resistance training. As a matter of fact, over the years, I discovered how it responded to every single thing I did. That includes training, diet, sleep, and just about everything else I did during my career. Well, what I did over the course of my entire life for that matter.
My guess is that the reason those seniors showed such huge gains in their strength is that when they became older and reached retirement age they most likely bought into the fact that they were old and should act accordingly.
In other words, they slowed down the pace of their lives and decided it was time to rest. This sends the entirely wrong message to your body.
In essence, every person is the boss of their body and our bodies respond to our every beck and call. If we decide to sit around and do nothing when we reach an older age, our body will gladly respond to our wishes.
Our body will sense that there is no need for strong muscles because we have indicated that we don’t need them because we aren’t using them. So it’s response is to let muscles grow softer and perhaps atrophy will set in.
The body will see no need to have a strong heart to pump blood to working muscles because the muscles are not working. This is one of the main reasons that for generations, many people were dying soon after they retired. They stopped being physically active, so their bodies stopped in response. They sent the message that they were done.
However, as soon as you challenge your muscles by lifting weights, it’s like a call to action. Hey! Your body thinks. I guess we’re not done yet. We need these muscles to be stronger. And that’s exactly what happens.
As soon as those seniors began lifting weights and started taxing their muscles they were indicating that those muscles had to grow stronger in order to do the work they were demanding of their body.
SHOULDN’T YOU LIFT WEIGHTS EVERY DAY?
No, not at all. You just have to keep sending the message on a regular basis that you have every intention of staying strong. Personally, I found that two days a week of weight training is about perfect. It’s very doable and you shouldn’t really need to spend more than 45 minutes per session.
That’s a small time commitment when you consider the benefits you are reaping. The key is to be consistent. You want to always be sending the message that you have things you have to do, that you have a lot of living left to do and you need to be strong.
Every time you go for a long walk, a run, swim, bike, Zumba class, Aquacise, or any type of exercise that is taxing your muscles and cardiovascular system, you are sending exactly the right message. And believe me, your body will respond to the demands you are making of it.
When you lift weights, you always need to incorporate rest days. These are the days when old muscle tissue is replaced by newer, stronger muscle tissue. So if you choose to lift weights twice a week, I would leave at least two days between sessions. For example, you want to avoid weight training two days in succession.
Tuesday and Friday is an example of leaving two days between one session and three days between the next session. You can configure it any way you like. Personally, I lift weights Wednesday and Saturday, and I’m 70 years old.
Those two days fit into my weekly schedule and that’s why I chose them. I also run once or twice a week.
HOW MUCH WEIGHT AND WHAT EXERCISES ARE BEST?
There are dozens of different weight training exercises that you can do, but I personally choose five that work the upper and lower body during the same session.
I do three exercises for upper body strength. By this, I mean shoulders, back, and chest. This includes bench press, behind the neck press, and bent over rowing. I prefer bicep curls for my arms, and squats for my legs. Two other excellent exercises for seniors are the leg extension and quadriceps curl.
Leg exercises are crucial for seniors because stronger leg muscles mean better balance and less risk of falling. It’s quite common for seniors who use walkers and canes to do away with them when they develop stronger leg muscles by incorporating a weight lifting routine as part of their weekly fitness routine.
My personal choice is to do two sets of 10 repetitions. For example, I will try to bench press the weight I am using ten times, rest for two or three minutes and then attempt another ten. You should be able to handle the first ten fairly easily, but perhaps struggle to finish all ten of the second set.
That’s the result you want. The way to challenge your body is to ask it to try to handle more weight than you are capable of on that day. Maybe you can only finish eight of the ten in the last set, and number six, seven, and eight are difficult. You have to put in extra effort and by number nine you have nothing left. You are sending the signal that the muscles you are taxing need to be stronger.
Eventually, that’s what will happen.
Your body senses the need for them to be stronger. Over several sessions, you will find you can handle the weight more easily. That’s because the muscle is growing bigger and stronger.
Once you can do both sets of 10 repetitions, you can consider increasing the amount of weight a little at a time. If you start out doing an exercise with twenty pounds, for instance, it could well be twenty-five pounds three weeks later.
WHERE SHOULD I DO MY WEIGHT LIFTING ROUTINE?
I prefer to do my weight training at home. It’s just so much more convenient, especially in those cold, snowy months when you would rather not be driving around.
As far as equipment, the most essential is a weight training bench.
It will hold your barbell for the bench press and should also be equipped so you can do leg extensions and hamstring curls.
For weights, it all depends on how much you intend to lift. The best idea is to start out with your barbell, collar to hold the weights on, and an assortment of steel plates ranging from 2.5 pounds to 10 pounds.
I have about 115 pounds of weights because I have two 25 pound weights for the bench press and squats. The rest are made up of 2.5 lbs.(two), 5lbs.(four), and 10lbs(four). You want to have enough of a variety of weights so you can slowly keep increasing the amount you lift.
If you want to know how to do a particular exercise like bent-over rowing for instance, simply do a Google search titled image of bent-over rowing weight lifting exercise, and an image should pop up. You can do this with any exercise you need information on.
If you want instruction on how to do your weight lifting routine properly, you could always go to a fitness facility for instruction and then do the bulk of your training at home. Most importantly, if you are new to weight lifting you would probably be wise to discuss it with your doctor.
Hopefully, these examples of weight lifting routines men over 50 should concentrate on are of some help to you.
Running or walking is a great addition to your fitness routine and will compliment your weight training.
Would you like to share your thoughts on this topic? Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.