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Weight training isn't just about getting bigger muscles. It's not just for bodybuilders or high school and college athletes trying to get bigger, stronger and faster for the next competition.
Weight training - or, if you prefer, resistance training - is part of a healthy lifestyle routine that also should include cardiovascular exercises.
Especially as we get older.
'If your workout doesn't include strength training, you're missing out,” according to an article at silversneakers.com. 'Strength training helps ward off age-related muscle loss, keeps your bones strong, promotes mobility, prevents falls and combats depression and cognitive decline.”
Another article at verywellfit.com, notes 'if you want to be as healthy and as strong as you can possibly be later in life, adding strength training to your exercise routine is the way to go. This is because strength training offers a lot of benefits, and it is safe to do as long as you stay within a few guidelines.”
Whether you use a weight machine, free weights or resistance bands, always check with your health provider before starting a new program. And if you are new to weight training or returning after a few years (decades?) away, don't stress about it.
' ... focus on performing exercises using your body weight so you can learn proper form and build a base level of strength before adding extra challenges to the mix,” the silversneakers article notes. ' ... Doing so will reduce the risk of exercise injury while also allowing you to get better results from future workouts.”
There are some key areas you'll want to focus on, according to verywellfit.
'The Department of Health and Human Services has issued physical activity guidelines which recommend that older adults work all of their major muscle groups when strength training. This means that your weight lifting routine should work the muscles in your ... abdomen, arms, back, chest, hips, legs and shoulders.
'When your strength training routine hits all of these areas, it gives you a full body workout.”
It's important to alternate your workouts, too. For instance, do upper body in one workout, lower body the next time.
'Aim to do strength training three to four days per week on non-consecutive days,” silversneakers notes. 'Your cardio workouts are great for those alternate days.”
What are some 'lifts” you should focus on? Squats (with or without resistance), leg and chest presses, seated row and back extensions are common among experts.
If weights aren't your thing, try resistance bands. They are 'stretchy strips of rubber that add resistance to workouts with reduced stress on your body.
'Resistance band workouts are user-friendly and accessible for beginners,” an article at seniorlifestyle.com notes. 'This form of exercise is growing more popular among seniors because of the relatively cheap upfront costs of materials, which makes resistance band workouts ideal for at-home exercise. Additionally, these exercises are ideal for strengthening your core, which improves posture, mobility and balance.”
Some of their tips include leg press, triceps press, lateral raise and biceps curl.
You also can use handheld equipment like dumbbells, medicine balls or kettlebells and do exercises like crunches, dumbbell chest presses, lateral raises, one-arm rows, overhead presses and pushups, according to verywellfit.com.
'It's important to stay active as you get older,” the article notes. 'It's good for your body as well as your mind, and can even lift your mood and spirits.”
According to eldergym.com
- Make sure you warm up at least 10 minutes before exercise and cool down for at least 10 minutes after exercise.
- Some soreness in the muscle belly can be expected but stop the exercise if you feel pain in your joints.
- Maintain a good upright posture during all exercises.
- Don't hold your breath while exercising. Make sure you breathe on the exertion part of the exercise.
- Don't grip your weights tightly.
- All movements should be done in a slow to moderate and deliberate manner.
And once you start ...
- You should be able to complete two sets of 10 repetitions in good form before increasing your weights.
- Completing each repetition in good form means using the 'up for 3, pause, down for 3” count. Wait 1 to 2 minutes between each set.
- For example, if you find it easy to lift 2 pounds over your head 20 times in a row, you should then begin using a 3-pound weight instead.
- Remember not to progress if you are injured, have been sick or your muscles are too sore.
- It is OK to begin with very light resistance or no resistance at all. Progress gradually and you will avoid injury and minimize soreness.
- Try exercising at least 2 to 3 times per week with at least 48 hours between training sessions.
- It is possible to strength train daily by alternating major muscle groups. For example you may work your legs on Monday and arms on Tuesday.
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