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An Approach To Strength Training For Seniors

By Hawkins Williams
Certified Fitness Specialist for Older Adults

So you want to begin a strength-training program to improve your quality of life and to prevent certain health risks. Congratulations! You have made a life-changing decision. You may be wondering where to begin. What muscles should you strengthen? So many questions to answer. This article will address these questions and more.

Before you start any exercise program, you will need clearance from your primary care physician. Then you can hire a Personal Trainer or proceed on your own. Whatever you choose to do, you will want to work those muscles that are weak first to restore balance with your strong muscles. One of the most important muscles to strengthen are those of the abdomen (stomach). The reason being is that these muscles respond first before your arms and legs move. If you have strong stomach muscles, your strength-training program will be successful and you will obtain your strengthening goals faster and safer.

However, even before working your stomach muscles, you will want to warm up your body for five to ten minutes. In order to warm up, you could ride a stationary bike, walk on a treadmill, or take a walk outside. There are many more ways to warm up. Those are just a few.

After you are warmed up, you will want to stretch the muscles you will be working. Now you are ready to begin the strength-training program. I recommend working the stomach muscles first. They are usually the weakest and the most important ones. Next, we need to work the chest, upper back, shoulders, front of the upper arms, and then the back of the upper arms. The next muscles would be those of the legs and the hips. If you have joint pain while working these muscles, you should stop immediately and check with your physician. I highly suggest that you work the four small muscles of the shoulder joint, which are called the rotator cuff. I find that most seniors have weak rotator cuff muscles due to disuse.

How fast should you move the weight or tubing? Your rate of speed should be slow and controlled. You want to move through a comfortable range of motion (as far as you can with no pain). It is okay to feel the muscle working; however, joint pain is a sign of possible injury. The number of repetitions (how many times you push/pull the weight) should be between eight and twelve times. Perform one set, which is how many times you will work a muscle (i.e. your chest muscles).

So how often will you perform your strength-training program? I suggest three days a week with a day of rest between strength training days. At the end of your program, stretch all of the muscles you worked that day.

Once again, I commend you on making the decision on becoming involved in a strength-training program. Once you start, you will begin to reap the benefits and you can become an example to others. People will find that you feel better and have increased your quality of life.