I’m a big fan of weight training, because it’s the most common (and often the most effective) way to improve your strength. It’s also great for overall body health, can help fight stress and depression, and even keep a person living a more vibrant and independent life because it improves balance and flexibility.
What you might not realize is that weight training is appropriate and beneficial for just about everyone, even those over age 60, or who have never done weight training workouts before. In older adults strength training has been shown to reduce bone loss and improve symptoms of osteoarthritis. (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3606891/).
Of course, every time you begin a new exercise routine you want to limit your injury risks and get the most out of the time you spend on it. With that in mind, here are the three most important things to remember if you’re over age 60 and looking to start weight training.
Dip Your Toe Before You Jump In
When getting into a swimming pool for the first time, do you dip a toe in to that you can check the temperature? It’s the same idea here. The best way to integrate weight training into your health and fitness routine isn’t just to jump in and start doing hours and hours of lifting heavy weights. Rather, you’ll want to do begin gradually so that you can figure out what works best for you.
Start with light weights, a small number of repetitions, and a small number of sets. If you’re not thinking “I could lift more than this” during your first few weight training sessions, then you’re probably trying to do too much, too soon. You’ll be able to increase the amounts you lift quicker than you think, but you need to make sure to give your body time to adjust to the new exercises and you need to make sure you’re using good form before you go heavier. Learn good form first!
Check With Your Doctor
You’re going to your doctor at least once a year for your annual check up, right? Right? Since you have a good ongoing relationship with that health care professional, consult with them before you begin a new weight training program. You want to be sure that you don’t have any underlying health conditions that could make weight training risky.
Even when you start slowly, a new weight training routine puts new pressure and stress on your body. Consulting with your doctor will help you be confident that you’re approaching your new exercise routine safely.
Find a Partner
Even when you begin a new exercise program with excitement and enthusiasm, you might find yourself fading a bit over time. Having a workout partner can help you maintain your interest, and can even be a great social outlet as well. As an added bonus, having a weight training partner can provide an added level of security in the event of an accident or other mishap.
How to Get Started
Start with basic body weight movements including the squat, push-up, pull-up, and sit-up. These movements are the foundation for good form. From there you can add light dumb bells or kettle bells to your workouts with weighted squats, shoulder presses, good mornings.
Strength train two to three times a week. You can fit a few repetitions in between commercials while you watch television or create a dedicated workout routine. And if you’re struggling to create an exercise habit that you can stick to, you’re not alone. In fact, often the habit is the most difficult part of the process. In The No Excuses Exercise Strategy Guide, you’ll discover 12 ways that you can make exercise a habit that you can stick to. Check it out here – it’s free!