In this article I hope to outline the importance of using weights for seniors in their home training. I will also provide 6 exercises that you can use today to get started. The goal should always be long term practice of resistance training, so rather than just providing exercises I also discuss how a beginner senior might consider designing their week of movement.
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Bodyweight training for beginners is very challenging. Making it extremely difficult for beginners who are also seniors. Due to sarcopenia (age related muscle loss), seniors can often find many standard bodyweight exercises very challenging. This is because body weight exercises have to be done at bodyweight, which is often far too heavy for the vast majority of seniors. Yes, modulations to hand positioning can be made to scale them so some form of the exercise can be performed by complete beginners, but the variety of exercises is very small which can make progression difficult and training a little mundane.
Obviously I am not trying to turn people away from bodyweight training, if you have no choice or are convinced that it’s the best option for you, then give it a try. Moving with your bodyweight is still far superior to no movement at all. Here is a sample bodyweight circuit a beginner senior might be able to perform. Please take into consideration that I am making generalisations, if you feel incapable of performing these styles of exercises then do not attempt something that is too challenging for you.
Complete 3 rounds
Using weights, especially weights where you have access to small progressions is by far superior to bodyweight training. This is because we can much more easily manipulate the intensity (weight used). Week by week we can make the same exercises just ever so slightly more difficult, allowing us to successfully apply progressive overload and achieve long term results. The difference between having access to some weights and not could be the difference between creating a long term resistance training practice and not, making it a worth while thing to do if you have the means.
Complete 3 rounds
Whether you are training at home with or without equipment, you will need to set your space. Having a physical location in your house or apartment will be very important to creating the habit of training at home. This will involve having a yoga mat, cleaning the space prior to training and just more generally setting your space so you feel ready to move.
Blocking out specific time in your week for when you’re going to do your resistance training is going to be important if you want to be consistent. Let’s look at a sample week of a beginner senior who is looking to drastically improve their health through physical movement, how might they start this endeavour?
Monday - Session 1 - Strength Training x 30 minutes
Wednesday - Session 2 - Walk x 45 minutes
Friday - Session 3 - Strength Training x 30 minutes
This would be an amazing starting point for anyone trying to get in excellent health as a senior. All seniors are different, so please take that into consideration when I am giving these kinds of recommendations. For some a 30 minute strength training session will be extremely challenging, for others it will be very easy, but I think this outline gives a sample of what a good week of physical exercise might look like for a senior who is also a beginner.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.