Seniors can see great benefits of all forms of resistance training, including using the barbell. Barbells can be a little more technical than dumbbells, kettlebells and machines, which are used regularly by seniors who are just getting into resistance training. Barbells are an excellent tool for those who have a bit more experience in resistance training and are looking to increase the intensity of their workouts.
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Using barbells for resistance training is a very effective way to increase the amount of muscle mass you have. Remember that as you age, your muscle mass will decline year after year if you don’t take action by doing behaviours like resistance training.
The barbell is the most effective tool available for increasing strength in the muscles. Lifting heavy objects, surprisingly enough, helps us get stronger. This principle is so simple yet so effective at creating lasting changes in peoples bodies and the same applies to seniors. Seniors who are able to lift heavy things often will be in a great place to put off age related decline in muscle mass and strength.
Moving on a regular basis can not only in of itself improve your sleep and mood, but having more muscle mass and strength can help make your day to day tasks easier and easier. Not only does resistance training when done correctly improve strength and muscle mass but also flexibility.
Falls can put senior citizens at a lot of risk as they can lead to serious injury and immobilisation. Resistance training can not only lower the risk of falls through improving balance but also prevent the risk of serious injury through increasing bone density, making the impact of potential falls less dangerous.
Just because barbells have all the benefits listed above doesn’t mean that kettlebell, dumbbell and bodyweight training don’t. If you’re reading this article as a senior who doesn’t have any experience in resistance training.
I highly recommend avoiding the barbell until you have learnt how to perform the fundamental movement categories with excellent technique. Once you have learnt this technique you can take it and apply it to the barbell specifically. Remember it’s performing the movement patterns that provides the benefits, not the specific piece of equipment used.
If you’re already heavily invested in resisting training as a senior and are just looking for new barbell movements to add to your training program, then these 5 exercises will be of great use to you, if you’re not using them already that is.
The bent over row will help build strength and muscle in the upper body, specifically the muscles of the upper back. This might be great for seniors who have poor posture and are looking for ways to improve it.
The deadlift is probably the most effective full body exercise that requires force from both the upper and lower body. This is why it can be such an effective exercise to add to your training programme. It is a very technical movement that is difficult to learn, so make sure that you’ve put in your time doing skill development before lifting heavy weights.
The strict press is the best exercise for increasing muscle mass and strength in the shoulders with a barbell, that being said it can be very difficult for those with limited range of motion which can be common for seniors. Try out the half kneeling landmine press if you’re struggling with a movement like the strict press as it is much more forgiving if you have limited range of motion.
The barbell squat in lunge is great at increasing both single leg strength and improving balance. Seniors can benefit a lot from single leg exercises such as this one due to how much they require stability and balance.
The bench press is the staple upper body movement in the gym and seniors like everyone else can greatly benefit from having it in their training programmes. It is a compound movement that requires both the chest and the arms to lift the weights. Seniors looking to develop both strength and muscle mass can benefit greatly from performing this exercise.
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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.