In this article I will talk through 3 warm up exercises seniors can do to both learn good positioning for the hinge and warm their bodies up to do resistance training and 3 resistance hip hinge exercises for seniors. It is important that seniors who have been inactive for a while take their time to both build movement complexity and weight lifted slowly and progressively to build a long term movement practice.
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Often times when we discuss resistance training for seniors it is as if we need to have an entirely new style of training regime for seniors than for other types of populations. In reality, the most important thing to do with any population is to meet them where they are at, while following the exact same principles of strength and conditioning. A lot of seniors will struggle with resistance training due to sarcopenia (age related muscle loss), so it is important to start at the very beginning.
It goes with saying, that all seniors are by no means the same, some have extensive athletic backgrounds, some haven’t moved their body outside of daily life for 20+ years. So take this article as a guide rather than a personalised training plan.
Starting at the beginning for seniors will often mean two things:
—> Instilling good technique through skill acquisition.
—> Improving mobility through resistance training and well programmed warm ups.
The pelvic tilt (anterior and posterior) is the building block that is crucial to good hinge positioning. We are looking to build good positions in the hinge, which involves an arch in the lower back created from an anterior pelvic tilt. A lot of individuals will find tilting the pelvic a very difficult task, especially seniors who haven’t got good range of motion in their hips. Take time learning this position as it will be important going forward. Unfortunately we do not have a video of the pelvic tilt in our movement library, have a look through it here .
The wall touch is the initial taste of the hinge movement once a client can find good hip positioning. It allows an individual to move through the hinge movement pattern while using an external cue (the wall) to guide them. This makes the movement simpler than if the movement was to be performed with just bodyweight, it requires better levels of proprioception (body awareness) therefore making it easier. It begins with taking a very short step away from the wall and slowly getting further away from it as the position gets better and better.
The seated good morning can help isolate the hips, as they are the sole mover in the exercise. In all other hinge exercises the knees will be involved. Although the knee movement is simple, for beginners it can add an extra layer of complexity that can make it too challenging. This exercise is more complex than the wall tough so I suggest not using it until the wall touch has been mastered.
Before we discuss exercises that can be loaded which are appropriate for seniors I think it’s important to discuss when the correct time to load is. Only load positions when technique is at a certain point. This doesn’t mean don’t load positions until positions are perfect but neither should you load positions which you do not have any motor control when performing them. If you walk yourself through these exercises and you are very far off from being able to perform them with a neutral spine then I think loading the position with weights/resistance should be held off for a while.
Remember, if you really want to build the muscles of the lower back, there are many other means (e.g. farmers carries) the same goes for the hamstrings etc. Do not rush into hinging and build bad positions, take your time and build technique in conjunction with loading good positons.
The Raised KB Sumo Deadlift is very similar to the exercise in the video above apart from the weight is raised onto a plate so the range of motion to perform the exercise correctly is shortened. The shortening of the range of motion makes the exercise easier to perform and helps avoid any mobility restrictions you might have. The weight should be placed at a height that makes performing the hinge technique correctly less challenging.
Banded extensions can be a great way to initially load the hinge position, especially when done with low band tension. The banded extensions have a way of pulling you into good positions and help you avoid the squat movement pattern. It is very important to maintain a neutral spine and not use too much band tension that it pulls you out of position.
The banded deadlift is another great use of a banded exercise that can help seniors understand the loaded hinge movement whilst using a light band tension. Again, depth of the hinge is not important here, we are look for movement through your range of motion, not the range of motion of someone else.
Take your time building positions and a foundation of strength. These positions will help keep you healthy once you are skilled in them, so take your time and build slowly and progressively. If you have any further questions feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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.