Bodybuilding.com Information Motivation Supplementation
in:
What Is The Best Workout For Seniors?

What is the best workout for seniors? See what some of our forum members had to share about this great topic. You really are never too old to start living healthier.

By: Workout Of The Week


TOPIC: What Is The Best Workout For Seniors?

The Question:

Just because you are 50+ years old, that does not give you the right to stop taking care of your body. It is important for mature adults to continue or begin a healthy lifestyle to live a long and healthy life.

What are some of the benefits seniors can achieve through an exercise program?

What is the best workout for seniors? Be specific. Include exercises, sets, reps, rest periods, etc.

How often should seniors train?

Bonus Question: As a senior citizen, do you or somebody you know follow a workout routine? Has it helped you or them?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    New Prizes:
      1st place - $75 in store credit.
      2nd place - $50 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - ho_124


Benefits:
What are some of the benefits seniors can achieve through an exercise program?

There are two types of benefits that exercise can provide for a senior. The first is psychological well being and the second is physical. These are totally separate benefits where one effects how the brain operates and the other effects how the body operates.

Physical:

    Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease:

      This is the most important reason why seniors should consider an exercise regimen. The stats are alarming; in America alone there are 13.5 million people diagnosed with coronary heart disease and 1.5 million people who have had a heart attack in a given year.

      Even more of a wakeup call should be the fact that the chances of heart diseases and attacks increase as age increases. The reason for this is a number of factors such as the arteries hardening, and the heart not being able to sustain as much of a workload or in essence becoming weaker.

      Exercise decreases the risk of heart disease in a two fold way. First of all it along with diet increases the amount of HDL cholesterol which in turn reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol which is the bad kind, clogs arteries and is a factor in heart disease. Second of all it strengthens the heart and makes it better able to maintain its current workload. Remember the heart is a muscle and gets strengthened when it's put under stress like all muscles.

RELATED ARTICLE
Cholesterol: Good Or Bad? Cholesterol: Good Or Bad?
Keeping cholesterol levels under control will enhance overall health, and prolong ones training efforts. This article aims to demystify the many, often confusing, aspects of cholesterol metabolism, while showing how to improve your cholesterol profile.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    Reduces Blood Pressure:

      This too is another very important reason why seniors should exercise. High blood pressure by itself isn't bad but the negative effects are the things that end up getting many seniors in the end. Again like heart disease the risk of high blood pressure increases as age increases which should be alarming for all seniors who need to start exercising.

      It is estimated that 50 million people have heart disease in America, the risks of high blood pressure are numerous and all of them aren't pretty. Here a few of the risks of high blood pressure:

      • First of all the increases on blood pressure does has an effect on the blood vessels. It could potentially damage vessels in the kidneys, and even worse could result in blindness because of damage to the blood vessels in the eyes.

      • Because your heart has to work harder it could also be a factor in heart disease and attacks. If this isn't enough high blood pressure also increases the chances of stroke which is a blood clot that forms in the brain because the arteries become damaged from the high blood pressure.

      • Plaque is easier built up on the artery walls and eventually blood flow can be restricted to the brain causing a loss in brain function. Also because of the increased pressure of vessels in the brain, a vessel can hemorrhage or burst; this is another kind of stroke which inhibits brain function.

      • Exercise along with diet helps lower blood pressure which in turn reduces the many risks induced by it. However exercise also reduces fat levels which is another factor in high blood pressure so therefore reducing the fat levels would result in lower blood pressure.

    More Efficient Lungs:

      Because exercise creates increased oxygen demands, the lungs adapt to this by becoming more efficient and better able to uptake oxygen. This is an ideal benefit for seniors since people become weaker and less able to complete physical tasks as they age which should come as no surprise.

      With greater oxygen capacity seniors will be better able to complete physical tasks such as walking to the store or taking strolls through the park.

    Maintain Bone & Muscles:

      Regular exercise is a great way to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis which is a disease that severely weakens the bones. Bones like muscles respond to stress by becoming stronger.

      For example when lifting weights stress is put on the bones, or when running, the bones have to take on the impact force of the legs pounding the ground. Having stronger bones is a great benefit for seniors since as people become older their bones become weaker.

      Because of this seniors are more susceptible to injury and aren't able to complete certain physical tasks such as climbing the stairs. However having stronger bones will help seniors increase their mobility and they won't be limited by having weaker bones, so they can do things like take longer walks in the park or climb stairs with ease.

      Strengthening of the muscles is yet another benefit that exercise gives seniors. There are many great effects that stronger muscles have and one of them is similar to having stronger bones. Not only will it make physical tasks easier but also having stronger muscles will reduce things like back pain since the back muscles will be able to tolerate more stress.

      Exercise may help seniors keep from being slouched over since the back muscles and chest muscles will be more balanced with exercise. Also the back muscles will be strengthened so it will prevent the chest muscles from pulling the body into a slouch.

      Note:
      One note here is that doing exercise will prevent bone and muscle loss to a greater extent as seniors age. Since testosterone slopes off as we get older muscle mass cannot be maintained and therefore results in muscle loss. Bone mass is also reduced because when we age our bodies aren't capable of doing as much physical activity as it was before and therefore the density of the bones decreases. So basically exercise acts as something to slow down the process of both muscle and bone loss.

    Reducing Fat Levels & Keeping Them Low:

      As we all know exercise burns calories and in turn reduces fat levels. This is an excellent benefit since high fat levels have numerous risks. First of all reducing fat levels also reduces the risks of heart disease and blood pressure and since high blood pressure is reduced it helps prevent an array of problems.

      Also by keeping fat levels low it reduces the pressure put on bones and joints which increases their efficiency. Because of this a senior would prevent things like knee and back problems.

    Reduces Common Cancers:

      The evidence isn't yet concrete but there are links to exercise and reduced risk of cancer. For women, the risks of uterine and breast cancers is lower when exercise is performed regularly because of the fact that exercise reduces body fat levels and also estrogen which is the female sex hormone. Because of this the growth of certain cancers is limited since estrogen helps cancerous cells grow.

      For men certain researchers think that exercise can help reduce the risks of colon and prostate cancer. For those who don't know prostate cancer is the number one cancer for men over 50. Specialists think that because exercise moves food through the colon or large intestine more quickly, it reduces the time that waste is stored in the colon and therefore reducing cancer.

    Better Immune System:

      As seniors age we all know their immune system doesn't work as efficiently and they are more susceptible to certain bacteria and diseases. However exercise has a positive effect on the immune system. A Dutch study (Included in references) was conducted on 117 men and women whose average age was 79.

      The results although weren't concrete, showed that exercise does in fact give seniors and increase in the immune function and their ability to fight off certain diseases.

    Good Joints:

      Like muscles and bones our joints wear down as we get older because of the constant everyday use. However exercise helps the joints stay flexible and builds muscle around the joints to support it. Cartilage tissue is also strengthened with exercise and this will help prevent osteoporosis and arthritis which is a very common, annoying, and painful bone disorder.

        View Top Selling Joint Support Products Here.

Positive Psychological Benefits:

    Exercise for the majority of people gives them better self confidence and esteem, or in general makes them feel good about themselves. I mean who doesn't feel great after they leave the gym after a hard workout. The scientific reason is because exercise activates endorphins which is a chemical that makes us feel good.

    This is great for seniors especially when this is a time when their looks start to decline (a lot of people feel down about that part) and they are retired and need to fill their lives with something. Exercise can provide them with a hobby and something they feel good about themselves doing.

    As a matter of fact exercise benefits the brain so greatly that it can be used to treat depression and emotional pain and distress. Long story short, neurotransmitters are stimulated during exercise which in turn helps ease depression. This ties with the above point since a lot of people feel depressed about the fact that their looks are deteriorating, or they aren't as mobile and can't do things they used to do.

    Energy Levels & Sleep:

      Exercise also tends to cause relaxation partly because of the natural good feeling after an exercise bout. Not only is this great to relax but it also helps people sleep better and will give seniors increased energy levels which is great because aging also ends up in decreased energy levels.

    RELATED ARTICLE
    High Intensity Interval Training! Getting Your Rhythm Down: Improving Your Sleep Habits!
    The average healthy individual needs to live on a 25 hour cycle, but of course our planet is on a 24 hour cycle. Get some great tips right here for establishing better sleeping habits.
    [ Click here to learn more. ]

      Exercise also increases the amount of blood and oxygen to the brain; it also increases the amount capillaries in the brain which results in more oxygen to the brain. Because of an increased amount of oxygen to the brain, more oxygen is absorbed by the cells and gives the body an energy boost.


Workout:
What is the best workout for seniors? Be specific. Include exercises, sets, reps, rest periods, etc.

The workouts will be divided according to age groups because of course 50 year olds will be more capable than 70 year olds. One thing I always stress is that people should always do what they feel they can do. So if you think that what I suggest is too easy or hard for you then tone it down or increase the intensity.

The best workout is the workout you think is best so feel free to switch around the exercise or the training splits to suit your needs. You're the best person to determine your personal needs, so if you have really bad knees then maybe squats aren't for your, or if you have major lower back problems dead lifts aren't for you.

50-59 Years: Important Notes.

  • There is no reason why people in their fifties can't still workout with high intensity and frequency. I mean just look at Bill Grant and Bill Pearl in their fifties, still looking razor sharp, fit, strong and still working out with crazy intensity.

RELATED ARTICLE
Bill Grant's Old-School Bodybuilding Series. Bill Grant's Old-School Bodybuilding Series.
If you don't know legendary bodybuilder Bill Grant you should. In this article I will give a brief overview of his career and include a webcast video with him performing an arm workout. Check it out!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    For this reason fifty year olds can still have an intense training program for maximum results and gains. It's still not to late at this point to try to put on some muscle and gain some strength.


    Click Image To Enlarge.
    Bill Pearl.

  • A lot of people in their fifties live a sedentary life style. And in the years leading up to this point many have lived an unhealthy life style.

    For those trying to get fit again I just want to say that at this point testosterone has sloped off, muscle mass is starting to deteriorate, bone density is also dissipating, energy levels are going down, and recovery is not as good as it used to be. In essence the body isn't capable of recovery and training load it was before. So you will have to take it slower and allow for more time for recovery.

The Workout:

    Intensity:

      Beginners should not go all out but rather go at a relatively low or medium intensity and gradually build up the intensity.

    Frequency:

      People in their fifties are still able of pretty good recovery times and still have good energy levels, just not as good as they used to be. Because of this people in their fifties can take on normal training splits but not suicidal ones like workouts everyday. I would suggest 4-5 times a week is good enough to get great benefits and gains from the workouts.

    Duration Of Workouts:

      Duration should be between 30 minutes to an hour. However I suggest trying to aim for 30 minutes which would increase the intensity and also result in a move effective workout since testosterone levels slope off at around 30 minutes.

    Repetitions:

      Repetitions depend on ones goals, that's why there is no BEST rep range. So if your going for muscular growth shoot for 6-12 reps, if your going for endurance go for 15 plus reps and if your going for max strength go for 1-6 reps. That's just the simple version though. Also most people in their fifties want to get a little muscle and some good strength so a rep range of 6-12 is great for that.

    Rest Between Sets:

      Rest between sets should be adjusted according to what a persons goals are. For example if someone is going for hypertrophy or endurance the rest times should be short, around 30 seconds to a minute and a half. Shorter rest times increase hypertrophy by increasing intensity.

      Shorter rest times coupled with the correct rep range increase endurance since to increase endurance you need as little rest as possible and more constant but less intense stress.

The Split:

  • Monday - Legs and lower back
  • Tuesday - Rest
  • Wednesday - Chest, triceps, and abs (Superset between triceps and abs)
  • Thursday - Rest
  • Friday -Back and biceps
  • Saturday - Rest
  • Sunday - Wrists, shoulders, and traps superset with wrists and traps

Monday - Legs & Lower Back:

    Squats 3x 6-12 reps

    • For squats be very careful not to squat so your knees are way past your toes or your knees will get destroyed, also don't make it so they don't pass your toes one bit because it will destroy your lower back and hips. Also go all the way down to target the upper quads and the hamstrings.

    Leg press 3x 6-12 reps

    • Go all the way down for maximum stimulation of the quads, especially the upper quads and the hamstrings.

    Hamstring curl 3x 6-12 reps

    • Make sure to curl all the way or else parts of the hamstring wont be stimulated as well.

    Deadlifts 3x 6-12 reps

    • If you have back problems you should lower the weight or just pick another lower back exercise. Superman's work good if you have back problems.

    Hyperextensions 3x 6-12 reps

    print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Monday.

Wednesday - Chest, Triceps, & Abs With A Superset Of Triceps & Abs:

Friday - Back & Biceps:

Sunday - Wrists, shoulders, and traps (Superset between wrists and traps):

60-69 Years: Important Notes.

    At this age muscular and bone loss is happening at a greater pace and energy levels are dipping lower. People in their sixties definitely aren't as capable to do what people in their fifties are in terms of intensity. Because of this I don't believe people in their sixties should be weight training all out till their muscles feel like jello, but that doesn't mean they can't have some intensity in their programs.

    I feel that they should do more exercises that involve their dead weight like push ups, sit-ups and weightless squats, but they can also do some weight training. I also feel that they should do more cardio based things because that will give them way better benefits than weight training at this point.

The Workout:

    Intensity:

      Intensity should be moderate or even a bit higher than moderate but not extreme.

    Frequency:

      A good frequency at this age is about 3x a week. Like I mentioned above cardio should be the main focus for seniors at this age since it has way more life prolonging benefits at this point than weight lifting.

    Duration Of Workouts:

      Workouts can still be 30 minutes to an hour for some great benefits. I mean in the Dutch study I mentioned above 79 year olds did 45 minute exercise bouts.

    Repetitions:

      At this point I don't really think having big muscles and being superman strong is really an issue. Trying to get a cardio like workout would be best at this point so a repetition range of 15 plus should be used.

      As I said above cardio has way more life prolonging benefits. That's why I believe doing a circuit training routine would be best for someone at 60 years. It gives them a cardio workout and strengthens bones and muscles at the same time which is great.

    Rest Between Sets:

      Since it's a circuit training routine the rest in between sets will be none to very little about 10 seconds. However once the whole circuit routine is complete rest should be about 1-2 minutes.

The Split:

  • Monday - Circuit routine
  • Tuesday - Rest
  • Wednesday - Circuit routine
  • Thursday - Rest
  • Friday - Rest
  • Saturday - Circuit routine
  • Sunday - Rest
  • Remember to fill in the rest days with cardio if you can do it. Doing as much exercise while making sure not to do too much is the best so gauge how much you can do.

The Circuit Routine:

    Here's how it goes, the workout consists of two to three upper, middle, and lower body sets. So you would choose two exercises for upper, three exercise for middle, and three exercises for lower body and do them all in a row without rest.

    Then you would rest for about 1-2 minutes and do it again for 2-3 times depending on what you're capable of doing. Because of the constant exercise it becomes more like a cardio workout and you get benefits from the cardio and the weight lifting aspects.

    Repeat whole process x 2-3 times or depending on how much you can take. It would work best to do it however many times for at least 30 minutes to get a good cardio workout.

70-79 Years: Important Notes.

    Like when you're in the sixties, the main thing at this age is trying to prolong your life with exercise... cardio does that best. Because of this people in their seventies should also do a circuit training routine but just not as heavy and intense.

The Workout:

    Intensity:

      Intensity should be light to moderate and never to the point where you're totally exhausted and hits 10 out of 10 in the intensity factor. Remember the point at this age is trying to get benefits from cardio and a workout not trying to get massive gains.

    Frequency:

      A good frequency at this age is about 2-3 times a week. Again this leaves room for things like brisk walks or cardio sessions of swimming or biking.

    Duration Of Workouts:

      Workout length should be around 30 minutes. Because circuit training has a high intensity it shouldn't be done super long especially for someone in their seventies. 30 minutes is great because that's a good length to get the benefits of cardio.

    Repetitions:

      Because circuit training mimics a cardio session, the repetitions should also be such that the sets last longer. That's why the 15+ repetition range works very well for this age group. It would be pointless to do an exercise for 6 reps or even 10 reps because that's just what you do when you're leaning towards gaining muscle and that's a non issue at this age.

    Rest Between Sets:

      Since it's a circuit training routine the rest in between sets will be none to very little about 10 seconds. However once the whole circuit routine is complete rest should be about 1-2 minutes.

The Circuit Routine:

80+ Years: Important Notes.

    At this stage in age I don't believe any senior should be doing weights at all. The main focus at this age should be very light cardio. There is only one exception which is if you're in extremely good condition and want to continue working out with weights. Other than that a person who is 80 years or over should focus mainly on cardio sessions that are of low impact.

    Things like tai chi, brisk walking, swimming, biking, light rowing or playing a sport. I mean seriously how many of you have seen an 80 year old in the gym pounding the weights with full intensity? It's not going to happen because at this age the body is hardly capable of that with extreme muscle loss and low bone density. And the joints probably couldn't take all that impact from weights, so I suggest for this age category to stay away from weights.

    Because the cardio sessions are very light I would suggest doing it as much as possible even doing it everyday would be great. I mean doing low impact things like walking or tai chi wouldn't stress the recovery systems of an individual at all, so therefore it could be done with high frequency.

    Also mix up the cardio sessions so it doesn't get boring.

The Split:

    You can organize your cardio sessions like this:

  • Monday - 30 minute - 60 minute walk
  • Tuesday - 30 minute - 60 minute walk
  • Wednesday - Light biking for 30-45 minutes
  • Thursday - Tai Chi
  • Friday - Tai chi
  • Saturday - Biking or walking for 30-45 minutes
  • Sunday - Rest


How Often Should Seniors Train?

Seniors should train as often as they can without overdoing it. It varies from age to age though.

  • For People Aged 50-59:

      They should weight train at a maximum of 4-5 times a week. However that's only if your really fit and in good shape. If you're not in the greatest shape 2-3 times should do and you should gradually work it up to 4 times a week.

  • For People Aged 60-69:

      They should weight train about 3-4 times a week since their bodies won't be able to take as much of a beating from the weights.

  • For People Aged 70-79:

      They should train at a maximum of 2-3 times a week but their cardio sessions should dominate their exercise regimen.

  • For People Aged 80 & Above:

      They shouldn't even workout unless they are in crazy good shape and want to continue. Other than that they should try to go almost everyday for light cardio sessions to get the life prolonging benefits of exercise.

What I'm suggesting may not be the right workout amounts for you, so if you feel it's too much then tone it down but if you feel it's too little then do more. There have been exceptional cases of seniors pushing the limits and being able to still accomplish a lot in the gym but for most people the recommended times a week should be a good guideline.


Bonus Question:
As a senior citizen, do you or somebody you know follow a workout routine? Has it helped you or them?

I don't know of any seniors that follow a weight lifting routine but I know of some that follow exercise regimens. I also have seen amazing stories of seniors pushing the limits in terms of weight lifting. For example George, on the Bodybuilding.com forums, is a senior who still lifts weights and is a bodybuilder.

Also in a running magazine I heard of an amazing story about two professional endurance runners in their mid seventies that finished a full marathon in 2 hours and 45 minutes. That's a h*ll of a lot faster than the majority of people and they are in their seventies!

I know of one grandmother who has a very frequent exercise schedule. She is in her seventies and still runs for an hour on the treadmill which is an amazing feat for someone her age. She is still alive and very healthy and is still able to do everyday tasks like climbing stairs or walking to the store very easily. It has no doubt prolonged her life and is giving her great benefits of strong muscles, bones, joints and sense of well being.

My grandfather also did tai chi for an hour each day until he died. Because of the different range of movements it strengthened his bones, joints and also his muscles and he lived a healthy lifestyle until 83. He also had no problem walking around or climbing and didn't need a wheel chair.

The bottom line is exercise does prolong life when done consistently and regularly, so it's not a bad idea for seniors to start. I mean I would definitely trade in an hour each day to live even a few years longer, I don't know anyone who wouldn't. Like everyone always says it's never too late to get in shape.

References:

  1. www.nutristrategy.com
  2. www.reutershealth.com
  3. www.mayoclinic.com
  4. www.healthandage.com
  5. www.free-info-dir.com


2nd Place - fblead40
What Is The Best Workout For Seniors?

Just because you are 50+ years old, that does not give you the right to stop taking care of your body. It is important for mature adults to continue or begin a healthy lifestyle to live a long and healthy life.

You have probably heard this over and over, but it's true, it's also proven by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 85% of American senior citizens don't exercise on a regular basis. Along with this, the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality states that,

"Regular exercise will help protect seniors from chronic disease, improve their mood and lower their chances of injury."

Not only by them, but also by many other people this is said. Now don't we all want to live longer and healthier? Although thinking that exercising is the only way to get healthier might sound a bit simple, it does only require as little as 30 minutes, at least 5 times a week of exercising in order to contribute to a healthier life.

Before going on though, I would like to mention that everyone is different. By this I mean that everything works out differently for different people, there is not just one perfect workout for seniors, please keep that in mind. However, what I will do is mentioning and explaining some basic workouts where everyone can benefit from.


Benefits:
What are some of the benefits seniors can achieve through an exercise program?

Being healthy at any age is determined by many factors. Some are determined by genes (e.g. immune system), while others are determined by people' environment (e.g. work situation) and even how people take care of themselves (e.g. diets, activities, etc.). Anybody can change their health to certain extend.

To get to the point though, through a means of exercising, a lot of benefits can be achieved, benefits to your health and overall well-being. These last two would be the most important reasons for most people to exercise. As much as enhanced strength and improved appearance are a benefit from exercising, they are often not the most chosen reason to go to the gym and workout for.

As the matter of fact, many seniors think they will be disappointed by the lack of immediate results they will receive. Other reasons that keep seniors from going to the gym include thinking that exercising is boring, unfamiliarness with a gym and/or the people going there and sometimes the costs of actually going to the gym. Yes it does cost you some money, but it's well spent money!

To get back to the question though, here is a list with some important, main reasons to exercise:

  • Improved appearance
  • Mood enhancement
  • Improved strength, stamina, balance and flexibility
  • A lower risk on
      Alzheimer's
      Dementia
      Diabetes
      High blood pressure
      Heart disease
      Colon cancer
      Obesity
  • And improved health conditions and overall well-being

Well aren't those plenty of reasons and benefits to start (or maintain) working out?


Workout:
What is the best workout for seniors? Be specific. Include exercises, sets, reps, rest periods, etc.

Like said before, there is not just one perfect exercise that suits all senior citizens, fortunately, 'cause if there was, we all would have to stand in line for the same machines in the gym.

Most senior citizens are often overwhelmed by all the different machines and other fitness tools a gym has to offer, which is imaginable. However, a distinction can be made between to main kinds of exercises: free weight exercises and machine exercises. It is often said that machines are made for women, which is far from the truth.

They can be very useful to anyone that, for example, wants to isolate a certain muscle or use it for another purpose, young or old, male or female, hardcore bodybuilder or fitness enthusiast.

As the name already partly reveals, free weights are dumbbells and barbells, where one can add weight on to. Often people make use of both free weights and machines.

For people that don't know too much about working out already, I will explain some important terms that you should know in order to start a workout program. You've probably heard people talk about reps and sets. Sets are the amount of times an exercise is done. Every set consists of reps (repetitions), which is the amount of times the movement (for example a full curl in bicep curls) are done. Easy isn't it?

EXERCISE DEMONSTRATION
Click Play To Start The Video.
Bicep Curls
Exercise Data
Main Muscle Worked: Biceps
Other Muscles Worked: None
Equipment: Barbell
Mechanics Type: Isolation

Well there is one other thing that is important to this; rest between sets. Rest is very important. Most people will tell you to rest as long as to when you can breathe normally again, which is usually, depending on your training goals, between 60 to 90 seconds. This is recommended for seniors as well.

The amount of reps and sets are determined by your training goals. Usually, 4-6 reps are for strength training, 6-12 reps for hypertrophy (muscle growth), and 12-15 reps for toning the muscles and endurance of the muscles. Sets per bodypart (a bodypart consisting of for example the chest) can vary greatly.

As one likes to use no more than 6 sets (divided by different chest-exercises), the other likes to incorporate more than 8 sets per bodypart. This depends on your goals and on what works best for you.

Here is an example of a 5-day split for seniors:

Monday - Bi's & Tri's (Arms):

Exercise Main Muscle Sets Reps
Bicep curls (Barbell or EZ-bar) Biceps 2 - 3 8 - 15
Preacher curls Biceps 2 - 3 8 - 15
Close-grip barbell curls Biceps 2 - 3 8 - 15
Tricep pushdown Triceps 2 - 3 8 - 12
Weighted dips Triceps 2 - 3 8 - 15
Tricep kickback or Close-grip bench Triceps 2 - 3 8 - 12

Tuesday - Traps & Delts (Lower neck and shoulders):

Exercise Main Muscle Sets Reps
Dumbbell shrugs Trapezius 2 - 3 10 - 15
Close-grip upright rows* Trapezius 2 8 - 12
Dumbbell side raises Deltoideus (side) 2 - 3 10
Dumbbell front raises Deltoideus (front) 2 - 3 10

Wednesday - Hams, Quads & Glutes (Legs):

Exercise Main Muscle Sets Reps
Barbell squats Quadriceps Mostly* 2 - 3 8 - 12
Leg press Quadriceps Mostly* 2 - 3 8 - 12
Leg curls Hamstrings 2 - 3 10
Leg extensions Quadriceps 2 - 3 10
Standing Calf Raises Gastrocnemius 2 - 3 15 - 25

Thursday - Back:

Exercise Main Muscle Sets Reps
Lat pulldown Latissimus Dorsi 2 - 4 8 - 12
Seated cable rows Middle back 2 - 3 8 - 12
One arm dumbbell row Middle back, rear delts 2 - 3 8 - 12
Hyperextensions Lower back 3 - 4 20 - 25

Friday - Pecs (Chest):

Exercise Main Muscle Sets Reps
Flat bench Dumbbell press Pectorals 2 - 3 8 - 12
Incline bench dumbbell press Pectorals 2 - 3 8 - 12
Decline bench press Pectorals 2 - 3 8 - 12
Dumbbell flye's Pectorals 2 - 3 8 - 12

This is just an example of a workout split; one should change the exercises, rep- and set range, and workout days regularly. As you can see, most exercises are between 2 and 3 sets, and 8 to 12 reps, however, this depends on your goals and whatever feels good to you. Furthermore, most important is to use proper form and good intensity. Safety is very important, so start off slow.

Try to keep your workout between 30 and 90 minutes. After 90 minutes of working out you are most likely to overtrain, which won't lead to any good. More articles about that though, can be found on Bodybuilding.com. In addition, Bodybuilding.com has an exercise database which might be very helpful for the execution of the exercises that are unknown to you.

It is recommended to consult your doctor before starting a workout program. Start slow, build up and stop doing an exercise as soon as it starts to feel uncomfortable or starts hurting.

Besides working out the muscles, some cardiovascular exercise is highly recommended as well. Cardiovascular (Cardio) is very important, especially for senior citizens, and should be done for 15 - 45 minutes, 2 to 3 times a week. Treadmills are easy to run or walk on, however, a walk through the park can be just as efficient. More in-depth information on cardiovascular activities is available on the Bodybuilding.com website.

    Learn More About Cardio Here.


How Often Should Seniors Train?

This is a good question, but not hard to answer. The most important factor that determines how often people train is, as you may have guessed, is time. People split up their bodyparts, and divide them over the days they want to work out. A 3-day split may save some time; however, many people prefer to spend a little more time working out and thus rather follow a 5-day split.

A 4-day split is possible too, as well as a 2-day split. For seniors, however, having a 3-, 4- or 5-day workout split is recommended. This simply because physical exercise is divided over more days.

In the end, it's all up to you how much time you would like to spend on exercising. Do, however, bear in mind that exercising more or longer, doesn't have to be necessarily mean better (overtraining).


Bonus Question:
As a senior citizen, do you or somebody you know follow a workout routine? Has it helped you or them?

The gym really is a place to meet a lot of different people, and, as they call it, to "socially interact." As a fitness enthusiast myself, I meet a lot of people in the gym on a daily basis. Everybody has their own goals and tries to reach them. Some succeed, others don't. I do like to talk about one guy that really inspired me in the gym.

His main goal was to lose weight, and he hoped to achieve this through 1 hour of cardio a day along with a healthy diet. He is 57 years old, and very determined to lose weight. As many other people thought he would never achieve his goals of losing a lot of weight, I skeptical at first too.

This guy knew everybody thought about him like that, especially because he was at that age, and that is what motivated him even more. As time passed by, he ended losing 45 pounds in six months. That is what really inspired many of us in the gym.

Along with a healthy diet, a proper and regular workout program can help you in many ways. You can never be too old to exercise through working out, so get a membership at your local gym now and start working out, regardless of what people think or say about you!

RELATED ARTICLE
Choosing A Gym - A Fun Quiz To Help You Out! Choosing A Gym - A Fun Quiz To Help You Out!
Do you really know what you want in a gym? Would you rather workout at home or in the social atmosphere that befits a large chain gym. This quiz will help you get some answers that should make your decision easier to make.
[ Click here to learn more. ]


3rd Place - stonecoldtruth

    Disclaimer: Due to some of the additional health risks associated with Senior Fitness, it is advised that before you begin any workout program that you have a Doctor's Physical Exam and Medical Clearance. This is for your own safety as the point of fitness is to protect your health, not risk it. In addition, if you are not healthy enough to participate in a strength training program, you may still find benefit in a physical therapy type program most commonly offered through local hospitals.


Benefits:
What are some of the benefits seniors can achieve through an exercise program?

The aging process brings with it countless declines and changes that most people accept as 'part of growing old.' However, many of these can be reversed or improved with a proper exercise program. To coin a cheesy phrase,

"You're only as old as you feel."

At around Forty years of age, in sedentary individuals, begins a deterioration (or atrophy) of muscle and along with it an increase of fat (adipose tissue). Over the following decades muscle loss can span upwards of 40-50%. As the body's muscles begin to shrink and lose strength, they also lose their ability to perform the functions they are designed for.

With the loss of muscle mass comes a decline in the body's metabolism. This is where the 'saggy' composition many elderly people face comes into play. Along with the loss of muscle comes the reduction of elasticity in connective tissues (tendons and ligaments), and on a skeletal level the loss of muscle fiber surrounding the extensors and flexors can lead to a curved posture that is typically associated with osteoporosis.

The result of these declines, to put it into everyday terms, can be a loss of balance control, inability to perform basic tasks (playing with the grandchildren, carrying heavy items, and even getting in and out of bed/other furniture).

However, the introduction of a proper training regimen can begin to reverse ALL of those negative effects! Proper strength training can help to regain the lost muscle mass, raise the lowered metabolism, help to burn off adipose tissue, increase connective tissue, and even fix your posture (by adding bone density).

In addition, exercise has been repeatedly shown to decrease the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and colon cancer. Exercise will help to keep your immune system, and you, healthy.

With all of that said, if I had to choose ONE benefit above all others for a Senior Fitness Program it would be the cumulative effect of strength training on balance. The leading cause of hospitalization in seniors is actually from injuries associated with falling down. A proper exercise program can help seniors find freedom again, freedom from injuries and from fear.


Workout:
What is the best workout for seniors? Be specific. Include exercises, sets, reps, rest periods, etc.

The best workout for seniors is going to be one that is primarily based around strength training. Strength training has a heavily anabolic effect, which when applied into a progressive training regime can help to improve the body's efficiency of using protein (nitrogen retention of protein).

The weights used during this program will be approximately 60% of your 1RM (1 Rep Max). As a safety precaution weights used should not be increased by more than 10% per week. Repetitions will be based on the type of exercise: Compound exercises will be performed in rep ranges of 8-10, and Isolation exercises in rep ranges of 10-12.

60% OF 1 RM CALCULATOR

Enter the amount of weight you can lift (in pounds) and the number of reps you can lift it for.

A good indicator of using appropriate weight is that you should be able to lift the weight at least 10 times, but not more than 12. Remember, quality over quantity, and safety is always first. We will have 3 lifting days per week.

All lifting sessions will begin with a 5 minute walk to warm-up the muscles. This walk should be low intensity and geared towards warming your muscles up and finding your focus for your workout. Following your warm-up walk you will proceed immediately to the first exercise.


RELATED ARTICLE
How Important Is Warming Up? How Important Is Warming Up?
How important is warming up? Find out what other people from the message boards think...
[ Click here to learn more. ]

We will not stretch before lifting, but instead we shall do warm-up sets as they are less likely to cause injury. You only need to do warm-up sets for each muscle group once, and we are going to do 3 progressive warm-up sets and then begin our working sets. Following our lifting we will proceed immediately to the stretching room/area. This is essential for senior workouts, as stretching post-lifting will help to avoid injury, DOMS, and help to increase range of motion.

Cardio sessions will be performed on your off-days from lifting. 2 days of cardio are required, but a 3rd day is optional. Cardio options will be: walking, water aerobics, and use of the recumbent bike. Cardio will be performed at low to mid intensity for approximately 30-40 minutes. The more advanced options of cardio are not recommended for beginners, but may be added later on.

The Routine:

    Day One: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Flat Bench Press 2 8-10 45 sec
Incline Bench Press 1 8-10 45 sec
Tricep Extensions 2 10-12 30 sec
Dips (assisted if need) 1 12 30 sec
Front Dumbbell Raise 1 10-12 30 sec
Lateral Dumbbell Raise 1 10-12 30 sec
Stretching (see below)

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Seated Row 2 8-10 45 sec
Lat Pulldown 2 8-10 45 sec
Seated Dumbbell Curls 2 10-12 30 sec
Concentration Curls 2 10-12 30 sec

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Leg Press 3 8 60 sec
Seated Leg Curls 2 10-12 45 sec
Leg Extensions 2 10-12 45 sec
Seated Calf Raises 2 8-10 45 sec

    Stretching:

      You will perform the following stretches after each lifting session:

    • Lateral Neck Flexion
    • Neck Rotation

    • Click Image To Enlarge.
      Neck Circles.

      Neck Circles Video Guide:
      Windows Media (223 KB)
      MPEG (663 KB)

    • Shoulder Shrugs

    • Click Image To Enlarge.
      Shrugs.

      Shrugs Video Guide:
      Windows Media (217 KB)
      MPEG (651 KB)

    • Posterior Arm Reach
    • Spinal Flexion and Extension
    • Hip Extension and Flexion
    • Seated Hamstring Extension
    • Gluteal Flexion and Extension
    • Foot Rotations

    • Click Image To Enlarge.
      Foot Rotations.

      Ankle Circles Video Guide:
      Windows Media (259 KB)
      MPEG (851 KB)

    • Arm Rotations

    • Click Image To Enlarge.
      Arm Circles.

      Arm Circles Video Guide:
      Windows Media (171 KB)
      MPEG (533 KB)

    • Overhead Reach
    • Shoulder Flexion and Extension
    • Upper Back Flexion and Extension


How Often Should Seniors Train?

As you can see by the program we've outlined, you will be training Monday through Friday (those days aren't set in stone of course). However, it should be noted that your lifting days are structured to allow for maximum recovery time.

Seniors do run a higher risk of overtraining, so it is usually recommended to only perform strength training 2-3 times per week. Cardio is actually acceptable up to everyday, but more as a mode of staying active. Since you will be involved in a strength program, it is better to lower your cardio to 2-3 times per week.

Another important aspect of senior training is the length of the actual workout. Many people overlook this and just go spend hours at the gym. As a senior bodybuilder your aim is to get in the gym, work hard, and get out. With the rest structure provided above you will be in and out of the gym in under an hour.

If you find that you are suffering symptoms of overtraining, this routine can be changed to be a 2x per week lifting with 3x per week cardio instead.


Bonus Question:
As a senior citizen, does somebody you know follow a workout routine? Has it helped them?

One of my best friends at the gym is a senior citizen. Jack, a 67 year old male, started at the gym around the same time I did. I remember vividly his first day in the gym; he came in with his oxygen tank and cane. Jack is faithful in coming to the gym, regardless of this harsh South Dakota weather.

One day back in November of 2005, he arrived to the gym without his cane. Worried, I ran over to him to ensure he was ok. We had a good laugh as he hopped onto the treadmill and pumped it up to 3mph. Lets fast forward a few more months, to early February of this year, and I saw Jack at the gym without his oxygen tank!

Needless to say I again ran over to express my concern. Jack just completed his first 3k walk in March of this year. He follows a 3 day strength routine with 3 additional days of cardio.

Josh, aka 'stonecoldtruth'


What Is The Best Workout For Seniors?

Back To Workout Of The Week's Main Page

Back To The Articles Main Page.

Related Articles
What Is The Best Fat-Loss Workout?
30 Days Out: Craig Capurso's Extreme Cut Trainer
Blast Your Back And Biceps! James Grage And Whitney Reid Video Workout



RATE THIS ARTICLE
POOR
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
EXCELLENT
OVERALL RATING
9.5

Out of 10
Excellent
19 Ratings

1

Comment

Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Comment

(5 characters minimum)

      • notify me when users reply to my comment
marty39

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
marty39

Great article, but I have one comment. Don't rely on age in years to adjust the workout. I'm 80 and I'm using the part of the article written for 50-59. I'm not in great shape; I've kept my weight under control but I've been mostly sedentary, and I only started exercising in my late 70's. I just age slower than most people. A recent study of blood pressure in the elderly (JAMA, Aug 13/27, 2012, Vol 172, No. 15) used speed in a 20 foot walk test as a measure of physiological age. They put a break point at 1.8 mph for 20 feet (between 7 and 8 seconds). I can walk half a mile at 3.6 mph! You may want other break points. But age in years is not a factor.

Article Rated:
Aug 23, 2012 12:38pm | report
 
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Comment

Featured Product

Give Us Feedback:
Report A Problem
Site Feedback
Follow Us:
Twitter
Facebook
RSS Feeds
Bodybuilding.com Newsletter

Receive exciting features,
news & special offers from Bodybuilding.com