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Beginning Weight Training For Baby Boomers!

So, what's a Baby boomer to do that wants to achieve a high physique goal at a gym that only employs young clip-board trainers? Follow our Legendary Fitness advice to create your own legendary physique!

Beginning Weight Training For Baby Boomers

Many Baby Boomer readers contact us each week seeking information about designing a resistance training program that takes into account their special needs. Far too often, our readers are discouraged by twenty-something-year-old "trainers" with perfect physiques that have never experienced age-related metabolic slowdowns and/or injuries and impingements that are often part of daily life for those of us born before the 1960's.

So, what's a Baby boomer to do that wants to achieve a high physique goal at a gym that only employs young clip-board trainers? Follow our Legendary Fitness advice to create your own legendary physique!

Diane's Training Recommendations

Richard and I share many of the same beliefs about training and the aging process. We both acknowledge the need for increased recovery time and the need for periodization training to maximize growth while minimizing the risks of injury.

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However, we each take a different approach to training a new client. With this in mind, we are each presenting our favorite beginning workout routine for a healthy, injury-free 40-year-old client.

What Are Your Goals?
>Lose Fat
>Build Muslce
>Improve Energy

Most clients that are over the age of 40 are interested in adding muscle and losing weight. While it is very difficult for advanced level gym rats to achieve significant gains in muscle mass while losing weight, most beginners can achieve both goals at the same time.

Cardiovascular exercise will be utilized to burn calories, while the resistance training builds lean muscle mass which provides a natural boost to the metabolism.

My favorite beginning routine alternates three days of cardio with three days of resistance training each week to provide the beginning gym member with a balanced approach to physique transformation.

Beginners should set a goal of thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise, three times per week. Add five minutes to your cardio routine each week, until you reach 45 minutes.

Treadmill walking, recumbent bikes, elliptical machines and outdoor biking are all great examples of cardiovascular exercise that will take you toward your physique goals. Changing your mode of cardio exercise each session helps relieve boredom and will be beneficial in achieving long-term goals.

Resistance training routines will be utilized on alternating days, working each body part once per week. This will allow plenty of time for recovery and eliminates the need to graduate from a circuit training routine to full-blown weight training.

In my favorite workout plan for beginners, you will be using primarily dumbbells and barbells, as they do not force the lifter into a predetermined range of motion that has been designed to fit the model physique used to design the machine. In essence, you'll learn to be a lifter at your very first training session!

Things To Know As A New Gym Member!

    Please work with a nationally certified trainer to learn to properly execute the movements. The investment in a good trainer will help prevent training related injuries that like to find their way into a baby boomer body.

    • Diane was recently nominated to the National Board of Fitness Experts ( where she is involved in the design of the first National Board certification exams for personal trainers to create a national standard for trainers. Look for more information in an upcoming article that discusses hiring a qualified trainer, soon!

    Do NOT be intimidated by advanced trainers. Everyone was a beginner at one time.

    Keep going and enjoy the process!

Day 1


Warm up for 5 to 20 minutes on treadmill.

    *If you are in your 40's you can enjoy the short warm up. With each decade, add an additional five minutes to insure adequate time to prepare for your resistance training session.




Important Points for beginning weight training.

  • Weights should be light enough to achieve between 12-15 reps for each set, using proper form.
  • NO cheating during these initial introductory phases! Use strict form and concentrate on the muscle worked.
  • Remember! The purpose of the weight is to slow down the movement and contract the muscle. This is not a race to complete the exercise!
  • Keep a training journal to track progress.

Click here for printable workout log!

Day 2

30 Minutes Cardio

Treadmill Walking

  • Begin with a 5 minute warm up period even with your cardio.
  • Remember to add 3-5 minutes at the end for a cool down period to bring your heart rate down.

Day 3


Warm up for 5 to 20 minutes on the treadmill.




Click here for printable workout log!

Day 4

30 Minutes Cardio

Recumbent Bike

Day 5


Warm up for 5 to 20 minutes on the treadmill.

Quads and Hamstrings

    Leg Press, 1 warm up set, followed by 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps
    Leg Extension, 3 sets of 12-15 reps
    Squats, 3 sets of 12-15 reps using extremely light weight to focus on form and depth
    DB Lunge (alternate steps, no walking), 3 sets of 12-15 reps
    DB Stiffleg Deadlifts, 3 sets of 12-15 reps


Click here for printable workout log!

Day 6

30 Minutes Cardio

Brisk, Outdoor Walk

Richard's Training Recommendations

I actually start everyone, no matter what their age, on the same routine (unless, of course, I have to take into account injuries that need to be worked around). Before I begin to outline the beginning routine, let me point out some important first principles:

    The first goal is to learn to perform the exercises in good form. If you ignore proper form, you may, no WILL, do damage to your muscles, tendons and ligaments.

    The second goal is to overload your muscles without getting sore. It is my opinion that if you become very sore, you have done too much. Any time you do anything new, you will experience some soreness, but it should be minimal. Therefore, I always start my clients out extremely slowly the first three weeks. By twelve weeks, my clients are outperforming those who began by copying an advanced routine.

    The third goal is to learn persistence. Do not get discouraged when the strength gains begin to slow down to an almost negligible degree. You must realize that those early strength gains on the bench press or barbell curls are not really strength gains. Your brain must develop the motor pathways to coordinate the action of stabilizer muscles, synergistic muscles, and the primary muscles necessary to move the weights in these strange, new paths.

    As your brain learns to engage the proper muscles at the proper times to move the weights through those paths, it only appears that you are getting stronger. It is only after these skill patterns are established that true strength gains occur. This is only one of many reasons that you should NOT, under any circumstances, engage in any "high intensity" or "heavy duty" training. High intensity training is absolutely dangerous for the beginner.

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I begin the first session by weighing, measuring, and photographing my clients. This provides baseline measurements and a visual record from which to determine progress.

Then I determine the clients strength level in any particular movement by determining the maximum amount of weight the client can lift for one repetition in each of the exercises; this is called the one-repetition maximum or 1-RM.

Since I am going to have them perform 10 repetitions of each exercise, I just take 75-80% of the 1-RM for each of the exercises to determine the beginning amount of weight to use.

I believe beginners should perform three full body workouts per week for the first three months. This provides frequent stimulation with adequate time for recuperation for maximum hypertrophy. The first week, then, consists of the following workout:

Week 1

    Crunches 1-20 repetitions.

    30? Leg extensions, 10 repetitions

    Leg Biceps:
    Leg curls, 10 repetitions

    Standing heel raises, 10 repetitions

    Wide grip pull downs, 10 repetitions

    Bench press, 10 repetitions

    Dumbbell side raises, 10 repetitions

    Pushdowns, 10 repetitions

    Dumbbell Curls, 10 repetitions

Click here for printable workout log!

Weeks 2 & 3

    For week two and three, I add one set of 10 repetitions, adding weight where possible.

On week four, I drop the sets to two per exercise and add an exercise so that the client is doing the following program:

Week 4

    Crunches 1-20 repetitions.
    Leg raises 1X10

    30? Leg extensions, 2X10
    Squats 2X 10

    Leg Biceps:
    Lying leg curls, 2X10
    Seated leg curls 2X10

    Standing heel raises, 2X10
    Seated heel raises, 2X10

    Wide grip pull-downs, 2X10
    Low cable rows, 2X10

    Bench press, 2X10
    Pec dec, 2X10

    Dumbbell side raises, 2X10
    Dumbbell presses, 2X10

    Pushdowns, 2X10
    Dumbbell French presses, 2X10

    Barbell curls, 2X10
    Dumbbell Curls, 2X10

Click here for printable workout log!

Weeks 5 & 6

    Week 5 and 6 are the same: I just add a third set of 10 repetitions to each of these exercises.

The last three months of beginning training are devoted to increasing strength on each movement and attempting to adjust the rep schedule that fits the physiology of the client. The degree of concentration, dedication, persistence, and drive as well as their stated goals determine how I will move the client into an intermediate stage.

You may be saying, "Wait a minute! There's no cardio here!" Yep. People generally come to me to change the shape of their body and to get them into good exercise habits. Those two things are my first priority.

If I do suggest cardio, I let them pick the form it will take and advise them to begin with 15 minutes three times the first week alternating days of cardio with the resistance training so that they are not done on the same day.

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I then have them add 15 or 20 minutes the second week so that they are doing 30-35 minutes three times a week. I will usually instruct females to begin cardio rather early on, because females have slower metabolisms than males and almost always need to do cardio to get rid of some of that fat.

The problem most of the people I train have is that they are usually either very busy students or professionals who have limited time to devote to training. It takes about 6 months to get people into the habit of working out so that it becomes as necessary to them as brushing their teeth.

Therefore, my main concern with beginners is getting them into a routine that will provide maximum results in as little time as possible. My goal is to motivate them to establish a new lifestyle that includes a healthier diet. Diet is MUCH more important than cardio for fat loss. Get the diet right and the fat will go.

It will go more quickly with cardio, but I've watched too many people stay fat while doing hours of exercise every day. My clients, therefore, immediately begin to keep a food journal in which they record EVERYTHING that goes down their throat except water.

I tell them NOT to change anything in their eating habits until after the first two weeks. After I study their eating patterns, I make the smallest changes I can that I think will lead to the fastest results.

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I keep a journal of every exercise, set, rep, and weight as well as the weight training principles I explain each day and turn it over to the client at the end of the first 3 months.

By then my clients have become familiar with the basic principles of gaining and losing weight, building strength, proper form of the basic exercises that work the entire body, the basic terms of resistance training, and what to eat and not eat to contribute to building their own legendary physique.

Well, there you have it. Two approaches that Richard and Diane have used to introduce beginners to the wonderful joys of resistance training. We also suggest you begin to become experts yourselves by reading as much as you can about weight training and nutrition.

You can start by reading all of our articles on by clicking here.

Diane: Newsletter note! If you have signed up for the weekly newsletter, but you are not receiving it in your email, you may need to contact your email and/or internet provider to re-set your spam filters. Hotmail accounts are particularly problematic with bulk emails, while Yahoo is a free account that regularly accepts our bulk email newsletter.

Be sure to check out Diane and Richards site

Train hard, train smart and make it a legendary week!
Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC.
Richard Baldwin, Member. Legendary Physique, LLC.

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All submitted photos become property of Legendary Fitness, LLC; submission shall constitute a grant to the use of your photos and information as we deem appropriate.

Copyright 2004. Diane Fields, Member. Legendary Fitness, LLC. All rights reserved.

The advice given in this column should not be viewed as a substitute for professional medical services. Before undertaking any exercise or nutrition program, Legendary Fitness, LLC advises all to undergo a thorough medical examination and get permission from their personal physician.