There are many things in life that change as you become older but should your weight training be one of them? After all, weight training has been proven to bring about numerous benefits including enhanced muscular mass, strength levels, metabolic rate, coordination levels and bone mineral density and all these seem more than relevant the older you get.
There is that well known saying that age is nothing but a number but how true is this when it comes to weight training? The truth is, weight training is a great means of staying active and healthy but whether you like to admit it or not, the body that you had when you were 20 will not be the same body that you possess into your 50’s. That’s not to say that this is necessarily a bad thing, but alterations to your physiological makeup mean that your training should also be altered appropriately.
For those 20 year olds currently reading this article with a grin on your face, feel free to come back in 20-30 years and we can continue this discussion. For the older generation of readers amongst you, stay tuned as this article looks at ways of altering your training regimes to accommodate the needs of an aging body. Not only will this enhance the feel good factor, but should all go well it’ll have you training into your 70’s and beyond. So what should and shouldn’t be included in an exercise regime for the middle aged individual?
Resistance training such as machine and free weights aid muscle mass and ultimately prevent muscular catabolism, which occurs at an accelerated rate during your older years. Your bones as well as muscle are also stimulated through weight training meaning that conditions such as osteoporosis can be prolonged or even reversed. It’s important to remember at this stage more than ever how essential good form and targeting major muscle groups are to both reduce injury potential whilst maintaining postural balance.
Exercises which incorporate excessive jumping as part of their requirements may simply be too much for the aging body. Activities such as plyometrics have the potential to cause havoc with your lower back, hip and knee joints. Wear and tear at this stage can quickly lead to arthritic conditions. Instead opt for safer resistance alternatives or consider your cardiovascular options such as swimming, cycling and elliptical training to name but a few. These provide intense workouts whilst going easy on your joints.
During the beginning of your gym career you may have gotten away with not warming up or stretching out your target muscles, however with age you might not be so lucky. As you age your muscle’s suppleness decreases which can quickly lead to a feeling of stiffness and reduced range of motion. Not only can this be painful and restricting but it can also enhance your future injury potential. Simply but undertaking stretches on a daily basis you can help to prevent any such occurrences.
Getting older shouldn’t prevent you from doing the things in life you enjoy and it definitely shouldn’t spell the end of your weight training career. Making simple changes in your training schedules such as avoiding bounding exercises, undertaking exercises with proper form and signing up to a stretching routine will keep you fighting fit for years to come.