When it comes to strength training for seniors who are unsure if working out and fitness is right for them, there are many positive benefits to working out in the golden years – such as preventing conditions like Osteopenia or Osteoporosis and loss of range of motion.
With my personal training clients in Mansfield, Texas, I program workouts that include strength exercises for older adults that are safe and that offer improvements in mobility, improvements in bone density, and an enhanced level of independence as you age that can add to your quality of life.
Every one of my clients, whether young or old, has a different level of fitness when starting out. My goal is to help you with a senior fitness training plan that’s tailored to your needs. Let’s talk about the benefits and what you need to know about achieving functional fitness as a senior.
Benefits of Strength Training for Seniors
As you age, your muscle mass is going to decline naturally. You may begin to experience issues with strength, weight gain, and depleting energy levels.
Despite the benefits of strength training for seniors, many mistakenly believe strength training is too dangerous, when in reality, it strengthens both your muscles and your bones, providing you with improved coordination and balance, which is very important in eliminating the risk of a fall.
You’ll notice that you have more energy and abilities in your day to day activities. I had one senior client who came to me when the pandemic ended, who had lost much of her mobility because she sat at home so much. She not only found walking difficult (and had to start using a cane), but could barely lift herself out of the bath.
Within weeks of implementing a strength training program specific for her needs, she had retired her walking cane and reported that she no longer felt weak and worried about her mobility. This is what I like to see – life changing improvements for my clients!
Whether you’re worried about something similar, or just want to ensure you can always have the energy and strength to carry your groceries in, stand up from your chair, and climb the stairs, strength training is a beneficial exercise that can contribute to a healthy lifestyle for seniors.
You can use strength training to improve your heart health, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes or hypertension, and manage other issues associated with aging. Even if you have arthritis, I can work with you to implement a strength training program that can help reduce inflammation and help alleviate chronic pain.
For example, I have senior clients who have had knee surgery due to osteoarthritis, and I work with them to strengthen the muscles in their thigh muscles and calves so that they are supported and not experiencing the same level of pain and risk as when their mobility is compromised.
If you’re a senior who battles with weight issues, strength training allows your muscles to burn more calories, even when you’re resting. Plus, as you shed pounds, your muscles will be toned up. This metabolic benefit helps regulate your blood sugar levels and improve fat burning abilities.
And another benefit my clients enjoy as seniors engaged in strength training is the mental boost they get. It’s empowering to watch your strength grow quickly, your abilities improve and your mood lift because of the endorphins that get released. I’ve seen my clients get an entire self-confidence makeover as they start to master their strength training program.
Myths Associated with Strength Training for Seniors
I already mentioned how strength training is not something you should only do in your youth. But another myth many senior women worry about is strength training making them too muscular.
They want to be toned and fit, but not be too bulky. You don’t have to worry that a normal senior strength and conditioning program is going to beef you up to that level. You would have to consume massive amounts of protein, calories, and go on a very specific bodybuilding regimen for that to happen.
Another myth many people assume is true is that you’re only going to lose weight with cardio. I see members sticking to the cardio equipment, when a little strength training could go a long way in helping them improve their metabolism and reach their goal faster.
Some people worry about having to feel sore after breaking down the muscle tissue during a strength training session. I don’t want my clients unable to function the next day.
The seniors I work with are pushed to excel, without being tormented into anything that causes chronic or severe pain. You will sometimes feel just enough from your workout that some rest afterwards and a good stretch before our session is all it takes to recover nicely and be fired up and ready for the next one. My warm ups and cool downs in my sessions are designed to be thoughtful of how you are feeling and address any tight or stiff muscles and joints.
Some seniors might see people at the gym lifting huge, heavy weights and think that’s what they’ll have to do to see any results. Not true! With correct form, and programming even lighter weights and assisted bodyweight exercises can be done safely and effectively to build strength.
What Type of Strength Training for Seniors Is Recommended?
I like my senior personal training clients to experience a variety of strength training techniques during our sessions. I always enjoy detailing a program to my clients’ preferences if they enjoy a particular way to work out with equipment. Don’t have a preference? That’s okay! I enjoy using a variety of equipment that best fits my clients’ needs and goals.
They all serve a unique purpose. For example, sometimes free weights and cables help with more balance and stability, whereas machines provide assistance in terms of stabilizing the weight for you and targeting particular muscle groups.
Safety Is Key When Starting Strength Training as a Senior
A personal trainer with experience working with seniors is vital because the last thing that you want to be doing is trying to guess your way through a workout, unsure of your form, and cause and injury that prevents you from achieving your goals.
Assuming your doctor has cleared the way for you to be strength training, you can hire a personal trainer like myself in Mansfield, Texas to help you learn proper form and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts to match your capabilities.
One of the first things I do with clients (of all ages) is assess their current abilities so that I can tailor their workout for their needs. It’s your responsibility to communicate with me whenever you have an injury you sustained outside of the gym so I am aware of any limitations – and for you to stay hydrated and let me know how you’re feeling during our workouts.
I am trained at adapting strength training program to accommodate your needs. I emphasize that my clients pay attention to their nutrition (getting enough protein for muscle recovery) and that they rest between sessions so as not to overdo it and cause injury or over exhaustion.
One thing that will help is being consistent with your strength training. That way you’re not continually having setbacks and making your body regain its strength. I recommend a 2-3 day a week strength training program for seniors, with rest days in between.
If you’re in the Mansfield, Texas area, I’d love to talk to you about how I can meet your needs as a senior interested in strength training, fitness and an improved lifestyle. Just reach out and we’ll schedule a time to get together and go over everything.