Tag Archives: Resistance training

4 Important Facts About Resistance Bands | Fitness Over 50

resistance bands for beginners

One of the best and most versatile pieces of fitness equipment is often times NOT found in a lot of gyms and fitness centers. The lowly resistance or exercise bands are sometimes thought not worthy of the same status as free weights, treadmills, elliptical machines or some of the other resistance weight machines  found in the gym but nothing could be further from the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going to the gym when I have the time to get a good workout in, but pound for pound (and dollar for dollar) resistance bands can deliver a top notch workout in a fraction of the time without ever leaving home. Here are 4 important facts to consider about the advantages of including a set of bands in your fitness routine.

  • Low Cost – A quick check on-line will show you that there is a wide range of prices when it comes to resistance bands. I found some priced below $5 for a simple band and some sets with multiple bands of different lengths and handles that included guides and videos that were over $100. Personally since I use them only as ONE of the tools in my fitness tool box I have a few of the cheaper ones of varying length but I can easily imagine someone using them as their primary exercise tool of choice.
  • No Gym Required – For a lot of people, myself included at times, going to a gym for a workout can be a hassle. While I am lucky that my gym is only 5 minutes away and on my way to or from work (see Choosing the right Gym), there are still days when I don’t have the time or want the hassle of changing and showering at the gym. On days like that I can get a perfectly fine workout in the comfort and privacy of my own home in less than an hour. There are other times when I just CAN’T make it to the gym like when I’m on vacation. This leads us to the 3rd important fact about Resistance Bands.
  • Resistance Bands are Portable – Bands can be folded up and placed in a suitcase, carry-all, or even in the glove compartment. Many of the ones on the market today even come with their own little bag or carrying case.
  • Resistance Bands are for ANY fitness level – I am sure there are those that believe that resistance bands are great for beginners but can’t deliver the desired resistance for someone who has been training for a while and already at a mid to upper level of fitness. WRONG! Using the right form and taking advantage of the varying angles of motion that these bands offer you can get just as much resistance (or as little) as you can handle. Not only that but when you’re lifting weights you only feel the resistance one way, on the lift, while bands give you resistance though out the entire motion! Not only are they perfect for any fitness level but they are suited for any age both the young and the fit over 50!

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Fitness Over Fifty Beginner Routines – Toning Upper Arms

Flabby Upper Arms? Try Chair Dips

Toning upper arms is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reverse the appearance of aging . One of the best exercises to tighten up those flabby upper arms is the bench dip. Because this series of exercises are for beginners and one of the requirements was to find work out routines that can be done in the comfort of your own home with little or no additional equipment other than what can be found around the house we have substituted using a bench with a simple straight back chair.

Here are the steps:

  • Begin by sitting on the edge of a chair.
  • Lay your hands on the chair next to  your bottom and grab the edge.
  • Feet flat on the floor 2 feet in front of you knees bent.
  • Lift off the chair so you are supported by your arms and hands.
  • Bend elbows, dropping (dipping) your body towards the floor. Dip as far as you feel comfortable.
  • Push back up, squeezing the muscles in the back of the arms.
  • You want to maintain a position with your back as close to the chair as possible to reduce shoulder strain.

Chair Dips

My suggestion is to start out doing as many as you can in one minute. Try to work yourself up to 3 one minute repetitions 3 times a week, you’ll be amazed at the results in a month or so, the triceps respond to resistance training fairly fast.

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Over 50 Beginners Workout Routine – Lunges

lunges

Lunges – Great at Home Exercise for Beginners

The third exercise of this series concentrates once again on the lower body. The lunge involves all the big muscles below the waist – quads, hamstrings and glutes.
This exercise is even easier in some respects than the squat because it copies a very natural, everyday aspect of life. Walking!
Having said that though don’t be fooled. It is a more advanced move than the squat because it not only works and strengthens your lower body but it also will improve your balance.
Okay here’s how they’re done.
From a neutral standing position take a big step forward, keeping your back straight but not rigid and bend your knee to about 90 degrees (make sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes). While steppping forward drop your back knee towards the floor.
That’s it. Really simple and can be done just about anywhere.
I suggest doing as many of these as you can in 30 seconds at first and over time increasing the time intervals to 60 and then 90 seconds.
You can improve our everday mobility and flexibilty by changing this exercise sometimes to stepping either backwards or to the side.

The third exercise of this series concentrates once again on the lower body. The lunge involves all the big muscles below the waist – quads, hamstrings and glutes.
This exercise is even easier in some respects than the squat because it copies a very natural, everyday aspect of life. Walking!
Having said that though don’t be fooled. It is a more advanced move than the squat because it not only works and strengthens your lower body but it also will improve your balance.
Okay here’s how they’re done.
From a neutral standing position take a big step forward, keeping your back straight but not rigid and bend your knee to about 90 degrees (make sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes). While steppping forward drop your back knee towards the floor.
That’s it. Really simple and can be done just about anywhere.
I suggest doing as many of these as you can in 30 seconds at first and over time increasing the time intervals to 60 and then 90 seconds.
You can improve our everday mobility and flexibilty by changing this exercise sometimes to stepping either backwards or to the side.

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Over 50 Beginners Work Out – Wall Push Ups

Over 50 - Wall Push Up

In the first of this series on beginners exercises for over fifty we featured squats for the lower body, today we will show you a really easy way to strengthen the upper body doing wall push ups.

We begin with these two exercises because they both engage large muscle groups and strengthen areas of the body that are used in every day activities.

The push up works the chest, back and arms. When done correctly it also helps strengthen the core. While I’ll admit that the regular way of doing push ups is challenging and I still find it difficult to do more than 15 or 20 at a time (on a good day) I will show you an easy way to get similar benefits that almost anyone can do.

  1. Stand 2 – 3 feet from the wall – Feet about shoulder width apart, knees straight but not locked.
  2. Hands flat against the wall – Just a little wider than shoulder width, arms straight.
  3. Now bend your arms – Bend until your nose is about 1″ from the wall.
  4. Push Back – Return to starting position.

That’s all there is to it. The level of difficulty and resistance increases the further you place your feet from the wall. Find a position that allows you to complete 12 – 15 repetitions. Perform these 10 – 15 reps 2 to 3 times about twice a week and you should see improved upper body strength within 6 weeks.

One of the great things about this exercise is that it’s so portable. You can do it at work on your break, while out walking around the park, while away from home on a trip or vacation, just about any where!

Remember muscles need increased resistance as they get stronger to maintain the same level of fitness so increase your distance away from the wall as your strength improves. Eventually you can move from the wall to using a chair or bench for support thus lowering you body closer to the floor and creating even more body weight resistance – but that’s all for later. Start out with these beginner wall push ups and trust me you’ll get there!

Exercise Over 50 – Beginners Routines

Over 50 Beginners Work Out Routine – Squats

exercise for over 50

If you’re over 50 and haven’t worked out in a while mastering the squat may be somewhat of a challenge but it’s first on the list for a very good reason.

Builds and strengthens the foundation – Squats target the largest muscle group of the body, the quads or thighs and glutes or butt. These muscles are called into use every day in normal activities that require lifting, pulling or pushing. They’re also important for maintaining balance. Strengthening these groups of muscles may help prevent falls and as an added bonus can help prevent osteporosis or porous bones that sometimes occurs when the bones grow weak with aging and become more susceptible to fractures and breaks.

Okay, so what’s the proper way to perform a squat?

Bodyweight Squats

  • At first for balance place a chair in front of you facing forward and place your hands on the back of the chair. You can also place a chair directly behind to prevent a fall when you go down and to keep the beginner from going down too far
  • You should be standing with feet about shoulder width apart
  • Your chest and stomach should be straight up and down with a slight curve in your back
  • Bend your knees, at first go only as far as you comfortably can, the goal is to eventually be able to go down until your thighs are a little past parallel to the floor.
  • Only using your legs, push back to the starting position. Use your grip on the chair only for balance unless you absolutely need to pull yourself up.
  • When you get better at it you will no longer need the chair. At this point you may even add some weight for more resistance.
  • For weight, use two milk jugs, dumbbells or whatever holding them at your sides as you squat.

Here is a great video showing the way it’s done.


Exercise Over 50

Wall Push Ups for Beginners

Exercises For Over 50 – Work Out Routine For Beginners

This is the introduction to a series of post that we will be doing on exercises for over 50. The first of the series will focus on beginner work out routines and working our way up to a more strenuous work out plan.

These exercises are designed for those who have either never worked out or haven’t in a some time. Therefore the first order of business was to decide what kind of exercises would be best suited to a beginner over 50. We decided they had to meet at least at least 4 requirements.

  1. Ease of Motion – No fancy dance steps or twists and gyrations. I personally have felt my body “pop” just getting out of the car, and I’ve been working out for years! We’ll leave the Tae Bo and Hip-Hop for further down the road (maybe)
  2. Can be done at Home – I think that a lot of people and us over 50 especially are somewhat intimidated by the thought of going to a gym and being around a lot of people who are already toned and trim. A few weeks doing things alone in the privacy and comfort of home can build our level of confidence so that we wont feel like a complete newbie the first time in the gym.
  3. Full Body Work Out – This one is important whether you’re a beginner or have been working out for years. It’s best to engage as many of the “large” muscle groups as possible with each exercise. For those of us over 50 this is especially true as it helps fight sarcopenia and battles the aging process. Doing 100 bicep curls will make you great at doing bicep curls and make your arm muscle bigger but it won’t do much for the rest of your body.
  4. No Equipment Necessary – Okay maybe we fudged a little on this one but any equipment needed will be everday items found around the house. Or maybe even a part of the house (one exercise uses a wall for support). These work outs are designed to use body weight for resistance. The weight of your body along with a chair, the floor or a wall for support will be all you need. Of course as you get stronger you may want to add small hand weights (or milk jugs), resistance bands, or kettle balls for added resistance but they’re not needed to get started.
Although there are many exercises that could fit these basic requirements we decided on three really simple ones. Squats, wall push ups and lunges can all be done at home, are easy to learn and need no equipment other than a chair or wall. We  added resistance bands to the list because their versatility,  ease of use and low cost make them the best add-on to any home fitness routine.

Exercises Over 50

Squats for Beginners Over 50

Wall Push Ups for Beginners Over 50

Lunges for Beginners Over 50

Resistance Bands

These are great exercises to get you started and remember CONSISTENCY is the key. Don’t worry about starting out of the gate in a full gallop, in this race the winner is the one who sets his or her goals and keeps at it. The suggested beginner exercises will soon get dull and your workout will become boring. This is one of the biggest reasons that people quit. No fun anymore! Well you might consider adding a home workout DVD to the mix. For beginners over 50 we suggest Moving Free Longevity Solution Easy Strength Level 1 Body Sculpting and Weight Loss Fitness/Exercise DVD For Beginners, Boomers, Women Over 50, and Active Seniors by Mirabai Holland. Ms Holland is a 50+ health activist that is certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE)  and her DVD is designed especially for Boomers, women and seniors.

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Fitness over 50 Beginners – Try Resistance Bands

Fitness Over 50 - Resistance BandsIf you’re over 50 and either new to the idea of working out or haven’t been in a gym in years I have the perfect solution to getting you started on the path to getting in shape and fighting the inevitable muscle and coordination loss of sarcopenia that is just a natural art of aging.

Resistance bands or exercise bands as some people call them are great for resistance training at almost any level but especially for the beginner. Just some of the benefits are:

  • No gym required – You can get a workout just as effective as a gym workout without leaving home. This will certainly save you time and provides you with privacy and the luxury of scheduling your fitness routine around your lifestyle.
  • Low Cost – Many resistance bands can be purchased for less than $20. I recommend buying a few different ones, they come in different thicknesses to give you different levels of resistance. You could even throw in an instructional DVD and still come in under $50 – $60. I know some gyms that charge that or more a month.
  • Portable – Resistance bands  can be folded up and put in a small hand bag, carry all, or even fit in a glove compartment. Just right for maintaining your routine while traveling.
  • Versatility – These simple little things can perform HUNDREDS of different exercises that when done correctly and with proper form provide you with the same resistance as weights. Your muscles don’t know the difference between weights and bands, it’s all in the amount of tension and positioning of the bands. That’s why I suggest getting a pack of varying thicknesses.
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Aerobics or Resistance, Which is Best?

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Best Exercise For Over 50 – Aerobics or Resistance?

Often the question comes up about what type of exercises are best over 50 years old. For decades the belief was that aerobics that worked the cardiovascular and respiratory systems were the best. While there is no disputing the benefits of aerobics new studies show that resistance or weight training is more important in fighting sarcopenia, the ravages of aging that decrease our coordination, creates wrinkles and sagging skin and causes stooped posture.

For these reasons I like to suggest that a combination of the two is the best exercise plan for those over 50. This is not as difficult or time consuming as it may seem to be and the rewards are terrific. I had been trying several different routines for a couple of years before I stumbled across this and although by then I was in moderately good condition my workouts had become boring and I dreaded going to the gym.

After combining aerobics with resistance my time in the gym became fun again and I was finally able  to lose those last 5 or 7 pounds that I wanted to and that had been so elusive up till then. As I said I “stumbled” on this accidentally because I just wanted to change things up a bit but after I saw the results I did some research and found that what I was doing is actually recommended by many experts in the medical and fitness fields as the best way to combat aging.

I use a variation of interval training. Interval training involves short burst of moderately intense exertion like jogging, enough to get the heart rate up, followed by active “rest periods” like walking. You don’t actually rest but you lower your rate of exertion to a comfortable level. This is followed by another short burst of intense exertion. These are typically done in cycles of 1 minute exertion followed by 2 minute rest until you can work up to 1 minute cycles of each then 2 minutes exertion and 1 minute rest and so on.   It’s been shown that 15 minutes of this type of exercise gives you the same workout as a 30  minute routine using the regular method of 30 minutes of constant motion. This cuts your time in the gym in half!

My variation on this adds resistance or weight training to the “rest” cycle. Instead of walking I jump on an exercise machine or grab a barbell and do a little resistance training while my heart rate slows down. Now I’m able to jog at a nice pace for about 5 minutes before my heart rate gets to aerobic level (about 123 bpm for me) and then I do 5 minutes of resistance with moderately heavy weights. Nothing heavy, don’t need to because my muscles are already somewhat stressed from the jogging.

This has kept my workouts fun and eliminated the monotony. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

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Resistance Training – Fighting Muscle Loss With Age

In a previous post I covered the causes of sarcopenia and discussed how the muscle loss associated with age can effect our health and quality of life. In this article I will go over how resistance exercises can help us avoid or reverse this.

The medical community has shown that all healthy adults benefit from some type of exercise which will raise their pulse for at least ten minutes at a time. This should be done for a total of at least 30 minutes a day 3 – 5 days a week.

This is known as endurance exercise and while the benefits are many, improved cardiovascular health, strengthened joints, increased mental sharpness, increased metabolism and more energy come to mind, this kind of exercise really does little to build muscle so is ineffective at fighting the loss of muscle mass.

To prevent or reverse losing muscle mass requires some kind of resistance training, exercises that cause the muscle to work against an opposing force. This causes the muscles to grow or at least not decline. An added benefit is that it also helps the bones retain their strength and density.

In a study of women aged 50 to 70, the women who strength trained gained 1% more bone density in the hip and spine while the group that did not lift weights lost 2.5 % bone density. Those who trained had strength increases from about 35 to 76% above the control group. Balance improved 14% and general physical activity increased by about 27%.  – About.com
Resistance training is optimally done using weights but the typical weights found at the gym can be subsituted at home by using cans from the pantry, milk jugs filled with water or even socks filled with sand. It’s important to note here though that the stronger one gets the more resistance one will need in order for the training to remain effective.

A lot of older people that I know swim on a regular basis. Swimming is an excellent resistance exercise and it combines the benefits of endurance exercise.

Another good choice is resistance bands. They’re cheap, portable and can be stored in a drawer.

Whatever your choice make sure you incorporate some resistance and strength training, 8 to 10 exercises of 8 to 12 repetitions, twice a week into your fitness plan.

Next time I’ll cover some examples of the best exercises for resistance training for those over 50.

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Sarcopenia – The Keys to Reversing the Signs of Aging

In the previous post about aging I covered sarcopenia, the term that scientist use when discussing the loss of muscle mass, stooped posture and slowed uncoordinated movement that often besets older people. This is the combined result of biological changes in the body that include a slowing of synthesis of needed proteins, a loss of the hormones testosterone and HGH (human growth hormone) and the dieing off of neurons that the body uses to stimulate the muscles to action.

According to a USDA website these normal aging processes begin to occur at around the age of 45 when we start to lose about one percent of muscle mass per year. The loss is accelerated at the age of around 60.

Leading a sedentary life will make the effects of sarcopenia worsen as we grow older. This has been proven over the years by tests performed by NASA who noticed “old age” type symptoms of otherwise very fit astronauts who returned from long periods in space where their movement and exercise where extremely limited.

Doctors and scientist have discovered  that sarcopenia and the  muscle degradation that the astronauts faced have  a common cure: resistance training . Doctors have long recommended at least 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise like jogging or walking. This kind of exercise is great for the cardiovascular system, it may even add a little muscle, but resistance training that requires the use of weights to build muscle is what is needed to have any real gains. Multiple  studies since the late 1990s point to resistance training  as the best  tool against sarcopenia, many physical therapists and doctors  are advising resistance training  over aerobic exercise.

Beginning resistance training in mid-life delays and reduces the appearance of sarcopenia later and  one study showed that elderly people aged 78 to 84 who went on a program experienced an average increase in protein synthesis of 182 percent. Another study, funded by the USDA, found that elderly participants who trained  for 45 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks saw an average increase of 32 percent for muscle fiber and a 30 percent increase in strength.In effect, reversing the signs of aging!

Exercises for Fitness Over 50

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