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Effective strategies for training when 55 and older.

 

 

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We are forever hearing differing opinions as to approaches for training the baby boomers. As I am among that population, I can tell you from personal experience what has worked for me. Each of us is unique of course, so please test the water and decide for yourself. Experimenting with different workouts is always a great idea so as to keep our bodies guessing and, constantly growing verses getting stuck on a plateau. Take your time playing with this approach for 6-8 workouts before making any changes or decisions to try something else. That way you can feel in your body the effects that approach has had.

I loved strength training from a very young adult on however, as I have aged I finally had to give in. My body was changing and that is a difficult pill to shallow especially when inside I still felt thirty. I began having reoccurring shoulder issues as well as some serious knee problems. After my stubborn determination to continue down the same path for way too long, and suffering through several years of injuries and restarts, I realized my tendons and ligaments where not able to keep pace with the muscle development any more. Research showed that as we age, though our muscles seem to be capable of gaining strength as they have, they do not hold that strength for as long a period a time if a lay off occurs. Also, the tendons and ligaments lose ground quickly and are always lagging behind the muscles in their thickening process to begin with. After age 50 the lag time increases significantly. Okay, back to the drawing board.

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Specific tendon and ligament workouts became a regular segment in my training routines and I started to feel healthy again in my joints. Hallelujah! So, what does that look like? To be honest, at first glance, a waste of time. I assure it is not! For your shoulders take 2-3 lbs. dumbbells (PLEASE!!! DO NOT use heavier weight! You will NEVER exceed 5lbs. with this exercise) and lift them to shoulder height at your sides, hold for 2 long counts, swing to a shoulder height front lift, hold for two long counts and then return to shoulder height at your sides for another 2 long counts returning to starting position at the side of your thighs. Repeat for 10reps. Start with 1 set per workout and add a second set after a month or so. Finish your entire workout by adding shoulder stretches like draping a hand towel behind your head, reach up with the other hand to grasp it at your waist and gently pull the lower hand upward. Also, do the ‘door casing stretch’ where you secure your forearms on the casing at shoulder height and step through lunging until you feel a good stretch in the front of the shoulders. Repeat raising your arms to 1-2 different heights on the casing to stretch different areas of the shoulder and chest. Keep your chin gently tucked in, eyes straight ahead as your hold these stretches. Always hold stretches for 20-30 sec. in order to get maximum benefit. Keep this at the end of your upper body workouts from now on I swear you will find your shoulders healing, gaining strength and mobility that they may have lost long ago.

For the knees I have used rubber bands/tubing again, very light resistance, to do high rep/full range knee extensions and hamstring curls. I’m talking 40-50 reps/set, 2-3 sets/workout. Once 50 reps is easy change to a stronger resistance but only once it has become really easy. This too has proven to strengthen the tendons and ligaments safely and gradually, Also, I have found cycling to be THE BEST tendon and ligament strengthener ever. I live in the Smoky Mountains so level ground is rare but I ride out doors because I prefer it over grinding it out on a stationary bike. However, if spin classes are offered in your gym that is an excellent option as well. I do 2-3 hours of cycling/week now and my knees that they wanted to do full replacements on 6 yrs. ago are virtually pain free.

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We are never going to beat the odds. No gets out of here alive. We can go into our elder years however, with lots of muscle, strong joints and plenty of mobility which is the formula for a vital, productive and enjoyable life. I hope this helps my fellow boomers. Happy fitness in mind, body and spirit to you all.