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Strength Training for Men Over 50
Strength training plays an important role in staying healthy. The Centers for Disease Control recommends strength training at least two days a week as part of your workout regimen. Strength training becomes even more important as you age as muscle and bone density depletes naturally over time. If you are a man over the age of 50, there are certain aspects of strength training to keep in mind as you strive to meet the CDC exercise recommendations.
Check with your health-care provider before beginning a strength training program for the first time or if you have been away from fitness programs for a while, or if you have any chronic health issues.
The CDC lays out the guidelines for strength training and all you need to do is follow along. Two days a week work the major muscles of your upper and lower torso, performing eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Over time add up to two more sets of eight to 12 reps and if using dumbbells, increase the amount of weight you lift when it becomes too easy.
Variety and Examples
When strength training, it's important to include variety to work each major muscle group, including the hips, legs, back, chest, abdomen, shoulder and arms. Try not to work the same muscles back-to-back to provide resting and healing time. Do resistance exercises, such as push-ups and pull-ups, free weights or weight machines. Consult the American Council on Exercise's library of exercises for the correct way to perform an exercise. If you have painful joint conditions, strength training can even be performed in a water aerobics class, using the natural resistance of the water. The water's buoyancy reduces pressure on the joints.
When approaching a strength-training program, it's always important to make safety a top priority. When lifting, always have a spotter, and use proper form. Start with lighter weights and work your way up to heavier weights to prevent muscle injuries. Be aware of your body as well. If you feel pain or feel dizzy or light-headed, stop lifting and assess whether you have exceeded your current physical capabilities.
- Centers for Disease Control: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Exercise and Seniors
- MedlinePlus: Exercise for Seniors
- Melov S, Tarnopolsky MA, Beckman K, Felkey K, Hubbard A. Resistance exercise reverses aging in human skeletal muscle. PLoS One. 2007;2(5):e465. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000465
- Fragala MS, Cadore EL, Dorgo S, et al. Resistance Training for Older Adults: Position Statement From the National Strength and Conditioning Association. J Strength Cond Res. 2019;33(8):2019-2052. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003230
- Emilio EJ, Hita-Contreras F, Jiménez-Lara PM, Latorre-Román P, Martínez-Amat A. The association of flexibility, balance, and lumbar strength with balance ability: risk of falls in older adults. J Sports Sci Med. 2014;13(2):349–357. Published 2014 May 1.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
- Mechling H, Netz, Y. Aging and inactivity—capitalizing on the protective effect of planned physical activity in old age. Eur Rev Aging Phys Act. 2009;6:89.
- Arthritis Foundation. Free Weights.
Chris Sherwood is a professional journalist who after years in the health administration field and writing health and wellness articles turned towards organic sustainable gardening and food education. He now owns and operates an organic-method small farm focusing his research and writing on both organic gardening methods and hydroponics.