Thursday, July 14, 2011

Keep Your Muscle As You Get Older!

So my mom suggested I write a blog about exercise for the older folk, so here it is! As you get older you could experience sarcopenia, which is muscle loss that occurs as we get older. This actually starts in your 30s! Ahhh really? I’m damn near 30! That’s not cool! Good thing I’ve been taking good care of my body and have been investing a lot of my time with weight training and cardio! I recently read, “people who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. But you still experience some muscle loss, even if you are active”. (Source: WebMD) Ok I’m not really happy reading that, but it’s the truth! Thankfully, we can rely on resistance training (aka lifting weights) for the best means of prevention.

The older you get, the more you might have to work at maintaining your muscles. This means that men and women generally over the age of 60 have to lift weights more often than younger people to maintain muscle mass and size. Here’s a 30-minute workout routine I came across during a recent search for my older readers out there:

This is a short-burst, high-intensity workout which will boost your metabolism and tone your muscles. It incorporates cardio training and resistance training for each major muscle group.

1: Start with beginner squats (thighs) – stand against a wall with an exercise stability ball at your low back, feet hip-width apart, and out in front. Slowly lower your body by folding at the hips and bending at the knees, dropping glutes toward the floor; slowly move back to the starting position. Make sure your knees remain over your heels. Perform 10 repetitions of these! 
Ball Squat
2: Squats (thighs) – if you’re ready to challenge yourself a bit more, try squats without the ball! Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight. Bend your knees and lower your butt as if you were sitting down, keeping your knees over your ankles. Perform 10 reps! 
Regular Squats
3: Forward Lunge (thighs) – Standing with feet hip–width apart, take a big step forward with one leg, then lower your body toward the floor, front knee aligned with ankle, back knee pointing to the floor. Return to the starting position, and repeat by stepping forward with the other leg. For a more challenge, hold a free weight in both hands and complete the lunge with a rotation in the torso, twisting the body toward the forward leg. Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
Forward Lunge
4: Romanian Deadlift (hamstrings) – This is one of my favorite leg exercises! To perform a deadlift holding a body bar or free weights, stand up straight with feet hip–width apart. Fold at your hips, moving the hips backward as you lower your upper body parallel to the floor. Keep the legs straight without locking the knees, and keep the back level and the spine in neutral. Lower the weight to just below your knees, then slowly return to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions.
Romanian Deadlift
5: Bridge (hamstrings) – The bridge works the glutes, hamstrings, and core. Lying on your back with knees bent and feet hip-width apart, peel your spine off the floor, starting at the tailbone, forming a diagonal line from knees down to shoulders. Slowly return to the starting position. For an extra challenge: Target your triceps by holding light weights, lifting your arms ceiling-ward as you raise your hips. Bend your elbows to lower the weights towards the floor. Perform 10 repetitions.
6: Push-Ups (chest & core) – Push-ups strengthen the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles. Lying face-down place hands a bit wider than your shoulders. Place toes on the floor, creating a smooth line from shoulders to feet. Keeping core muscles engaged lower and lift your body by bending and straightening your elbows. Too hard? Place knees on the floor instead of toes. To boost the workout, add an exercise ball under the hips, knees, or feet. Perform 10 repetitions.
7: Chest Press (chest) – Instead of push-ups you can try the chest press with weights. Lie face-up on a bench, with knees bent or feet on the floor, spine relaxed. Press a body bar or free weights from your chest toward the ceiling. Extend your arms but don’t lock the elbows, and move slowly in both directions, keeping shoulder blades on the bench. For an extra challenge, do the chest press with your head and upper back on an exercise ball. Perform 10 repetitions.
Chest Press
8: Bent-Over Row (back & biceps) – The bent-over row works all the major muscles of the upper back, as well as the biceps. Begin the exercise in a bent-over position with your back flat, one knee and one hand on the same side of the body braced on a bench. Hold a free weight in the other hand with arm extended. Lift the weight toward the hip until the upper arm is just beyond horizontal, see right. Then slowly lower weight to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions.
Bent-Over Row
9: Shoulder Press (shoulders) – A shoulder press works the shoulder muscles and can be performed standing or seated. For extra back support, use a bench with a back rest. Begin with elbows bent and weights at shoulders. Slowly reach toward the ceiling, keeping the elbows under the hands and the shoulders away from the ears; slowly lower back to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions.
Shoulder Press
10: Pull Down (upper back or lats) – For the last upper body exercise, do the cable pull down, which works the upper back. Using a cable machine, sitting straight with a neutral spine, grasp the bar with arms extended. Slowly pull the bar down past the face and toward the chest. Only go as far as you can without leaning back, and control the weight on the way back up. Perform 10 repetitions.
11: Bicycle (core) – Lying on your back on the floor, fold knees toward the chest and curl the upper body off the floor. With hands behind head, slowly rotate upper body to the right while drawing the right knee in and reaching the left leg out. Then rotate left and pull the left knee in and extend right leg out. Focus on bringing the shoulder toward the hip (rather than the elbow to the knee), and keep the opposite shoulder off the floor. Perform 10 repetitions.
12: Side Plank (core) - For another abdominal alternative, lie on your side with a bent elbow directly under your shoulder, and use your torso muscles to lift the body up into a side plank. Then lift the hips higher, then back to the plank, then lower. Do as many as you can with proper form, then repeat on the other side.
Side Plank
Congratulations! You just completed a 20-minute resistance training session! Now, on to some cardio! You want to try to vary the intensity during your cardio workout. Use intense intervals, taking about a minute to get from moderate speed to intense (this is the HIIT cardio I’ve discussed in previous blogs). Whether you're on the stair-stepper, the elliptical trainer, or the treadmill, do:
  • 30 seconds of the highest speed you can tolerate, then 30 seconds of normal speed.
  • Then 30 seconds of the stiffest resistance you can handle, then 30 seconds of normal.

Keep moving back and forth between speed and resistance until you've completed 10 minutes.

You can perform this entire 30-minute workout every other day or even two days in a row with a one-day rest in between. Be sure to keep yourself hydrated with plenty of water!!

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