Weight training is one of the most effective exercises you can do, even if you're over 60. You will see significant changes to your body such as increased strength, firmer muscles and less body fat in as few as 12 weeks. You will also have more energy, endurance and an elevated mood almost immediately.
Weight training is not just about strong muscles -- you also need strong joints, ligaments and tendons. Give your joints and connective tissues time to adapt to weight training before you work with heavier weights, especially if you are a beginner who is starting later in life.
You have been losing approximately 5 percent of your muscle every 10 years, if you have not participated in a weight training. However, the American Council on Exercise says it is never too late to begin an exercise program and regain all that lost muscle, even if you have never exercised. Don't let injuries or chronic illnesses and conditions stop you from beginning a program. Weight training causes microscopic tears in your muscle fibers that your body will quickly repair, causing your muscle to hypertrophy. This process will begin to reverse atrophy.
Pushups are one of the best lifting exercises you can do to regain your upper body strength. They target your chest, shoulders, triceps, core and back muscles. To test your strength, start out on your knees. If you can easily do 10 then it is time for traditional pushups. Do 10 to 15 knee or traditional pushups twice a week until they are too easy. At this point you are ready for some advanced pushups by adding weight. During pushups, keep your entire body straight from neck to hips and keep your hands wider than shoulder width.
Squats are a very effective lower body exercise that work all the muscles in your legs and butt. You can perform them twice a week. Grip dumbbells in each hand and allow your arms to hang at your sides. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width and sit down by allowing your butt to drop down and back. Be careful with your knees. Only squat as low as you can without experiencing any pain in your knee joints. NASM has an easy-to-read chart that helps you identify issues you may be experiencing during your squat.
Safety is important, especially if you're a man over 60. Check with your doctor first if you have high blood pressure or heart problems. It is common for older men to have joint issues, so move slowly and with control. Only work within a comfortable range of motion. Remember to breathe during the exercises by exhaling during the exertion and by inhaling on the resting phase of the lift. Holding your breath can cause your blood pressure to rise dramatically. Educate yourself on the proper form of weight training exercises before you begin a program.
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