Training Rules for Older Folks

Discussion in 'Masters (50+ years old)' started by KIWI5, May 23, 2018.

  1. KIWI5

    KIWI5 More than 300 posts

    Absolutely fantastic article from Dan Johns' blog- very interesting how high rep hypertrophy work is highly recommended for 'seniors'. I started my strength journey last year by reading 'Barbell Prescription' where high reps for 'masters athletes' was strongly discouraged. By now, I have read enough data arguing the opposite that my response to this assertion would be.....'it depends'.

    What Are the Rules for Training Older Clients?
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  2. ShawnM

    ShawnM More than 2500 posts

    I believe that any reps are good for us older folks ( 48 ). I can see the benefit of higher reps with a moderate weight. While some of us are trying to get strong in specific lifts or movements, I think that the general population would benefit with higher reps on some basic moves a few days a week. Anything, even a little bit, is better than nothing if approved by a Dr.
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  3. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    I read the beginning of the link - the idea of not doing barbell work with older clients is something I disagree with, strongly.

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  4. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    Rules? We don't need no steenkin' rules...:)
  5. Ken_

    Ken_ Double-Digit Post Count

    I find it interesting their assertion that loss of muscle has more correlation with loss of ability with everyday functions rather than loss of strength. That seems to be a good case to include hypertrophy.

    Also interesting, that they suggested working on both strength and hypertrophy with sets of 8-12 reps, which was what I used to do until a few years ago.
  6. KIWI5

    KIWI5 More than 300 posts

    Read the rest of the article- I too raised an eyebrow at the 'no barbell for the elderly' bit- (clearly, 'it depends' applies here as well!) but I found their experience with high rep work very interesting. And- these fella's aren't amateurs either.
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  7. LukeV

    LukeV More than 300 posts

    From my reading the advice in that article is really predicated on this, "A more typical client, he says, is “a 65-plus-year-old who’s spent most of his or her life behind the desk.”"

    So it's not so much about how to train optimally but how to train realistically with a client base that is older, minimally motivated and novice level.

    To be honest if I got my mum to the gym I wouldn't take her anywhere near a barbell or dumbbell. She would be safer and happier on machines and machines alone would suffice for dramatic improvement in her strength and conditioning.

    It's worth considering whether the high drop-out rate of seniors (and others) from personal training and gym memberships is because they get pushed to do too much, too soon, too often and when out of their comfort zone they quit.
  8. Denny Phillips

    Denny Phillips Triple-Digit Post Count

    Dan referenced the "no barbell training" quote on his blog. He liked the rest of the article, but wished that the barbell quote had been left out. As you probably noticed the article was written by Lou Schuler with mention of Dan.
  9. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Golf. To avoid aging, don't play golf, I'd say. The guy advises not jumping or sprinting based on the fact that he got injured jumping to get a ball back after playing a crap shot.
    So don't jump. Er, no. Jump, don't play golf! Golf clubs are full of old people......research indicates that old peoples home are full of old people. There's a link , I'm sure. Play golf and accelerate the aging process.
    Yet further on in the 'do' list the advice is to focus on power. Good, what like jumping and sprinting?
    The reason he hurt himself was because he had neglected this whilst growing older playing golf.
  10. KIWI5

    KIWI5 More than 300 posts

    I've just added the amazingly fun 'SLAM BALL' and power skipping into my training. Plus...barbell glute thrust. Awesome.
  11. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    At 75, my mother in law still does dumbbell, battle ropes, but mostly circuit machines.

    I don't think the mode matters really, barbells don't come with mandatory rep ranges. I do believe that for older folks compliance rates are going to go down if you start really loading them up at higher RM %.

    Strength still being important, the constant fight against sarcopenia is where the most effort should go. At the least you will have proportional strength and the metabolic benefits of more (reduced loss of) muscle mass.
  12. Jim Lauerman

    Jim Lauerman More than 300 posts

    I almost never post here anymore because I don’t really feel I have much to offer. Seeing as though I turn 69 on June 5th, however, I suspect I am qulified to address training for older folks. My experience may be somewhat unique so take it with a grain of salt.

    Rule #1: Restore movement (as best as possible) before adding much load. When I started doing S&S when it was published I found myself consistently getting small injuries and experiencing a lot of general exhaustion, which I suspect was CNS related. I was progressing too fast and had a lot of movement dysfunction that kept sabotaging my efforts.

    Then I took a break from S&S and focused on Original Strength resets. After several years of those and achieving level 2 Certification (Pro) I found myself moving way better generally. I was walking without knee pain and enjoying light to moderate bicycle riding for the first time in years. I also do light Leopard Crawl intervals a couple times a week to tie it all rogether.

    Rule #2: When movement has been restored, start gently adding load and progressing slowly using heart rate as a “self-regulating” mechanism. For me, that has meant S&S, keeping my max heart rate below adjusted MAF max (really low for us geezers) and recovering until my heart rate drops to about 60% of max. Progress has been steady and surprisingly fast without the nagging injuries and CNS exhaustion of the past. I am also continuing my walks and bike riding with at least one of them a week exceeding 1.5 hours.

    Rule #3: Focus on what is going in your mouth. Al Ciampa is the one who challeged me on this and about a year ago I started logging everything that I ate. I didn’t go on any exotic diet, I just held myself accountable. It didn’t take long to figure out that if I limited calories to 2,500 a day (my metabolism, YMMV) I would lose about 1 pound a week. In this year I have lost 45 pounds. Believe me, that makes a sifference.

    Key to all of this has been diaphragmic breathing and consciously slowing my breathing rate, even when training. I use no feed-forward tension techniques. If I can’t breathe diaphragmically through my nose with my tongue on the roof of my mouth, my intensity needs to come down.

    I’m feeling great, better indeed than I have in decades, and I am serious about that. My goals are simple, to be able to live my life the way I want to and to be able to care for those around me. In terms of S&S, 24Kg is my goal. I’m not that far away and if I can do that routinely in my 70’s I’ll be fine.

    One final observation: It’s interesting to me that when we are young and have all of our lives ahead of us, we tend to be in too big of a hurry to progress. Then when we get older and are literally running out of time, we become patient.

    Sorry for the long post. I hope it helps.
  13. wespom9

    wespom9 More than 500 posts Certified Instructor

    I struggle every day working with older adults (most 60+) who are out of shape, overweight, and deconditioned in every sense of the word. Most have the idea that machines are safer and better than free weights. I often liken machines as "processed movement". Would you tell your loved ones to eat processed food all the time? Of course not... so we do we recommend processed movement?

    I've given lots of advice over the years, including telling older adults to avoid machines completely. However, nowadays I generally say:
    - machines can help challenge patterns that you physically don't have the capacity to do.
    - aim to spend less than half of your routine on a machine - in fact, get on the ground if at all possible
    - never skip mobility
    - use your bodyweight/free weights whenever possible

    As much as I would love to say never use a machine again, for many folks it's simply unrealistic.
  14. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    How you train more important than what you use.

    I have a bias, but I apply it to myself these days, as the literature doesn't show the differences from modality we might expect to find.

    I come back to it often, but S Maxwell pointed out at my KB cert the 72 Dolphins used machines for all their resistance training.
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  15. Ken_

    Ken_ Double-Digit Post Count

    Is there any rationale behind why hypertrophy corresponds to increased functionality in everyday activities more than strength for older folks? I would have thought it was the other way around.
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  16. KIWI5

    KIWI5 More than 300 posts

    Ken, are you referring to high repetition vs low repetition weight training?
  17. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    I believe it is for a couple of reasons. Metabolically having some mass has positive impact beyond ability to move the skeleton around.

    And...mass = strength. Yes you can improve the curve of strength to mass by training with a lot of tension, but more mass is still more strong, so training mass is still strength training but with a more broad focus.

    --"Muscle is the major source of protein for functions such as antibody production, wound healing, and white blood cell production during illness. If the body’s protein reserves are already depleted by sarcopenia, there is less to mobilize for illness.
    (JAMA 2001) Lack of muscle mass makes a person weak in many more
    ways than just physical strength."--
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  18. Ken_

    Ken_ Double-Digit Post Count

    Thanks North Coast Miller.

    By hypertrophy I was referring to the type of training as outlined in the book Easy Strength like 5x5 or kettlebell complexes, vs PTTP or the easy strength routine.
  19. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    They may need to build confidence on machines and then graduate to freeweights. You might consider machines like training wheels and sell them that way.

    The aged may also be afraid of getting hurt. Machines were designed so that fitness could reach a mass market with minimal instruction and reduced risk of injury.

    The marketing around Nautilus machines is one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history. They sold the idea that machines are better to a whole generation. Only with hardstyle, crossfit, movenat and other perspectives are we finally breaking free from this idea. This older generation may not have knowledge of this change in fitness.

    Their perspective makes sense from their limited point of view don't you think?
  20. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    In all honesty, you can research this topic till you become bleary eyed and not be able to make definitive conclusions. That alone should dispel any reservations in light of the bigger picture - taking up resistance training is probably the single most important fitness decision anyone can make in terms of exercise strategy. Comparisons of different modality are relatively esoteric as far as the bulk of humanity is concerned.

    I have my own personal bias against most machines, but I'd be smiling ear to ear if I was able to convince someone with no history of fitness to engage in an intelligent regimen on machines, especially if they had reservations or poor compliance/satisfaction towards other modes. Its easier to preach to the converted - getting them into the church is the hardest part.

    Machines vs. Free Weights: More Research is Needed - Bret Contreras

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