Training Rules for Older Folks

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

  1. ali

    ali Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    It does but it is a double edged sword. If that is the expectation and that is what people do then that is what people are going to do. If an older, or younger, or injured person sees their like doing machine exercises then they will too. @Jim Lauerman 's post reveals progression, sorting out issues and moving on.....yes, Jim is 69 but he could be a 31 year old desk worker. And maybe some people will reach their limits or be limited or be slower on a progressive scale compared to the athletic population BUT age isn't the barrier, it's mindset.
    If a 60 year old walks into a gym and sees another 60 year old whacking out some snatches or lifting heavy or using the rings or doing a planche then that would alter their expectations. It may represent unrealistic expectations too, yes for some, but in general age shouldn't be a, or THE, limiting factor.....movement is. Plenty of young people are affected by the very same issues. I may change my mind in a couple of years from now when I hit that 56 mark, haha!
  2. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

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    Here is it, not on Facebook:

    The amazing ways intermittent fasting changes your body and brain

    Last edited: May 29, 2018
  3. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    Certainly! I have a colleague who is about to retire. He started working out at a health club in his 50s very gingerly using machines because he did not know how to workout, but now he is an evangelist for the TRX and bar calisthenics in his sixties!

    I think the tool of choice should be dictated by the capabilities of the person using it and their goals. I like the cable machine for face pulls and the cable row for middle back--something the KB doesn't do well. I don't think KB rows are challenging enough at least at my KB weight. Dumbell goblet squats are better than KB goblet squats when you get heavy. Getups with a dumbell are fine too (but a bit more dangerous at heavy weights), even a barbell if you can manage it!

    If you have done your barbell work for the day, some finishing sets on a machine is fine if your main goal is hypertrophy.

    The answer as usual in fitness is ... it depends.
  4. Jim Lauerman

    Jim Lauerman More than 300 posts

    Living in the real world, and not the world of our dreams can be pretty sobering. But it is the gateway to real progress, IMHO. When I started logging my food faithfully, it took about two weeks to realize that if I continued to eat the way I wanted to, I was always going to be fat. At that point I began to realistically assess where I needed to go.

    The same thing holds true with our training. Face reality, assess, and progress realistically. That process will be quicker when we’re 20 than we are 70, but it still works.

    For most older folks, our expectations are usually unrealistic in one direction or the other. Whether we think it’s too late or we think we’re still 25 years old (me), we are setting ourselves up for failure.

    Mindset is much more important than the tool used, despite what the advertising says.
    ali likes this.
  5. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    I skimmed the thesis. Interesting.

    When I was younger, I got great results with "power factor training" using partial range of motion and machines to lift more weight than normally possible. It was a very effective pure hypertrophy program. Not recommended for long-term joint health though! but shocking your body with close to a ton with partial leg presses definitely jolts your body into compensation. We know isometrics are effective, so why not partials as part of a well-rounded program, particularly to help get over sticking points? You do things like a 125% military press that starts from a safety bar racked high in the strongest range of motion around eye height. Like strong first they recommend comparatively long rest periods and training, but also recommend recording training density as a variable. Also, carefully monitoring of recovery including lifting only weekly or even longer when sufficiently strong. If you cannot match your previous total, you stop and add a day of recovery. It was a hypertrophy program.

    As we know, almost anything will work if you actually do it consistently.
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
  6. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    I wonder if there's any literature re partial ROM and training older folks.

    I know the research w/ iso shows benefit to either side of a static hold a few degrees, but I'm not sure there's a ton of similar research for partial ROM.

    What I've come across shows full ROM is a better outcome overall, but they don't normally compare strength in the same region. Do you get stronger in that training ROM by doing partials than if you trained full ROM? My guess is that you would.

    My current regimen for upper body involves locking the elbow at relatively static angles (midpoint mostly) and moving the entire arm through different ranges. My biceps seem to be getting a lot stronger at this midpoint but definitely stronger overall as well.

    I have to wonder when training really challenging individuals it wouldn't be worth exploring this sort of thing. Mentally it is a lot easier for most folks to not do full ROM, and with added strength it is possible to go back and improve mobility.

    After my wrist surgery they kept stressing how important it was to work flexibility, but I didn't have the strength to hold the mobility I possessed. Focused on strength for a few months and went back to improving ROM with probably an identical outcome but that I had more use of my wrist in less time working strength first.
    guardian7 likes this.
  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    In general, we advocate improving mobility before strength, but I agree with your approach here - sometimes, it does need to be strength before mobility. I'd say most of the time, mobility before strength still applies as the best, general kind of guideline.

    Jim Lauerman likes this.
  8. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    Full ROM is better of course. However, if you have an injury or mobility limitation, wouldn't it be a good idea to add strength in a partial range while working on mobility in the full range? That is an interesting question. For example, working with frail older adults, partial bodyweight squats might be a good start while working on mobility and balance at the same time. On the other hand, we know that advanced powerlifters do rack pulls and box squat work to allow for increased load and work capacity. It is kind of like doing deficit pulls--but instead of extending the ROM you reduce the ROM but add intensity.

    I could also see people using a heavier weight for partial TGUs to break a plateau when having trouble moving up a bell size.

    In short, I wonder if partials are too easily dismissed these days.
    North Coast Miller likes this.
  9. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    This ^

    I have questions that are not hit on much in the literature. In the same way many "controversial" topics are seldom addressed in studies in the way they are actually used in a training environment. From a functional application of strength when do we ever use full ROM?

    For older or otherwise compromised folk it seems like a good strategy to preserve muscle mass.
    guardian7 likes this.
  10. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    I have even read an argument against the full range squat based on the idea that you would never see a long jumper squat to full ROM as it is not the way to execute power. Similarly, a linesmen in football would not push from their chest like a bench press, but in front and at about 110 degrees. Perhaps the issue turns on health vs performance. What is the client/person training for?
  11. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    Excellent distinction!
    End of day considering how relatively overconditioned most of us are compared to longevity metrics, I'm not so sure the two are all that far apart.

    Meaning if you could identify the more common movement patterns a client is liable to use, and focus on just those, you probably would get a much better outcome in less time and be not far enough behind on other aspects to make a functional difference.

    I realize a lot of the accepted buzz implies that specificity is something that cannot commonly be trained in the gym as it is sport specific. When it comes to non sport basic movement patterns/applications I'm not so sure. When it comes to the elderly, a lot of conventional strategies just don't appear very well suited.
    guardian7 likes this.
  12. Bryant W

    Bryant W Double-Digit Post Count

    In terms of older folks, I'm not familiar with any studies. I do know of the following study regarding partial ROM in squat training, suggesting quarter squat may have more carry over to sprinting/jumping:
    Joint-Angle Specific Strength Adaptations Influence Improvements in Power in Highly Trained Athletes (PDF Free Download)

    My own experience with the squat is that when I trained it regularly in a "full" ROM, I certainly would get stronger in the squat, but my explosiveness and coordination in dynamic events would suffer. It seemed like somehow reflexes were dampened, and I became quite stiff. I've always had better luck in carry over with a squat ROM that is just shy of what would be acceptable in powerlifting meets.

    To me, a heavy full ROM squat seems very technical, and highly specialized to the powerlifting and weightlifting communities. Applying this to older folks, I like the idea I have seen posted here fairly frequently that it is good to train the full ROM of the squat from a mobility perspective, but that it isn't necessary to train it heavy, at least through a full ROM.
  13. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    I think bodyweight squats and goblet squats should definitely be done deep for mobility, but I am not sold on the cost/benefit of deep squats for heavy barbells for most of the population. If you can do a double kettlebell front squat with 64-80KG for reps or a Goblet squat with half bodyweight for high reps, you are good to go for the general population. It is arguable, but I think training strength-endurance is even more important for lower body for the squat. I particularly like the double KB front squat--it seems underused. I find the goblet squat to be an unnatural position when the weights get heavy as the grip/arms play a limiting role that they shouldn't. If I want to go heavy, the deadlift seems like a more natural move and safer for heavy weight assuming decent form.
    Bryant W likes this.
  14. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    I don't know... I think the loaded squat is pretty good training for what most older folks need -- i.e. the ability to get up off the floor, the toilet, a low chair, etc. Plus training the fast fibers can improve reaction time for a fall. And what's best for building muscle mass, which so many older folks need? The barbell squat with full ROM.
    Antti likes this.
  15. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    @Anna C,
    I am also big fan of full ROM squats for everybody, at least on paper, and barbell backsquat is the king for mass - depending on how its used.

    When looking at training older folk who may not have any history of fitness, you could be at it quite some time before they might perform one, even with no load. Not that it shouldn't be a goal, but I am not sold on it being a starting point or even a high priority destination. I honestly don't think I'd approach it with a limited strategy, mode, or exercise selection.

    In this case (as with rehabbing my wrist) "Strong First" might be a measure of how well you can use what mobility you have, and expand on that range over time. If I could get a 75 year old woman with no history of fitness and carrying excess weight to do sets of chairs squats I'd be pretty smug, split squats holding dumbbells would be over the moon.

    I wouldn't worry much about fiber type, if I could get them using a variety of loads and rep ranges they'll get stronger and better muscle tone/mass no matter.

    Training Based On Muscle Fiber Type: Are You Missing Out? • Stronger by Science

    End of day its all theoretical for me and I can only base my speculation on how I've seen older people being trained. I get the impression its as variable as rehabbing injured folk in terms of individual accommodation. Getting them to do a movement pattern with good form for whatever their ROM currently is, add a load to the movement, and then vary the load to hit a variety of rep ranges would be my primary goals. Along the way more mobility would be a goal but I wouldn't let it stand in the way.
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  16. Jim Lauerman

    Jim Lauerman More than 300 posts

    From my perspective as an older person (i.e. Geezer) I think there’s a lot of wisdom here. For us, being able to do the movement at all is the first step. For me, OS, especially “Commando Rocks” were the gateway to re-establishing the squat pattern and the neuromuscular “mapping”.

    Goblet squats are a great way to load that movement. I am now at the point of re-establishing double KB Front Squats with relatively light weights. In time they will increase.

    Anna, I rarely disagree with you but for me, barbell back squats, while the standard for athletic performance, simply fried my CNS too much. I would be exhausted for days after a squat session. The cost/benefit equation just wasn’t there for a man in his late 60’s and a history of overtraining.

    Of course, that may just be me. With a goal of remaining able to do the things I want to do, double KB Front Squats with 20’s (24’s?) seem safer and more valuable as I move into my 70’s. Different movements for different goals.
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  17. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    @Jim Lauerman can't really argue with you as far as KB Front squats doing the trick, too... I would think that is a great alternative for someone who has kettlebell skill and can hold heavy-ish bells in the rack. I think lot of older people would find that to be more difficult than the barbell, getting started. But a de-trained older person is a challenge no matter how you look at it. On the bright side, training can make a huge difference in their daily lives! So I look forward to the challenge of working with older people as I continue my journey as a trainer, even into "retirement years."

    Interesting about barbell backsquats giving you the a feeling of fried CNS. I've often heard (and experienced) heavy deadlifts do this, but squats on the other hand just seem to wear people out in an overall way - metabolically, muscularly, CNS - all together. They do put a large demand on the body, no doubt. But that's why they have such a powerful stimulating effect on overall strength. When they are just too much for the body to handle, I would be inclined to think of the programming as the cause, rather than the movement itself.

    Anyway, good thoughts... It's continuing to be a great thread!
    guardian7 likes this.
  18. Jim Lauerman

    Jim Lauerman More than 300 posts

    No doubt this was the case with me, Anna. Thanks for your perspective.
  19. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    I'll repeat what I've often said, and it's not specific to older trainees: Everyone should squat, not everyone needs to squat heavy. The goblet squat is a brilliant thing and belongs in everyone's warmup if they're going to later train heavier.

    (For those who have the strength and mobility to do a "goblet" squat in good form but without a weight, also an excellent exercise and arguably at least as good. The bw-only squat, goblet-squat "style" is my personal squat of choice.)

  20. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    Well, I just read a counter-argument to my position in the book the "Barbell Prescription" highly recommended by the way. The author states that axial loading of the spine is found to promote bone density. Back squats and overhead pressing are therefore recommended.

    So I would revise my remarks to say as Steve says, to start with any kind of squat including bodyweight, or partial squats if need be. Continue to train to the goblet squat, then front squat. Thrusters and double front squat to push press looks like a good bet. When you have gained enough strength and stability, move to the any barbell variations such as Zercher or preferably up to back squat if you can. Or at least the press with decent weight for the individual. Strongfirst has all these bases covered.

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