Bodybuilding After 50: What to Know

If you’re thinking about weight training, now might be the perfect time.

As you age, you lose lean muscle mass. You can have less energy and be less active. Strength training can reverse the process, helping you build muscle mass and have more energy.

Increasing your strength has other health benefits. It helps you strengthen your bones, manage your weight, refine your thinking, manage conditions like arthritis, diabetes, back pain and heart disease, and improve your quality of life.

Is Bodybuilding Safe Over 50?

Even if you’ve never done it before, you can start weight training now. “You can get in shape at any age if you live an active lifestyle and are in good health,” says personal trainer Warren Gendel, winner of the Mr. Santa Barbara 1992 NPC bodybuilding competition and owner of Well-Fit by Warren , a company. fitness-oriented for men over 50.

Bracha Goetz, a children’s author from Baltimore, started at age 60. “I started lifting weights to keep my muscles strong and to prevent osteoporosis, which my mom and older sister had.”

Lifting weights is now part of Goetz’s routine and she feels stronger and healthier. “Our bodies were designed to move, so it’s a pleasure to do, especially in music. Now I have stronger muscles than ever when I was younger, ”she says.

If you are not currently active or have a chronic condition, talk to your doctor. They can help you decide if weight training is right for you.

It’s not just for men

“A lot of times women are put off by weight training because of a common misconception that lifting weights will make you gain weight and look like a certain green Marvel hero,” says Griff Robinson, a NASM certified personal trainer at the outside Boston. “But weight training isn’t just for men. Many women appreciate the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of weightlifting. “

If you’re female and don’t want to put on weight, don’t worry, says Robinson. “Unless you train like an elite 22-year-old bodybuilder, you can expect to look fitter and more toned, not beefy and unsightly.”


How to start

After getting the go-ahead from your doctor, start with 2-3 weightlifting sessions per week.

“Try to keep your workouts under 30 minutes,” says Robinson. It helps you to do higher intensity exercises without overloading your body.

Start with a brief warm-up. Try 5 to 10 minutes of brisk walking or other cardio activity.

Aim for 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise. Some people like to do 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps, but experts say a single set is fine too. Choose a weight that is not too easy but not too hard. Your muscles should start to feel tired by the time you get to the end of each set.

As you get stronger you will see improvements. Your muscle mass will increase, you will feel stronger, and you will be able to train for longer. When it starts to feel easy, increase the amount of weight slightly.

Safety first

Follow these steps for safe and effective weight training after 50.

Start slowly. If you overdo it too soon, you are more likely to injure yourself. Ease with light weights and short sessions.

Don’t forget to rest. Add days of rest to your strength training routine. It takes time for your body to recover after lifting weights. “Take a day between each workout to rest and recover,” says Gendel.

Use good form. Lifting weights with poor form or technique can result in injury. If you don’t know how to do it right, get a personal trainer to guide you, Gendel says.

Listen to your body. If something is wrong, stop lifting. Try to use a lower weight. Check your form and technique. Take a break for a few days. If you still have pain, talk to your personal trainer or doctor.

Complete your workouts

Strength training isn’t just about lifting weights.

“If you’re looking to stay in shape and keep your body strong and healthy, it’s always a good idea to incorporate some cardio, such as jogging, into your fitness routine,” says Robinson.

Add bodyweight movements to your routine. Try exercises like push-ups, squats, and sit-ups, Robinson says. They use your own weight to help you build muscle and slow bone loss associated with osteoporosis.

Remember to eat well. “You have to have good nutrition to fuel your body for muscle growth,” Gendel says.


When to stop

Sometimes it’s better to wait. Take a break from strength training if:

  • You have a cold, the flu, or an infection with a fever.
  • You feel a lot more tired than usual.
  • You have swelling or pain in a muscle or joint.
  • You have a symptom you are not sure about.
  • You have chest pain.
  • Your heartbeat is irregular, fast, or fluctuating.
  • You are short of breath.
  • You have a hernia.



Mayo Clinic: “Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, and Healthier.”

CDC: “Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults.”

Warren Gendel, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, San Francisco.

Bracha Goetz, weightlifter, Baltimore.

Griff Robinson, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Boston.

Edward-Elmhurst Health: “10 Best Exercises For Seniors.”

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