Get stronger with age!

Categories: Health & Fitness

It can be hard to maintain good fitness as you age.  Unfortunately, with age comes loss of strength, flexibility, and balance.  The good news however, is you can maintain and even improve on all these things if you are willing to do a little work.  Weakness doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of aging. When we are in our 20s and 30s it can be pretty easy to be in good physical condition and be able to do the fun activities we enjoy such as running, hiking, skiing, or even just playing with our kids.  However, as we get into our 40s and beyond, it can be more difficult to do the things we love because we are not as strong as we used to be. Unfortunately, this is when people think not being able to do the things they did when they were younger is simply a part of getting older.  Some are even told by healthcare providers they should take it easy and slow down. Of course, you may not be able to “play” as hard as you did when you were 25. However, a little bit of time spent strength training will make a big difference in your quality of life. It will also help keep you doing the activities you love whether it’s playing a sport or being able to keep up with your kids or grandkids.  I tell my patients if they want to be able to do the fun stuff, they need to do a little more maintenance as they age.

Previous articles discussed lower body strength training and mobility training.  This article will focus on two exercises that will maximize your upper body and core strength with minimal time.  Let’s be honest, it can be overwhelming to think about everything you need to do to maintain fitness as you age. How does someone find the time for upper and lower body strength training, core training, flexibility/mobility training, mindfulness training (to be covered in a future article) and still have time to do the other activities they love?  This can be done if you train efficiently and are focused during your workouts. It’s not about quantity, it’s about the quality of your workouts.  

The push up and pull up are two of the best exercises you can do.  Both work multiple muscle groups including many core muscles. Both can be difficult to do correctly, but there are modifications if the basic exercise is too difficult.  Don’t be afraid to do the modified version so you can concentrate on good technique. Don’t worry about how many you do. You will get much more benefit from doing 2 or 3 repetitions with good technique being mindful about the muscles you are trying to work than 10 repetitions with poor technique just trying to get the repetitions done.  Depending on your goals, you can shoot for 6-12 reps. However, think about doing sets of 1 repetition. Don’t worry about your next rep. Give everything you got on the rep you are doing. Much of your strength comes from the nerve connection between your brain and muscles. Concentrating on the muscles you are targeting with the exercise and being focused on maximum effort with each rep will maximize your gains with the least amount of time.  If you’re not used to doing this, the exercise will be much harder. It is also more mentally challenging to be completely present during the exercise. However, trusting the process and focusing on quality repetitions, will help keep you going strong! 

Modification:  place hands on counter top or chair instead of the ground

Modification 1:  use heavy resistance band for assistance to pull up

Modification 2:  stand on a stool or chair and use your legs to assist; alternatively pull up from a lower bar with feet on ground to assist with pull up