Numerous research studies demonstrate that strength training provides abundant benefits for the older citizen. However, strength training is not the only resistance training that has healthy outcomes. Power training, the ability to exert force rapidly, is crucial in the prevention of falls.
Power and strength training go hand in hand in helping to slow down age related muscle atrophy and the resultant diminishing of your physical capabilities. A few tips for training from the Harvard Medical School can go a long ways in getting you started in the right direction.
It does not matter what the mode of exercise may be, the beginning starts with a decent warm up and ends with a cool down. The warm up should get your heart and breathing rates up, and bring on a slight sweat. Afterwards when the training is over move into the cool down phase, continue with the cool down until your breathing and heartbeat return to near normal. Simply stopping after a hard workout is hard on your heart, so don’t bypass this important part of the session.
Never sacrifice form for weight. If you are unable to lift the weight with correct technique then lower the load. Always use good form. The risks involved in using too heavy a weight are the potential for injury. If you have never been injured before then you are a lucky person. Or lying to yourself.
Injuries set your lifting back for a day or more depending on the seriousness of the damage.
Use light enough weights that allow you to use correct form for all the reps and sets. If the weight is too heavy you won’t be able to complete the set with good form. At the beginning of your training program set a goal of three sets of 8 to 12 reps for each exercise movement. If you are able to do 14 reps on the last set of 12 for two exercise sessions then add weight for the third session. These last few reps should be, on a scale of 1-10 with ten being the hardest, in the 8-9 range of effort.
Follow a good cadence in all of your reps. Don’t bounce or crash the weights – always be in control of the load on the bar. Keep momentum to a minimum. It won’t get you stronger but it can get you hurt. Avoid getting hurt.
As the loads get higher, the speed on the bar will, of necessity, be slower. Think speed at all times. When you start to fall a slow reaction is not going to cut it. You have to react fast, or fall. There is no sport in the competitive world performed slowly. Avoid the coaches who try to sell you on their slow rep programs.
Generally speaking, breathe out as you near the sticking point of the exercise. Breathe in as you lower the weight. Some people hold their breath for a full rep and up to five or more. If you have blood pressure issues, holding your breath is not a good idea especially if you are trying to blow it out through a closed glottis. Practice good breath control.