A research-based bodybuilding guide
Old-fashioned resistance training, like lifting heavy weights repeatedly until you can’t, is the best way for seniors to slow or even reverse muscle loss associated with weight loss. ‘age.
Sarcopenia, the medical term for muscle loss, can increase the risk of falls and frailty. Resistance training (also called strength training) can be a big help. It involves doing upper and lower body exercises using free weights, machines, resistance bands, or even body weight.
Ultimately, the goal is to challenge your muscles enough to feel a difference, but not overdo it where you risk injury. You also want to train for continuous improvement, not a plateau.
The main challenge is to find the right balance between doing too little or too much.
So how do you get to this sweet spot? The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has published some evidence-based guidelines to follow.
Type: One or two multi-joint exercises per major muscle group have been identified as the most beneficial. There are six main muscle groups: chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs and calves.
Multi-joint exercises are movements that engage more than one joint, such as elbow and shoulder, knee and ankle, etc. They differ from single-joint movements, such as a bicep curl. Multi-joint movements allow you to move heavier weights, build muscle faster.
Lester: It is recommended that older adults exercise at 70-85% of their maximum weight in one repetition. Because learning your one-rep max can be difficult and dangerous, choose weights that you can do 10 reps with with good form. You want to fight for the last rep or two, and leave no more than a rep or two in reserve.
Reps (repetitions): The guidelines have shown that six to 12 repetitions per exercise are beneficial. Start out doing 10 reps because it’s easy to remember, and as you progress aim for heavier weights at six to eight reps.
Frequency: Doing two or three workouts a week produces the most muscle size and strength. Start with two workouts a week, spread out over a few days, then add more as you progress.
It may take a while to start noticing the changes. If you’re not seeing more muscle or feeling stronger after eight weeks, you’re not training hard enough and need to modify your routine by adding weight or increasing the number of exercises.
Mat Lecompte is a health and wellness reporter for Bel Marra Health, which first published this article.