Few enough people perform aerobic exercise regularly, but even fewer engage in regular strength training. Among individuals over 65, which is the group that needs to maintain their muscle mass the most, only 12 percent perform regular strength training. People who don't do this type of exercise will lose as much as 40 percent of their muscle mass between 20 and 80 years of age.

Exercise diagrams
Click on the diagrams below to learn more.

Benefits -While the primary benefit of aerobic exercise is keeping your cardiovascular system healthy, strength training can help:

  • Increase anabolic hormone levels
  • Counteract the natural tendency of your muscles to shrink with age
  • Make you feel better, look better and age better
  • Increase muscle mass
  • Strengthen ligaments and tendons
  • Protect joints from arthritis
  • Increase bone mass, reducing the risk of osteoporosis
  • Allow you to eat more and weigh less

Strength Training Routines - Strength training can be performed using weight machines or free weights. You can also use you own body weight for resistance training. For sample exercises and illustrations, see Chapter 14 of Transcend.

  • Perform targeted exercises for the upper body, lower body, and core muscles
  • Consciously squeeze the working muscle with every repetition
  • Exhale during the exertion part of the exercise and inhale on the release
  • Maintain good form
  • Do not work the same muscle groups two days in a row
  • Warm up for 5 minutes before your workout
  • Stretch the muscles you used after your workout

Upper-Body Exercises

Chest Press - Muscles worked: pecs, triceps

  1. Attach resistance band to door at chest height.
  2. Facing away from the door, place one handle in each hand, hands at shoulders, palms facing
    one another.
  3. Step away from the door so that your arms feel some tension as you begin.
  4. Engage your abdominal muscles and press arms out in front of you straight away from
    chest. Keep wrists straight and palms facing one another and keep arms at shoulder height.
  5. Hold for 2 seconds and return slowly to start position.
  6. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Triceps Kickback -Muscles worked: triceps

  1. Starting with right arm at side, step on band with right foot at a point to create tension.
  2. Step forward with left foot, lean body forward slightly, keeping your back straight, and place your left hand on thigh for balance. Pull abs in. Hold tube in hand with elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your elbow in the same spot throughout the exercise.
  3. Extend forearm behind you, keeping your elbow still as you pass your hip in a fluid motion.
  4. Squeeze back of upper arm as you hold at the top for 2 seconds, and then return slowly to the starting position.
  5. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  6. Do the same with your other arm.

Overhead Press - Muscles worked: lats, delts, and triceps

  1. Holding band with both hands, step on band with one foot (feet are parallel).
  2. Bring hands to shoulder height with palms facing forward, making a goal post position.
  3. Completely extend hands above head, hold for 2 seconds, then return slowly to goal post position.
  4. For even more intensity, stand on band with feet shoulder-width apart.
  5. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  6. Caution: Individuals over 50 years of age should perform this exercise with caution and with less than maximum resistance to avoid shoulder injuries. If you feel any discomfort while performing this exercise, exclude it from your routine or try doing one arm at a time.

Upright Row - Muscles worked: delts

  1. Holding band with both hands, step on band with one foot (feet are parallel).
  2. Starting with arms fully extended, palms facing towards body, bring hands to just below the chin, extending elbows out, but not higher than shoulders. Hold for 2 seconds and slowly return to start position.
  3. For even more intensity, stand on band with both feet shoulder-width apart.
  4. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Bent-Over One-Arm Row - Muscles worked: traps and shoulders

  1. Starting with right arm at side, step on tube with right foot at a point to create tension. Take a slight step forward with your left foot.
  2. Lean body forward slightly, keeping your back straight and right arm extended. Place your left hand on thigh for balance. Pull abs in.
  3. Pull your elbow back until your hand is at your rib cage. Hold for 2 seconds and return slowly to start position. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  4. Do the same with your other arm.

Biceps Curl - Muscles worked: biceps

  1. Holding tube with both hands, step on tube with one foot (feet are parallel). To increase tension, stand on tube with both feet, either together or up to shoulder-width apart.
  2. Starting with arms fully extended at your sides, palms facing back, pull up on tube while rotating your hands up towards the ceiling, elbows glued to your side. Without bending your wrists, bring hands up to your shoulder. Hold for 2 seconds, release and slowly return to starting position.
  3. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Upon completion of your series of upper-body resistance exercises, you will do the six upper-body stretches

 

Lower-Body Exercises

You will perform four exercises designed to train the major muscles of the lower body: front of thigh (quads), back of thigh (hamstrings), rear end (glutes), outer thigh (hip abductors), and inner thigh (hip adductors). You will need an ankle tube with ankle strap and door clip, and a sturdy chair. You will attach the ankle strap to your right ankle, complete all four exercises on the right side, then switch the ankle strap to your left side and repeat.

Seated Leg Extension - Muscles worked: quads

  1. Set up clip tube in door at ankle height, place chair facing away from door.
  2. Sit on chair, attach ankle cuff to left ankle, with clip at back of ankle.
  3. Sitting up straight, engage abdominals, plant both feet firmly on the ground, extend leg until it is parallel to floor, hold for 2 seconds, and slowly release.
  4. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  5. Move chair away from the door to increase tension as your strength improves.

Standing Leg Curl - Muscles worked: hamstrings

  1. Stand up and face the door. Ankle clip will be towards the door. Pull abs in.
  2. Move chair to your right side so you can use it for balance.
  3. Keeping your upper body still and upright, bend your knee to 90 degrees, keeping your thigh stationary. Keep knee pointing down. Hold for 2 seconds.
  4. Allow your leg to return slowly to starting position.
  5. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Inner-Thigh Lift - Muscles worked: hip adductors

  1. Face sideways with attached ankle closest to the door and clip towards door.
  2. Move chair so that your leg can move freely in front of your body.
  3. Hold on to the back of the chair for balance.
  4. Move leg across the front of your body, bringing the heel of the leg you are working to your opposite toe (or beyond). Hold for 2 seconds and slowly release.
  5. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.
  6. After completing the series of exercises with your right leg, attach the ankle tube to your left leg and repeat the entire series. Upon completion of both sides of the lower-body resistance

Outer-Thigh Lift - Muscles worked: glutes, hip abductors

  1. Stand perpendicular to the door with attached ankle farthest from the door and clip pointing towards the door.
  2. Move chair so that it is in front of you.
  3. Slowly, move your ankle in an arc away from the door, hold for 2 seconds, then let it return to starting position.
  4. Do one set of 8 to 12 reps. Rest 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat a second set.

Upon completion of both sides of the lower-body resistance exercises, you will do the lower-body stretches

 

Core-Body Exercises

A strong core is central to linking upper and lower body. Most of your movement, such as walking, bending, and lifting, is powered by the core musculature - the muscles of the abdomen, back, and pelvis. As you get stronger in your arms and legs, it is critical to have a powerful core to assist in your exercise and other activities of daily life. Although ignored for many
years, core strengthening has come to occupy - appropriately enough - a central role in most fitness programs. Benefits of a strong core include:

• Reduced risk of injury (particularly low back)
• Improved ability to perform daily activities
• Better performance in all sporting activity
• Reduction in back pain
• Improved posture

Guidelines for Core Exercises

The two exercises you will do to strengthen your core are abdominal crunches and the side plank. In addition, Pilates exercises (not described here) are very effective for core strengthening and can be added to your program if desired. It is important while doing any abdominal exercise to pull your belly inward (like you're trying to suck your belly in to fit into a tight pair of jeans) during the exhalation phase of each exercise.

Abdominal Crunches

  1. Lie with your back flat on the floor, knees bent at a right angle with your feet on a chair or on a wall. Place your hands gently behind your head.
  2. Exhale while pulling belly in and do a situp to 45 degrees, then return to the floor and inhale.
  3. Try to keep your abs tight throughout, but do NOT hold your breath.
  4. Shoulders should touch the floor at the end of each rep, but not necessarily your head.
  5. Work up to 30 to 60 reps or more.

Side Plank

  1. Lie on your right side with your upper body supported by your right arm, as shown in the photograph.
  2. Keeping your left hand in front of you for support, exhale, and lift your body until you are in a straight line.
  3. Tighten your abs, continue to breathe, and hold 10 to 60 seconds. Do not let your hips sag.
  4. You can keep your left hand in front of you or place it on your hip.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times on the right side, then roll over and repeat on the left side.

 

TIPS AND RESOURCES

These abdominal exercises help strengthen your core muscles.

Mix it up and try some of these seven different types of pushups.

Try this Travelers Workout Routine for a convenient session away from home. The entire routine can be done without any equipment besides a chair and a phonebook.

Strength training is important to health maintenance, no matter what age you begin. To learn more about adding strength training to your routine, take a look at the CDC's program: Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults.

This site offers exercises to eliminate lower back pain as well as tips to help women get over the hesitancy to lift weights and increase their muscle - one way to pursue overall fitness.

One of the best leg exercises you can do is the squat, but make sure you know the correct form to protect your knees and back.