Aging Adults:  do they need to exercise differently then their younger counterparts? What should aging adults focus on? I cover the essential issues older adults need to focus on the stay healthy and functional into advanced ages. An important component of this is avoid sarcopenia (age related loss of muscle mass) and that needs to be addressed with both exercise and nutrition, and other variables. For information on that topic, see my video on preventing age related loss of muscle mass, which also links you to my full article on the topic.


29 Comments
  1. makster 9 years ago

    I surely will agree with everything you said. Being an "aging adult" I see the importance of strength and balance in most all everday activities. I also have noticed over the past few years that staying strong is as hard now as getting strong was in the beginning. Keeping at it is the only way to at least maintain your strength.
    Flexibility is a key issue also, as you mentioned. I work daily on flexibility issues. Foam role, joint work and stretching are a constant daily routine. Free weights and heavy work ( maybe not as heavy as it used to be) are very important as I get older. Hopefully I can keep it up well into my 70's and 80's.

  2. Kevin 9 years ago

    I thought your inclusion of balance among the big three recommendations was a very useful, and often ignored piece of the fitness matrix. I'm going to try to incorporate that one more in my training now and as I get older.

  3. s.watson 9 years ago

    i have been training for many years,at 64 i am thinking if one can go too heavy as in bench pressing 100kgs or should one start dropping the weight down? can this sort of weight be dangerous in this age group? i feel ok doing this but i still wonder about it .

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      I'm not following you exactly. People should work with what ever level of resistance they can in good form that fits there particular abilities, experience levels, goals, and other variables specific to them. There's no generic number that is "too much" per se for a person at X vs Y age. Heavy benching may not be the right thing for you, but it's not defacto wrong for the age group per se. Hope that answers the question. 😉

  4. J.R.Magdos 9 years ago

    I do agree with your comments and advice. I am going to be 65 in March of next year. I am retired and I still weight train. Not as much as I used to, but enough to keep in some sort of physical condition. I have always worked out through out my life. I have also aways taken supplements. The one thing I found out was to take creatine to keep my muscle mass loss to a minimum. This, belive it or not was suggested by my doctor when I question her about maintaining my youth and stamina in the bedroom. I would advise anyone to train with resistance training, I am proof that it keeps ones mind and body in great working order so that as we age we can continue living a full and great life.

  5. John 9 years ago

    Hi Will, I agree with your comments…It is extremely important for seniors to get involved with strength training. I have been at it for some 40 years, trying to keep away from Sarcopenia. my age is 65 and I just performed 25 continous reps of seated military press with 120 pounds, my body weight is around 190. I have a training studio where I train the older population. They all are extremely pleased with the results. it is this population that needs execise the most.

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      Agreed John. I highly recommend you also watch the other vid (linked) and full article regarding sarcopenia, which covers the other essentials issues of age related health/fitness. etc.

  6. Sherry 9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. This was great advice.

  7. imrev 9 years ago

    Hi Will, again very interesting subject.
    Maybe to include proproception(if i used the right term). I included some movements with closed eyes that I feel better overall(in 50s now). My opinion is that people should not forget their age when began resistance training, and the repetition number should be adequate, and not to go very heavy. Saw some guys doing Staleys EDT, but probably this age is not the best for new personal records, health is more important.
    Can you recomend some resources about this subject? I have some books but they are outdated know, and no new editions with new research.
    regards

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      Between my article on sarcopenia, articles on training here, vids, and my Bodybuilding Revealed Program, what else could you need? 😀
      The principles of training for mature adults is the same as it is for everyone else really, you just have to adjust to their individual needs, but general principles of training remain.

      • imrev 9 years ago

        Yes I need 🙂 I read your articles about aging, etc, have BBR(not 2010 edition, but shall buy this too), know something about training principles, Interesting for research about Sarcopenia, because in different aspects of medicine I belong to 1-5% of humans, my body react different than everyday people and even some of the best european doctors have no answer, and usual resistance training is forbiden(not a heart problem). But do not want to make audience tired with my problems. Fortunately, I have no problems with loosing muscle mass in spite of fact that every 3-4 years(4 times) I loose about 35lb in hospital, but regain after, without resistance training, and my diet is 70% carbo. Even with this conditions, I look more muscular than average 53 old male, and would like to understand my body and my health. That is the reason for my interest in researches.

  8. Phillip Schlueter 9 years ago

    Thanks Will for addressing exercise for us older trainers. One thing that I believe that is harder for older trainers is dealing with explosive movements. It is the jumping, jaring and sometimes just the quickness of an exercise that causes me to be careful. I have no injuries but back flexibility is an issue. It is the burpies, mountain climbers and abs exercises that require fast movement from a prone postition that I struggle with. Stretching feels great, and I can touch my palms to the floor and beyond, actually I am flexible enough to put my forehead on my shins but I still have a hard time with the mentioned types of exercises. Just turned 62 in September and have visible abs for the very first time in my life.

    • imrev 9 years ago

      Philip, I have the same problem with explosive movements. Feel that muscle elasticity and explosiveness is 50% of younger age. Tried some 1 leg jump test, result was tragedy 🙂 Now I implement some light pliometrics but am aware of injury and doing it very carefuly. After 30 days it is know little better, but not as before 20 years 🙁

  9. George 9 years ago

    I'm really pleased with your suggestions, as well as the suggestions of the other commentators. I have been physically active since my late teens. And now, nearly 35 years later, I continue to train hard especially that the goal is to keep healthy and strong (if not for the good-looks LOL). I'm glad I'm not alone in the belief of "keep running the good race" !

  10. Gary Furniss 9 years ago

    Great info as I’m not far off 50 and i have noticed my workouts are becoming more of an effort to get motivated for. I have always done free weights and cables at home but with family and work taking up more time each year. I can still gained muscle but also my body fat has gone up too. Time for cardio is where i’m suffering.

  11. Martin 9 years ago

    excellent video Will, as i am sixty and have trained since i was in school but started weights in in 1971 at twenty one and feel great and think your advice for us seniors is spot on and keep it coming as no one else that i know is helping us at this age in our life training. Well done and thanks.

  12. Samantha 9 years ago

    Hi Will, couldn't agree more with your advice re maintaining functional strength, balance & flexibility – combining resistance training with yoga, pilates & some cardio has worked for me for many years now & I am sure will continue to do so as I get older. It's amazing to see how bad many people's balance is (even young ones)!
    Re motivation – yes it is sometimes hard to get to the gym / park / beach but what is the alternative? Losing everything you've worked hard for? Getting unfit & sick? Breaking a hip? Our bodies are meant to move & (most of us) have so much opportunity to fit in regular exercise that there is no valid excuse not to. Just do it!

  13. Author
    willbrink 9 years ago

    As I summarized from my article (link to vid and article above, which EVERYONE needs to watch/read), the basics are:
    • Get adequate high quality proteins from a variety of sources as well as adequate calories. Avoid excessive animal protein and cereal grain intakes while increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables.
    • Get regular blood work on all major hormones after the age of 40 and discuss with a medical professional if HRT is indicated.
    • Add supplements such as: creatine, vitamin D, whey protein, acetyl-l-carnitine, glutamine, and buffering agents such as potassium bicarbonate.
    • Exercise regularly – with an emphasis on resistance training – a minimum of 3 times per week.
    Added to the above, via the recent vid, flexibility and exercises that either require balance, or directly test balance.

  14. Jim 9 years ago

    It's tough to find a doctor who will work with you to get optimal levels of hormones. They will say you are fine with low to medium "normal" levels, especially if you're older. Doctor: "Get some exercise, watch your fat intake, blah blah blah".

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      All true Jim. It's a matter of finding a doc/docs, you can work with. It's MUCH easier in some locations then others. I just made a vid on the general topic of hormones which goes into more depth on the topic.

  15. Dr.Chandan Baruah 9 years ago

    It is extremely important for the aging adults to exercise depending on his present physical condition. Any form of exercise will give them a healthy body and mind. But weight training is especially beneficial to prevent muscle loss or sarcopenia. I am a gynecologist from India and 57 yrs old. But I train with weight four days a week. Since last 2 month I am following Ronnie Coleman's chest routine ( total of 16 sets) without feeling any tiredness. In fact my chest has improved considerably. I feel very young and energetic and my friends say to me "I am the fountain of youth". In fact many of my friends have started coming to the gym after seeing my health and youthful way of living. Thanks for bringing out a very important topic for the senior citizens.

  16. Gary 9 years ago

    Will,
    Great article!!!!! You are so right on every point. Balance, core training and functional training are so very important as we age. After suffering a near fatal heart attack almost 3 years ago, I got inspired and interested in fitness in cardiac rehab. I am 57 years old and in the best shape of my life. I became a personal trainer and my mission is to help others get healthy. You are right it is easier when you are younger but it can still happen at any age and with most conditions if it is worked at. The energy, stamina, functional strength that can be acquired is unbelieveable. Keep up the good work !!!!!

  17. Franko 9 years ago

    Hey Will. I enjoy reading your stuff, and like this subject you are usually right on. I am 62. I let myself get out of shape for years. Now I am on my third round of P90X. I have lost 32 pounds (down to 200 lbs at 6'2"), added a significant amount of muscle, and gained flexibility. Keep up the good work.

  18. Jim 9 years ago

    I'm 54 and have been weight training for many years, so my strength and balance are very good. But until about five years ago I almost never did any stretching or worried about loss of flexibility. But when I started to experience low back pain, I finally started stretching on a regular basis. The stretching alleviated my low back pain and now stretching is as much a part of my fitness program as weight training is.

  19. Angel 9 years ago

    Hi there Will,
    I hope you are well. I wrote you sometime ago about not being able to lose weight and gaining while on BFFM. However, you suggested to get my hormones checked. I am a 36 yo female and curious because I stay tired I thought it could be an age factor or something. I did visit my Dr. he said hormones are fine but, still I am tired so, I decided to take a break like a week and a half and I'm losing weight and starting to feel well rested and so much better. What is happening to me? I do take regular breakes between cardio and weight for a week every 2 months. My Dr or personal trainer does not have an explanation for this. Can you explain what I may be experiencing? I thought that is what exercise is supose to do is make you feel better but, instead I feel worse at times.
    Thank you,
    Angel

    • Author
      willbrink 9 years ago

      It's not possible for me to know what is causing your issues from an internet post. It could be something very simple, like overtraining and or under eating, to more complex issues, such as your hormones. "Fine" per your doctor, is not a medical term when it comes to hormones. Read my article "It's In your blood" and watch my vid "understanding your hormones" and others to get a clear idea of what correct hormonal testing means. I would also read the various training related info here, as it may clue you into what you may be doing that is causing the problem(s). Good luck. 😉

  20. Mark T 5 years ago

    I’ve been training seriously since I was 15 (36 yrs now), and in recent months have adjusted my routine towards more strength focus (5×5, etc), and am surprised that I can move the same poundages I did I my 20’s. Squats not so much due to some knee pain, but bench, overhead press and deadlift have not deteriorated at all. I do notice the flexibility issue, and have been doing yoga on my off days. I’ve hear some claim that there is an anti-aging component to yoga, and note anecdotally that a majority of well known ‘yoga personalities’ seem to look substantially younger than their chronological ages.

  21. Annie 5 years ago

    This is really solid info. I am 53, and have been lifting and running for many years now. I am still in muscle building mode, and have no plan to slow down.I look and feel terrific, and I love how the aging process can be slowed with the right mindset and activity. I cannot stress enough to my friends that now is the time to actually push harder, not shy away from hard exercise. I think folks do the opposite out of fear. You are now posted to my FB page. Thanks!

  22. Steve Lifton 4 years ago

    Hi Rick, I am a young 82 years old. 5’10” 170 lbs. and in considerably good shape. Still have good muscle mass and except for dark marks on my arms from blood thinners my skin is in good condition. luckily they appear only on my arms not on my face or legs.
    One and 1/2 years ago I was close to death as I had an infection in my heart valve from an infected tooth. The heart team luckily for me was one of the top teams in Florida. They just were for me in the right place at the right time.My valve was replaced with a pigs valve.
    They told my family that they were going to award me the Patient of the year award. They said that never in all of their years of Heart Surgery they had never had a patient in my age group as strong physically or mentally as me. I was walking up and down stairs in the hospital the next day after surgery.
    All this being said I hope that you can offer some suggestions as to what excersizes I can use to stay in good condition. Thank you, Steve Lifton

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