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Some people believe once you’re past age 50, you’re over-the-hill, and from that point on there’s not much you can do to slow down the harsh effects of aging. However, with adequate diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, it’s possible to stay fit and maintain vitality and longevity. Although aging Americans are more aware of the importance of exercise than previous generations, the benefits of strength training are often overlooked. It’s not only possible to build strength, but it’s also possible to develop muscle later in life. In fact, according to wellness exerts at UC Berkeley, it’s crucial to build muscle after age 50 due to typical inactivity and muscle strength decline. Investigate muscle growth exercise routines for people over 50.
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Aerobic Exercise and Strength
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people know that exercise is good for them, and they look for ways to include a few workout sessions in their weekly routines. However, even though aerobic exercise and other exercise, such as yoga and pilates help to build some strength, it’s not enough. What’s important is to balance aerobic workouts with “a proper dose of strength training," says the Mayo Clinic, or “you're missing out on a key component of overall health and fitness." It goes back to the old adage of ‘use it or lose it,’ and with age you’ll naturally lose muscle and gain fat without strength training, according to Dr. Edward Laskowski and the Mayo Clinic.
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Beginning Strength Training
It’s never too late for strength training but remember to take it easy and start out slow. No matter where you are, you can work out to build muscle, so you don’t have to join a gym or recreational facility to strength train. As long as you have a safe place to exercise, you can work out at home or at the office. According to Shape Fit, you can easily use “machines, body weight, or free weights" and even mix it up for strength training. Work out for 20 minutes a few times a week or more for strength training but take a day off in between workouts. Learn to do proper exercises and start out with a weight that challenges you but doesn’t cause strain or pain, according to Shape Fit.
Warm up before performing any exercise by walking or gently jogging in place for a few minutes. Also, remember to stretch to avoid injury. If using free weights or hand weights, use light weights when first starting weight training, lifting for 10 to 12 repetitions. A set is made up of repetitions (a.k.a., reps). If only one set is all you can handle for the time being, it’s perfectly fine. Eventually, you’ll want to work up to a few more sets and then add more weights later on. Try different routines to challenge your muscles. Always rest between sets, and avoid jerky or half movements when lifting weights of any kind. Slowly follow through on the recommended full movement of the exercise. Remember to keep your core muscles engaged for back support.
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Body Weight Training
Keep in mind that if you don’t have weights, you can still get started with weight training by using your own body weight. If you like and can participate in group exercise, you can start to build strength with body weight with yoga and pilates. Many of the exercises incorporated in these workouts are designed to build strength, such as the plank position and other holding positions in yoga. However, it’s easy to perform body weight exercises at home and on your own.
Push-ups are one of the best ways to build upper body strength. Keep hands apart on the floor while holding your body up. They should be out just past your shoulders. Your legs should be stretched out behind you. Hold your body up and balance it evenly between your arms and feet. Avoid spreading your feet too wide apart. Next, slowly lower your body toward the floor but remember to engage your core as you lower it. It’s okay if you don’t lower your body all the way to the floor at first but work toward that as a goal. It’s also a good idea for beginners to balance between hands and knees on the floor, especially if you have back problems.
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Sit-ups and similar abdominal exercises help to build core muscles which are crucial for support during other types of weightlifting. Besides sitting up from the floor, you can move in the opposite direction to build core strength. Start from the sit-up position and slowly lower your body toward the ground. For any type of sit-up exercise, remember not to jerk or put too much pressure on your neck. Force core muscles to do the work instead and avoid holding the neck too tightly.
Other body weight exercises include squats, calf muscle lifts, and stepping. For calf muscle lifts and stepping, use a regular set of stairs. From one step, hold on to the stair rail and lift your ankles up and down to exercise and build strength in calf muscles. For stepping exercises to build leg and buttock muscles, start by simply walking up and down stairs. Eventually, work toward skipping a step in between. Always hold on to the rail.
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Free Weight Training
Some basic free weight or hand weight training exercises include bicep curls, upright rows, lateral raises, triceps extensions, and bench flies. A few are explained below.
Start from a standing or sitting position for bicep curls and first hold each weight down beside the outside of your legs with elbows facing back. Begin reps by bending your elbows upwards and lifting the weights straight up toward your chest. Avoid moving the upper part of your arms and try to keep them stuck to your sides. Complete 8 to 12 reps in a set. Work up to more sets and heavier weights.
For lateral raises, hold the weights down by your sides and from a standing position, lift the weights straight out to the side. Elbows should face back and not toward the floor. Keep your wrists straight and don’t bend your arms as you raise the weights. Keep core muscles engaged and your feet slightly apart. Lateral raises work shoulder and arm muscles. Complete 8 to 12 reps.
For bench flies, lie down on a bench or another surface and start by holding weights straight up above your chest. Gently lower both arms out on each side but don’t let them go past your chest. Keep elbows down and facing the floor but slightly bent during bench fly exercises. Lift weights back to the beginning position and repeat. Avoid deviating from the original arm path. Pretend you’re drawing an invisible half circle with the weights. Finish 8 to 12 reps.
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Machines and Weight Training
Many types of machines are available for weight training. Gyms and other workout facilities usually have a bunch to choose from, and free instruction on how to use them should be included with your membership. You can also purchase various weight equipment and machines for home or office use. Follow instructions carefully and make sure you’re working with a reputable company and dealer before making a commitment. Buy basic weight equipment and machines at sporting good stores.
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Safety and Weights
Serious injury can occur with weights and weight equipment even when you’re performing exercises correctly. Weights can fall on you and machines can break. Always be aware and check your equipment before using it.
Visit with your health care provider before starting any new workout routine. Muscle growth exercise routines for people over 50 are important for building strength and maintaining overall health, but get your health care provider’s approval before ensuing weight training.
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Shape Fit: Fitness Over 50 - Weight Training Exercises To Build Muscle
Foundations of Wellness: Building Muscle and Bone—At Home, On Your Own
Mayo Clinic: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner and Healthier
YouTube: Chest Workout: Flat/incline Bench Press/fly, Dips, Pushups http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOE9J7xyr60