To keep yourself looking young and fighting off signs of aging, it’s a good idea to add some form of resistance training to your exercise goals.
Resistance training stresses your muscles to help them grow. It can increase your resting metabolic rate, decrease body fat, and enhance muscle tone — as well as improve your balance and motor coordination.
Resistance training is even more important as you age because it helps combat loss of muscle mass and strength.
Incorporating resistance training into your exercise program — even just twice a week — greatly improves your joint stability and range of motion. This will help keep you safe in your everyday activities and make you less prone to falls and other injuries that plague older adults.
For best results, choose from a variety of resistance training workouts. You can use machines, free weights, bands or group fitness classes to work in your resistance training. Try these different ideas at home or at the gym:
The machines at your gym (or in your home, if you have them) are great tools for resistance training. An advantage of using a machine is that it helps you focus on the efforts of your movement instead of on the mechanics of the exercise.
Free weights also offer an effective resistance training workout. Whether you use dumbbells or barbells, you can do a variety of resistance exercises for all your muscle groups.
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, resistance bands are for you. They come in a variety of resistances, including light, medium and heavy, and you can further adjust the intensity of your resistance-band workouts by giving the band more or less slack. You can even use multiple bands at once to increase the challenge.
Another advantage? You can take resistance bands with you anywhere you go — especially if you travel a lot.
It’s easy to get off track with your fitness goals if you’re not motivated or when you’re bored with your workouts. Don’t give up, though!
Instead of quitting, consider taking a group fitness class such as Boot Camp, TRX suspension training or Pilates. A Pilates workout helps develop the core muscles of your body. It helps build strength, flexibility, coordination, stability and good posture.
Whatever you decide to do, we recommend at least two nonconsecutive days of resistance training per week if you are working your full body. You can add more days gradually, but never train the same body part on back-to-back days.
If you’re a young, healthy adult, you’ll get the most benefit out of resistance training by working with a weight that fatigues your muscles over a shorter duration of repetition — typically 8 to 12 reps.
For an older person, it’s best to focus more on endurance, so we recommend 15 repetitions.
Try working two contrasting muscle groups on the same day. For example, you can do a push with a pull exercise — focus on chest exercises with back exercises.
By concentrating on those muscle groups twice in a week, you are able to isolate more on those muscle groups instead of trying to hit every body part in 20 to 30 minutes every day you do resistance training.
No matter what type of resistance training you choose, make sure you’re consistent, but vary your routine.
If you’re not varying your resistance and your exercises, you’re not getting the full benefits out of the resistance. If you perform the same routine for years, muscle memory sets in and it will be difficult for your muscles to adapt to a new workload.
Try different things to vary your workout — use the machines at the gym one day and take a Pilates class on another day, or use bands one week and machines the following week.
As with all exercise, remember to drink plenty of water to keep your body well hydrated whenever you work out. Use these tips to build a varied routine that will strengthen all of your muscles and help you live a longer, healthier life.