Exercise Guidelines to Keep You Strong as You Age

We all have different needs when it comes to exercise and those needs continue to change as we age. When was the last time you really thought seriously about your exercise routine? More importantly, are you experiencing gains with the current program you’re on? Maybe gains came easy when you were younger. What worked once, however, for whatever reasons does not seem to work as good now.

First, celebrate your success. You have continued to exercise all these years and that’s a good thing even if – at times – it may not be as evident when you step onto your bathroom scale. Keep in mind, more than 30 percent of Americans do not exercise at all and only about 5 percent of the population exercise at what is considered a vigorous level. Approximately 69 percent of Americans are currently overweight or obese.

All the work you’ve put in has done wonders for your body, mind, and spirit. More specifically, it has helped maintain your strength and lean muscle levels. A loss of muscle tissue occurs, for those who do not exercise, at a rate of about half a pound a year or roughly 5 pounds per decade. As this happens, a few of the many by-products are loss of strength, power and balance.

Use It Or Lose It

The average person who does not exercise regularly, experiences an 8 percent drop in their strength level per decade. By the time someone reaches age 65 they have about 25 percent less strength compared to when they were 30 years old. On the aerobic side of things you lose about 10 percent of your aerobic capacity each decade after age 40. There is potential to lose as much as 25 percent of bone in both sexes, as a result of inactivity, sitting too much and menopausal changes in women. With all this decline comes balance issues and additional problems with functionality, that could ultimately lead to a loss of independence.

Write down what you and your body really need as you get ready to enter 2021. What are you truly looking to accomplish with all the time you invest in yourself doing exercise and trying to eat healthier? You don’t own it until you write it down.

Needs Assessment

Prior to beginning any type of exercise program, it is essential that you undergo a needs assessment. The goal of this analysis is to create clearly defined goals that will help you make the most progress from your training. Ask yourself, what does your body really need at this point in time? Maybe you need more mobility work and less pounding (running) or loading (lifting weights). You may have been doing a lot of strength or cardio work but how is your balance? When was the last time you treated yourself to a good massage or took a yoga class? Find out what you need (by testing yourself) and set a few short and long-term goals.

Test Yourself Periodically

Work with a coach and complete an assessment to determine where you currently stand in the following areas below. Ask yourself: How do you judge improvement if you don’t measure it? Visit our Jefit Coach to help.

  • Body Composition
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Aerobic/Anaerobic ability
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Balance

Exercise Program

This is where most of us get lost and end up wasting a lot of time. The first goal is to find out what’s tight and lengthen it and then what’s weak and strengthen it. This will ultimately help you move and lift better in the gym. The second goal is to move better, also known as movement competency. Once an individual can execute a movement efficiently with a full range of motion (that is unrestricted), like a Squat or Deadlift, then and only then should the volume (sets x reps x load) be increased. When someone cannot execute a particular movement pattern correctly, do not increase repetitions, the number of sets or especially the load. Anyone who is loading tight, stiff muscles is basically an accident waiting to happen, it’s only a matter of time until you’ll need to take time off!

Focus on the primary movement patterns below using the “Big 6” as part of your primary strength routine and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Carry
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull

A well-designed exercise program should improve mobility, increase strength, power, improve cardiovascular fitness and more. A strength and conditioning program should change body composition by way of adding lean muscle tissue and decreasing body fat. Balance should also improve in addition to flexibility and mobility. You must add time to your workout though to address it. But you won’t know if you’re improving if you don’t periodically measure it. Has this been an issue for you?

Focus on adding in a bout of sprint work to your weekly cardio routine. This should come in the form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A few examples would be sprinting, cycling or rowing. Place more emphasis on quality rather than quantity when doing HIIT and remember, the key is manipulating the intensity as you get better at it.

Finally, focus on doing more mobility work each time you exercise and make it part of your recovery process on off days. These guidelines will help keep you strong and functional through the aging process.

Potential Prescription Ideas

  • Strength training (Big 6) 2-3x/week.
  • Fitness: Elevate your heart rate 2-3x/week for 15-30:00 (wear a heart rate monitor). Add HIIT at least once a week.
  • Power: work on vertical or horizontal jumping 1x/week (jump rope, box jumps, DOT drills, etc.)
  • Add more mobility work (via movements and foam roller etc.).
  • Baseline/Follow-up Assessment
  • Try Yoga

Use Jefit to Help Track Progress and More

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

blank

Home Exercise: Metabolic Conditioning Series

blank

It seems like we all could use a fun, effective workout these days with everything going on. Working out with a good home exercise routine needs to be creative as well as effective. The Metabolic Conditioning four-exercise series takes care of that and more. The goals of these demanding, intermediate programs are to improve general fitness, strength and aerobic capacity.

Bill Bryson, author of The Body, offers some amazing research from his latest book on the powerful benefits of what regular exercise can do for us. “Going for regular walks reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke by 31%. Those benefits probably also improve when the intensity is increased a bit and strength training is added to the mix?

Research conducted in 2012, looked at the value of being active and showed an increase in life expectancy. Mr. Bryson reported that just 11 minutes of activity a day, for those 40 and older, “yielded 1.8 years of added life expectancy.” When that number increased to 60 minutes of activity a day, the yield improved to 4.2 years. The analysis included 655,000 test subjects who participated in the study.

Home Exercise Program Design

Taking a look inside the design of this program series shows eight individual exercises sessions. Exercise sessions are performed twice weekly. The deeper someone goes into the series, the more challenging the workout experience becomes. The final exercise session features the highest volume of exercise compared to any previous session. There are four bodyweight exercises that start off each session. Subsequent to this, the individual will complete six primary exercises. All bodyweight and exercises using resistance, are performed as compound sets.

Example of a Training Session

The following exercise session is included in the first week of the Metabolic Conditioning series. There are seven more exercise sessions in addition to this one. There are ten total exercises, between warm-up and primary exercises, in the eight sessions. Each one of the workouts is slightly more challenging than the previous session.

Bodyweight Warm-Up

Primary Exercises

The Jefit Elite series first two sessions can be found here and here. The following two sessions can be found here & here and that wraps up the full 8-weeks. Stay Strong!

blank

Benefits of Combining Strength and Cardio

blank

The health benefits associated with performing strength training on a regular basis, especially as one ages, are many. Cardiovascular exercise, from walking to running, is also key, especially when used as a “COVID-19 mood booster” or stress reliever. There is a great quote from an old Greek philosopher named Diogenes that says: “it is solved by walking,” from the Latin word, Solviture Ambulando.

What are the benefits of combining strength and cardio in your workout? Should we be doing both? Simply adding in short bouts of cardio (like jumping rope), with your weight training, can take a workout to the next level. It ends up challenging both your muscular and cardiovascular systems in one efficient workout. 

The Benefits of Combining Strength and Cardio Are Many

The goal of circuit weight training (CWT) is to move quickly from one exercise to the next with minimal rest. The design of a circuit can be as simple as performing an upper body, lower body and core exercise followed by a brief bout of cardio. The cardio could be jumping rope, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, basically anything that elevates heart rate. A 2013 study published in American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, reported jumping rope can be one of the most effective cardio exercises. We’re talking better than running, swimming or rowing. Following six-weeks of jumping rope exercises (for 10-minutes/day), subjects displayed the same levels of cardiovascular efficiency as those who did 30 minutes of jogging.

There is also a hidden bonus with circuit-training, an “additional” calorie-burning benefit post-workout. The term associated with this is excess-post oxygen consumption (EPOC). This has the potential to occur when doing challenging circuit weight training programs. The body continues to expend additional calories for hours after the workout has been completed. The routine needs to be challenging though which this type of workout can definitely be.

Additional Research Backs Up the Benefits

According to a 2019 study published in the journal Obesity, those who combined strength training with cardio were less likely to become obese. A classic review study by Gettman and Pollock (1981) showed the average aerobic capacity increased by 5% while strength improved 7-32%. The good news with all the studies reviewed showed a 2-6 pound increase in muscle mass. The average length of the workouts reviewed was only 25-30 minutes. A second study by Wilmore and colleagues determined energy expenditure was 9 calories/minute for men and 6 calories/minute for women who performed circuit weight training programs. Finally, a 10-week study compared CWT to biking showing favorable results in multiple areas for CWT. This type of training was shown to  “lead to mild to moderate increases in aerobic capacity” and “muscle mass.”

blank

Jefit Home Exercise Programs: 5 Circuit-Based Routines

Strength & Cardio Circuit. This is a 1-day routine that incorporates exercise and bouts of cardio. The only piece of cardio equipment needed, however, is a jump rope.

Home Circuit (30-minutes). This is a two-day program you can do that is a circuit using exercises only, no cardio. You move quickly from one exercise to the next with minimal rest between sets.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 1). This program has only two circuits or rounds – compared to three – found in Level 2 and 3 of this program. When this routine becomes less challenging for you – progress to Level 2.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 2). The design of these workout sessions consist of 5 body weight exercises that are repeated for 3 circuits or rounds. The session starts off with core work.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 3). This program is designed as a circuit where you complete one round of 10 different exercises with minimal or no rest. Once completed, you return to the first exercise and move through another round of the circuit, until 3 rounds are completed.

This information presented hopefully offers additional insight into the value of performing circuit weight training more often. Continue to work hard and stay strong while using Jefit circuit-based workouts at home.

blank

Strength Training Review: 5×5 Split Routine

blank

The benefits of strength training performed on a regularly basis are well documented in scientific literature, magazines and on the web. There are many digital health & fitness companies who have apps that enable you to build strength training programs. With so much information coming your way, what type of program is actually best at helping you get results? In this case, when talking about results, we’re referring to gains in both strength and muscle development.

15 Benefits of Strength Training

  • Increases muscular strength
  • Builds lean muscle mass
  • Improves a muscle’s ability to take in and use glucose (blood sugar).
  • Weight management
  • Decreases body fat level (Improves muscle-to-fat ratio)
  • Improves mobility and balance
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis (increases bone density)
  • Will boost your self-confidence and improve your body image
  • Enhanced performance (on all levels)
  • Improves sleep
  • Decreases risk of injury
  • Improves posture
  • May reduce or prevent cognitive decline in older people
  • Prevents or controls chronic conditions such as heart diseasearthritisback paindepression, obesity and pain management
  • Increases lifespan

Take a look at the following 5×5 split routine found on the Jefit app. This particular weight lifting program was designed as a 3-day routine. Keep in mind, there are many other split routines you can find that offer 4-6 days versus 3-days.

Program Design: 5×5 Split Routine (3-Days)

All strength training sessions follow a 5×5 format using only two body parts to keep session times under an hour. The workout time range for the 3-day program was between 36 and 56 minutes. The recovery time between sets is a very important training variable that needs to be manipulated depending on load (sets x reps x weight). Adequate recovery is important in order to push that next heavy set. A key point to remember, using a short rest period of one-minute between sets means the muscle is only about 80% recovered. I used a 2:00 recovery time between most of the sets for this reason. That may have to increase if someone is using very heavy weight for all their exercises.

The routine gets its unique name from “splitting” up specific muscle groups and associating those body segments to different days of the week. The idea behind the design of this routine was to couple a leg day with pulling movements that overload the back on Day 1. The second day includes push movements that target the chest with a pull and push for the arms. On day 3 you have pressing movements that target the shoulders with a few core exercises. This routine is only a snapshot for one-week of training.

The 5×5 program used the following 3-day split format over the course of a week:

Legs & Back (4 exercises) – Day 1

Chest & Arms (4 exercises) – Day 2

Shoulders & Core (5 exercises) – Day 3

Sets & Reps Scheme

Be realistic when designing any exercise program regarding the number of sets and repetition you use. More is not always better. Different exercises, sets, repetitions and recovery time will effect both short and long-term outcomes. Using a 5×5 setup gives you 25 repetitions per exercise and two movements per body part brings that repetition total to 50. That is more than enough to overload a muscle using a 5-RM. Many programs out there, when looking at sets and repetitions, equate to unrealistic expectations regarding length of workout. A repetition goal of 25-50 is more than enough to stimulate muscle growth, as long as you’re using a 5-RM. Here is a nice article on how to perform a 5-RM bench press test.

There are four important design elements regarding this particular 5×5 split routine. They are: (1) the use of compound movements, (2) large muscle groups, (3) the use of 5-RM on all exercises, and (4) sufficient recovery time. A 5×5 split routine is popular and has been shown to build strength and muscle size over time. Special emphasis should be placed on your 5-RM in this strength training routine. During anytime in the program, if you’re able to surpass five repetitions for any exercise – that’s right – you need to increase the weight. If for example, an exercise on your “core” day (see below) is too light – then hold a weight plate or wear a weighted vest (if available) to challenge yourself more. See the design and layout below.

blank
blank
blank

I hope you enjoy the program. If you have any questions on this particular 5×5 Split Routine (3-day), now featured on Jefit app, or any other program for that matter, please reach out to me in the comment section on this blog or our online community via the app. Here is some additional reading that you may find interesting on the topic of strength training. Be well and stay strong!

blank