This year I turned 57.
I don’t know what that’s ‘supposed’ to feel like. Born in 1959, the age I ‘am’ really isn’t how I feel.
People tell me that I look great…and I take those compliments as they come. Friends tell me that they wish they looked half as good as me when they’re my age.
Well here’s the secret:
I wasn’t always into strength training, but when I started — becoming strong changed my life.
As you might guess, one of the most important factors in maintaining youthful vigour is getting regular exercise. And while yoga and cardio routines have their benefits — I’d say there’s nothing better than STRENGTH.
Strength training builds strong bones. It has brain-boosting benefits. It prevents muscle-loss (sarcopenia) and lowers myostatin, which generally negatively affects muscle and size.
Being strong also builds confidence. It feels so good to know that you can do stuff! From carrying heavy things to just knowing that you’re physically able…
And did I mention that it’ll make you look good? I don’t train for aesthetics (I’m no bodybuilder), but learning how to lift (whether it’s barbells, dumbbells or your own bodyweight) has transformed my body into something I take pride in.
The message here is simple:
Regardless of your gender, it’ll have nothing but positive impacts on your health – now and in the years ahead.
How do you do it?
Make it easy. You don’t necessarily need a gym membership or fancy equipment. You can do a lot with your own bodyweight and a set or two of dumbbells, and/or a barbell.
Form the habit. Start by practicing the major lifts. Learn how to deadlift, squat, and overhead press. Practice some pullups.
But keep it simple at first; don’t overdo it. Don’t worry about reps and sets when beginning, just learn the movements.
Be consistent. Once you’ve nailed down your form, you can establish more of a routine. But your workouts should still be fairly short. With a ‘minimalist’ approach, you’ll actually have a good chance of becoming strong (because you’ll stick with your routine). So you’ll only do a few exercises, and will do a low amout of repetitions.
Note that this doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy. The strength exercises I recommend are all multi-joint compound movements that will give you the most bang for your buck.
Keep it simple. Here’s a plan I recommend:
Basic Barbell Strength Program
There are two different workouts here (A & B), which you’ll alternate, leaving a day of rest in between each. This way, you’ll train approximately three times per week. It doesn’t matter on which days you train, it could be Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or any other variation.
Week 1: Workout A / Workout B / Workout A
Week 2: Workout B / Workout A / Workout B
You’ll perform 5 sets of only 5 repetitions of each exercise, with each set slightly heavier than the one that proceeded it. This increases the resistance as you train, but allows you to warm up to the heavier weight in each successive set. For example, you might squat an empty 45lb bar on the first set for five reps, do 95lbs on the second, 115 on the third, 125 on the fourth, and 135 on the fifth.
Always warm up with some joint mobility, dynamic stretches and a little light cardio before training.
Deadlift (5 sets of 5 repetitions, allowing a few minutes rest between sets)
Overhead Press (5 x 5)
Pullups (5 x 5)
Back Squat (5 x 5)
Bench Press (5 x 5)
Bent-Over Row (5 x 5)
Three exercises per workout may not seem like much, but if you’re truly putting in effort, this type of training should be tough. Strive to increase the weight on your last set with each successive workout.
Beginners will see rapid strength gains with this type of program. Intermediates will see steady progress. But don’t think you need to switch things up too quickly — develop the consistency first and stay on plan. It’s the way you’ll see the quickest results.
Do make sure you’re cleared by your doctor or health professional for exercise and lifting before beginning any type of exercise program. And make sure you know what you’re doing. I’ve included some demo videos as a reference guide, but they’re not intended to replace actual instruction for a qualified professional.
Best in strength,
PS: Are you looking for more instruction and want to hit specific goals? My online coaching program has worked for people who are dedicated and who have access to basic equipment. If you think we might work well together, give me a shout.