Weight Training Over 50: 3 Exercises to Avoid When Beginning Weight Training
(and What to Do Instead)
I bet you probably already know all of the great benefits of Weight training over 50.
It enhances your quality of life, revs up the metabolic rate to slim down menopause related weight gain, it reduces your risk of osteoporosis and makes you feel strong and in control of your body.
Yet, if you’re new to weight training, or it’s been years since you’ve lifted a weight, you may wonder where to start and what the best practices are to ensure you achieve your goals without injury.
In fact, even if you’ve been lifting weights a while, but you notice certain exercises create ongoing neck pain, wrist discomfort or that certain moves don’t feel good on the body, this is also a great refresher to pull it back to basics and strengthen some muscles that have forgotten to do their jobs.
If this sounds like you stay tuned because you’re going to want to know this valuable information.
Today we’re talking about 3 exercises to avoid when beginning weight training over 50 (and what to do instead)
While weight training can be safe and fun, you’re smart to research proper form and master it before diving in to complicated workout moves.
Just like there are different nutrition prescriptions based on you and your health, your age and your weight,
There are also specific exercises to gravitate towards or avoid depending on you and your body.
Different weight training programs are important depending on if you have osteoporosis, high blood pressure, if you’ve got past injuries( such as shoulder impingement arthritis, back, knee or ankle issues).
Exercise prescription also depend on your hormones and on your biological age (The age of your cells and DNA)
I say biological age, and not the number of actual years you’ve been alive because there are many capable and confident women over 40, over 50, over 60, seventy and eighty who are exercising with even better practice than some 20 year olds because they’ve worked hard to make that happen.
The point is, your exercise prescription will change depending on you and your body. So, if you can’t say with 100% confidence that you know your exercise routine will get you your lasting healthy weight loss and fitness results without injury, then reach out for help.
I’m going to share the three most common exercises that in general new clients and new participants into my programs need to avoid when first starting out.
1. Forward Lunges/Lunges With Movement:
If you’ve ever tried a forward lunge, only to feel instant knee pain or pressure, or back pain, you’re not alone.
After years of sitting to work at the desk, sitting to drive , and even sitting to relax and read a good book, you’ve inadvertently trained the front of your leg (your quad muscles), and your hip flexors (psoas muscles) to become tight and dominant.
Couple this with something known as a greater Q angle (anatomically wider hip bones that cause a possible sharper inward knee angle or “knock knee” angle) and muscles that haven’t learned how to stabilize the knee correctly, and you’re asking for disaster.
This shows in forward lunges when you:
- See the knee jut out over the toe every time you step forward.
- Feel as though your torso is straight, yet you bow forward (tight hip flexor muscles pull you forward)
- Think you’re torso is upright, but a look in the mirror shows you’re arch your back
- Take a step forward and your knee caves in towards the centre of your body.
Swap Moving Lunges For Stationary Squats:
If you’re just starting weight training over 50, the most important thing you can do is strengthen the leg and knee muscles before adding movement.
You’ll also want to be able to monitor form and correct yourself easily.
To do this you’ll want to keep two feet firmly planted on the ground at all times to ensure you’ve got control to do this.
Focus on weight training exercises that work the back of the legs (the hamstrings) and the bottom, instead of the dominant quadriceps and hips flexors.
The exercise that accomplishes all of this is the stationary squat.
2. Wide Push Ups (Even the Elevated Kind)
Ever thought, “even at my fittest I couldn’t do push ups”.
They are a hard exercise even on the best of days.
Many go right into this movement without first mastering how to stabilize the shoulders, the wrists and the low trapezius muscles (otherwise known as the under-bra muscles).
These muscles have forgotten how to work properly due to life’s ongoing forward motions that round and tighten your chest muscles and pull your shoulder out of proper alignment.
Driving, typing and lifting kids are just some of those forward motions which further pull your shoulders out of alignment.
Then, add on a drop in estrogen which reduces blood flow to the shoulder, it also changes cartilage and tendon structure, and the clock starts ticking for another injury.
This shows in Wide Push-Ups When:
- Your upper shoulders (upper trapezius muscles) hurt after push ups
- Shoulders, wrists or elbows hurt while doing push-ups
- You find yourself moving your hand position to alleviate wrist or elbow pain
- You round your back or feel low back pain when doing a push up
Swap Wide Push-Ups For Close/Tricep Push-Ups Instead (Do them Elevated):
Your shoulders need stability. Your back muscles need to help control your movement.
By pulling in your elbows while doing your push-up, you give the shoulder the starting support it needs while inderectly working the chest muscles too.
There’s another added benefit:
One of the areas you may want to tone is the under arm (otherwise known as the bingo wing, the bat wing, or the under-arm wobble).
By keeping your elbows connected to your body, you start working the under arm more. You tone the back of the arm while learning how to stabilize your shoulders. It’s a win, win!
3. Low Ab/Leg Raises
One of the most popular areas for weight training over 50 is the tummy. Specifically the low tummy.
Since low ab raises (or low leg raises) feel like they target that zone, many incorporate low leg raises into their abs routine.
But did you know that low leg raises only work the outter layer of your abs ( the rectus abdominis)
When these muscles are overworked and the internal ab muscles do nothing, it pooches out your stomach farther, and instead of a flat affect, you’ve got a rounded belly affect.
While this doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing, it also creates shear force on your low back.
Tight hip flexors connect to your back and every time you extend your legs towards the ground, you pull on your low back musles.
When it comes to weight training over 50, if you’ve had children, you’re also dealing with another set of issues.
Pelvic floor muscles, the muscles that help prevent incontinence, become weak. This occurs not only because you’ve had children, but as estrogen levels decline, the pelvic floor muscles loose strength.
The early signs that these muscles need your help to get strong include unexpected leaks when you:
Swap Low Leg Raises for Pelvic Exercises and Dead Bug:
Leg raises don’t have to be eliminated permanently, but at first the number one goal to pull in your stomach while simultaneously creating pelvic floor strength and stability.
This will give you both the flatter tummy, and the possibility of leak-freedom!
Watch the Youtube video above to learn proper form for all of these swap out exercises