Getting older doesn’t automatically preclude you from learning how to lift weights and resigning yourself to a loss of strength and functionality.
The effects of age related muscle-wasting (sarcopenia) may be counteracted by resistance training (J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Feb;25(2):326-33.), and we’re not talking about the little pink dumbbells, either. Somewhere around 60% of a maximal effort weight and higher reps, and even using free weights (not JUST the machines). For more information on the causes, prevention, and treatment for sarcopenia, there’s an extensive article on the BrinkZone HERE if interested in additional information.
Older trainees in the gym normally stick with familiar cardio machines, but if you’ve ever seen Al in action, you might want to clear some space. Al’s been a client of mine for over half a year now, and in that time he’s seen some impressive gains in strength and coordination.
Which is important when you also have Parkinson’s. He’s also in his 70’s.
Although Al’s determined personality makes our work outs fairly intense, trainees with Parkinson’s can use resistance training pretty much like everyone else. And just like anyone else, he got stronger with a basic program for resistance training.
My clients know how I harp on about maintaining a record (a training log) of your gym workouts. Al’s training logs showed the following improvements over the course of 7 months:
Hamstring Curl: Starting 60 lbs X 20 reps, Current 150 lbs X 15 reps
Leg Press: Starting 45 lbs X 20 reps, Current 135 lbs X 15 reps
Seated Cable Row: Starting 20 lbs X 20, Current: 60 lbs X 15 reps
Stability Ball Squat (a movement to be used with caution with Parkinson’s depending on the stage): Starting Bodyweight X 20 reps, Current: Bodyweight plus two 12 lb dumbbells in either hand X 20 reps
Glute Bridge: Starting Bodyweight X 20 reps, Current: Bodyweight plus Heavy Sandbag (45lbs) X 20 reps.
I could go on and on with his improvements in a variety of exercises all across the board, but you get the basic idea. If a man diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1998, AND now in his 70’s, is able to accomplish results like these (with a trainer like me, hey selfish plug here! ☺ ), ask yourself what’s stopping you?
-Sumi Singh is a personal trainer, online diet coach, and fitness instructor in the Austin area (www.shailafitness.com). She’s also the author of Stay at Home Strong, a complete program for fat loss and strength training designed for busy moms.