By: The Ageility Team
Adults who want to adopt a more physically active lifestyle often start with some form of fitness program. That’s a great idea, but it’s important to approach things in a thoughtful manner, especially in the beginning. We always recommend carefully considering what your individual fitness goals are as a first step since exercise programs should be designed to target the areas each person wants to see the biggest improvement, such as mobility, strength, balance, flexibility, or endurance. It’s always a good idea to work with an expert trainer or therapist, but here are a few important factors to consider as you set out on your personal fitness journey.
Which Exercises Should I do?
There are hundreds of different ways to work out and dozens of specific exercises that are probably appropriate for your age, physical condition and individual goals. Generally, exercises are either multi-joint or single-joint. Multi-joint exercises involve more than one joint such as the squat that requires the hip, knee, and ankle joint to work synchronously in the execution of the movement. Single joint exercises involve only one joint such as a leg extension that only exercises the knee. Both types are important in a well-rounded fitness program, but there may be situations when a multi-joint exercise is more suitable and vice versa.
When and How?
Generally, we recommend that you start with large muscle multi-joint exercises first and then move onto small muscle single-joint exercises. This is because of the greater physical demand, complexity, and skill needed to complete multi-joint exercises when compared to single-joint exercises.
Older athletes will benefit from starting with higher demand exercises to ensure they have the energy to complete the exercise with proper technique. There are instances where single-joint exercises that are simple in nature may come first such as in a warm-up to prepare the muscles for the higher demand exercises.
How Much To Do.
The number of sets performed often varies for each exercise and is one of the factors, along with the number of reps and resistance, affecting the volume of exercise. A set is a cluster of repetitions done before a period of rest or moving on to another exercise. Multiple sets have been shown by numerous studies to be superior to single sets. Older active adults beginning in an exercise program may need to begin with a single set in order to minimize fatigue. Over time, a progression may be to increase the number of sets with different exercises.
Rest and Recovery is the Key.
No matter how fit you are your body needs time to recover between exercise sessions. Anywhere from 24-72 hours to recover is normal, but age and fitness level can impact this. Older athletes generally need more recovery time between workouts and this needs to be factored when putting together an exercise program.
Rest periods during your work out are important as well. Depending on the intensity of your work out and your physical condition, we generally recommend a short break of 1 to five minutes between each set to allow your body to recover.
Intensity Isn’t Always Ideal.
It’s always tempting to stack on more weights or repetitions early, but it’s important not to over do things, especially when you are just starting out. Older athletes beginning an exercise program should start by using lighter resistances that allow for 10-15 repetitions. This helps to build local muscular strength-endurance and prepares muscles, tendons, and ligaments for heavier resistance as the individual progresses.
As you build strength and your body becomes accustomed to the exercises, you can increase resistance to a point that allows 6-8 repetitions. No matter what your age, it’s important to remember that increasing the intensity should always be a gradual process.
The First Steps Are the Most Important.
It’s always a good idea to get into better shape. For most of us, it’s never too late to start a fitness journey. It can seem complicated at first, but the benefits can be incredibly rewarding and the simple guidelines we’ve outlined in this article will help get you started on the right path. Working with a certified trainer or therapist can take a lot of the guesswork out of the process and can potentially help you avoid injuries, frustration and false paths.
At Ageility we are passionate about helping adults of all ages to unlock their physical potential and enjoy the benefits of a healthier and more active life. Contact us to see how we can help craft a fitness program for your specific goals and personal needs.