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dpworkin's avatar

I'd like to learn about free-weights and training. Any suggestions?

Asked by dpworkin (26945 points ) July 30th, 2009

I’ve been told that people my age (I’m 60) can benefit from a program of free-weights use. I can’t afford a trainer or a lot of equipment. Can anyone suggest a minimal setup, and a modest, workable program for a skinny old coot?

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10 Answers

jhbao's avatar

You can get a great workout with just dumb bells alone. You should start with the push-up. It’s one of the most beneficial thing you can do at any age (http://lifehacker.com/367615/why-the-push+up-belongs-in-your-fitness-routine). Add some curls, military presses, and basic swats for a nice work out.

dpworkin's avatar

@jhbao Thanks for the link.

erniefernandez's avatar

Sign up at a no-contract gym that has people around your age. Neighborhood generally dictates whether the gym is full of roid-raged muscleheads or average folks.

Once there, politely ask friendly folks or gym employees for recommendations. They’ll usually be willing to share, since at the very least, it lets them show off their knowledge. This has the added benefit of having them gauge your response to the weight and help you custom fit your workout to your needs. No one can help you like someone that’s right there with you, making sure you’re performing the techniques correctly. Little things make a huge difference and can’t be communicated in books.

Think of it like a sweaty, mirror-walled Fluther.

se_ven's avatar

One reason I prefer free-weights to machines is that free-weights work the small ‘stabilizer’ muscles that help with balance and such.

When you start using free-weights you’ll want to pay extra attention to posture when doing the various workouts in order to prevent injury.

A very minimal setup would be Dumbbells as @jhbao said. An adjustable weight kind would be a good space savings over multiple dumb bells. The workouts with dumbbells are almost endless

Other good additions would be an adjustable bench and a pull up bar

You can then read some howtos online, or you might consider doing a 1 or 2 session workout with a trainer to get the basics down and go from there.

erniefernandez's avatar

Also, half your workout should be cardiovascular, if you’re 60+. Your heart is the most susceptible and important muscle in your body, particularly as you get on in years, and while ripply-type muscles may be nice to look at and good for lifting boxes, they won’t keep you from pooping out like an old geezer walking around the mall.

Practical strength is the way to go; go for a walk! A reasonable investment of $30—$50 bucks for running shoes (very cushy) and some comfy sox and an MP3 player is all you need. Go for distance, not speed.

SuperMouse's avatar

This gal has become a huge fan of the local YMCA! They have fabulous classes, equipment, and trainers for an extremely reasonable price.

dpworkin's avatar

Thanks for all the kind responses. I try to walk at least a mile a day at a pretty good pace. my cardio is not bad but I have no upper body strength. I’m not interested in the appearance aspect at all – just bone density and no atrophied muscles. I am quite impecunious and cannot afford a gym or a trainer.

Brahmaviharas's avatar

At 60, I’d suggest pushups, chinups, situps, and heart-pumping nature walks. If the pushups and chinups get easy, start deadlifting, bench pressing, and overhead pressing. You can find videos of these on Youtube. Since you asked for a program:

A- pushups 3×15, chinups 3×8, situps 3×15
B- deadlift 3×5, bench press 2×5, overhead press 2×5

And alternate every other day, or M/W/F, or whatever is convenient for you. “3×5” means 3 sets of 5 reps. Choose a weight that’s challenging, but don’t kill yourself!

Another option is to go over to Crossfit , read their FAQ, and just do the “workout of the day” everyday.

Happy lifting!

erniefernandez's avatar

Then see if you can find some hobby that requires strength. If gym equipment, or even expenses, are not for you, then see if there’s something in your yard you can work on moving a short distance a few times a day. It’s a simple and effective techniques used by people all over the world without resources for specialized training.

Also, pushups, dips, and situps are free. Do them! Start at your knees with push ups and work your way up. A few every day is better than a bunch for a couple days, then nothing.

Fyrius's avatar

Mark Rippetoe – Starting Strength

The fitness community I hail from idolises this barbell lifting book.

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