Weight-lifting / bodyweight exercise advice for 60+


(John) #21

I used to lift (fitness, not bodybuilder level) in my 20s and early 30s, bicycled, ran, played racquetball - I was in pretty good shape. My workplace had a weight room, I was still in college (adult taking night classes) so I had access to my university’s fitness facilities and racquetball court.

I kept up with the running / walking later on after graduating college at 35 (better late than never, eh?) and changing jobs, but I let the lifting slide. I changed from a job that required a reasonable level of fitness, to a more sedentary desk job.

I always had a set of dumbbells with plates and would occasionally get back into some light lifting / toning with those + bodyweight - mainly situps, pushups, knee-bends (what you kids call squats now). On and off though.

About 10 years ago when another one of those “big number” years rolled around, age 50, I got back into both walking, lifting and “eating right” which of course meant low-fat, reduced calorie - lots of salads and skinless chicken breasts. I hit it pretty hard and lost about 40 pounds in 9 weeks, going from 285 to 245. Problem was I got lazy and didn’t stick with it, so it slowly came back along with some more.

So here at age 60 (when I started) I was trying the same formula, but with keto instead of low-fat reduced calories.

I was actually surprised at how quickly my strength returned, and how fast I was able to pile on the extra weight. However, I guess 60 (turned 61 a couple of weeks ago) isn’t 50, and it sure isn’t 30.

So now I have tendinitis in that right elbow, and anything that works the triceps hurts. I tried some standing military presses, incline pushups, chair dips. No go.

I know the drill with tendinitis - lay off of it until it heals up. Maybe go in for a cortisone shot, but you still have to let it recover.

So I am going to be focusing on other stuff, like squats, lunges, abs, curls, rows, and maybe some static exercises like planks and bridges until after the 1st of the year, then work back into chest slowly.

I need to keep reminding myself that it is not a race or a contest, and that I have the rest of my life to get up to benching 500. :wink:

(Vladaar Malane) #22

Do something you enjoy.

If it’s work hard to keep it up. If your interested in body weight resistance see the Calisthenics forum category.

(Hoby Bradfield) #23

There is an ER physician named Jonathan Sullivan (who also owns a gym) that has written a book on lifting that is specifically targeted for lifter over the age of 40. The name if the book is “The Barbell Prescription: Strength Training for Life After 40”


I’m starting for 3 months training in a geriatric gym attached to a rehab hospital.
So, I’ll be using strength training machines one-to-one with an exercise physiologist. Its the only way I can do it…have osteo and serum negative arthritis and joint problems…so I need someone working with me who knows how to stop me hurting myself with exercise.
Plan is 3 months and achieve a level of fitness and get the form right…that enables me to continue at a local gym independently.

(Eric - Carbs suck the health out of life.) #25

Keep us updated please. I’m a 65yo and do some gym work. Built a little upper body strength. Lower body is in great shape. Can now do stairs with zero pain.

I feel so much better on days I do my routines.

(John) #26

That is a very wise approach. It’s a long term prospect, so that 3 months is time much better spent than just jumping in and doing things.

(charlie3) #27

Everybody who"s lifting has similar goals but should have different priorities, meaning in what order do you put the goals. I was a dedicated hobby lifter in my 30’s. The first priority was to gain as fast as possible. Today (just turned 70) I want to gain for as long as possible. The health goals have to come first.

10 months ago I started with one set of a few exercises 3 times a week in the 8-12 rep range and progressed to 3 sets of 12 exercises and then stopped gaining size or strength. Currenrly I’m back to 1 set of 10 exercises mostly in the 15-20 rep range and getting stronger again (not sure yet about bigger). If my minimalist program was insufficient I’d be getting weaker over time. If I’m consistantly getting stronger I’m getting adequate recovery. Strength is not the same as size but if I’m getting stronger, sooner or later, there will be some size to go with it. My low volume of work and higher reps seems to minimize wear and tear on joints and connecting tissues and may give them time to adapt to strength increases. The universal mistake that lifters make is to ramp up volume and intensity hoping to progress faster. That works in the short run, not so well in the long run.

I do about 60 minutes a day of brisk walking outdoors and a similar amount of steady state cardio on an 80’s era Schwinn Airdyne. (Walking is fundamental to independance and the only way to train it is to do it.) High intensity is limited to lifting for now. I try to save anerobic strengh for lifing and avoid using it on cardio.

I have the air bike and a better than averrage setup for lifting in my basement. It’s a huge asset to have everything I need at home because I still work and time is limited. A decent home gym costs thousands but not much compared to rent at the old folks home.


I have stair climbing envy! I can relate to feeling better when you do your routines. I used to have a program but had to abandon for a few years due to injuries; so starting very slowly again.
Yes, I will keep you updated.
Assessment on the 10th.

Thanks John, I am getting older and finally learning from my numerous mistakes and injuries to take it slowly.

(Troy) #29

Happy Birthday😄

(charlie3) #30

Nobody can tell you what to do. This goes especially for lifting where you need to learn what’s going on with your particular body and training status. There can be is principles from the experiences of others that might apply to you and might take some of the randomness out of finding good solutions for you.

So I wanted to expand on what I’m doing currently that is not intuitively obvious but seems to be working for this particular 70 year old. So I just finished a liftinng workout, 1 set of 9 exercises. I squeezed out one additional rep on every exercise and felt a tiny bit stronger under the bar (which also counts). It’s rare I get a clean sweep like that, there were even a couple of PR’s. What this indicates is I didn’t over do anything in the previous workout two days ago and my food, sleep, and nutrition were adequate and the walking and stationary cardio did not interfere, AND 2 days was enough recovery this time around. When I get less reps than the previous workout it’s likely to be from overdoing the last time. I believe aiming for slower progress means there will be progress and aiming for faster progress means, eventually, none at all.

There’s saying from way back in the day, “the less you train, the more you gain.” May be that’s not true for the drug users but I think it applies to most of the rest of us.

I’m going for a walk.

(Edith) #31

That seems to go for my brain. My brain will think I can do more workouts per week and then my body tells me otherwise.

(Thurston ) #32

All I can tell you is to be careful and take it easy. I’m 60, I joined a gym, and proceeded to hurt my shoulder within a month. It’s been about 8 weeks and I’m still in pain. So my advice is be careful. It’s tough to be able to admit your age to yourself. My brain still thinks I’m 20 at times.

I’m not…