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What should be a starting slow weight-lift for 60 yr woman

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  • What should be a starting slow weight-lift for 60 yr woman

    I realize the Q relates to my current condition. I am beginning my 6th decade, and have spent my whole life doing recreation and physical work that required strength. I love feeling and being strong and my needs for strength continue (e.g. paddling and carpentry work). I do body weight exercises when I am waiting and when I think of it. I recently rejoined the gym because I like the machines for strength exercises.
    The concept of slow and heavy resistance appeals to me greatly. I am surprised when I have to adjust weights, because other women before me may do, e.g. chest press at 30 pounds, whereas to me it feels much too light. I prefer 70 pounds and do it very slowly and controlled.

    leg press - 100 pounds
    chest press - 70 pounds
    pull down - 60 pounds
    calf raises - 180 pounds
    overhead press - 30 pounds (shoulders = my weakest area)
    I do each of these until I feel burning and failure coming on (about 8-12 reps)

    I also do other exercises in the circuit, all with heavier weights, although the bike for cardio does not interest me. I walk a lot at home instead.

    The thing that really interests me is whether I ought to take Mercola's advice and adjust weights to 30% lower than the max and practice for a time for right form. I 'think' I have correct form, but have OA in my lower back and left knee, and have not injured anything in the last few weeks. What do others think?

  • #2
    If you are using the weight machines there is no need to adjust for proper form. The machine sort of enforces it.

    You require proper form for barbells so you do not hurt yourself. You will also get more bang for the buck with barbells because you must use your stabilizing muscles in your torso and back to control the movement of the weight. If you decide to use barbells, you definitely should reduce the weights and find a good starting point. But don't just go randomly to 30% reduction. Find a starting place that is challenging to you but not impossible. Gradually put more weight on the bar each session.

    Lots of people in their 60s and even 70s are doing the Starting Strength program. It's worth a read so you better understand the theory of strength training.
    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.


    • #3
      I think your on the right track. Machines do require proper form in terms of set up, proper use, and joint alignment so it never hurts to start with a lower weight and be certain that you are confident before increasing the weight. In the end you can use a moderate weight or a little heavier as long as you reach a high enough reps to make the exercise very difficult. So less reps with more weight or higher reps with moderate weight will both produce sufficient increase in strength AND all those other terrific health factors (metabolism, increase bone density, better cardio health, cognition...ect.)

      With OA I absolutely believe the machines with a slow rep cadence are optimal for you. One caveat is that the leg press be done very carefully. You should probably get a little help to be sure you set this up correctly. Set the back far back and don't curve out at the low back when you come down.

      Everything is about resistance and effort, but don't sacrifice safety. Especially when exercising for health, the worst thing in the world is an exercise induced injury. Done correctly machines are super safe and super effective. I'd recommend the "Body by Science" book and program Body by Science: A Research Based Program for Strength Training, Body building, and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week: John Little, Doug McGuff: 9780071597173: Books . I use it and recommend it to many people that fit your description.
      Last edited by Neckhammer; 06-18-2013, 12:42 PM.


      • #4
        Thanks Neckhammer! I have the book and am reading it now. Thanks for the advice re leg presses. I made that mistake some years ago by rounding my back and realized before things got too bad that I needed better posture when dong this. I make sure that my thighs are at 90 degrees and feel good when I do the exercise. I used to pump out 40-50 reps at a lighter weight and found it OK but not the best. I have been 'resting 2-4 days between gym visits and after just a short time feel a difference in my body. Very nice!