By Jason Greenspan
After the age of 50, adults typically lose about 1% of their leg strength and 0.5% of their bone mineral density every year. If this doesn’t sound serious, consider that decreased leg strength — not dementia or incontinence — is the biggest predictor of loss of independence in older adults.
At Silver Stars Fitness one of our biggest focuses is lower body training. Training the lower body is often forgotten about (especially if you’re a male) and easier to get away with when you’re in your twenties or thirties, but when you’re over 50 training the lower body is a must. It’s important to first address the real foundation, which is the foot and ankle. If the foot and ankle are weak and tight, joints like the knees and hips and even the lower back can be affected. We then work on strengthening the front and back of the thighs, the hips and buttocks.
Training the lower body will help you get up from a chair and the floor, climb steps with ease, walk or jog and even help you to put your pants on. So training the lower body will help you to maintain and increase your mobility for life.
Science tells us that in order to build strength there needs to be a challenge when performing exercise. This doesn’t mean that you need to be exhausted after each set, but the last couple of repetitions should be somewhat hard in order to build strength. To increase strength as opposed to endurance, you should be challenged by the twelfth repetition. If you can perform an exercise for more than 12 repetitions, then you are building more endurance, not strength.
To increase leg strength we typically incorporate functional movements such as squats or sit-to-stands, all different types of lunges and step-ups, which entail stepping up and down a step. Silver Stars trainers also work on isolation exercises to build stability, which is usually our first step. Bridges, clams specifically for the buttock (the most important muscle) because the buttock stabilizes your hips, knees and low back. Inner and outer thigh work and straight leg raises are also included.
So lower body strength is obviously very important as we age, but let’s not forget about muscle POWER. Muscle power is your ability to do something fast. Studies actually show that power will fade faster than strength and is more of a crucial aspect of fitness that will determine a high quality of life as you age. Although strength is needed to perform any activity fast, if you don’t practice performing movements at faster speeds, the body will not be trained to do things at a faster pace. Power is very much a part of real life. Think about how you stand up from a chair or push or pull a door opened or climb steps. We perform these activities quickly, unless we’re not strong enough to do so. Being able to produce a force quickly will also help avoid a fall as your reaction time will also improve, which will possibly help to catch yourself and recover from slipping on a piece of ice or a crack in the sidewalk.
At Silver Stars, we train for lower body power much like we train for strength, although performing our exercises a bit faster.
Silver Stars Fitness is dedicated to helping men and women over the age of 50 move, feel and look better. We do this by offering personalized service in a comfortable studio setting and by recruiting some of the most passionate, friendly and educated instructors who are specifically trained to work with the baby boomer and beyond. Small group classes such as Balance & Fall Prevention, Total Body Strength & Conditioning, Tai Chi, Yoga and Pilates are some of our most popular classes. Personal training and private Yoga and Pilates are offered, in addition to Tai Chi and Massage Therapy. An in-home service is available for those who can’t come to the studio or just like the convenience of training at home.
To set up a free consultation or find out more how to increase lower body strength or get more information on our classes and private services, contact us @ 646-573-9724 or by email @ email@example.com.
Silver Stars Fitness
850 7th Avenue, Suite 305
New York, NY 10019
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