4 Biggest Workout Mistakes Men and Women Over 50 Make

4 Biggest Workout Mistakes Men and Women Over 50 Make

If you are over 50 and have just started working out or have joined a new Gym Programme, then try to avoid these 4 Biggest Workout Mistakes that Men and Women Over 50 Make.

Let me introduce ourselves. Alex is a Physio in Howick and I’m Gavyn a a Personal Trainer in Howick and we came together to create the Growing Younger Programme. Simply because we noticed that nobody is exclusively helping people over 50, and there are very few experts who have experience in this demographic.

This blog lays out the main mistakes that we see in 90% of our clients and are things we prescribe to help you become and stay functionally fit after 50.

Not warming up and cooling down properly.

As we get older we get stiffer, all you have to do is look around you and this is obvious, or even take a look at yourself and you may notice that you don’t have the same range of motion in the back or legs as you once had. This can be troublesome as you get older, and as the saying goes… ‘you either use it or lose it’.

Our bodies are the master of adaption and if you are not using your body’s full range of movement it will adapt to what you are doing. This means, tight hip flexors, tight hamstrings, tight rounded shoulders and poor posture. All leads to you looking and performing like an ‘old person’.

But with a targeted and effective stretching routine, you will be able to loosen up the joints and ligaments and can certainly improve your flexibility and range of motion.

A good rule of thumb is to complete a warm up on a cardio machine, bike is my preferred machine for about 7-10 minutes. This warms up the body and helps loosen up the joints in the lower body. Once that’s done head over and do some dynamic stretches. This helps loosen the joints, warms the muscles, tendons and ligaments and prepares you for exercise.

Then once the workout is done, head back to the bike and gently cool down for 3-5 minutes. Once you’ve done that go and do some static stretches.

It’s not a good idea to static stretch before a workout when the body isn’t properly warmed up as you can pull something.

These videos will help you with a stretching routine both before and after exercise.

Not having a Plan that caters to you.

This is a big one.  And what we pride ourselves with at Growing Younger.

We live in a world that sensationalises body image over function and health and companies market to that. It may claim to be ‘functional’ but quite often it isn’t and they don’t really adhere to the true meaning of functional.

As you get older unless you are an athlete, function is to simply be able to be more active, and move around pain free and not worry about being able to carry the shopping into the house, or climb stairs.

You don’t want to be dependant on family or loved ones.  After all, you want to not only live longer but have a good quality of life.

For example if you start following a HIIT (high Intensity interval training) style of straining that includes ballistic exercises, like jumping and sprinting you may find that you will end up in a lot of pain and discomfort. Yes HIIT is ‘Functional’ if you are an athlete and it is a great way to burn fat but if it’s not tailored to the person performing it, then the risk vs reward is outweighed.

With regard to strength training, this must take the lead in an older adult’s programme.  As we get older, both males’ and females’ metabolism slows. You can’t avoid this but you can certainly offset it with a good programme: weight training has been proven time and time again to increase metabolism and increase quality of life.

A good way of doing this is to follow a well designed strength programme, which incorporates the whole body.

Regardless of age or ability you can achieve some fantastic results and you can read some case studies here from our Growing Younger Programme.

  1. Read about Penny here
  2. Read About Graeme here

When I design programmes for clients I generally follow a similar structure which I know is balanced, diverse and takes care of the whole body. This way of programming ensures the programme is functional and effective.

Because the whole body is working during the 1 workout, you get a better calorie burn and metabolic effect, which lends itself to stimulating and maintaining muscle which is critical to offsetting a slowing metabolism.

If you would like to have a chat with me about your programme feel free to book a free consultation here.

Not addressing supporting muscles

Something I see a lot of when working with older clients are weak stabilising muscles. These muscles are often overlooked in run-of-the-mill training programmes and when people train large muscles the weaker ones get weaker and contribute to injuries.

Here are the top 3 Supporting Muscles that are overlooked and contribute to poor posture, shoulder pain, and lower back pain.

Rotator Cuff Muscles

The four muscles are the supraspinatus muscle, the infraspinatus muscle, the teres minor muscle, and the subscapularis muscle. They are essential for supporting and stabilising the shoulder in a good position.

Here are two exercises that solve this problem.

Trapezius and Rhomboids

These muscles are in our mid and upper back and are critical good posture. They often become weak due to our sedentary and sitting lifestyle where we have slouched shoulders.

Here is one exercise you can do to strengthen them.

Gluteus medius and minimus. Ya Butt Muscles

These muscles are responsible for supporting your hips and they are nearly always overlooked in training programmes.

The muscles, when weak, contribute to lower back pain because your back tends to take the load when these muscles aren’t strong enough.

Here is one exercise you can do to strengthen them.

Not using enough weight or using too much weight.

In order to get the most from your strength programme, you need to use weights. Weights are what will stimulate your muscles to grow. I see all too often older people going through the motions and the weights are just so light that they won’t get any muscle stimulus from it, and although something is better than nothing, the results will be very minimal.

In contrast I see people using far too heavy weights with very bad form. The whole point of a programme is to work the muscles using a full range of motion while adding a suitable resistance.

So when you start lifting too heavy, form suffers, and it puts a big strain onto the joints, ligaments and tendons. When this happens one bad rep can be very damaging. It can put you out of action for a few weeks or even months, and the worst case scenario is surgery.

So how do you know what the best weight is? Well I use a principle called ‘3 short of failure’. This is simply choosing a weight that when you hit a certain rep range, let’s say 10, that last rep isn’t to failure. So when you stop at 10 you could in reality do 13-14 reps before you can’t lift anymore! This allows you to weight train in a comfortable space where you will still get results. As you get stronger, you can increase the weight within the ‘Short of failure’. See this video for a video demonstrating it.

In summary, treat your time in the gym as a place to improve your quality of life and treat it as a long term endeavour and not a short time fix. As I said at the beginning, you either use it or lose it.

I really hope that you found this blog useful and that you start doing some of these things when you start training.

If you are struggling with getting fit and healthy and Whenever you are ready, here are the two best ways I can help you.

  1. Here is a link to our Book ‘How to Look & Feel 10 Years Younger – Your Ultimate Guide to Staying Functionally Fit After 50
  2. You can book in a call or meeting to discuss if our Growing Younger Programme is right for you.

Whatever you decide we wish you the best.

Gavyn and Alex


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