Category: Seniors

Get Your Butt in the Gym to do Strength Training for Cyclists Over 50

As a nearly 60-year old cyclist, I hate to see “over 50” and “senior” in the same headline.

One of the cycling benefits for seniors is building increased endurance.

But the reality is that bicycling is a non-weight-bearing sport, which means your bone density and muscular strength don’t necessarily develop while you’re on the bike.

Strength training, lifting heavy things, not only helps with your strength and endurance off the bike, lifting weights has immense benefits: increased strength, cardiovascular capacity, balance, bone health, and injury prevention.

Even if you’re not a bike rider, weight training for older people provides huge benefits: more endurance, balance, and speed, and better injury prevention.

While endurance is a cycling benefit for seniors, strength training for cyclists over 50 increases strength, cardiovascular capacity, balance, bone health, and injury prevention.
Photo by Coen van de Broek on Unsplash

Women, especially, benefit from strength training at any age. My 83-year-old mother does strength training twice a week and talks about how it helps her with movement and balance.

“When we talk about bone health and falls, we talk about three factors: fall, fragility and force,” says Matt Sedgley, sports medicine physician with the MedStar Orthopaedic Institute. “Participating in weight-bearing and resistance-training exercises helps develop muscle mass. This may help treat fragility conditions like osteoporosis. So if you fall you have stronger bone density. It may also lead to more cushioning when you do fall.”

Washington Post

Strength Training for Cyclists over 50 Means Heavier Weights

Cycling offers so many benefits to seniors (anyone over 50).

But we need to keep building strength as we age.

I see a lot of older adults in the gym doing the same routine on the same machines every day with very light weights.

If you are just starting a strength training program for cyclists over 50, machines can be a good place to start since they are stable.

However, the more you use bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, and other free weights, you will utilize stabilizer muscles, build core strength, balance, and stability.

This kind of stabilization is one of the cycling benefits for seniors.

The key, though, is lifting heavy weights with fewer repetitions.

In fact, this article recommends older adults get after their training by gradually increasing their weights and reducing the reps.

In terms of actual exercise selection, following the NSCA’s (National Strength and Conditioning Association) recommendations of implementing multi-joint exercises at moderate intensities of 40-60% 1RM is a great place to start, and the efficacy of several different methods such as resistance bands, pneumatic machines and plate-loaded machines have all proven to be both safe and effective. The NSCA’s position stand on resistance training in older adults recommends an individualized and periodized approach to resistance training, eventually working towards 2 to 3 sets of 1 to 2 multi-joint exercises per muscle group at 70-85% one-rep maximum (1RM) two to three days per week.

Daniel Flahie

The Cycling Benefits for Seniors Includes Increased Strength, Endurance

  1. Focus on free weights, bands, suspension straps. Anything that is multi-joint and multi-purpose. For example, doing a Pallof press with bands or an exercise ball works your chest and shoulder muscles as well as your core.
  2. Start light and easy. Your body needs time to adjust to the new demands you’re placing on it! For the first three or so weeks, you shouldn’t feel exhausted after a strength workout, not even “really tired.” You should be aware you used your muscles in a new way, but you should feel no worse than taking a good walk.
  3. Focus on a full-body workout, with an emphasis on your hip joint. Do deadlifts, squats, single-leg split squats, lateral squats, hip hinges.
While endurance is a cycling benefit for seniors, strength training for cyclists over 50 increases strength, cardiovascular capacity, balance, bone health, and injury prevention.
Photo by Kaur Kristjan on Unsplash

Questions About the Cycling Benefits for Seniors?

Strength training is an invaluable part of our bike training programs, especially as we age.

Better endurance, strength, and injury-prevention are just some of the cycling benefits for seniors.

I’ve lifted a lot in my lifetime, but as I get older, I’m spending more specific time in the gym.

I’m deadlifting more than I ever have, and I’m doing a lot of core and posterior chain work.

Plus, I focus on kettlebell training with swings, snatches, lateral lunges, and Turkish Get-Ups.

While endurance is a cycling benefit for seniors, strength training for cyclists over 50 increases strength, cardiovascular capacity, balance, bone health, and injury prevention.
Photo by Kaur Kristjan on Unsplash

What do you think you need to work on? Do you need some help creating a program that works for your individual needs?

What questions do you have about cycling training?

Not knowing what to do at the gym to get a solid full-body workout can be bewildering and overwhelming.

And that can lead you to skip the gym altogether.

Full-body strength training three days a week will help build a strong foundation, help you manage your weight, increase metabolism, and increase mobility.

But what do you do, and how do you fit it in to a schedule?

Not knowing what to do at the gym can be overwhelming. Here are five ways to know what to do at the gym when you want to get a solid full-body workout.

Here are five ways to know what to do at the gym when you want to strength train.

1. Take Complimentary Classes at Your Gym

Most gyms, including the Wisconsin Athletic Club, offer a ton of classes that are free.

In particular, strength classes are great ways to begin to understand how to structure a workout.

Once you attend a few classes, you can repeat many of the same moves on the gym floor.

Ask the instructor if they have a list of the workouts!

2. Take Advanced Classes

Most gyms also have paid classes that are more specialized, but if you look at them as personal training, the cost is less than $10 a class!

The class can be more challenging than a complimentary class, but you can always work at your own pace. A

gain, you can learn moves and exercises from these classes that you can repeat on the gym floor.

3. Work With a Personal Trainer

You can tell a trainer that you want to develop a plan you can do on your own.

Then you can work together to create a plan that works for your needs.

I often work with people once a week, and they repeat our workout when they return to the gym on other days.

We’ll help you create a strength training program that is specific to your endurance sport.

Almost all endurance sports, for example, benefit from lunges and split squats.

I’m opening a yoga and personal training studio called Foundation in Hales Corners March 1.

Foundation will be by appointment only in a clean, well-ventilated space.

I continue to do personal training by appointment at the Wisconsin Athletic Center in Greenfield.

4. Do a machine circuit

Each strength training machine works a different body part.

And most gyms set up its machines so you can do a circuit.

If you do all of the Technogym, Technogym cables, or Hoist machines, for example, you’ll get a solid workout.

However, I would advise you to not use the stomach crunch machine.

Crunches have been shown to shorten the rectus abdominis muscles, which, in turn, pull us forward and hunch our shoulders.

We spend enough of our lives hunched over computers, stoves, and desks.

We don’t need to make it worse.

5. Use the six movements of a full-body workout

The six movements are:

  • Chest Push – to develop chest and arm strength
  • Chest Pull – to develop back and arm strength
  • Shoulder Push – to develop shoulder, arm, and upper body strength
  • Shoulder Pull – to develop shoulder, arm, back strength
  • Hinge – deadlift-type movements that strengthen glutes, hamstrings, hip stabilizers, and lower back.
  • Squat – to develop leg, hip, and back strength.

You can always add additional exercises to this routine, but if you use these six movements as the structure of your workouts, you’ll make sure your full body gets stronger.

With this structure, you have the option of using many different exercises for one movement.

For example, a chest push might be a bench press, dumbbell press, dumbbell flies, seated cable press, machine chest press, or TRX bands.

And a chest pull might be seated rows, cable rows, bent-over rows, reverse push up on barbell, etc.

Unstable Weights Build More Functional Strength

If possible, I recommend using dumbbells, barbells, TRX, and/or kettlebells for the majority of your work because they are more unstable than machines.

An unstable weight requires you to use more stabilizer and core muscles to support the effort, and that means a more full-body workout.

Here are some more ideas to consider what to do at the gym for your full-body strength training workout:

  • You can alternate movements, such as hinge and chest pull, to create “supersets” and maximize your time in the gym. Avoid doing the shoulder pull and press at the same time, though!
  • Start with three sets of 12 repetitions if you are just getting started. Your muscles need time to adapt to the new work required of them.
  • Once you have worked for four or so weeks, you can do 6 to ten repetitions of each exercise for 2 or 3 sets each. If you get to 10 repetitions, move up in weight. This is strength training, so you should be doing some heavy weights!
  • The goal is to fatigue the muscles, not jack up your heart rate. So if you’re breathing hard after a set, take a few moments to let the HR come back down.
  • You can do multiple exercises for the same movement to really fatigue particular muscles. For example, you can do a traditional squat, Bulgarian split squat, and pistol squats with the TRX. Doing a negative, or slowly releasing the lift, is a solid way to fatigue the muscles.

Strength Training to Meet Your Goals

At Simple Endurance Coaching, we create strength-training and work out plans that are a critical part of any cycling or running programs.

Plus, at Foundation and the WAC, I work individually with people to help them reach their fitness goals.

When you have a coach/ trainer, you are more likely to stay motivated and committed.

Plus, there’s less chance of getting hurt with improper form.

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