Chris Zaremba has made a massive transformation in his health and fitness over the past few years. Having been 110kg, obese and a ‘heart attack waiting to happen’ at age 50, he discovered the benefits of fitness and transformed himself totally.
Just a few years later, and now at a lean 74kg, Chris has won 18 trophies for fitness modelling and muscle model contests. Nutrition. He offers advice to others of his age group through his writing, TV documentary work and personal training and motivational speaking business.
So when we wanted to gather the most credible advice on training for the over 50’s, there was nobody better to ask!RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
One thing that I have found over the past few years is that when people of 50+ start taking up fitness or healthier lifestyles, the first thing they opt for is aerobic or cardiovascular activity.
This is great – it really is – but the problem is that this is often the only thing they do. And that is not so great.
I’m a big fan of running, cycling, swimming, cardio machines or aerobics classes as fitness activities for this generation. But it is comparatively rare that I see others of my age group take up resistance work. In most of the gyms I go to, the weights and resistance machines area has a much lower percentage of over 50’s using it than the cardio kit.
Once again, I’m not going to knock any fitness activities taken up by those over 50. Anything is better than nothing and, to varying degrees, it’s all good. But I’d like to see many more of 50+ get into weights as a fitness activity in addition to their CV time.
The human body needs muscular strength as it ages
And muscle disappears, or atrophies, as we age – this process noticeably accelerating from the age of 50. The phrase ‘Use it or lose it’ applies very much here.
When one sees older people on the beach, for example, the atrophy can often be seen. The loose skin on some individuals used to contain muscle, which has rather withered away over the years. Some may well have lost fat, but fat doesn’t naturally atrophy through lack of use – in fact, it will probably grow to higher levels with less muscular use.
Once the above has been accepted by those in the over 50’s age range, I’ve found there are a few differences in training older clients to the younger ones, based on my experiences as a Personal Trainer with clients in both age groups:
• There are more likely to be issues of injury or trauma history with the over-50’s – hips and knees are often the first areas to have concerns. Either with a Personal Trainer or without, it’s important to have a medical view and clearance on the issue. GP’s often may not know the full story, and I’ve found their physio can give more guidance to me. If there’s any doubt, then train around the site of concern.
• Until they are used to resistance training, over 50’s are much more likely to be receptive to whole-body workouts rather than body-part split training.
If they want to progress to body-part split, that’s great, but a typical newcomer to fitness at 50 will be happier with a whole-body routine.
• Never skip the warm up! I do so when training myself sometimes (I know I shouldn’t) but it’s vital with others over 50. For most, I’ve found that five minutes on the cross-trainer, trying to emphasize the push rather than the pull of the handles, then five minutes on the rower – which is where the pull comes in – works well.
• There is a progression from fixed-path machines via Smith Machines and cable machines to free weights. For a newcomer to training, the number of body variables to control in a free weight exercise – such as a dumbbell chest press – is a lot to absorb, and starting with the fixed-path machine means the focus can be on the muscle being targeted, without thinking much on core stabilisation, balance or co-ordination aspects.
In Part 2 tomorrow I will conclude this article on the most efficient and effective ways to train for the over 50’s and for real results and long term gains!
Connect Here With WatchFit Expert Chris Zaremba