Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Serious Training for the (B)older Bodybuilder, Part Three - George Turner

If you are 40 years and up and have never lifted weights before, I will describe a startup routine for you. 

Let's get started! 

But first . . . 

Oh Hell Yeah! 
Pic Courtesy of Liam Tweed. 

Your first goal is to develop more of what the doctors call venal integrity. If I had to define excellent physical conditioning in only one word, it would be circulation. So you start by enhancing your cardiovascular performance. Before you embark on a weight program, do three weeks of slowly escalating cardiovascular exercise. The circulatory system is very amenable to both aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, biking and swimming, and resistance, or anaerobic, work. That means hard resistance. Weight training produces a lactic acid buildup in the working muscles and prevents you from continuing the particular exercise for more than a very short time, perhaps a minute or two. As your condition improves, your body can quickly dispense the lactic acid, which enables you to continue the exercise at the same resistance level for more reps. Therefore, what is anaerobic work when you begin working out may become aerobic exercise as you get stronger. That's the reason all forms of exercise produce greater results when you perform them with progressive resistance, including aerobics.

Pick a form of aerobics that you enjoy. Walking can be very pleasurable. If you've been sedentary, start with a 20-minute walk before breakfast. Over the first three weeks build up the time every week by 5 minutes per session while at the same time increasing the pace. After the initial 3 week period see if you can cover twice the distance in 30 minutes that you covered in 20 the first morning you walked.

Start your weight training at the beginning of the 4th week. In this program you work all the major skeletal muscles with relatively few compound exercises. You'll probably require a gym or weight room, as that makes it much easier to move from one exercise to the other, unless, of course, you have a well set up and equipped home gym. Try your local YMCA or perhaps a local gym. Join for three months. After that you can extend your membership or move to another workout facility. After three months you'll be in much better physical condition and you'll know a lot more about evaluating workout facilities.

(B)older Startup Routine


Start your workout with situps performed on a slant board set at an angle that allows you to get 15 repetitions on the first set. After a 2 minute rest do a second set of 12 reps. Squeeze your abs hard for a second at the top of the movement. 

Lower Body: 

Leg Work Warmup - 

To warm up on an exercise, you simply do a very light set of the movement you intend to perform in a heavy, anaerobic manner.  The light set not only brings blood into the bodypart being worked, but it also positions the tendinous attachment properly. It's more important to warm a muscle than to stretch it before you work it. It's better to stretch after your weight workout and then only for one or two sets of a 20-count stretch. 

I prefer to use the stationary bike to warm up for leg work. If there's no bike available, I march in place, lifting my knees as high as possible for 25 reps on each leg. Then I do 3 sets of freehand deep knee bends for 20 reps. 

Squats or (but not for long) Leg Presses, and Breathing Pullovers - 

Weighted deep knee bends, more commonly known as squats, are the best choice for your first exercise. Do leg presses only if you can't get at least 10 reps on the squat with half your bodyweight. Once you can, immediately switch to squats. Alternate sets of the squats (or for the time being leg presses) with sets of One-Dumbbell Breathing Pullovers. Pyramid the weights you use on the squats. For example, say you weigh 200 pounds. After warming up, you place a 100-pound barbell across your shoulders, with your feet shoulder width apart apart, your toes pointed slightly outward and your back straight and flat. Now take a deep breath and descend to a point where the top of your thighs are just below parallel to the ground. With a steady drive, rise to a standing position. Take a deep breath and repeat. Do 10 repetitions. 

Immediately after you finish the first set of squats - and while you're still somewhat breathless - take a dumbbell that weighs approximately 15% of the squat weight, in this case 15 pounds. Lie on your back on a flat bench with your shoulders supported but your head hanging off the bench. Take a deep breath and, holding the dumbbell with both hands, lower the weight as far behind your head as possible. Keep your arms straight throughout the rep. Feel that stretch? 

This weight is light enough that it won't tax your strength. It isn't meant to. Your aim is to get the stretch and the normalization of the heavy breathing induced by the squats. Once you finish your first round of the two exercises, you'll feel exhilarated due to enhanced circulation and oxygenation of the blood.    

Continue for 3 sets of each exercise. On the squats increase the weight on each successive set by 10 pounds. Keep the pullover weight the same throughout or increase it by no more than 5 pounds.

Lying Leg Curls - 

Again, use a weight that you can get 10 reps with. On a selectorized weight stack that should be about 25% of your bodyweight. Try several poundages to make sure. Do 3 sets of 10, increasing the weight on each set as you can.

Standing Calf Raises - 

Use a standing calf machine, start with a weight that will allow you to get 15 reps on the first and increase it on each successive set. The first set should be difficult to complete. On the second set do 12 reps. On the third set do 10, and on the fourth and fifth sets do a tough 8 reps.

So much for legs.
It feels great, doesn't it! 

Upper Body

Bench Press - 

Start your upper body work with this primary chest exercise. After a brief warmup - 2 sets of 15 reps with just the bar is fine - pick a weight with which you can just get out 12 reps. Increase the weight by 5 pounds and do 10 reps. Add another 5 pounds and do a good 8 reps. Inhale as you lower the bar, touch just above the nipples, and press straight up, exhaling as you press through the sticking point. The bar should be directly above your eyes at the top of the rep. 

Hyperextensions - 

For back work you begin with the spinal erectors of the lower back and work up, finishing the session with shoulders and arms.

Nowadays, every gym and weight room has a hyperextension bench, which allows you to exercise your strong lower back muscles without the excessive compression of the spinal vertebrae that occurs with movements where the weight creates excessive downward pressure on your lower back, as in good mornings or various deadlifts. You perform hyperextensions in a horizontal position that isolates the spinal erectors and exerts no downward pressure on the spine. Do 3 sets, bodyweight only, for 12, 10, 8 reps. As you get stronger, place your hands behind your head to increase the resistance. 

Lat Pulldowns -

This is a very effective exercise for the latissimus dorsi, the wide part of the back just below your shoulders. When well developed, the lats give an impressive V-shape to the rear torso.

Don't forget to warm up first with a light set. Then, while seated beneath the lat machine bar, take a grip that's six inches or so wider than your shoulders. Take a deep breath and pull the bar down in front of your face to your chest, just below your chin. Allow the bar to slowly return to the starting position as you exhale. Inhale as you repeat.

Concentrate on your lats throughout each rep. Do a set of 12, a set of 10, and finally, a set of 8 reps, increasing the weight on each set.

Standing Barbell Press - 

This is the standard by which physical strength is gauged. Since the beginning, lifters have been asking each other, "How much can you press?" For many people that means the standing barbell press.

Like everything that has stood the test of time, presses have earned their place simply because they're the best exercise for shoulder work. While standing with your feet shoulder width apart and a barbell held at shoulder height, inhale deeply and press the bar upward, keeping it close to your face. As the bar passes your face, slowly exhale and allow it to ride back and over your head. At the top of the reps the bar should be locked out at arms' length over your head. Inhale as you lower the bar, and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10, 8, and 6 reps, increasing the weight on each successive set.    

Barbell Curls - 

Nearly everyone knows how to curl a barbell. In this program you do 4 sets each on biceps curls and the final exercise, pulley pressdowns for the triceps.

For the curls, stand erect holding a barbell in front of you, your arms fully extended. Take a deep breath and, without excessive back bend, curl the bar to a full biceps contraction, which should be chin level. Lower the bar slowly to the starting position, exhaling as you lower. Repeat for 4 sets of 10 reps, using the same weight throughout. 

Pressdowns - 

The triceps are used extensively during this workout in both bench presses and standing presses, so, rather than blast them with heavy work, you put the finishing touches on your arm pump with this excellent leverage exercise.

Stand in front of a lat machine or overhead pulley and grasp the bar attachment with an overhead grip, your hand about eight inches apart and your upper arms firmly pressed against the sides of your chest. Your arms should be bent at the elbows with the bar just under your chin. Inhale, pressing the bar down until your arms are straight and fully extended. Exhale and allow the bar to return to the starting position.

The movement should be from the elbows down only. Your upper arms remain firmly against your upper body throughout.

Triceps respond well to higher reps. Do 4 sets working up in weight for 20, 15, 12, and 10 reps.

Build Your Strength     

The workout above is a projection. You shouldn't perform all the sets and reps until the fourth week. On the first week do one set of each exercise, on the second do two sets, and on the third week do three sets. Thereafter perform the sets and reps as written, continually upping the poundages as your strength increases. 

The critical rules as you increase the weights are as follows: 

Always warm up.
Always use strict form. 

As long as you heed those two admonitions, you'll continue to make rapid progress while avoiding injury and undue muscle soreness.

As you progress, continue to upgrade both your aerobic and anaerobic exercise programs. You don't necessarily have to increase the length of time you spend in the gym, but you do have to continually upgrade the resistance. That's the reason it's called progressive resistance training.

After six weeks of the walking program, start jogging. Work up to a two mile run on the days you don't work out with weights. Do that, along with the weight program, and you have the key that will unlock the door to a fantastic lifestyle - - - 

AT ANY AGE.                  





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