An introduction into strength and power training for all ages, continued with part 4
Numerous research studies demonstrate that strength training provides abundant benefits for the older citizen. However, strength training is not the only resistance training that has healthy outcomes. Power training, the ability to exert force rapidly, is crucial in the prevention of falls.
Power and strength training go hand in hand in helping to slow down the age related muscle atrophy and the resultant diminishing of your physical capabilities. A few tips for training from the Harvard Medical School can go a long ways in getting you started in the right direction.
When you start out with a strength-training program set your sights on doing two to three sets of from between 6 to twelve repetitions of each exercise in the schedule. Start out with a minimum of two sets of eight repetitions and work up from there until you are doing all twelve of them for three sets. If you have chosen a weight that won’t allow the full, eight reps then do as many as you can. If when doing as many as you can you only get 3 or 4 reps then the weight is too heavy and needs to be reduced before you hurt yourself. In each exercise, add weight once you have achieved the three sets of twelve reps. It is a basic premise of strength training that adding weight, with correct technique, adds strength and power. Don’t waste your time doing little dinky weights when you can do more.
Don’t cheat the weight up. Use good form on all the exercises to reap the benefit of the movement. Cheating involves using momentum, rocking it up, flinging it around, and other ways that you will find to get the repetition completed that is not beneficial to your body and may, in fact, cause an injury.
Rest between each set of each exercise. These periods allow your heart and muscles to regain their composure and get ready for the next set. A good rest time is from 1-2 minutes depending on the exercise. If you are working your legs with squats, a longer period may be in order depending on your physical condition. Larger muscle groups like your legs or lower back often take longer to recover than the smaller ones such as your biceps.
If perchance, you do get injured stop immediately and rest the muscle. You gain NOTHING by continuing to train the injured part. Use the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) immediately after an injury occurs.
• Rest the injured area-don’t keep going if it hurts. You can, however work other parts of your body if the injury is not debilitating. Be conservative in your estimation of the degree of damage.
• Ice the injured area for twenty to thirty minutes every 2-3 hours during the first forty eight to seventy two hours.
• Compress the injury with an elastic wrap (don’t cut off the circulation; check this by taking a pulse below and away from the heart on a pressure point). Do this until the swelling stops and whenever you are out of bed.
• Elevate the area above your heart, while resting or icing the area. Call your health care provider if it is more than a minor injury.
When returning back to the exercise program be gentle with the injured area. Start out slowly with the weight load and ease back into the program again.
If you follow, a well-constructed program there should be a minimum of injuries, although some minor aches and pains but nothing serious may still show up. If in doubt about your knowledge of the proper exercise technique, find a certified strength coach from either the NSCA or ACSM.