How To Work Out For Older Adults

How To Work Out For Older AdultsI was asked by someone if they were “Too old to start working out.” I almost flew out of my seat. Here’s the question.

Hello Ray,

I am 49 soon to be 50. I’m 6′ tall and weigh 186-188 pounds. I have not been working out at all for about 2 or 3 years and somehow I noticed that I have really lost a lot of muscle mass, and have started to look like an older man.

My question is two fold: (1) Is it too late for me to get my physical life back on track?? I don’t have aspiration of transforming into a ‘Brad Pitt” but wouldn’t mind a more toned body. In the last year I have lost about 10 pounds which was a very slow process achieved by just eating less, it took from May to October.

My goal was to get back to my 30’s weight of 176 pounds which was a comfortable weight for me. Clothes seemed to fit better back then.

(2) Am I fooling myself to think that I could get back to the body I had as a thirty-something year old, weighing less yet being toned and not to bad to look at in a bathing suit?

I feel that by finding you on line was a sign that I need help and really appreciate your mail. I haven’t done any more than started thinking about what to do at this point. So, thanks for getting me to at least think about changing my sedentary life-style.

Mark Sherrard


Questions put the “personal” into personal trainer. I get a ton of questions and every time I read one where someone is looking to improve their lives, I feel needed and helpful.

Question 1 Answer: Is it too late for you to get your physical life back on track? With absolute certainty and full hearted conviction, I can say that your 50th year on this earth could be the most invigorating, passionate and vitality filled year of your life.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it?

There have been studies upon studies that show how a 50+year old that works out can beat the pants of a mid-twenties couch potato. Aging is not a tally of years on the planet.

Aging is the result of the number of years of non-physical activity. Use it or lose it is in fact, TRUE. We get older, start buying more convenience items, get out of physical labor jobs and quit going out to dance on Saturday nights. The result is that the body loses its reason to remain VIRILE.

I have clients that are now in the best shape of their lives. Because for the first time in their lives, they are really taking care of themselves.

Your goal is not only possible, but should be attained in under two months.

Answer to Question Two: Are you fooling yourself thinking that you can get back the body you had when you were thirty something?

I think I already answered this but I am so determined that you understand and except this that I will continue. YOU ARE JUST BEGINNING. YOU ARE AT THE TIPPING POINT of creating your best years yet! Your body could be better than ever and to go with this new physical body, you have more years of experience on this earth to use in enjoying your body even more than a 30 something year old.

When they say youth is wasted on the young, I say “Yes it is, that’s why I work out”.

I’m 41 now and not slowing down, actually getting better. Contact me if you want help. I do online consulting via email.

So let’s get on with it. I want to talk about training as you get older and what exactly is the best training when you start to get past the 35 year old mark.

I feel that some form of resistance training is mandatory. Bodyweight training and weight training both have pro’s and cons and there should be room for both.

Why resistance training over other things? Because resistance training over a full range of motion keeps you strong, flexible, helps speed up your metabolic rate and makes your bones strong.

The last two benefits I mentioned are major issues for older adults that are not active.

So now that you know what I feel is most important, what’s the method?

Here are what I feel are the three secrets to making it work:

  1. Resistance train three to four times a week.
  2. Use 20-30 sets total for your body on those days
  3. Spend rest of your time (if you have any) on mobility and movement work like explosive ability. The ability to jump and sprint. Perhaps a skill that requires a culmination of several achievements such as a pistol squat or handstand.

I feel the work associated with the middle and front split to be great time spent.

There are many who believe you should start training lighter – in the 20 rep range and switch to machines because as you age your stabilizer muscles weaken. This apparently opens you up for injury in their opinion.

I disagree.

I believe that your body becomes what you use it for. Using belts and wraps all the time leads to developmental weaknesses. Using machines to avoid injury is the exact opposite of what I suggest.

Return to fundamentals and challenge your body to balance, stabilize and require it to maintain itself in a useful form. Disuse leads to atrophy.

When something isn’t working right, do what it takes to fix it. Don’t try to strengthen around it because your body is trying to tell you something isn’t right.

An example: Training heavy top end squats because your knees hurt when you go all the way down.

Another: If you have damaged rotator cuffs, find out what the cause is. Maybe surgery or physio can set the situation right. If not, then start looking for success cases to study. People that have had the same experience and condition and what they did to resolve it.

There is something happening in your alignment or perhaps a muscle imbalance. For these types of things it is worth taking a few steps back and working your way back to proper function.

If you have any specific questions regarding training as you age, I will offer my opinion as a 41 year old. Past that age I can only speak based on belief and observation of clients.

Here is a great sample workout program for older adults

The other day I went into work (Personal Training) and saw a book on the counter. The book was called Core Performance by Mark Verstegen.

I’ve been doing this workout game for a lot of years and hate to admit it, but have fallen into the bodybuilder trap. I used to think this was the only way to train. Its not so. I took the book home (I’ll return it tonight!) and gave it a read. For the first time in 15 years of training and doing bodybuilder style workouts, I got excited. It takes a while, but when you hit 30 and things start to get tight, you start to think.

Since I have started doing capoeira, range of motion has come to the for front of my attention. Maybe I should say the lack of range of motion. I’m excited to get into this. I started today with a really easy core style workout:

Warmups followed by:
Alternating Dumbbell Press (Video Demonstration)
One arm/ one leg dumbbell rows
Lunge position dumbbell curls to presses.
Sounds easy, but I really enjoyed it and got a good sweat on. The best part was how loose I felt after. Instead of tight and immobile, I felt powerful and strong.

The program is called Core Performance, check it out, you’ll thank me.

Too Old To Start A Fat Loss Program

Here’s a another question I received about being too old to start working out.

Hi Ray: I am hoping you can answer a question for me.

I am 47 years old, 5’8″ tall and 185 pounds.

I have been carrying around 30 extra pounds since the birth of my last child seven years ago. I really need a structured exercise/eating fat loss program that will take the pounds off and give me back some muscle. I just want to feel good and look good again.

I am wondering though if your fat loss program might be geared for younger individuals and not for those in my age bracket given my changing hormone levels and joints that don’t work the way they used to. I just want to make sure this is something that will work for me before I purchase the Fat to Fit Program.

I am in good health…just one bad knee and a low back that bothers me once in a while. My current workout (when I actually do it) is to walk four miles a day, do my ab and low back exercises and upper body/lower body weight training on alternate days.

So, the question is, do I try your fat loss program or look for something that an almost 50 year old should be doing? Teresa.

From Ray: Hi Teresa,
The Fat To Fit Program is a sound and effective fat loss program designed for all ages. In my opinion the older you are the more you have to gain from using it. Specifically because of changing hormones levels and the positive affect that this program has on them.

The concerns about your knee and lower back area are good information to know as a trainer. In your case, unless told otherwise by a doctor, this program will help strengthen and correct muscle imbalances that occur from a lifetime of use. If in the beginning you for some reason cannot do the recommended exercises, I am only an email away and can suggest some alternates for you.

So to answer your question, I would love to have you try the program and am positive that it will produce the results of a healthier feeling and better performing, leaner body for you. If after 60 days there is any doubt in your mind as to its effectiveness for you, there is a money back guarantee with no questions asked. You can also read it on this site for free



  1. Barb says

    Hi. I am a little amused by your description of over 35 as older. The first time I lifted I was 40 years old. Now I am 68 and the only weight I have had to reduce is for squats to save my back.( I weigh 110, and squat 140, although not all the way down.) I was glad to read your comment about training for explosive power because that is something I have put into my workout lately, especially training to work the same muscles different ways. For example, I do a high jump up on an object, a long jump,and then a high jump over an object.I then reverse the sequence on the way back. I find the area now that is challenging is my balance, and that is something I have to work on. I do thank you for your web site and newsletter articles as I have found many good suggestions, and a lot to think about. Barb

  2. admin says

    Hi Barb. Your response made my day. 110 pounds squatting 140 is awesome. I just love that fact that you are 68 and still find squatting and explosive work to be of value. Thank you also for your kind words about the site and newsletter. When I get feedback like that it makes me want to write and do more if someone finds it of use.

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