Alternatives to free-weight and machine exercises
This is an excerpt from Fitness Professional's Guide to Strength Training Older Adults-2nd Edition by Thomas R. Baechle & Wayne Westcott.
Although machine training and free-weight training offer certain advantages, other forms of resistance equipment can produce excellent results as well. Weight training equipment intimidates some older adults. For others, budget constraints make membership in a fitness facility or the purchase of strength training equipment impractical. The exercise procedures described in this chapter should enhance your clients' strength training experiences and reduce the likelihood of injury, and they are inexpensive. These alternatives to free-weight and machine exercises will be especially helpful to instructors who value resistance training for older clients but have limited access to expensive equipment. Many exercise options are available to enthusiastic and creative instructors who realize that resistance training can significantly improve the quality of life for senior men and women.
Planning Your Program
We have grouped both the bodyweight and the elastic band exercises by muscle areas worked and have arranged them from the less challenging to the more challenging. Instruct your clients to move through the ranges of joint movement shown in the exercises and to perform them in a slow, controlled manner. If some individuals initially cannot perform the entire range of movement, encourage them to move gradually toward the full range, unless doing so will aggravate an existing joint or muscle condition.
Because people vary widely in strength, no specific prescription—for number of reps or thickness of elastic bands—applies to all clients. Before prescribing an exercise, consider the potential difficulty that your client will have in performing the exercise, as well as the resistance that he or she must overcome. Table 6.1 provides some helpful guidelines for tailoring the exercises to each client.
Guidelines for Reps, Sets, and Rest Periods
For clients with the lowest strength levels, try to identify which exercises they can perform correctly for at least 5 repetitions (see table 6.1). For average individuals, identify which exercises they can perform correctly for no more than 10 repetitions. And for those who are most fit, identify exercises that result in fatigue after about 15 or 20 reps. If you are using elastic resistance exercises, select a band or thickness that will accommodate the number of repetitions recommended for the various strength levels in table 6.1. Unless joint or muscle problems preclude certain exercises, try to include at least one exercise for the upper body, one for the lower body, and one for the midsection from among those presented later in this chapter. Low-strength clients, using a bodyweight program, can use the push-away (wall) for the chest and triceps, the quarter (depth) knee bend for the quadriceps and hamstrings, and the assisted flexed-knee trunk curl for the abdominal muscles. If clients will be using elastic bands or tubing, they can perform the chest press for the chest and triceps, the squat for the quadriceps and hamstrings, and the trunk curl for the abdominal muscles.
Depending on your clients' strength levels and goals for training, start out less-fit clients with one set and more-fit clients with two sets. If the goal for training is to develop endurance, muscle size, or muscle strength, assign rest periods of 30 seconds to 1 minute, 1 1/2 minutes, and 2 or more minutes, respectively, between sets. Table 6.1 provides guidelines for progressively increasing the number of sets.
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