Weight training for 84 year old woman Weight training for 84 year old woman

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Thread: Weight training for 84 year old woman

  1. #1
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    May 2018
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    Default Weight training for 84 year old woman

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    My mother is 84 years old and I want to get her started with weight training. She suffers from painful knees (arthrosis), slightly rounded back and weak arms. I want to take the starting strength program as an inspiration and modify it to suit her. Also she does not have easy access to a gym so equipment should be kept at a minimum.

    Below is what I have come up with so far. Please comment or point me in the direction of someone who have done similar things. Merely being a hobbyist myself I plan to involve professional help such as as her physiotherapist. Before I do that, I want to have a realistic plan so I can push the physiotherapist in the direction away from many light isolation exercises that do not trigger growth and from which one becomes fast bored.

    Some general rules
    All exercises should be performed very slow. The increased time under tension should result in hypertrophy with lower weights. Also since the resistance is low she will not need more than 1-2 minutes break between each set.
    I will ask her to breath in just before the heaviest part of an exercise e.g. at the bottom of the squat and gently breathe out on the way up. This way it should not be dangerous for her high blood pressure.
    She should aim for 10 reps in each set. She should do 3 sets twice a week.


    Squat
    She can easily do 10 seated chair squats. However I believe it is important to get her to go deeper (among other things to train the VMO which helps with knee stability). So she could use a lower chair. She could also hold a heavy dumbell in front of her.

    Deadlift
    I was thinking she could do dumbbell deadlifts.

    Benchpress
    She could do knee push-ups.

    Barbell rows
    Dumbell rows using chair.

    Thanks in advance for any answers!

  2. #2
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    Some more background info. She has never trained anyway her hole life but have kept her self busy doing gardening etc so her aerobic capacity is probably quite good and she is skinny.

  3. #3
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    If she does nothing but deadlifts, she'll be doing good. Just have her do those for a couple of months and see how she progresses. Go from there.

  4. #4
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    She may not be able to handle even knee push ups. I'd say start with some PVC to get her acclimated to bench presses and then some pipe with small hole exercise plates. Maybe even she could start with an empty exercise bar. They are around 15 lbs. or so.

    There is no Sacred Writ that says ANY newbie needs to start with an Olympic bar.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyP View Post
    My mother is 84 years old...

    Some general rules
    All exercises should be performed very slow. The increased time under tension should result in hypertrophy with lower weights. Also since the resistance is low she will not need more than 1-2 minutes break between each set.
    I will ask her to breath in just before the heaviest part of an exercise e.g. at the bottom of the squat and gently breathe out on the way up. This way it should not be dangerous for her high blood pressure.
    She should aim for 10 reps in each set. She should do 3 sets twice a week.
    ...
    Your breathing instruction does not make sense. Transient blood pressure increases due to Valsalva do not result in chronic hypertension [Barbell Prescription, p.87]. However, breathing while the bar is moving will negatively affect spinal rigidity, risking orthopedic injury.

    On a less critical note, I'm dubious about your time under tension theory in any population... do you have support for either of your plans here?

    Bravo for pointing your mother in the direction of training though.

  6. #6
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    OP may find incline bench will work better depending on the degree of rounding. Yes, start with PVC or wooden dowel, ideally marked at where the knurling starts on a regular bar, and place some plates on the ends -- even close to her hands. Strength progression will likely be slower, but 1-2 pound jumps add up over time. Stick with 5's. Lower body stuff should respond favorably to higher reps initially. Might as well titrate that up over a few sessions, though. If you beat her up too much, she might think it's the iron's fault.

    Please tell me you've ordered The Barbell Prescription :-)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by andyP View Post
    She should aim for 10 reps in each set. She should do 3 sets twice a week.
    Why would a detrained 84-year-old woman need to do 10s? So she can get fatigued and therefore out of position, with a weight that is too light to make her stronger?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JD Keip View Post
    Please tell me you've ordered The Barbell Prescription :-)
    Well I have now. Thanks for the pointer.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rippetoe View Post
    Why would a detrained 84-year-old woman need to do 10s? So she can get fatigued and therefore out of position, with a weight that is too light to make her stronger?
    Thank you for your answer.
    Intuitively it seems safer to train with lighter weights. However I understand your point about bad form being the biggest danger. Also I just tested one of these online 1RM calculator and found that: 5RM = 0.87 * 1RM and 10 RM = 0.8 * 1 RM. So doubling the number of reps only allows one to reduce the weight with about 10 % if the effort is to remain 100%. Considering the choice between deadlifting 100 kg for 5 reps vs deadlifting 90 kg for 10 reps I clearly understand that 5 reps is safer. So it seems my "common sense" is wrong.

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    Quote Originally Posted by JD Keip View Post
    I'm dubious about your time under tension theory in any population... do you have support for either of your plans here?
    Thank you for your question.
    One day I had slightly aching knees and my personal trainer (which seems really knowledgeable) told me to squat with about 25% less weight than usually but go really slow. He said that this approach was sometimes used in rehabilitation by physical therapists. From personal experience I know that going really slow feels a lot heavier than going fast. I also found this article (which is backed by a scientific paper): Tip: Lift This Way, Build Muscle 3 Times Faster

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