Image
The right training can help you maintain good fitness for a lifetime. (vgajic/iStock)

6 Essential Moves for Aging Athletes

Work your balance and core strength with these functional exercises

Image
Image

No matter how invincible you feel today, your athletic skills and strength will diminish with age. Fortunately, the right training can help you slow that decline and maintain good fitness for a lifetime. The key is to choose exercises that challenge balance, strengthen the core, and mimic complex movements performed in day-to-day life. Focus on these areas, and you can decrease your risk of injury and exercise pain-free well into your golden years.

We tapped Jeff Horowitz, certified running, cycling, and triathlon coach in Washington, D.C., and author of Ageless Strength, to develop the following six-move workout for aging athletes. Though these exercises are intended for most folks, it’s always wise to check with a professional before starting a new training plan if you have a history of injury, pain, or an existing health condition.

As you do this workout, stay mindful of how your body feels throughout. Back off if any unusual pain or discomfort crops up. “It’s a matter of learning how to work in partnership with your body,” Horowitz explains. That means knowing when to push yourselfand when to press pause.

Do each exercise for the designated number of reps, then move on to the next exercise in the sequence without resting. After you’ve done all six exercises, rest if needed. Then repeat the entire sequence one more time. Do this workout two to three times a week. You’ll need a set of light dumbbells.

The Moves

Push-Up

What it does: Targets the core and strengthens the chest, shoulders, glutes, hips, and legs.

How to do it: Start in a high plank position with your hands and feet slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart. Your hands should be rotated slightly in and elbows rotated slightly out. Squeeze your glutes, brace your core, and look straight down to the floor so your body forms one long line from your heels to the top of your head. From here, bend your elbows to slowly lower your body until you are almost able to touch your nose to the ground. Pause at the bottom, then slowly straighten your elbows to reverse the movement. Don’t lock your arms at the top. This is one rep. Make it easier by dropping to your knees. Make it harder by placing your hands several inches in front of your shoulders.

Volume: Do reps to the point of temporary muscle failure, meaning you cannot perform another rep with correct form.


Squat

What it does: Targets the glutes, quads, and spine through complex functional movement involving the hip, knee, and ankle joints and challenges your balance.

How to do it: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands in front of your chest, on your hips, or let them hang straight at your sides—whatever feels most comfortable. Bend your knees and push your butt back to sink into a squat, keeping the weight in your heels. As you squat, allow your back to naturally arch, keep your chest up, and gaze facing forward. Pause when your legs form 90-degree angles. Make it harder by holding a dumbbell in front of your chest with both hands. Squat with your eyes closed to increase the balance challenge.

Volume: 8 to 12 reps.


Discus Throw

What it does: Engages your glutes, quads, hips, and core; strengthens your rotator cuff through external rotation of the arm; and challenges your balance.

How to do it: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, with your right foot forward and left foot back. Bend both knees to lower into a lunge. Rotate your torso to the right and place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Your right arm should be positioned slightly behind your body, elbow slightly bent and pointed up and fingers pointing down. From here, stand up. As you stand, rotate your torso to the left, swing your right arm in front of you to about shoulder height and your left arm behind you. Your left hand should be pointed up and slightly to the left of your head, elbow slightly bent. Pause, then reverse the movement. This is one rep. Make it harder by holding a light dumbbell in your left hand.

Volume: Do 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.


Deadlift to Front Raise

What it does: Strengthens your glutes, back, and shoulders with a functional movement that teaches correct form for many day-to-day activities, like lifting a heavy box or picking up a child.

How to do it: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and arms at your sides. This is the starting position. Hinge forward at your hips and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor, keeping your back straight or slightly arched. Let your arms hang down straight, hands clasped. Squeeze your glutes and, in one explosive movement, shove your hips forward to stand up, throwing your arms straight up as you do so. Pause at the top, then lower your arms back to your sides to return to the starting position. This is one rep. Make it harder by holding a dumbbell in each hand.

Volume: 8 to 12 reps.


Diagonal Swing

What it does: Targets your core and engages your hips, shoulders, arms, and back.

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands together and position them at your right hip. Bend your knees to lower into a half squat. From here, stand up and swing your arms up and across your body until they are above your head and slightly to the left side of your body. Let your eyes follow your hands. Pause for a moment, then reverse the movement. This is one rep. Make it harder by holding a dumbbell between your hands.

Volume: Do 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.


Bent-Over Twisting Row

What it does: Builds strength in your upper back, arms, and shoulders and engages the core.

How to do it: Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and stand with your feet about two to three feet apart. Step your left foot forward and right foot back. Bend your knees slightly and engage your abs to tip your torso forward until it’s nearly parallel to the ground. Your pelvis should be tilted, back slightly arched, and eyes looking forward. Let your right hand hang straight down. Bend your left arm so your left elbow is pointed straight up, left fingers pointed straight down. Pull the dumbbell toward your ribs as you straighten your left arm down toward the ground. Pause, then reverse the movement. This is one rep.

Volume: Do 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat.

Ageless Strength is published by VeloPress, which is part of Outside Inc., the same company that owns Outside magazine and Outside Online. If you join the Outside+ membership program, you’ll gain unlimited access to all of our stories and two VeloPress books a year. Learn more about Outside+ here.

sms