After a man reaches the age of 50, and sometimes even 40, he sometimes feels that he is an old man, and tho he realizes the need for exercise for health’s sake, he thinks that he might be getting for heavy work.
This all depends on how he has trained in years past. If he has taken the best care of his health he can feel assured that he can stand rather heavy training until he is 50. Furthermore he will have enough experience and “know how” to arrange his own workout program from then on. We do not feel that man over 50 should try to excel the younger fellows in lifting meets regardless of how good he thinks he feels. However we do feel that fairly heavy bodybuilding training or even lifting training will be beneficial if he has always kept in good shape.
The man of 40 or 50 who has just started training and is not in too good shape is a different proposition. First, he should have a check up by his doctor to determine if his heart is good, what his blood pressure is, etc. Even though his heart may not be perfect, or if his blood pressure is a little high does not mean that he cannot do barbell exercise. It simply means that he should proceed cautiously – make progress in the addition of repetitions and poundages more slowly. He should work out with clocklike regularity and should not allow himself to dissipate. Under such conditions and with care, even bad hearts can be corrected in most cases and blood pressure brought down. The man with a sound heart and other organs, who has never kept in condition, should also observe care and regularity in his earlier training.
A man of over 40 is decidedly not old, but he is more subject to strained muscles etc., than is the younger fellow. Therefore, he should warm up before his heavy workouts with a few repetitions with light weights. Take your time and don’t hurry. Take a little longer to rest between sets. It has generally been found that older men can gain on fewer repetitions than the younger men. Where we advise 10 repetitions, you may find 7 or 8 sufficient. As a general rule you can get by on fewer sets when specializing on certain muscles. Usually 3 or 4 sets are enough for you.
Usually the older man can use fairly heavy weights if he works into them gradually. He need not lag far behind the younger men in this respect. However, do not hurry the process. Be content to get there a little slower. This does not mean that you are not to work hard, however. It is going to be just as hard for you to make gains as it is for the younger man, and you must work for all you get.
It is also advisable for the older man to use fewer exercises than the younger man. If you young fellows use 12 exercises in your advanced program, then about 7 or 8 will be ample for the older man. If he is just training for good health he will often find that 5 exercises are plenty. In this case he will not need to do over one set of each exercise.
The older man should also practice a few feats of suppleness and stretching movements. A few quick lifts practiced occasionally will be beneficial also.
It is important that the older man keep a tranquil attitude and that he be relaxed, both mentally and physically. He should keep regular hours and observe correct diet more carefully. If he has been in the habit of overeating he should moderate his eating habits. He no longer needs the heavy meals that a growing young man needs. Neither will he require the starches, sweets and fats that a young fellow does. He will benefit by reducing his intake of these. Do not eliminate them, but cut them down in favor of fruits, green vegetables and dairy products.
Most of the older fellows will have a tendency to add weight around the waist. For this reason we feel that it is advisable to add some abdominal work to their programs. At first you will find that your waist gets a little large when you start abdominal work but in a short time, if you persist, it will start down. It takes hard work to cut it off here, though. You may find it impossible if you do not cut down on starches, fats and sweets (this means liquors too) in your diet. With this help, tho, you should have no difficulty.