But we know we are old. No problem. Many people are denied the privilege of growing old. Even more are not able to grow old and still maintain a fitness routine.

Here is the really bad news – 77% of young Americans today between the ages of 17 and 24 are not able to qualify for military service. They could not pass the eligibility requirements because of being overweight, drug dependent or otherwise physically or mentally unfit.

When I was that age, we did not have that problem, at least to that extent.

This post will examine the pros and cons of workout routines for the aged. I can speak from over 60 years of workout experience, which continues currently, though my methods have changed.

My picture below was made after my 80th birthday.


The first tip is to discuss any new activity plans with your health care provider. This includes discussing any specific health concerns that you or your doctor may have.

The center for Disease Control recommends the following for men or women over the age of 65:

  • Minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate cardio activity, such as walking
  • Or 75 minutes of moderate intensity activity such as hiking, running or jogging.
  • And 2 or more days of strength exercises for legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms
  • Plus some balance movements, such as standing on one foot

Those with years of exercise experience will not find this difficult, but beginners may need to slowly build up to the recommended times. Those of us with injuries will need to work around the body parts involved. For example, I have arthritic knees, now bone on bone, plus an arthritic lower back.

From what I have observed, many senior men and women are far more likely to do cardio than strength building. Walking, swimming, bicycling and even dancing are great, but muscle building should not have a lower priority.

In a study by Wake Forest University, 249 overweight adults in their 60s were placed in groups to determine the effectiveness of types of exercise. This was for a period of 18 months. The goal was to find the best way to preserve muscle while losing fat. Note that losing fat was one of the goals, not just losing weight.

The three groups were based on:

  • Those who only dieted
  • Those who dieted and walked
  • Those who dieted and did weight training

Here are the results:

  • Fat loss was 10 pounds for those who only did dieting
  • Diet plus walking produced a 16 pound fat loss
  • Diet plus weight training resulted in 17 pounds of fat loss

None of the above was especially surprising, though the one pound difference in weight training vs. walking was interesting. But the following was surprising:

  • Muscle mass loss was greater (4 pounds) with diet plus walking than with diet alone or diet with weight training (2 pounds).
  • So, with dieting, a bit of cardio created more muscle loss than no cardio.
  • The most successful group was made up of those who did dieting with weight training.

This was interesting and new information for me. Retaining or building muscular strength for our senior adult years is crucial. There are many daily uses of our muscular strength that may diminish with old age. Not the ability to flex our biceps, but the strength to move boxes, stand erect, walk without falling, do chores and the like.

Here is that study.

What I take from the study is not to eliminate cardio, but simply to combine cardio, weight training and dieting for maximum results.


I started with heavy barbell lifting at age 18. This was my period of most noticeable growth. I did this for improvement in sports and to bring my upper body to equate to my legs, which grew from running up and down basketball courts. My program was simply:

  • 3 sets of heavy bench presses
  • 3 sets of heavy barbell rowing
  • 3 sets of heavy military presses
  • 3 sets of heavy barbell curls

I later added barbell squats, barbell calf raises and sit-ups on an abdominal board – on alternate days

I then used my college weight room with a similar routine, but with more variety. Later, through age 60 and with many periods of inactivity due to tennis, I would use Nautilus equipment, YMCA weight rooms and bodybuilding clubs.

At age 60, I began to include home workouts with YMCA programs. At age 70, I began to do more exercise at home and my tennis activity decreased. I was using dumbbells, resistance bands and Bullworker equipment. As my joints began to feel pain, I gradually stopped using dumbbells. Since then, I have had to be more protective of my joints, my knees, my lower back and my fingers. All of this relates to arthritis.

My current old man workout routine is to alternate:

  • Physical therapy for my right shoulder rotator cuff and my lower back one day and
  • Light weight / high rep bodybuilding for my core, back, chest, biceps and triceps the next day

I do intermittent fasting, so I don’t eat breakfast until 12 noon. I don’t do the same exercise on two consecutive days. By high reps, I mean 30-50 reps. This gives me a nice cardio boost.

Check out my prior post on intermittent fasting.


Amazon has always been a dependable source for me. As an associate, I may use Amazon links in my posts and benefit from activity on those links. This has no effect on the pricing. Here are a few Amazon products that I use:

Nordic Track treadmill – this model is not expensive, but has lasted very well for me

Inversion table by Teeter – this has helped significantly with my back issues

Resistance bands – get a great pump without joint strain

Loop bands – I use these for physical therapy and sometimes for arm exercise. Women use them for “booty” exercise.

Crunch device – I use this to protect my back when doing crunches

Push – up board – I use this to intensify pushups and to specify the use of a particular body part


Dick’s Sporting Goods has always been my favorite source for athletic equipment. I am also an associate for DSG, the largest sporting goods merchant in the United States. I benefit from purchases made from their links also.

They are now running a summer clearance sale, with discounts up to 70%.

Check them out in this manner:

  • See my link for Dick’s Sporting Goods at the side of my website. Click on the red link.
  • You will see the question “What are you looking for?”
  • Go from there.

Bullworker Fitness provides workout tools with the capacity for both isotonic and isometric benefits within the same set of reps. See my Bullworker link at the side of my website. I use the Steel Bow and Bow Classic, both of which protect my joints while giving me a thorough workout. These are high quality tools. Martial arts expert Bruce Lee trained with Bullworkers to develop his striking strength.


We never really have an excuse for not taking care of our bodies, no matter our age. We can work around whatever our imperfections may be at any given time. A daily workout of 30 minutes only represents about 2% of our day. Lack of time should never be an impediment.

At age 81, I was ordering workout equipment, but my bank put a stop on the order and contacted me, since this appeared to be fraud. To them. Why shouldn’t I work out at age 81? Is it that unusual? It’s not heavy training. My order was reinstated, but I thanked my bank for their scrutiny.

Let’s live lives of fitness. We will never regret making that choice!

Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, richard@myworkoutathome.com.


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