In this article, we will talk about some of the best exercise programs for senior men available. There are some crucial differences between women and men, especially in seniors.
Even though you lose some of your youthful male vitality as you age, you will still likely have a significantly better capacity to build strength and muscle mass than senior women. This is because of genetic differences in hormones and hormone receptors between the sexes.
Men have much higher levels of testosterone and other male hormones, called androgens. They also have more receptors for these androgens in their muscles.
Androgens are anabolic hormones that promote muscle strength and mass. As well as fat burning and bone strength. Pretty useful stuff for a strong body wouldn’t you say?
Truth About Bodybuilding
Androgens are so strong actually that synthetic androgens are used to build strength and muscle mass in professional athletes, gym rats, and bodybuilders.
These are of course referred to as anabolic steroids and they are what even younger men have to take if they want to look like bulging bodybuilders.
Sure, professional bodybuilders work very hard to achieve that look, but the sad truth is that it’s the steroids that do most of the work.
There is this legendary study that showed that young men that took steroids and didn’t train with weights gained more muscle mass in a short time than the control group who trained with weights.
So you build more muscle with steroids doing nothing than working your butt off at the gym. The reason I’m telling you this is to show how powerful even natural androgens are for muscle strength and mass.
Even if you have low testosterone levels as a male, you likely have several multitudes more testosterone than women of the same age. And it doesn’t take much to significantly affect the muscle growth positively.
Realistic Expectations For Exercise Programs For Senior Men
The other reason I tell you about steroids is so you have realistic expectations of working out.
Most natural young men can’t achieve the “ripped” and muscular physique bodybuilders have. There might be some genetically gifted individuals that can achieve a quite incredible physique naturally. But they are few and far between.
It’s naturally even harder for older guys because of age-related hormonal decline.
This is important to realize because the fitness industry is notorious for using steroid-amped models in their sales pitches. The workout plans and exercise programs I’m about to show you might have such advertising but they are otherwise sound.
It’s important to know this and focus on health as an older man, you are not going to transfer into young Schwarzenegger after two months of working out. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.
Natural hormones and age are against you, but that’s no reason to avoid an exercise program.
You can still improve your strength and muscle mass significantly as an older male. This will add healthy and active years to your life and improve your life quality tremendously. Oh and don’t let this discourage you! You and your partner will definitely enjoy the changes in the mirror as well.
What Happens To male Hormones As You Age
When you get older, the testosterone levels decline quite steadily. Sometimes they can drop significantly in a relatively short time due to obesity, stress, illness, head injury or unhealthy lifestyle like binge drinking and using drugs.
If you avoid all those, your testosterone will decline around 1 percent on average per year after you hit 30. You peak at around 20 years old. That means that by the time you hit 60, your testosterone levels can be half or less than what it was in your twenties.
This definitely has an effect on your virility and ability to build muscle and strength. On the other hand it’s important to remember that even if you are in the lowest range for healthy males, your will have significantly higher levels of androgens and more receptors for them than women. That’s why even older men can be significantly stronger than young women.
One other factor that lowers testosterone levels in both old and young men is high body fat. Most people these days are overweight or obese.
If you body fat percentage is higher than 15 % it likely is affecting your testosterone levels negatively. This is because body fat contains an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone to estrogen. I talked more about this in the article how to increase testosterone after 60 [6 tips]
You should do your best to get rid of excess fat due to several health reasons. In seniors fast weight loss is never advised, however, so plan the weight loss with your physician. You should always consult your doctor in case of starting a new exercise program as well.
The good news is that testosterone is just one factor that affects muscle strength and size. As long as your levels are not below healthy levels, you can still build significant muscle with a good exercise program and diet.
How Older Men Should Train
Most older men should train more strength-oriented. The focus should be more on intensity (weight/resistance) instead of volume (sets/times/reps). This is because muscle strength and mass in older men respond best to intensity.
Higher volume training is more effective in building muscle mass but requires a good hormonal profile and conditioning. It’s also much more fatiguing and requires better recovery ability.
It’s usually a young man’s game so to speak. Women respond better to lower intensity, higher volume training on average due to genetic differences as well.
Because older men have fewer androgens and growth hormones, their capacity for high-volume work is usually a bit lower. High-intensity workouts with less volume will activate the androgen receptors in the muscle and can even slightly increase your free testosterone levels. This makes the best use of the testosterone your body has to spare.
In a way, it’s a balancing act of doing just enough work with your muscles to cause adaptation (positive changes) without going over your recovery capacity.
You should eat a healthy diet that doesn’t increase your weight too much because you likely have some body fat to spare. If you are underweight you should pay attention to eating hefty meals of nutritious foods. To keep your recovery good you need to sleep enough as well.
Besides doing strength training you should have an active lifestyle that includes daily activity that brings your heart rate up. This can be anything you like. From walking your dog to home improvement to golf.
Best Exercise Programs For Senior Men
My top recommendation for senior men is the Starting Strength program by Mark Rippetoe. It’s a program that is specifically designed to be scalable for older people as well. The author is well over 60 himself actually.
The program uses a very short high intensity strength training to drive muscle adaptation. This is exactly the stuff you want as an older gentleman. The program is science-based as well and they have thousands of happy customers, so the results speak for themselves.
The base program in the book is actually meant for younger people, but there are whole chapters about how to scale the program for older people.
The thing with starting strength is that all the exercises are pretty technical. The book does a great job of explaining them. Actually probably the best job any book can do. But many people will have trouble learning them on their own.
That’s why I recommend you look for a Starting Strength gym near you and attend a course to learn the basics.
You can learn more about Starting Strength in the article Starting Strength For Seniors.
Free Exercise Programs For Senior Men
If you don’t want to cash out for a simple laid-out program, you can use the exercises I have presented here at Elder Strength. I have shown several workouts you can try at the gym or at home. You can also combine several of them to make a complete workout plan yourself:
- Free weight training routine for seniors
- Full body strength training
- Back Exercises For Seniors
- Shoulder exercises for seniors
- Leg exercises for seniors
- Arm exercises for seniors
- Dumbbell Workout For Seniors [Simple Exercises]
- Bodybuilding Workouts For Men Over 50 [How To Do It Right]
- Best Ab Exercises For Seniors [3 Exercises With Tips]
I hope you enjoyed reading about these exercise programs for senior men and will try them and find them useful.
The important thing is to start light, add weight progressively and be consistent. Those three points will get you strong without injuries no matter what the exercise program is.
Always remember to challenge yourself as well. You are stronger than you think, just make sure you know how to perform the exercise correctly before progressing to serious weight. Ask a professional trainer in case you are unsure you are performing the exercises correctly.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below! If you enjoy reading about strength training, fitness and health tips for seniors please subscribe to my newsletter and bookmark this site for future reference.
See you next time!