Elderly and even 50-ish people make workout mistakes at the gym that are unique to their age bracket. There are common workout mistakes that are consistently repeated by older people.
I’m a former certified personal trainer, but I’ve also worked out at many health clubs and gyms over the years, which has given me ample opportunity to witness all the mistakes that elderly men and women make at gyms.
These mistakes are disproportionately committed by the older crowd. When I say “old,” this means 55 years and up.
Most Common Workout Mistakes by Older People
Bad form with the lat pull-down machine. Seems that 70 percent of people who crookedly yank down the bar, then let it slam back up, are men over age 55.
They must be trying to trick themselves into thinking they’re stronger than they actually are, because they load up too much weight.
And the only way to get the bar down is to lean way back and yank crookedly at it, then instead of releasing the bar with control, they let it fly back up, practically lifting their entire body off the seat. This offers potential injury to the shoulder joints and back muscles.
Preacher curl. Elderly men at gyms are also notorious for making the mistake of lifting their butts off the seat to release the weights on a preacher curl machine.
When they bring the weights back up, these old men go only half way, sitting back down again. Then here comes the release and up goes their butt.
Again, they are trying to appear stronger than they actually are. Results will be minimal.
Holding onto treadmill. A most universal mistake among old people at the gym — both genders equally — is clinging fast to the treadmill while walking.
The whole idea behind walking, be it free or on a tread surface, is to improve mobility and strengthen hips and other bones.
This won’t happen if the user is holding onto the equipment, as this significantly slashes workload and creates an unrealistic gait.
Just because you’re up in years doesn’t mean you must cheat. Step onto the tread and start slowly with your arms at your sides. Pretend you’re walking outdoors.
Bad ‘tude. Another common mistake among elderly people at the gym is becoming grumpy or disgruntled, even angry, when a personal trainer kindly offers unsolicited advice.
When I was a trainer at a very large club that was jammed during prime hours, I’d go around and start chatting with a lot of people of all ages.
I was instructed to do this by my boss. It was how I got personal training clients. One demographic stood out as being grumpy and bitter in response to my unsolicited advice: men and women 65+.
Senior citizens must realize that personal trainers are at the gym to do just that: approach people who are exhibiting incorrect and potentially harmful form. Older people should know that a gym is a business, and that staff is required to interact with patrons.
If a senior citizen were to walk into a computer or furniture store, soon he or she would be approached by sales staff offering to help.
I doubt that elderly people, in this environment, would get disgruntled and resentful. So why have the sour attitude at the gym? Being 55- or 65-plus is no excuse for rudeness.
By being rude, these gym users deprive themselves of advice that could actually HELP THEM reach their goals–and more safely.
Not lifting enough weight. This gym mistake is far more common among old women than men. I’ve worked with senior age women and they are stronger than they think they are.
They grew up in an era in which the idea of women lifting dumbbells or even using machines was frowned upon.
Times have changed, and medical discoveries have been made: Lifting challenging weight loads is crucial for maintaining bone health! Not to mention the scores of other health benefits!
Spending too much time in the pool bobbing around. Older folks need to get out on the floor, too, and use the equipment.
No matter how poor your health is, if you walked into the gym, you’re capable of using the equipment.
Nobody expects typical elderly people to do chin-ups or pushups, but the many machines are there for the taking: Get on one and start moving.
Not spending enough time doing back-targeting weight routines. Many gym machines target the back, and many elderly people have postural problems and back issues.
Unless your orthopedic doctor has given you convincing reasons that using ergonomic resistance equipment will damage your spine, it’s time to take back workouts seriously.
So these are the seven key ways that elderly people commit mistakes with their gym workouts. Being open to hearing advice from a personal trainer goes a long way. Put the ego aside and listen. Nobody is going to force you into the sales office and beg for your credit card to purchase training sessions.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.