Bad form stunts results, wastes time, and can cause injury or strain to joints and muscles, especially in senior age people who are new to strength training machines.

Senior Strength Training Safety Guidelines

Seated cable row. This is where you’re upright and seated, feet against foot pad. Your hands are in front and holding a handle attacked to a weight stack.

You pull this handle towards your chest, then release the handle back to its starting point, using control, to work the back and arms.

Seniors need to employ upright spinal position while pulling the handle towards their chest.

Do not lean back as you pull towards yourself; this is cheating and de -isolates the targeted muscles. If you can’t help but lean back, this means the load is too heavy for you.

Seated selectorized row. Here you are also in an upright position, chest against a support pad. Reach beyond this pad to grab the machine’s handles and pull towards your chest.

Keep your chest against the pad; do not disconnect it. If you can’t keep it to the pad, the load needs to be lighter.

Lat pull-down. You are seated and pull a bar, that’s over your head in the start position, down to face or neck level. This too targets your back and arms.

Keep your forearms vertical. Do not bend the forearms parallel to the floor. This is wrong. If you’re able to do this, the load is TOO LIGHT.

Next, do not yank the bar down. Do not let your back get crooked. Pull the bar down with control rather than sloppily or with yanking. You risk injury otherwise. If you must yank, the load is too heavy.

Preacher/seated curl. With this strength training exercise, one sits against a support at chest level.

Palms up, place arms over this support pad and take hold of the handles at the pad’s bottom. Pull these handles towards your face to work the biceps.

I’ve seen many senior age men lift their behinds off the seat as they struggled to bring the handles all the way up.

This is cheating. It’s so wrong. This cheat move tricks seniors into thinking they’re far stronger than they actually are.

Keep your bottom on the seat and let your biceps do all the work, so you can see how much your biceps can actually handle.

Release (uncurl) the resistance to just a tiny bit above the start point, to work the entire range of motion.

Some seniors bring it down only half way and then curl up again. This is an incomplete repetition that recruits only half the intended muscle. If you can’t bring the weight up after lowering it down full range of motion, the resistance is too heavy and needs to be reduced.

Practice all strength training moves with very light weight to perfect your form. Some seniors want to be seen using a lot of weight during strength training, but this comes with a cost: cheating and risking injury.

When you cheat, you ultimately do not get nearly as strong as you would if you adhered to correct form. You do not want a false sense of strength using these machines.

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.