The term senior is designated for people 65 or older. Senior personal training is a rapidly growing area for trainers as every year the population of that age group continues to grow. As such it is crucial that a trainer knows the essentials of senior personal training. Understand that this age group requires more than just a strength and cardio program that may work just fine for a younger client base. Senior personal training should target not just strength and cardio, but also flexibility, balance and functional activity. Endurance, mobility, maintaining function and the ability to participate in activities of daily living are the main goals.
First, senior personal training still does require strength training. Muscle strength and mass decline after age 55 so lighter weights are advised. Work on higher repetitions to help endurance and decrease stress on joints.
Second, senior personal training programs should still include cardio. Less intensity is advised as target heart rates decrease with age. Low impact aerobics such as cycling or aquatics may be advised in the presence of arthritis.
Flexibility is a third important aspect with senior personal training and often overlooked by trainers used to working with a younger population. Tight muscles can reduce range of motion and have significant affect on balance and daily activity. Consider proper warm ups, gentle and slow stretches both before and after workouts.
A fourth component for senor personal training is providing balance drills. Balance can be improved even with simple balance challenges. And balance can be combined with other exercises. For instance standing on one leg or standing in a tandem stance while doing biceps curls.
The last and final aspect is functional exercise. This is fundamental when considering senior personal training since it relates to the senior with their day to day activities. Consider things like sit to stand activity, step ups and step downs, high stepping, or sideways or backwards walking.
In conclusion, just remember, strength, cardio are great but don't neglect flexibility, balance and function. Personal training for seniors is not difficult or challenging once you know the basic elements of what this age group requires. As a trainer it gives you the opportunity to be imaginative and gain great reward as you watch your senior clients maintain the lifestyle they want. And in the end, that’s what personal training is all about.