on October 27, 2003
I am 44 and I am getting back in weight training after more than 10 years. Previously I used the book "Weight Training: Steps To Success" written by one of the co-author. This is a great book for beginners, but the program was too aggressive that I quit after six months because of either exercise burn-out or injury (its was a long time ago). I bought this book because I thought that it would be more gentle since it is written for older exercisers and I am also a lot older than before.
This book is about strength training- you put your body against challenging weight in order to increase strength. It is not a general fitness book nor a toning book where light dumbbells are used. So this book is the same as any other strength training book. Conventional free-weight exercises like squat with weight, bench press, shoulder press, etc. are used. The program in this book is similar to the Baechle's book mentioned above. The modification is that number of sets are lower. But the intensity (weight used) is the same- lift as hard as you can.
The book has a 10 week basic program where one does five exercises and gradually increases up to 10. Each exercise is performed with one set and 12 reps. During this period, the weight is gradually increased up to 140% of the starting weight. The book offers two tracks: one with the Nautilus machine and the other with dumbbells (there are two optional barbell exercises -back quat and bench press, and one required exercise-barbell bicep curl). After the 10 week program, there are 12 week cycle options to build strength, muscle, or endurance. This is where the number of sets are added, the repetitions and the weight are varied. But the authors suggest that one can alway stick with the basic program because the time required for the advanced programs are quite demanding (1 to 1.5 hours not including warm up and cool down).
The high points about this books are:
- It gives a green light for older folks to do strength training based on research data. But, the strength training has to be "sensible".
- It stresses the use of low volume training (one to two sets) at medium high intensity (weight) since it accomplishes 90% of the gain from performing higher volume training.
- The secret of this book is the use of the 1.25 lb weight plates for overloading. Most weight training books in the market don't tell you how to add weight. With this small overloading, your muscles don't even feel it. But, after a while, you have added a chunk of weight. This is why I think that this is the best training system.
- Photos showing the starting and ending points of the exercises. Fit model in the 50 and 60 are shown to use free weight while older exercisers are shown to use the machine.
- The exercises selected work all body parts. Safe exercises were selected over the higher risk ones. For example, squats are seleted over lunges to work the legs and 10-30 degrees decline shoulder press is prefered over military press to work the shoulders.
The low point on this book is:
- The program only cycle the volume (sets) but not the intensity (weight). The weight is kept constant at 75% of one repetition maximum (1RM). This could lead to overtraining.
- There is no stretching exercises. Some basic techniques like how to pick up weight off the floor and how to mount the dumbells during bench press are not covered. In addition, the description of the exercises are generic. Safety tips like do not lock the elbows during pushing exercises, etc. are not mentioned.
In conclusion, this is a strength training book like any other books. It has good program but the weight needs to be cycled somehow in order to prevent exercise burn-out or injury.
on March 31, 2003
I'm ordering a second copy of this book for my brother. I've shared my first copy with a number of friends. The introduction -- which outlines the value of weight training at any age -- is worth the modest price. I've followed the book for a year since I bought the book, and have seen steady gradual progress in weight reduction and increased strength. Not a quick-fix approach, but instead a well-written plan to incorporate weight training into daily life, for both men and women. Geared towards newcomers, but also has information that will those with prior exercise experience. It stresses safety and gradual improvement.
on March 30, 2000
Strength Training Past 50 is a very good book and anyone past 50 who has an interest in fitness or has been directed by a physician to lose weight should read the book. The program in the book must be carefully followed, particularly the weight and repitition recommendations. This program was designed for a very broad age range and a broad range of physical fitness levels typically found in adults past 50. It's strength is that it is an excellent introduction to resistance training for those who have not lifted or have not lifted for a significant period of time. If you are 50 or older, male or female, and not an experienced lifter, you may expect to lose weight, gain muscle mass, energy, and a positive self image by following the program in this book.
on December 17, 1998
At 67 I had developed upper back pain associated with spinal arthritis. Upon the advice of a reviewer, I ordered the book, bought some free weights, and immediately began training to strengthen the muscles that support my spinal column. After a month of carefully following the recommended workout schedule, I found myself completely pain free. Although the results are proof of the pudding, I was particularly impressed with the authors' emphasis on safety and their guidance on how to find your point of beginning and to progress without injury.
The photos and descriptions of individual exercises were essential in making sure that the exercises were done correctly and to the greatest benefit.
In my opinion the price of the book is a gift compared to the feeling of well being derived from carefully following the given plan, which, by the way, is adaptable to each individual's capabilities and needs.
on July 29, 1998
"Strength Training Past 50" provides the information you need to get started with a strength training program, including -
* Reasons why you should strength train (this section is a great motivator).
* What equipment to buy (if you're doing it a home).
* Which exercises to perform. (This is the largest section. It has a two-page spread format: on the left, instructions for performing the exercises, on the right, photos of ordinary-looking people doing the exercises. It includes techniques using both free weights and machines.)
* Building an effective program. (This section answered one of my questions: how to determine when to increase weights and how to do it.)
You can read this book in one sitting. (I skipped the "eating for strength" chapter.)
The photos show people using fancy Nautilus machines, which are a far cry from the equipment I use at my down-at-the-heels gym. Unless you have access to the machines pictured, you'll probabl! y need someone at your gym to show you comparable equipment and exercises to do.
All in all a good reference book for strength training. I recommend it. (I'm 62.)