T Nation

The 60 Year Old Lifter

This is a new case for me.

I am a personal trainer, and just got my first (and oldest) client.

Here is a profile:

Sex: male
Age: 60
Height: 1.80 metre (6’0)
Weight: 93 kilos (205 lbs.)
Goal: beach body
Waist circumference: ***44 inches (alarmingly high)

He has no training history, no injuries, very little equipment (two 10 lb. dumbells, and two 15 lb. dumbells), and works as a security guard. He has very tight pectorals and quadriceps, and has seen a chiropractor about these.

So I guess the big question is: would I train him like I would a man 30 years younger, or are there some special considerations?

All suggestions are appreciated.

[quote]kligor wrote:
This is a new case for me.

I am a personal trainer, and just got my first (and oldest) client.[/quote]

So he’s also your youngest client, right?

Anywho… here’s some general advice before we dive into specifics: allow for the reduced recovery ability you expect from a 60-year-old.

That said, how does everyone feel about two full-body resistance sessions and three long walks a week?

You are a personal trainer and you are asking us that?

Seems obvious that you would treat him differently, but then…I am not a “personal trainer”.

[quote]Jeff K wrote:
kligor wrote:
This is a new case for me.

I am a personal trainer, and just got my first (and oldest) client.

So he’s also your youngest client, right?

Anywho… here’s some general advice before we dive into specifics: allow for the reduced recovery ability you expect from a 60-year-old.

That said, how does everyone feel about two full-body resistance sessions and three long walks a week?

[/quote]

My mistake with the wording. He is not my first client, what I meant was that he is my first client in his age category. But he’s definitely not my first ever.

I was actually thinking of something similar to what you suggested: full-body resistance training, and some form of energy systems work. Since his cardiovascular capacity isn’t that great, walking sounds just about right.

[quote]Jimfound wrote:
You are a personal trainer and you are asking us that?

Seems obvious that you would treat him differently, but then…I am not a “personal trainer”.[/quote]

Hey, the only reason I’m asking this is because I realize I don’t have all the answers, and wanted to compare notes with those who have more experience working with this part of the population.

[quote]kligor wrote:
Jimfound wrote:
You are a personal trainer and you are asking us that?

Seems obvious that you would treat him differently, but then…I am not a “personal trainer”.

Hey, the only reason I’m asking this is because I realize I don’t have all the answers, and wanted to compare notes with those who have more experience working with this part of the population.[/quote]

Kligor:
I have absolutely no experience as a personal trainer, but I do see the elderly in my gym swimming quite a bit.
Good cardio and low impact. I would think gaining access to a pool can be done almost at any location. After all his goal is a beach body (LOL).

One more thing. I think it is great that you would seek advice for certain training aspects that you may not be totally clear about. No one knows every aspect of there profession. If they thought that, somehow I doubt they would be worth a grain of salt.

You must take your profession seriously, or you would not have posted. If I were seeking a personal trainer, I would want that person to have your attitude.

Good luck with your client.

The first thing I would do is check his medical condition, BP, cholesterol, med hist, family med hist, and any neuro muscular ailments.

Then if all ok treadmill for a warmup and get heart working. Also use the water, exercising in water offers resistance training, but sooths the joints.

Remember 60 is not old, hell it is only 4 yrs older than me.
Another asset if it is available is the Silver Sneakers program. It is in our gym and lots benefit from it.

[quote]kligor wrote:
Jimfound wrote:
You are a personal trainer and you are asking us that?

Seems obvious that you would treat him differently, but then…I am not a “personal trainer”.

Hey, the only reason I’m asking this is because I realize I don’t have all the answers, and wanted to compare notes with those who have more experience working with this part of the population.[/quote]

Hey no offense but you said “So I guess the big question is: would I train him like I would a man 30 years younger, or are there some special considerations?”

Umm…yeah…the special consideration is that he is 30 years older than a thirty year-old…sorry. I really don’t mean to be a d-bag, but that seems obvious. And yes, this is a good place to get advice so long as you can filter out the not-so-good advice.

Anyway good luck with him…go easy…at least at first!

I would say the first thing you should do is convince him that a beach body is not a sensible number 1 goal for a 60 y.o. Health should be no. 1 at that age. I would see sensible priorities as being

  1. cardiovascular health
  2. flexibility and freedom from injury/joint pain
  3. strength
  4. appearance.

Not much good having a beach body if you are dead.

I would start him out running 5 miles a day with a forty pound X-Vest. If he lives through that, you can try weightlifting next.

[quote]RoadWarrior wrote:
I would start him out running 5 miles a day with a forty pound X-Vest. If he lives through that, you can try weightlifting next.[/quote]

LOL !

I go to the beach most days and see all the 60+ year olds turning their pot-bellied skins into leather under a flaming sun.

If he wants a beach body like them, it’s nothing a little neglect couldn’t achieve.

Good on him for the effort but I agree, health should be the goal, good looks might stem from that.

[quote]Coldiron wrote:
kligor wrote:
Jimfound wrote:
You are a personal trainer and you are asking us that?

Seems obvious that you would treat him differently, but then…I am not a “personal trainer”.

Hey, the only reason I’m asking this is because I realize I don’t have all the answers, and wanted to compare notes with those who have more experience working with this part of the population.

Kligor:
I have absolutely no experience as a personal trainer, but I do see the elderly in my gym swimming quite a bit.
Good cardio and low impact. I would think gaining access to a pool can be done almost at any location. After all his goal is a beach body (LOL).

One more thing. I think it is great that you would seek advice for certain training aspects that you may not be totally clear about. No one knows every aspect of there profession. If they thought that, somehow I doubt they would be worth a grain of salt.

You must take your profession seriously, or you would not have posted. If I were seeking a personal trainer, I would want that person to have your attitude.

Good luck with your client.[/quote]

Swimming is definitely another good form of cardio. Unfortunately, the client has very limited access to a swimming pool, so I’ll be sure to tell him that whenever he does energy systems work, the choice is his whether he wants long walks or swimming.

Besides that, thank you for the kind words :slight_smile:

[quote]Jimfound wrote:
kligor wrote:
Jimfound wrote:
You are a personal trainer and you are asking us that?

Seems obvious that you would treat him differently, but then…I am not a “personal trainer”.

Hey, the only reason I’m asking this is because I realize I don’t have all the answers, and wanted to compare notes with those who have more experience working with this part of the population.

Hey no offense but you said “So I guess the big question is: would I train him like I would a man 30 years younger, or are there some special considerations?”

Umm…yeah…the special consideration is that he is 30 years older than a thirty year-old…sorry. I really don’t mean to be a d-bag, but that seems obvious. And yes, this is a good place to get advice so long as you can filter out the not-so-good advice.

Anyway good luck with him…go easy…at least at first![/quote]

I realize that he is 30 years older, but beyond that, the question really was how that affects my programming. I understand that his age group have longer recovery times, but WHAT ELSE is it that I’m missing, if anything? I remember once reading CW recommending higher reps for the older folks, so I wanted to see if anyone else would vouch for that.

And yes, you’re right, I have to filter out the good vs. bad advice, and this being T-Nation, the bad advice is fairly minimal.

[quote]sharetrader wrote:
I would say the first thing you should do is convince him that a beach body is not a sensible number 1 goal for a 60 y.o. Health should be no. 1 at that age. I would see sensible priorities as being

  1. cardiovascular health
  2. flexibility and freedom from injury/joint pain
  3. strength
  4. appearance.

Not much good having a beach body if you are dead.[/quote]

As the writers here, at T-Nation say “train for function, and the looking good naked will take care of itself.” So right now, my first priority is to bring that waist circumference to a more appropriate level. This will be done primarily through cardio, and strength training, which, as a pleasant side effect will result in #4 on your list: appearance. And of course, there will be no neglect of flexibility.

Being a semi-old fart (51) I would suggest that you include diet in there somewhere. You are not going to get rid of that beachball waist with just exercise.
From what I see, most people in this age group, and I include myself in there also, have a diet that is just plain bad. I know, when I got rid of all the bad stuff in my diet, I lost a bunch of weight, and quite a bit of size in the gut area.

[quote]Bad John wrote:
Being a semi-old fart (51) I would suggest that you include diet in there somewhere. You are not going to get rid of that beachball waist with just exercise.
From what I see, most people in this age group, and I include myself in there also, have a diet that is just plain bad. I know, when I got rid of all the bad stuff in my diet, I lost a bunch of weight, and quite a bit of size in the gut area. [/quote]

Actually the nutrition part is a big conundrum for me. On the one hand, it is so important to eat properly, but on the other hand, as a personal trainer, I am not allowed to recommend anything besides Canada’s food guide (there would be legal troubles if I did).

Beyond that, his diet is fairly solid. No fast food, no pop, no junk food, no canned food. However, because of his job, the meals come at very inconsistent times. Sometimes, his dinner will be the biggest meal of the day, and other times, he just doesn’t eat dinner. Also, he sticks (more or less) to the old 3 meals a day approach.

As you can see, the nutrition side of this is a mess. I need to find a good way to get him eating properly, given his lifestyle (job), and even if I do that, I’ll need to somehow do it within the boundaries of Canada’s food guide.

best of luck on working with this client. and since you’re asking for feedback, here’s my 2 cents…

one of the things that needs to be considered is this: age is for the most part irrelevant with regard to how you train your clients. the bigger concern will be their overall health profile and staus with regard to past or current activity, injuries or ailments, medical profile, etc.

on that note, i’ve had 30-somethings in terrible shape who couldn’t do the things my 74 year-old senior olympian could. seriously. while they certainly had the potential to do so, it was more critical to take into consideration where they were starting from (and those things mentioned above) than to focus on their age as a guide for building their program.

my other thought is this: don’t do any of your clients a disservice by training down to preconceived ideas of what a person of a given age (or even gender) is capeable of. the reality is, he has to operate and function in the same world as 20-year olds and everyone else. while intensity, volume and recovery need to be adjusted for all individuals, the movement patterns needed and basic goals for training remain the same.

finally, while i completely enjoy swimming and water-based activity and encourage my clients to incorporate it to some degree, you may be limiting what’s probably one of this client’s overwhelming weaknesses: lack of strength. true, any activity is better than no activity, but don’t operate under the premise that getting him in the water is good, just because that’s what “old” people do.

make him the exception, not the rule.

In reverse order of priority:

For weight training: Look into HST or some of the Waterbury programs. Emphasize the meso cycles of 15 reps or he may damage his connective tissue which hardens with age. Don’t go below 5 reps. Full body thrice weekly for at least the first year. Low volume…around 10 total sets per workout…30 sets per week. Throw out the fancy stuff. Just basic compound movements. Strict form.

Aerobics: Anything as long as it is low impact. Long duration…slow pace.

Diet: He’s killing himself. He is a heart attack in training with that belly. Give him or steer him to good nutritional advice.

61 here. 49 years of training and still 9% bodyfat at 185, 5’8". It can be done but it takes time and a big committment. You can’t look good if you are not healthy!

PM me if you want a proposed specific weight training program.

PS. It’s nice to see a personal trainer that doesn’t have so big an ego that he thinks he has all the answers himself. Good luck with the “old fart”.

[quote]kligor wrote:

As you can see, the nutrition side of this is a mess. I need to find a good way to get him eating properly, given his lifestyle (job), and even if I do that, I’ll need to somehow do it within the boundaries of Canada’s food guide.[/quote]

Why not just send him to the T-Nation website, suggesting a few articles he might be interested in taking a look at? That way you’re not giving the diet advice, it’s Berardi or whoever.

Riding a bicycle is also low impact cardio.

Make him stretch a lot. If he’s 60 and never worked out, there can be all kind of tightnesses that will let themselves be known after he starts to work out. I’m thinkking hips and shoulders here, but also spine and neck.

Get an ok from the doctor that he’s fit to start working out.

And for weights, get him on the big movements.
Squats, I would recommend goblet squats.
Benchpresses, start with an empty bar
Seated rows.

Start light and gradually increase the weight.