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This is another post in our series of Fitness Saturday exercises, workouts, and expert tips appropriate to women in the second half of life. Jonathan Urla, a certified advanced health and fitness specialist, shares exercises to improve strength at any age.

Last week, we learned simple exercises to get your muscles stronger and help prevent sarcopenia. Having a complete strength-training program means you have to do exercises for all your muscles, which will incorporate four basic movements: pushing, pulling, leg pressing or squats, and torso hinging. Today, another important strength training concept I want to introduce to help you get results is “progression.”
Progression means that in order for an exercise to stress your muscles sufficiently for you to get stronger, you have to slightly increase the intensity on a regular basis. Varying the intensity can mean three different things:

  1. Simply increase the amount of resistance.
  2. Do the exercise slower.
  3. Increase the number of reps or sets to increase the total volume or amount of the exercise.

In practical terms, each of these methods has a limit, so the best idea is to alternate progression in each method over several weeks. For example, after the first week, you can slightly increase the resistance for a couple of weeks. Then for the next two weeks, do the exercises slower to make them feel harder. Finally, increase the number of reps for each exercise, and then add an extra set. After six weeks of this progression, you should find some new exercises that address the same body parts and start this training methodology again.
Today, I’m going to show you three exercises you can do sitting on a hard chair: one for the large muscles of your back, one for your shoulders, and one for your legs. For resistance, you can use a five-foot long theraband, also known as an elastic resistance band.

SgleArmRow1 SgleArmRow2

1. Single Arm Row — For back muscles (lattisimus). Sit toward the front of the chair with your back straight and legs out in front with a slight bend in the knees and feet flexed. Using a theraband that is at least five feet long, loop the band under your feet and hold the theraband so that when your arms are straight in front of you the band is slightly taut. Pull with your right arm to bring the elbow back next to your side. Slowly return the arm back to straight. Repeat with the other arm. Do 10 to 15 reps with each arm. Rest and repeat.

LateralRaise2 LateralRaise1

2. Lateral Arm Raises — For shoulders (deltoids). Sit on a chair and step on the middle of the theraband. Wrap the ends of the theraband around your hands and sit with your back straight. Inhale as you raise both your arms straight out to the sides until they are shoulder height. Exhale and lower the arms. Make sure the tension isn’t so much that you can’t keep your arms straight or that you can’t do at least ten reps. Do 10 to 15 reps. Rest and repeat.

Leg Ext 1 Leg Ext 2

3. Seated Leg Extensions — For the front of thighs (quadriceps). Loop the band around the bottom of the two front legs of the chair. Tie the ends of the band together and then put your legs inside the loop so the band is across the lower legs near your ankles. (Note: it is a good idea to wear sweat pants or tights when doing this exercise so the band isn’t on the bare skin of your legs.) Be sure to tie the band into a small enough loop so that there is some slight tension at the start when you are just sitting.  Next, take a tri-folded towel and place it under the back of your thighs and sit with your hips back in the chair. Exhale and extend your legs slowly until they are almost straight. Inhale and slowly return the legs to bent. Do 10 to 15 reps. Rest and repeat. If the band slides up your shins, reduce the amount you are extending your legs.
If you don’t have a theraband, you could substitute rubber tubing for the first and second exercises, light dumbbells for the lateral arm raises, and ankle weights for the leg extension exercise.
Stay strong and tuned in more strengthening exercises next week.

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  • Sandy Olson September 21, 2015 at 8:24 am

    I love this . I would add that the most important thing I learned in physics therapy is to use my stomach muscles when I do these. CORE!
    After a lifetime of slouching and letting my stomach hang out, I am not having pin in my lower back and can exercise a lot more.